There's a saying in Thailand, same same but different. If you have ever been there, then you are likely all too familiar with it. It originated in reference to the ladyboys, for obvious reasons. But now you can't walk into a souvenir shop without seeing it splashed across a tshirt or have a conversation with a local without hearing it in everyday conversation, because it just works for everything. Spend more then a couple of weeks in Thailand and pretty soon you will be throwing out same same in the middle of a conversation without even thinking twice about it. The reaction on someone's face who just arrived and has only seen the saying on a tshirt is always priceless. Did you just use 'same same' in a sentence?!

Saturday

We caught an early morning ferry from Koh Lanta to Koh Phi Phi so that we would get there in plenty of time to catch Captain Bob's Booze Cruise; we wanted Macala to experience the fun. Sailing into port was every bit as magnificent. Massive cliffs are covered in greenery and grouped into what would be two islands, except that they are connected by a thin stretch of land, which is where everything is located. It is a sight you would have to see to believe. 

This time there was no one from our hotel waiting at the pier for us, so somehow Fletch managed to guide us through the narrow streets with no points of reference to the endless staircase leading up to the same hotel we had stayed at before. It was an inexpensive little hostel-like place with a killer view. 

We had some time to kill before the booze cruise, and so spent an hour or so napping, still exhausted from the night before. A loud wind gust woke me up and I ran outside to catch the laundry that was blowing away from our balcony. On the way back in I found a little black and white kitten who was rather dirty and had a scratched up nose. He looked like he needed some loving so I brought him inside and let him wake everyone up. 

The booze cruise was every bit as fun as the first time around (which you can read about here rather than me writing the same things all over again). This time we got to ride on the sailboat, although we spent less time on the sailboat and most of it on the three person tube that was being towed along behind. 

The monkeys were still demanding an entrance fee of fruit at Monkey Beach. There seemed to be two different tribes of them occupying the beach as a civil war almost broke out. The same local who had put them in their place the previous visit was still there, and he had to break up what could have turned into a nasty fight. 

We rounded the corner and visited the cliff jumping rocks. This time Fletch jumped with me, making sure I didn't stand up at the top for an embarrassing amount of time. This time when I jumped I remembered to cross my legs and streamline my body to avoid landing painfully on my butt. 

We made our way from Koh Phi Phi Don to Koh Phi Phi Leh, this time sailing the opposite direction around the island and making our way to the backside of Viking cave. The backside was pretty cool, as all you could see was a nice sandy beach inside a cave. The cave went all the way through the rock to allow sun to shine through from the other side. 

We passed up Maya Bay initially (the place where the movie The Beach was filmed) and sailed straight past to Loh Sama Bay. We couldn't sail into the lagoon this time as the tide was too low, but instead stopped in another area for some snorkeling. The snorkeling was fantastic! Captain Bob pointed us in the direction of a wall that dropped down twenty or so meters, and we entertained ourselves by freediving down the face of it. About halfway down there was a moray eel poking his head out of the coral, just coming out to say hello to us. 

It got to be about time to be back at the boat, but we realized that we weren't going to be stopping at Maya Bay. There was an access point you could hike through where we were moored at though. So we hiked the little pass as quickly as we could so that we could show Macala the infamous beach. We ran down the beach, splashed through the water, and then made our way back to the sailboat. 

We continued our circle around Koh Phi Phi Leh, passing the front opening of Viking cave as we made our way back up to the north side of the island. We then began the crossing back up to Koh Phi Phi Don only this time, instead of going back towards the pier, we began circling the island up the west coast and sailed into a little lagoon we hadn't been to the previous trip. Captain Bob informed us that he had discovered this place, and not to tell anyone of its whereabouts. This little lagoon was incredible, way better than Maya beach, simply because we were the only ones there. We jumped into the water and swam to the beach where there was nothing but a little hut and a ladder leading up to a cave in the cliff. Fletch, Macala and I were the first ones to reach the beach by a long shot and so we cautiously climbed the ladder and made our way into the pitch black cave by ourselves. It extended back quite a ways, soft sand beneath our feet the entire way. We couldn't see anything but by the time we made it back to the mouth, one of the tour guides was yelling in after us to please not go in alone because there were snakes inside. Oops. We escaped into the setting sunlight right as the rest of the group was bombarding in, armed with flashlights. 

