So after my so-so Phuket beach and weather experience, I was headed to Phi Phi with tempered expectations. In as much as I hoped that it would live up to the photos and hype, I had also prepared myself for an OK experience. However, with all that I had read and had seen picture-wise of Phi Phi, I couldn’t help but hope against hope, so to speak. So the further the ferry chugged away from overcast and greyish-skies Phuket, the more that the panorama changed and the skies slowly transitioned towards a bright blue white-cloud dotted canvas. It really was a sight to behold and cause for huge relief! Periodically, we would cruise past what would later become frequent features of the oceanic landscape on this side of the world, the jutting, striking and lonesome limestone karst formations. I think we can all agree that if we have some familiarity with ‘Thailand waters’, we know how to identify them by the presence of these rocks in the images, invariably covered by mossy-green patchy blankets of shrubbery. I cannot tell you what it felt like to be greeted by the sun as we edged closer to Phi Phi Don, itself draping everything under its ambit with a bright, dazzling and joy-inducing radiance. Quite simply, the sun made EVERYTHING beautiful! Suddenly, I was hopeful! Excited even. Yes, hella excited, because Phi Phi was about to possibly live up to my expectations. And IT DID!
I will never, ever forget that feeling of rolling into the dock and just being in awe of the sights all around me; tour boats, cruise-liners, yachts and long tail boats. And then the suddenly, the water had changed from the navy blue we’d been cutting through all along to this magnificent, other-worldly cyan! Guys! There is not water as beautiful as that water. Oh gosh. Just recalling it is giving me goosebumps! My Lord! I have never seen such splendour.
And such was the extent of my being spellbound that the next 30 minutes were literally an out of body experience of sorts. I remember recording a short video of our docking, expressing my disbelief at the fact that I was ACTUALLY in Phi Phi, disembarking, being greeted by the HARSHEST sun I have ever experienced (Phuket has nothing on Phi Phi) AND running into a COLLEAGUE on the pier who was on her way back to Phuket on the ferry I had just disembarked and flying back to South Africa that night. This was super duper weird because our specific office is comprised of less than 40 individuals and so to run into someone from work in Phi Phi was just the most serendipitous thing ever. I recall her telling me how Phi Phi was heaven and that I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE my time there (she told NO lies, lol) and her reassuring me that the weather would totally cooperate because in the time that she’d been there, it had only been clear, ultra-sunny skies! Yaaaay!!! In no time, I had located the assistant assigned to get guests of the resort I would be staying at on their long tail boat and had left the very clamorous pier. It’s not the people that are the issue; it’s the engines of the long tail boats and they’re quite a number of them around midday, ferrying people to and fro between resorts and the pier.
Then I’m on the long tail boat starring into these cyan waters and I CAN ACTUALLY SEE the coral!!! In the meantime, I have taken several STUNNING photos and a couple more giddy videos. Finally, we come to a slow halt and as the boat sways gently in the shallow waters, the driver helps me get off, and wow man, it just hits me: I AM IN ***** PARADISE! Man. Wow. The nautical blue and white of P.P. Blue Sky Resort only added allure to the frame and I couldn’t help but be chuffed with my choice! Trust me when I say check-in was a blur and all I was interested in was capturing snaps of the beach cloaked in the light and glory of the midday sun. I MEAN??? THAT is beach life. Water, sand, coconut trees lining the beach and SUN! Yes, SUN! The one thing I had missed in Phuket and I was finally revelling in it, and it wasn’t holding back! That was such a special moment for me because it was only then that I breathed a sigh of relief and just relaxed, because I suddenly became sure that I was about to have a truly magical time, one that would live up to the place’s reputation and more importantly, my expectations.
Honestly, just that afternoon alone all but made up for Phuket. I was filled and bowled over at both the paradise I had just entered and its dumbfounding beauty and my presence in it. I think sometimes we take certain things for granted and in an effort to be cool, miss the uniquity and novelty of a moment and the unmerited blessing and favour that has brought us into it. In that moment, I was very much childlike and that allowed me to appreciate the moment for what it was. Sitting out on the open deck, looking out at the beach and still enjoying my welcome drink, it was almost as if I was scared that if I went to the room, settled in and got kitted out in my beach gear, I would come back to find it all gone! That was the extent of my giddiness!
This kind of emotion, awe and sheer disbelief pretty much characterised the majority of my time and excursions on Phi Phi. Everything is beautiful in Phi Phi. E-very-thing! Also, there is no place hotter than Phi Phi. I know that I burned/toasted to at least three shades darker than my natural complexion. At least three. It is more likely four but three is a realistic estimation. You absolutely want to have sunscreen on almost all the time. You want to reapply that baby as much as possible while lounging on a sun chair on a beach; you want to slather it on while out and about, exploring the environs (e.g. Phi Phi Viewpoint) and you even want it with you on a boat because the minute it stops, the full might of the sun’s intensity is beating down on you. And it’s not that the sunscreen lessens the burn; it’s just some comfort to know you’re protecting your skin from a hazardous cellular after-reaction. It’s good precaution in such hot places.
A thing about Phi Phi is that where you stay colours your experience. P.P. Resort, which is where I stayed, had a homely feel. It is one of the smaller “resorts” on Long Beach. It’s so small and with no resort amenities that it really doesn’t qualify as a resort even though that word is in the name. It can’t have more than 12 sleeping units. Some of its neighbouring establishments are more modern-chic and built up, but my personal feeling is that that takes away from the charm one expects to experience in Phi Phi. Phi Phi is the kind of place you expect to be rustic; the opposite of say an equally beautiful beach destination such as The Maldives. You expect The Maldives to be ‘refined’ and posh and ultra-chic. I feel that all the bars, pools, dining areas and whatever else that is built on or just above the beach in certain establishments on Long beach in Phi Phi Don all just block the direct view of and access to the beach. Boo-hoo. But I guess to each his or her own, and you certainly won’t be short of accommodation options all along the tiny island’s inner and outer western shorelines (i.e., the ‘half’ of the island that’s habited – the other (smaller) half is high rock formations and bush). Google (Maps) is your friend!
CLICK HERE FOR PART II OF THE PHI PHI ADVENTURES