Monday, 2 January 2012

The Beach: Phi Phi, Railey, Krabi

When we arrived in Krabi we booked our boat tp Phi Phi and checked into the charming Hello KR hotel which was incredibly friendly and casual with really nice rooms. A favourite part of my stay was that on the specials list they had chips, cheese and gravy, a personal favourite of mine that I used have at Mr Johns take away at University in Plymouth (it has since become a retched Kebab shop that likes ejecting me with or without food). I opted to see the Thai take on it and was pleasantly surprised. We had a beer at the roof top bar and the Thai bartender joined us and warned us of the commercialisation of our next destination, Phi Phi. He said that the competition for trade has led to the breaking down of family businesses and community spirit and left the attitude of every man for himself. We watched some South Park and then slept.

I was awoken by a rooster and due to my now customary patterns of broken sleep it was a groggy start but with seeing Helen (lovely Irish girl from Koh Phangan) later in Phi Phi I tried to be positive. This lasted all of six minutes when the travel agent in our hotel said the people had cocked up booking our taxi and boat and not organised one or given us the right tickets for the other. Penny was sceptical thinking he was going to try and resell us the tickets but it turns out she hadn't done anything right and this guy sorted it all out for free. The taxi ride was a test, it was short but cramped and hot with an older Belgian fella telling his life story including how he left his bag alone three times to use the facilities on a ferry and how he was shocked that he was robbed of around £300. When he arrived he left his bag alone on the side and went for a walk leaving everyone he had bored with his story shocked. By this stage I was getting sick of all the aggressive commercialisation and advertising but in coming to Thailand I know that I am part of the problem, as increased tourism pushes up prices making the Thai people feed our whims and luxuries, saturating the market and making competition harder and fiercer. It's upsetting that this once untouched country has become a place that I am struggling to enjoy travelling around and its continuing degradation leaves me little want to return. I have heard Vietnam is similar in the cities, thank you America, and I should very much hate to see Laos and Cambodia follow tac. The boat trip to Phi Phi was smooth with massive monoliths springing out of the water covered at the top with greenery. In the distance you could see where Scaramanga's cave/beach resort was based. The Belgian guy left his bag alone again to use the facilities and by this stage I was seriously considering robbing him as he clearly hadn't learned his lesson.The boat smelled funny and there were some serious signs of wear and tear but all was forgotten when Phi Phi came into view. It truly is a beautiful island.

We arrived and were immediately taxed to keep Phi Phi clean but the Thai people didn't have to pay it, another tourist piss take. We went to 'The Rock' to meet Helen but found out she was elsewhere and walked around for an hour sweating our bollocks off to find her and check into our cheap and cheerful hostel. We went for a swim with Helen followed by a long lunch featuring a few bevvies and fierce discussion about Irish and British politics. Then we booked a snorkelling day trip to 'the beach' for the following day. Pen and I chilled on the beach after we got ready then went to 'The Rock' with Helen and Shauna for a brief drink. We followed this by a trip to the Irish bar for the free buffet on purchase of drink, the food was reasonable and the drink was drunk too quickly but it really set up a good vibe. Our aim was to pub crawl to the beach but stopped at Banana bar and although it was raining we went upstairs because 'that's what you want mate'. We partook in shisha, buckets and other such luxuries the bar provided and settled in to a mellow evening watching the rain fall onto the roof metres from out shelter. Helen was wearing a hot black dress and it took all my might not to try and kiss her. We got pizza and went to back to the dorm for bed. During the night I heard snoring and drunkenly attacked Penny but found for once it wasn't him. I looked over and in the bunk next to me a guy who could only be described as a midget was snoring his lungs out. I clambered over and flipped him over but as I was very drunk and misjudged the midgets weight I flipped him clean right out of bed. All in all it stopped him snoring so regardless of injuring a sleeping midget I managed to get some sleep. This lasted twenty minutes until I woke and freaked out why I had flipped a guy out of bed, and not remembering his size I was worried he may be pissed off and beat me up in the morning.

