Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Travel Blog: Thailand

16th November - Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Ley

So today I jumped off a cliff.


Yes, it was the most adventurous thing I've ever done! And I wasn't even scared until we turned up at the tour centre, and was handed a waiver to sign just in case we get injured or died.  Oh right!! I didn't realise it was that dangerous....

It was all part of a boat trip around Phi Phi Ley, a tiny island so close to Phi Phi that it is almost connected.  It was the best 500 baht/tenner I ever spent.

First we stopped at some cliffs to do the jump.  We had to put special shoes on and literally rock climb, through jagged and slippy rocks, to the top of this cliff.  Unaided I may add!  I was expecting some stairs, then a run and jump?! No chance.  These were real cliffs, with a jagged edge to leap off if you dared.  So what was it like? For me, quite unpleasant!  The first cliff was only 8m apparently - but it still took me a good 3 seconds to hit the water.  And that's what it felt like, a massive slap.  For some reason my bum felt it the most, even though I did what the guide said and jumped in like a pencil.  Then as I plunged deep underwater, my head felt like it was going to explode.  I thought I was never going to make it back up to the surface, then when I finally did, the waves were so choppy that I kept gulping water and found it hard to swim back to the boat with my backside still stinging!
Most people went back for more, to try the higher jumps, but one was definitely enough for me. At least I can say I did it!  Only one person on the whole boat had the guts to do the big 18m jump.  Rik went back to try the second highest, about 12m, but soon changed his mind and clambered back to the lowest one.  It is soooo much higher and scarier when you're up there than when you're watching from below.  But I'm really glad I did it.

From there we went round the corner to monkey beach, where you guessed it, monkeys live.  But they were wild and fierce, not small, cute or cheeky like I'd imagined!  When we'd had enough monkeying around, our tiny longtail boat zoomed off into the sea to take us to a beautiful lagoon.  Surrounded by giant cliff faces, it was so peaceful and the water was amazing, so we all jumped in for a swim.

After a bit of snorkelling by a rocky wall (which me and Rik epically failed at) our guides then took us to Maya Bay - the actual beach where 'The Beach' was filmed.  But our boat didn't pull up on that beach, oh no - we had to go on a little adventure.  Just like in the film, it is actually a national park and we had to pay a national park entry fee.  Once that had been collected, we were led to a cave where once again, we tried our hand at a bit of rock climbing.  It was like a passageway under a cliff, but still in the sea with some very tight squeezes!  But it was all part of the fun, and as we ascended into the light again, we came to the steepest staircase known to man.  Another 10 minute walk and there it was upon us: that exact, breathtaking view from the film....ruined by a few boats and 50+ tourists.  But still, it really is the most amazing beach, it's no wonder the director chose this location.  It almost makes it a fact that Maya Bay is the most beautiful beach in the whole of Thailand.  We spent about an hour there, and was nowhere close to getting bored. I just couldn't stop taking photographs, I wanted to remember this view forever.

But the trip was not over yet.  As the sun set on the horizon, we were whisked away to our very own private beach fro a bbq and a party.  It would be hard to beat Maya Bay, but as the boat pulled in to our location I knew it wouldn't disappoint.  A small beach lit by flames, that led into a beach cavern, where fires and a little mini bar were set up and the music was pumping.  There were only around 30 of us on this beach, so more of a friendly, cosy mini-party which was a perfect way to end the day.  We ate, drank and chatted to a few people.  Then one of our guides brings out a gutiar, and asks if anyone wants to play...next thing we're all singing Oasis round the campfire.  There's no word to describe this apart from surreal.  Do you ever get that moment where you think "This isn't real, I'm in a movie right now."  Well this was definitely one of them. Following our sing-song the Thais got up and showed off their fire twirling skills - which everyone does here by the way, I think Thais come out of the womb twirling a firestick and throwing it to the next newborn across the room. It is entertaining though!  Then they led us into the sea to show us the glowing plankton, as it was pitch black by now.  They were wicked! If you stayed still, theres nothing but black all around and in the sea, but if you move or splash in the water, lots of tiny light dots appear, just for a few seconds, then disappear again.  Fascinating sight to end the day with.

To conclude our night, we headed back to the village for a few drinks.  It was just the best day ever.  But now tomorrow is our last day, and I really really DON'T want to leave!!!

Rik on his 2nd jump: