Friday, August 19, 2011

What used to be a remote island

Day 61: Backpacker heaven

This morning, a van picked us up to take us to the pier where we caught our ferry to our next destination: Ko Phi Phi Don. Our boat to the island was huge, and definitely not what we were expecting: air conditioning, muffins and coffee, and a movie! We made the two hour trip, arrived in Ko Phi Phi surrounded by throngs of tourists, and walked around looking for a hotel. Most places were booked but we were lucky to find a place, checked in, dropped our stuff off, and went to walk around the island.

We walked through little alleys full of shops and restaurants and arrived on another side of the island that was packed with young tourists sunbathing on the beach. The beach looked like a little lagoon with very few waves and some fisherman boats anchored near the shore. We stayed on the beach and sat in the warm water for a bit before heading back to our side and relaxing a bit.

Then we went out for dinner, booked a tour for tomorrow, and a few more flights and hotels for the next few days. After dinner, we walked back to the touristy side of the island and it was like a huge outdoor rave on the beach. All of the tourists were young, and it looked like it was an island run by teenagers! They were all carrying around buckets full of drinks and straws, getting tattoos in parlours, and walking around being carefree party animals. The beach was completely lined with bars with neon lights everywhere, and the music was loud, you couldn’t hear yourself think. We realized that we’re old now, and went back to our side of the island, thankful for peace and quiet before we went to bed!

Interestingly, Ko Phi Phi Don was apparently “discovered” by a few adventurous backpackers a few decades ago. Back then, there were only a few bungalows on the island and it was mostly inhabited by a community of sea-faring gypsies who called themselves the Chao Ko, or Island People. There was no pier and only one public boat each week made scheduled trips to the island. Sadly, the fight began over whether to make this a vacation destination or preserve its character, and the business world (unfortunately) won.
The beach at Ko Phi Phi Don (somehow, a picture with no tourists!)

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