When I woke the midget was gone and I felt guilty and also ill, probably due to lack of sleep. I mustered the troops, grabbed breakfast and set off on our day boat trip. We started with some snorkelling at Bamboo Island and I had to rescue Helen when she struggled a bit in choppy water. The fish types were stunning but there wasn't much diversity in coral. We returned to the boat and jumped off the upstairs into the sea, as my elder brother Nicki would say ' there is nothing better than jumping off high things into water'.  We followed this with a trip to Monkey Beach and saw monkeys scrap and make fools of the weaker minded humans by stealing there food and bags that they foolishly left alone on MONKEY beach. The snorkelling was stunning with deep alcoves that I free dived into and had the most stunning deep blue light piercing the gaps in the rock. Next stop was Phi Phi Ley scene of the 2000 film The Beach via Viking Cave. We kayaked into Phi Phi lagoon and enjoyed the hundreds of fish that mobbed the underside of the boat. The Beach was beautiful and we enjoyed some photo's copying scenes of the film and a bit of swimming. We made friends with Bee and Jade two lovely ladies from Croydon with some great, ahem, appendages. The problem with The Beach was although it was stunning there were hundreds of people and boats highlighting what a tourist trap it was becoming. We took the boat back to Phi Phi while the sun was setting and arrived just as night fell, it truly was a great day and got us all pumped up for a night out.

We all got ready and went for dinner as a group in a different Irish bar, I had fish and thoroughly enjoyed it. The owner who Helen had met before was a former London Irish player who blew out his knee and moved to Thailand. It wasn't long before I realised he was a little gone in the head and a bit of a perv but Helen fell for his charm and considered his job offer. A guy had a monkey he would charge you to hold and all the girls had to have their pictures taken with it so I wandered off. I started talking to a Swedish promo girl and made some Euro vision gag that I don't really remember but went along the lines of 'this is Stockholm calling we award Denmark 12pts'. It doesn't sound funny now but at the time it was hilarious. Pen and I went to the beach and chilled outside Slinky bar which was fun. They had a ten foot pole that people were climbing and I had a crack and very easily got to the top which was outrageously dangerous to allow drunk people to do but throughout the night I didn't see a single fall. Helen and I were really drunk and we had a really nice heart to heart and then headed back to the dorms. We bumped into two guys from our room on the walk back and one was doing a bad job of putting his mate to bed so I volunteered to walk him back and did so but when he immediately asked if he could go back out I told him I wasn't his mum and let him go back to boozing.  As an aside I must mention the idiots in our room who didn't know what initials were and the girl that got inoculations in Bali because a palm reader told her she didn't have enough.

I woke after a good six hours before the alarm and woke everyone for fear they would miss there boat to Phuket. It was hot and sunny although it was only 8am. We said our goodbyes and got our boat back to the mainland. By the time we got to Krabi it was overcast and we settled back into the Hello KR hotel in our usual room for a day of organising. I managed to get locked out of the room and had someone go through every key in the hotel to let me back in. I went to exchange money but when I talked to some people they shyed away from conversation it was only then that I realised I was wearing the offensive vest I bought to stop people thinking it was okay to attempt small talk with me. We watched the Inbetweeners movie, some South Park and finished off with Ong Bak whilst thoroughly enjoying some air conditioning.

We checked out and got the Long Tail boat to Railey which was a really pleasant crossing. When we arrived we avoided the resorts in search of the backpacker areas and in doing so had to hike through the jungle for about a kilometre which was humid and overgrown. When we emerged on the other side I was dripping with sweat and only finding run down, overpriced hotels I felt we had made a mistake. Fortunately the vibe on the beach was awesome and I had a very nice coconut curry for lunch. I had a shower and had a better outlook on the hotel and the area, it was so chilled out and the rock climbing looked awesome. I sat on the beach watching the sun fall behind the distant storm clouds whilst drinking to my last adventure and Pennys next.  When the sun was down we went on a beach pub crawl where I ended up helping put up a light fixture in exchange for Bamboo bong rum, ate chicken toast and got battered in pool by a Thai hustler. Somehow I had the thought that was vivid enough to write down, if you had a black and white picture of Richard Branson he would look a lot like Colonel Sanders from KFC.

We checked out early and on our walk to the long tail boats we saw a monkey raid of a row of bungalows. It was like Rise of Planets of the Apes where they all swing through the trees and in there hundreds (no joke) robbed anything that wasn't nailed down from porches and shower rooms ranging from left over food to soap and sandals. We got back to Krabi and took our usual room and I spent the day in bed with the most horrific stomach pains. It felt like someone was ringing out my spleen and I passed out several times through the pain. In the evening we watched Arthur which turned out like most Russel Brand films way under rated and thoroughly entertaining through his own personal Brandisms and harsh reality he can shine with a satirical view on addiction. I continued into a painful sleep.

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