We spent some time playing in the shallow water, watching with amusement as people gradually became drunker and drunker. Around sunset we made our way back to the three-person tube we had claimed, and watched as another boat sailed into the bay. So much for this being Captain Bob's secret spot. After that the sailboat began to sail back to the pier. About halfway there, Macala excitedly jumped up with an I could surf this! and proceeded to surf the tube. It was impressive for a couple of minutes before she flew over the side of the tube. Fletch yelled Man overboard! to the rest of the sailboat and we slowed down, to discover that Macala had managed to hang on to the side of the tube.  They pulled us in after that but we were nearly to the pier anyway. 

We left the boat, extremely intoxicated, and the rest of the night was a blur. A very weird blur. We ended up in a bar playing beer pong at one point. That was probably not a good idea. I'll leave it at that. 

Sunday

I didn't get much in the way of sleep that night, as every time I closed my eyes I kept having weird dreams. We all woke up extremely hungover; Fletch couldn't even talk for the better part of the morning. We managed to make our way down the endless staircase and walked around until we found a place with a breakfast menu. It was a Himalayan restaurant but they had a pretty good curried omelette. Once fed we were almost feeling ourselves again, so Fletch went to the clinic to have an infected sore on his arm looked at. Don't worry, it wasn't a parasite growing inside his bicep, just an infected lymph node. While he was doing that Macala and I walked around and did some shopping. 

We met back up and walked into a massage parlor. They only had two beds open but Fletch said he wanted to just sit in a chair and nap anyway. So we got massages, mine a very refreshing menthol oil massage that left my skin tingling all over. 

After massages we went to book tickets for the rest of our trip, but upon doing the math in our heads, we were somehow a day short for what we had planned to do. We then remembered that we had spent one more night in Koh Lanta than we had originally planned, so that night would have to cancel out taking the overnight train back up to Bangkok. We booked two plane tickets instead, which were 2000 baht apiece. $60 for a domestic plane ticket. Damn I was going to miss Thailand. 

We walked into some random restaurant for lunch that had the most phenomenal panang curry. I devoured every last bite and practically licked the plate clean to which the waiter came out and asked one more? I laughed and said two more for takeaway please! 

We walked around, down every street and to each end of the little strip that connected the two sides of cliffs. We stopped to grab some nonalcoholic beverages and played on a swing set for a while. 


I still can't get over that view. 

After sunset we found a bar that served shisha, and sat down and people watched and smoked shisha for the better part of a couple of hours. Not that I've come across that many shisha bars, maybe a dozen in my life, but this one was the best, simply because our server came around every half an hour, almost on the dot, to switch out our coals. He was awesome. 

Across the street the bar was advertising a fire show starting at 9:00, and so when the time rolled around we made our way the couple of meters across the street where around on the beach side, a massive stage had been built entirely out of sand. Surrounding the sand stage were plastic lawn chairs, so we sat down in the front row off to the side. This had to be the most formal fire show we'd come across. 

Four or five different fire dancers, all took turns with their acts, each more impressive than the last. Some strange guy with grey hair and a beard and a gopro at the end of a pole fancied himself a videographer and kept pushing his pole too close to the dancers. They warned him several times to please keep clear of the stage but he never listened, just kept circling the stage with his camera and blocking everyone's view. About halfway through the show he pulled a plastic lawn chair up in front of us and sat down. The next time he stood up to get a better shot with his gopro the guy sitting behind us stole his chair, much to everyone's amusement. Sorry to break it to you but just because you have a gopro, that doesn't make you a hero. Don't let the commercials get to your head. 

For one of the last acts of the fire show, the dancer put on one of those creepy white halloween masks and proceeded to dance the most perfectly choreographed fire dance I have ever seen. Usually there is upbeat music playing in the background and the fire dancers just perform their tricks at as quick a speed as possible. This dance was different. The music was slow and eerie. Every footstep was exactly on beat. Every twirl of fire was perfectly in synch. The entire act was beautiful, and mesmerizing. 

When the show was over we continued to sit and watch the stage as a question we have all been asking was answered right before our eyes. What happens when you let the drunkest people at the bar play with fire? During the show a frat guy sitting across the way wearing a very loud Hawaiian shirt had not stopped fist bumping to the music. At times there had even been a double fist bump. Meanwhile a group of Americans, fresh off the airplane had sat down next to us and the girl, wearing a sailor hat, had handed out tips to the dancers while drunkenly explaining to us that the exchange rate made no sense and she had no idea how much money she was tipping them, but oh, here's another tip. What a surprise it was when fist bump guy and sailor hat girl met and then waltzed up to the sand stage, doused the stage in a bucket of kerosene, and then lit it afire. Amazingly no one was hurt, the dancers scrambled to put the flames out, and much dancing followed. Only in Thailand.