|Almost in Chumphon and finally some calm seas!|
In Krabi Town we stayed at Cha-Cha-Lay, which was a fabulous small hotel that was immaculately clean and had the coolest outdoor bathroom.
|The blue doors open from the bedroom into the "outdoor" bathroom. And a Western style toilet, yay!!|
|Many stalls to choose from at the Night Market|
Our friends arrived around noon, so we got to enjoy a nice lunch with them before heading off to Phi Phi in the afternoon.
|Rian and Mike were stopping in Krabi before heading to Lao Liang to do some climbing. Second time we've been able to meet up with honeymooning friends in random places and hopefully that streak continues! :)|
|Erik on the ferry to Phi Phi. Sweet limestone cliffs in background.|
|Bathroom is to the right in this picture|
|Phi Phi Leh is to the left, which is where "The Beach" was filmed. It is uninhabited. Phi Phi is actually two islands even though both are commonly just referred to as "Phi Phi.. Technically we were staying on Phi Phi Don.|
|Erik walking along Long Beach on our journey into town.|
|Phi Phi Leh in the background|
|Tonsai Beach on the left and Loh Dalum Beach on the right|
|At the viewpoint!|
We enjoyed the view for a while and then headed into town to do some exploring there. On the way down we actually came across our first snake of the trip, a green one that slithered across the path right in front of me! Not sure what type of snake it was, as there are many different types of venomous snakes in Southern Thailand, but happy that it was similar to my first snake encounter in Oz, uneventful. After the hike back home we spent a lovely evening at Phi Phi Hill enjoying a beautiful sunset!
|View from our dinner table|
|Sunset over Phi Phi Leh|
The next day I had arranged for us to take a boat over to Phi Phi Leh early in the morning. I wanted to get there before many of the other boats (around 10am they start sending scores of tourists over and it becomes a madhouse) to enjoy the serenity and do some snorkeling. We hired a private long tail boat for about $40, which included snorkeling equipment and 3 hours of fun on Phi Phi Leh.
|This is Maya Bay. The big black spots in the water are HUGE swarms of fish!|
Pretty decent snorkeling there, though pictures are hard to get because our point and shoot camera was essentially just in a heavy duty Ziploc bag!
After snorkeling, we went on a tour of the rest of Phi Phi Leh, which has lots of little coves and beaches. Remember when I mentioned that the island is uninhabited? Well we did see some clear evidence that there are people actually living on Phi Phi Leh!
|Pretty sweet swimming at your doorstep!|
|One of the "bays" of Phi Phi Leh|
I also spent some time taking photos of flowers around the resort, which is one of my favorite things to do!
That night was New Year's Eve, and we were leaving the next day, so we decided we'd have a low key night. Actually we were even debating going to bed before midnight! However, after dinner and a walk on the beach, the Thais who work at Phi Phi Hill essentially INSISTED that we be there for their New Year's party. So it was us and another young German couple who joined the entire staff for a night of drinking, eating, and dancing. The Thais were so incredibly generous to us that evening, including free beers from the hotel manager...just for the non-Thai attendees! If you want to see a short video of that evening, you can watch it here. There were lots of laughs over the course of the evening, but one of the funniest things was when they put an entire fish that had been grilled in front of Erik and I. We had no idea how to eat the fish, as this was a whole fish, skin and all! A language barrier can really force you to use your other senses and nonverbal communication in order to get by. After a bit of demonstration by the Thais, Erik was able to free lots of delicious fish for us to consume. At midnight there were fireworks all over the island, which we had a great view of from the Phi Phi Hill restaurant.
The next morning I wanted to snorkel a bit before we checked out, so we headed down to the beach basically right in front of the resort. On our entry into the water we saw hundreds of crabs.
No less than 5 minutes after we started snorkeling, a spotted a blacktip reef shark! I have a crazy fear of sharks, but I was actually really excited to spot the shark. We saw another one (or potentially the same one) a few minutes later as well. Turns out there was very good snorkeling right at our doorstep, and we saw lots of colorful fish, including a couple of clownfish in an anemone, which was a really cool sight! After snorkeling, we checked out of our room and headed to the restaurant to hang out, where we watched the East Coast ring in the new year on television (it was noon on New Year's Day, and Thailand is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time). We then started our long journey home, which entailed a long tail boat to the port, a ferry to Phuket, a minibus ride to the airport, an 8.5 hour flight back to Melbourne, a bus from the airport, and a tram to our house. We arrived home to HOT weather, as it was 103 degrees here on January 2nd!
Erik helped me create a little "travel map" to help you get an idea of how we traveled throughout Southern Thailand. Technically we started and ended at the Phuket airport, which is Northeast of the Phuket dot on this map. We did take the ferry to Phuket and drove through the town on our way to to the airport, but that was our extent of experiencing Phuket, and we were okay with that! The dots represent places that we stayed overnight.
All in all, we had a fantastic trip to Thailand. The beautiful scenery, amazing food, and friendly people are enticing reasons to visit again, though on the way home we made a list of where we'd like to go next and I'm not sure how a return trip to Thailand will fit into that schedule! :)