macado's se asia adventure I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

27Jun/064

Koh Phi Phi

So i've been on Koh Phi Phi for 3 days now and I have to say this island is beautiful but at the same time the tsunami devastation is apparent everywhere.  It's a shame because I would have liked to have seen this place in all it's glory.  The entire landscape still appears to be marred with trash and debris as you walk around to where hotels and bungalows once stood.

Don't get me wrong; It seems the main infustructure of the island has almost been entirely rebuilt.  Bars everywhere are open, bungalows are easy enough to find and shops everywhere on the main plaza/strip are all busy with customers almost oblivious to what happened. Development here seems to be continuing at an alarming rate to the point where Phi Phi will surely be overdeveloped to its' previous state.

The first night I got here I found two girls from Holland who had been wondering around for about an hour trying to find their resort and had no idea where they were.  They managed to walk in the complete opposite direction to where they were staying and got hopelessly lost.  Being the nice guy I am and with my extremely limited geography of the island, I had them describe anything that seemed familiar.  Suprisingly, I managed to figure out where they were staying and I walked them back to their place.  Crisis averted.  Now who says Americans aren't helpful? 🙂

Since this is the monsoon season it has been heavily raining off and on for a few days, only stopping for brief periods and then continuing on with more showers.  Today is the first day I've seen the sun out in a while.  The weather on the Andaman coast during this time of year is very sporadic with bouts of heavy rain and occasional spots of sunshine.

Because of the amount of my money I spent on accommodations and food on Railay, I decided that I would trim my expenses by finding somewhere cheap to stay.  I managed to find a shithole of a place for 250baht (6.50USD)/night.  It's pretty much the worst place i've stayed so far but it has a bed, a bathroom and a fan so it will surely suffice for a bit longer. The only major problem is that it is really far away from the main town with all the night life and restaurants so it requires me to walk about 15-20 minutes up a hill to the middle of no where. I've only got 3 days left on this island so i'm debating whether or not it's worth it to find someplace better.

A few other interesting things about this island.  There are no cars or motorcycles here.  Everybody walks or takes a bicycle.  Ironically, where motorcycle traffic on the other islands can be a hazard, the only dangerous thing here is being ran over by a peddling Thai on a bicycle. In effect, not so deadly.  Even with the hundreds of bars on the island, night life here seems to be centered on about 3 main bars: Apache Bar, Carlito's and the Reggie Bar. You tend to see the same people over and over again because Phi Phi is small compared to Koh Samui or Koh Phangan.  Every backpacker more or less follows the same route so i've met many people that i've seen in Bangkok and at other places. It's really funny.  Half the people you don't remember their names or have any idea where you met them but you know at one point you were drinking with them somewhere along the line.

Another strange thing about this island is that there are hundreds of stray cats everywhere which are extremely friendly.  Most seems obviously well fed and taken care of. I had one kitten follow me half-way back to my bungalow after I gave it some attention.  This is contrast to the other islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao where the problem is not cats, but stray dogs.  Dogs seemed to have become such a plague on all the other islands that a dog rescue fund was started. For some reason, Koh Phi Phi appears unaffected.  I haven't seen one dog since I got on the island and I much prefer cats.

I did manage to met up with the two English guys, Alex and Chris that I hung out with on Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.  Since they're sort of doing a similar itinerary i'm going to follow them down to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia for a while.  We also briefly and randomly met up with the two Canadian girls, Tiko and Chloe that we met at our bungalow on Koh Phangan at the Apache Bar.  I also met up with two other English girls, Lauren and Laura, one of whom I met on a travel website and was supposed to met up with on Koh Phangan but I never got the chance.  I knew she was going to be on Phi Phi as well so I called her cellphone and i've sort of been chilling with them off and on.  I believe they're also headed to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia so i'll most likely see them again on my trip.

We all sort of drank heavily last night so I haven't been feeling too well. I finally got a bit of sun today to aid my ailing tan and I managed to walk around the island to explore a bit more.

24Jun/060

West Railay Beach, Krabi Province, Thailand.

So I left Koh Tao 3 days ago and I am now on Railay Beach.  So far this has been the most beautiful and expensive place I have been in Thailand.  The beach is awesome, it's surrounded by huge towering limestone cliffs on all sides that gradually drape into the clear turquoise water. Great sunsets every night.  The place I am staying at is called Sea Sand Resort and it cost 23USD/night!  REALLY EXPENSIVE by Thailand terms and it's eating my budget so I am leaving tomorrow morning for the famous Koh Phi Phi which is said to be even nicer than Railay. I could have stayed at a much cheaper place on Railay  East but that beach is mostly mud flats.  The Internet here is also triple the cost of other places so i'm not going to stay on long.

Interestingly enough, although Railay is not an island it definitely has a most secluded feel to it compared to the other places I have been.  In order to get here you need to take a 25 minute longboat ride.  There are no cars and no motorbikes, you can walk to the other end of the peninsula in less than 5 minutes.   Other than for it's spectacular beaches and world-class rock climbing which I don't do, there is no nightlife here at the moment.  Since it's pretty much the low/monsoon season, there aren't many people here.  It rained heavily all day and finally cleared up in the afternoon.

 I would love to stay here longer just for the beach but I need to be out of Thailand by the 30th. That gives me hopefully 5 full days to explore Koh Phi Phi, do some kayaking and maybe a bit more scuba diving.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us 

Filed under: Thailand No Comments
19Jun/060

More pictures from Ko Phangan

I've finally found a place with a relatively fast internet connection so I was able to upload some more pictures of Ko Phanagan.  Nothing special, just pictures of beaches, more beaches, waterfalls, and some sunsets. I've only taken about 3-4 pictures on Koh Tao so far so I'm not going to post them yet.

Filed under: Thailand No Comments
19Jun/060

Diving on Koh Tao

3 days ago I moved to the island of Koh Tao which is known for having some of the best scuba diving in Southeast Asia. I am staying at a place called Ban's Dive Resort and so far it's been the nicest and more importantly, the cheapest place I have stayed at. It's only costing me 1.80USD/night (split between 2 guys I met from England). The reason the room is so cheap is because the resort makes all their money on diving packages and from the restaurant. The rooms are suprisingly nice compared to where i've been saying the last 2 1/2 weeks. It's more of a hotel style accomdation however so it's not a bungalow on the beach like before. It also has a really nice pool and a good restaurant.

So far i've only done about 5 dives. 2 afternoon dives and 1 night dive on the 17th and another 2 afternoon dives on the 18th. Today i'm taking a day off from diving to explore the island and rest. The diving here is fanastic compared to what i'm used to in Boston but I still prefer Mexico more based on the reefs that i've dove so far. The big difference here is the marine life. Massive schools of fish on most of the dive sites; much more fish than i've ever seen diving in Mexico. Other than that, nothing really special to report about. The night dive was fairly bland until the end when we starting to see lots of stingrays. On the afternoon dives, I saw a very large and curious sea turtle that seemed to follow our dive party with no fear for about 10-15 minutes. I also saw some other stingrays and a barracuta which are all too common sights in Mexico so perhaps i'm a bit jaded on the quality of the diving here. I would at least rate it on par with Cozumel, Mexico although in my opinion the reefs in Mexico have much more to see with massive swim-thrus and different coral formations. I am going to probably do one or two more days of diving then I am heading to Krabi since I only have 10 days left in Thailand. Going to try to do 5 days in Krabi and spend the rest of my time in Koh Phi Phi before heading to Malaysia.

The other aspect of diving here which I am not really fond of is the size of the dive boats and the number of people diving here. In Mexico, Florida keys, and Boston i'm used to very small dive boats with a maximum of perhaps 8 people. The dive boats here are massive with 60 people on one boat. The divemasters of course will split up the groups into smaller, more managable sizes but it still has a feeling of over crowdedness. Every dive site here is literally filled with divers, way too many. Besides these minor shortcomings, I quite like the diving here and Ban's Diving Resort is fanastic and well run dive operation. Ban's is well more organized than any dive operator i've encountered in Mexico. I am seriously considering coming back here to get my Divemaster certification because Ban's provides you free diving for life is you complete your certification here. I don't think anyone could pass up that offer.