So, it’s been a while. We’d like to say this is because we have been so busy that we haven’t had a spare moment … In reality we’ve had plenty of spare moments, but when given the chance to laze on a tropical island paradise or sit in a dark room typing, we, for whatever reason (?!), opted for the former.
What have we been doing you ask? We have been to Koh Phi Phi, Khao Sok, and Koh Tao – 2 Islands and a National Park. The stuff of dreams; and giant insects!
On the island of Koh Phi Phi are some very dramatic viewpoints; however, these come with the ridiculous fee of 30 Baht. Not happy to pay this astronomical amount (75p …) we attempted to by-pass the ticket booths and find our own, better viewpoints for free! After marching through steep jungle terrain for 2 hours we took a right turn at the middle-off-nowhere, in the hopes of arriving at a secluded beach; for mere mortals this particular beach is only accessible from the sea, and would normally require a lengthy boat trip to access. As it turns out, we are also painfully mortal. Descending to beach required squeezing through oppressive layers of bush, whilst being accosted on all sides by swarms of mosquitos; paradise indeed! After one too many bites we had a bit of a meltdown, threw our toys out the pram, and retraced our steps in a huff – 200 metres short of our destination. Having endured hell to no avail, we sheepishly went back to the ticket booth, paying our 30 baht each; good value for money, all things considered …
2 miles off the coast of Phi Phi is an ‘uninhabited’ island call Koh Phi Phi Leh. Used as a shooting location for the film The Beach, it is draped in forest, with pristine water and bleached white sand; how could we resist such a place? Taking a longtail boat across the narrow channel, our first stop was a stunning cove for a spot of snorkelling. Jade is not the most confident swimmer, however, she plucked up the courage to give snorkelling a go. With the help of a buoyancy aid she nervously hopped off the side of the boat and plopped down in to the water. After a few minutes of getting used to the whole thing, she then proceeded to chase fish around with glee. This was the first time she had ever been snorkelling and it was a massive success.
In the film, The Beach is portrayed as a base for a small travelling community; an isolated utopia; we thought we’d take a look. As it turns out, since Leonardo’s visit in 2001 a lot of other people have also popped by to take a look. Whilst still naturally beautiful, it would take quiet the imagination to ignore the 2000 other people sharing the beach with you; not at all like what you see on the screen.
Following our time on Phi Phi we moved to the mainland, visiting Khao Sok National Park. Our accommodation was slightly more rustic than usual: jungle huts. Built predominately from bamboo, walls 5mm thick and full of holes, large gap between the walls and roof (where all manner of beasties could crawl and slither in), and with the thick humid air you can only find in a rainforest; this was our home for 2 days! However, there were some previous tenants that were not keen on leaving. First was a (large) hand sized Huntsman Spider, that had taken up residence in the bathroom. It patiently waited behind our towels, waiting for Jade to finish in the shower; upon spotting him, Jade’s first reaction was shock. Foregoing the usual handshake (or hug) when meeting new people, she instead opted for a piercing scream. What followed was a frantic attempt to unlock the door and escape in to the relative safety of our room, where she slammed the door behind her.
We also shared our room with a colony of ants. Having bought some bread for our onward journey, we kept it sealed as well as wrapping it in 2 other plastic bags to protect it from any nasties. This was not enough … We woke up in the morning to find a hole had been chewed through each of the bags and an entire slice of bread had already been devoured by these insatiable monsters, who were still swarming all over the remainder of the loaf.
Having had a successful taste of snorkelling a few days previous, when we hoped of the boat on Koh Tao we signed ourselves up for round 2. In addition to drinking 7 (free!) cups of tea in 6 hours, Jade also earned her ‘Advanced Snorkelling’ badge. Jade’s progress was rapid; at first only getting in the water with the assistance of a buoyancy aid, to swimming without one and refusing to take one when offered; she had definitely earned this prestigious (if not incredibly informal) award. Due to a shortage of badges the award took the form of a bag of gummy bears which, after issuing her acceptance speech, she was kind enough to share with Jamie.
That’s about it for now. All of this happened over a week ago, so we are frantically (yeah, right!) trying to catch up; more to follow.
Jade and Jamie
P.S For those of you interested in gaining your Advanced Snorkelling badge, you can’t, it’s made up; but the gummy bears were real, and that’s all anyone cares about anyway!