Friday, January 29, 2010

Phi Phi and Patong by Night

On January 28th we headed for Phi Phi by speedboat. We were picked up by van and taken to a shoddy boarding facility at which we were given the opportunity to rent fins. It seemed curious to us that a snorkel tour should include the mask but not the fins.

Our speedboat took off for Phi Phi in the morning. We went past a novel selection of mangroves and shoddy docks as we headed out.

Our first stop on reaching the island was a snorkel drop. It was very cool to see how dramatically Pavan's confidence in the water has improved from starting swimming lessons. Several years ago in Mexico she was nervous in a life jacket; in Thailand she was confident without one.

Next we took a short shore leave on a beach nearby the snorkel drop point. It was packed with boats near-identical to ours.

The chance to re-apply sunscreen was welcome. Seeing the old-school longtail boats as we blew out in our distinctly un-traditional boat was neat too.

As we moved on we stopped to eye the birdsnest farming facilities among the stalactite-like formations on the cliff edges and caves by the waters edge.

The waters were full of fish!

Our next stop was monkey island. The monkeys are exceedingly well fed and lethargic. It appears they just lounge around the beach awaiting handouts. Fruit, water, and coke are popular.

After the monkeys we made another snorkel stop. The water was a bit low so it was necessary to lie very flat to skim out over the large expanse of dead coral and reach semi-live stuff. As we cruised out we encountered a small 2-3 inch yellow fish that persistently attacked us! It would rush up and bite us. The bites were not really painful, just surprising and irritating. Later it turned out they left small red marks. After one skimmed out a few hundred meters the water got a little deeper, the coral got a little liver, and many more interesting things began to appear. Highlights were hearing a fish nibble on coral - a distinctly audible underwater crunch - and Rod seeing a small (probably 3-4ft though it looked bigger with water magnification) shark! It was Pavan's first time snorkeling close up to live coral. She was very very excited to see everything.

After that it was time to head for home :(

After a quick shower and dinner we decided to take a Tuk Tuk over to Patong beach to see if it was as crazy as everyone claims. The Tuk Tuk was awesome as it had speakers in the back and played Thai rap all the way to the beach. The bar strip was just as mad as advertised. Evidently certain western gentlemen feel no shame at all about strutting down the bar strip with a Thai prostitute; we saw tons of this. Bars with various forms of entertainment were everywhere. The three of us wound up hanging out at the bar strip until around 4am as part of our clever plan to be groggy for the next days trip to Chiang Mai.

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