The Thai leg of my journey has almost come to an end, so thought that before I board my plane for Malaysia tomorrow I should update you on what I have been up to for the last couple of weeks.
After landing at the pier and practically half-swimming half-walking what seemed like miles I got to my hostel. I hadn't actually stayed in a shared dorm with strangers yet as I'd always been travelling with people that I'd already met so was a bit apprehensive, but travelling solo you really have to do it or you wouldn't meet anyone. So my first proper experience of a hostel dormitory was this one - a room with 20 beds and not much else apart from loads of ants, cockroaches and (it has been claimed, thankfully never actually seen by me) - a mouse. Oh, and a shared toilet block with three showers one of which had the door hanging off. As you can imagine I wasn't ecstatic about this, but it was OK. I met some nice people but there was actually hardly anyone in the dorm, and the island in general, as it was coming up to the Full Moon party and so most travellers were on their way to Koh Phangnan instead. Also the storm meant that the boats had stopped running - it turned out that mine was the last for at least a day.
The weather did eventually get better on the third day though! I was so pleased because there's not really much to do at all when it's raining. I was a bit disappointed with Phi Phi to be perfectly honest because it had been hyped up so much by everyone I met but it just reminded me of being in Tenerife or Ayia Napa or somewhere like that. The main beach is disgusting and covered in rubbish, and the main area is just full of drunk tourists falling out of clubs and promotors handing you leaflets (I feel a bit snobby saying this but you know what I mean - doesn't really feel like you're in Thailand!)
Having said that, when the weather got better and I had the chance to explore a bit more I did see some really beautiful places. I went on a boat trip to Long Beach, which was MUCH nicer and then on a half day trip to Phi Phi Leh which is the smaller island next to the main Phi Phi island and is where Maya Bay, the location for the film The Beach is. Because of this there are just soo many people doing exactly the same thing that the beach is completely crowded and you only get an hour and a half there. The whole trip was a bit dodgy really (but, you know 'that's Thailand'). We had to follow this guy who took us through the back streets and climb over rusty ropes and stuff to his boat that was parked away from the main pier. Then we stopped off at a few different bays before he told us that in order to get to Maya bay we had to a) swim and climb over these really sharp rocks and then climb through a half submerged cave and b) Pay him 100 baht (2 quid) for the 'national park entrance fee'. We obviously hadn't been told about either of these things beforehand, I just assumed we would pull up onto some nice soft sand but no, nothing can be simple. It was an adventure anyway... Once I had managed to scramble across all the rocks and cut my foot twice in the process we eventually got to the entrance where there was another Thai man sitting on a desk asking us to pay him another 100 baht to get in! We managed to persuade him that we had already paid after a bit of arguing, but I think there was definitely some sort of 'deal' going on between them. Anyway, Maya Bay was really gorgeous and so it was worth it in the end.
|Me reading 'The Beach' on the actual Beach...|
|The assault course to get to Maya Bay|
I'm glad I managed to do that when I did because the next day I got really ill. I'd managed to avoid illness for so long I was starting to feel a bit smug but living in the dorm where a lot of other people were also sick I guess it was inevitable. One of the girls I volunteered with also got ill there and I've heard a lot about 'Phi Phi sickness' so it seems like it was always going to happen. I woke up with a fever and couldn't move from my bed all day, let alone eat anything. I was really fed up of being in the dorm as well and not being able to sleep until 5am, being munched on by mosquitos and bugs and having none of my own space so as soon as I was OK to move I got on a ferry back to Phuket town. I booked myself into a hostel that is so much nicer it's in a different league (although I swear I have JUST seen a rat running out of the door!). The first night I got myself a private room with a double bed and hot shower and then watched a DVD and slept there for about 15 hours, which really did me good. I'm still feeling a bit ill and haven't eaten anything except plain rice and bread for a few days but I am getting better so don't worry! I moved into the dorms for the last 2 nights (need to save my money and its only 4 pounds a night, amazing!) but they are still about a million percent better than the ones on Phi Phi. And there's noone else in my dorm so it's like I have a private room anyway which is great as I'm really not in the mood to socialise at the moment. I've spent most of my time watching DVDs in the common room and chilling out (one of which was The Beach, just so I could point at it and say I'd been there).
There have been a couple of interesting things to have a look at around Phuket town, even though if I wasn't ill I would say you couldn't stay for more than half a day really. Firstly, when I arrived the whole street had been blocked off to traffic and there was a massive market going on and at night they played music and there were a couple of stages where dance groups were performing. A girl in the next dorm told me it was Chinese Halloween celebartions but I'm not sure if that's true as I Googled it and couldn't see anything about it.. In any case, it was entertaining to watch and I got a front row seat from my bedroom. It was VERY loud though so I'm glad I was in the other room the first night when I really needed my sleep.
Also saw some nice architecture (in the Sino-Portugese style so the map told me) and a few shrines and temples. The whole walk took about ten minutes but at least I feel a bit cultural!