As soon as we arrived back at Sea Angel Pier, we were greeted by the manager who yesterday promised that we would be able to join the ferry tour to Kho Phi Phi Don. “Come, this way!”, she said pointing towards the edge of the pier where the rest of the passengers made their way to board the ferry. As we crossed the plank a lady with a camera took a picture of me. Confused as I was I then realised she was taking a photo of all passengers coming her way. There were three ferries docked side by side. We ended up on the first one. “Let’s go up the next level for a better view”, I said to Wifey, hoping there were still seats upstairs. With luck on our side we found seats at the back of the ferry as more and more people crowd the boat. I look over the side and noticed the murky water, a few dead fish floated next to pieces of rubbish, the strong salty scent then hit me. I couldn’t wait for the ferry to leave.
Once the ferry was full (too full in my opinion) it started its engine and away we went. There were still some passengers walking around looking for a seat. A woman together with her family of ten asked me if I could move across so that her relative could sit. I moved to the left giving her some room to sit when the same woman TOLD me to swap seats with Wifey and I asked her what was wrong with the seat and she said “For her comfort”. I didn’t get it at first but I realised that the old lady was not comfortable sitting next to man she didn’t know. It must have been a cultural thing. Then came the crew of Sea Angel who gave out mini cupcakes to everyone. The old lady peeled the cupcake liner and without hesitation threw it overboard. Maybe it was a cultural thing too *sigh*. Throughout the whole journey, she would get up and walk around and asked us to watch her bag. We were her bag minder for the day.
Two hours later and we finally docked at Kho Phi Phi Don on Ao Tonsai Pier. Only a handful of passengers got off, those who were part of another tour. From the boat I could see the small village in the middle. The white sand shore was lined with long tail boats. Limestone rock formation covered by lush vegetation surrounded the bay. It was beautiful but I wasn’t too impressed. Maya Bay is what I wanted to see and that was our next destination. And so I thought…
The ferry did take us to Maya Bay, nearly 2 kilometres away from the shore! The announcer on the boat told us that it was as close as we could get as ferries during this time were not allowed to dock any closer; speedboats were fine. From our distance I could only take a photo of the bay filled with speedboats. A minute or two later and then we were off again. You could imagine what my face would have looked at this point.
The ferry continued to circle Kho Phi Phi Lee island, from one bay to another where our ferry was not allowed to dock on. We then headed back to Kho Phi Phi Don towards Monkey Beach where we were to do some snorkelling. I was hoping this would be so amazing that it would totally change my mood of the tour so far. I didn’t hold my breath.
As we got closer to our destination I saw another ferry docked around 400 metres away from the shore. Monkey Beach was a small stretch of sand right off the edge of a limestone wall. I could see swimmers in lifejackets dotting the water, each of them headed towards the end of their boat. “If you are going to snorkel, get changed now and line up for snorkelling equipment”, the speaker on our ferry blasted. The ferry docked right next to the other and Wifey saw the crew transfer the life jackets from the other boat to ours, including the snorkels. “I’m not going in the water in those”, she said to me. As hesitant as I was, I decided to go ahead and so I changed into my swimming clothes, grabbed a life vest as I was not a good swimmer. The line for snorkels was long. People without manners would cut in line. It was chaotic! Once I received my snorkels I rinsed it twice in a water tank. Was I really doing this? I said to myself as I jumped into the water below. I clumsily waddled myself into position, put on my mask and tried to see whats down below. The mask filled with mist and I could hardly see anything, a few fish here and there with yellow and white stripes. Above water, I could here people screaming, limbs flung in all directions. I assumed it was the first time they had done this or that they couldn’t swim. From Wifey’s point of view she said it reminded her of an aftermath of a sinking boat and panicking passengers with lifejackets on crying to be rescued. Some strong swimmers managed to reach the beach. I was not prepared to swim that far. Only lasting half an hour, I decided to swim back before the crowd came in. Wifey greeted my return with ice cream which made me feel a little better. It was around lunch time and we were both getting hungry.
We docked back to the main port in Kho Phi Phi Don at around 12:30pm. The hungry crowd including ourselves were guided to PP Princess Resort where a buffet was waiting for us. In the middle of a shabby rotunda, the buffet table was set. There was tray of fried chicken guarded by a server who was giving out two pieces of chicken wings per person. Wifey and I grabbed as much food as we could and found a table. The food lacked of flavour. Apart from the bland sweet and sour pork, the bolognese tasted like canned tomato heated up and the noodle soup needed more salt. Our hunger superseded our disappointment.
With only an hour left before the ferry was to leave the island, Wifey and I did not waste any time to explore the beach on the other side of the island which was conveniently in front of the resort. It was currently low tide and the water was only knee deep for a good 300 metres. We both lay down and dipped our bodies, keeping it submerged to keep the searing heat of the sun from doing any damage. It was the only moment Wifey and I had some peace and quiet from the tour, just on our own, enjoying the cool water and the view of the bay. If only it was like this the whole time we were there.
The boat ride back to Phuket was a lot calmer and more quiet as most of the passengers on board took the opportunity to nap. The cool wind made it even more comfortable to rest our eyes for a couple of hours. Wifey and I were one of the first ones off upon reaching the port. We passed a table filled with little plates with people’s faces on it. Two faces stood out for me, my wife’s and mine. This was what the photographer did with the photo she took of us boarding the ferry in the morning. “Who would even bother buying these plates as souvenirs?”, I said to her. Apparently a lot since a crowd hovered over the table and I could see them leave clutching their porcelain or should I say plastic portraits in their hands.
It was already 5:30pm when we reached our hotel. We got our bags from the lobby which we packed up in the morning as we were checking in at another hotel that very same day. It took less than 10mins to reach Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa. Upon entering the lobby we were in awe of what the place looked like. The high ceiling wooden bungalow, fans hanging from above. From the balconies we could see trees and plants everywhere. It appeared like we were in a middle of a rainforest. This was the tropical experience we were after in Thailand. At the lobby, we were greeted by a couple of really friendly receptionists who turned out to be Filipinos! They brought out some drinks and cool towel for refreshment. One of them guided us to our room which was perched high up on the side of the hill. “How do we go up there?” I asked her. “By cable car!”, she replied.
That was the first time both of us had ever experienced riding on a cable car to go up our hotel room. The ride was slow, very steep and the only thing that kept you feeling safe in the car was the chain that closed off the entry and exit way. Our luggage was brought via the other side of the hill where a path for a buggy could travel on. We opened the door of our room and it felt like we stepped back in time. The opposite of modern, it was more traditional. You could sense the richness of the history of the place since it has been opened since the 80s. From the white walls and sheets to the antique furniture it was definitely the polar opposite of the very modern Kalima Resort that we stayed at on our first half of our stay in Phuket. “There are no ghosts in this place right?”, I joked. “No sir, I don’t think there is”, she said laughing as she closed the door and left us alone.
After taking a much needed shower, we both got dressed for dinner and headed down to Marisa Terrace Restaurant within the resort. Meals were quickly ordered due to hunger, Wifey ordering the burger and I ordered the seafood fried rice. Our eyes opened wide when the meals hit the table. The burger was the size of my wife’s head! It was the biggest burger we had ever seen… and eaten. My fried rice was placed on a wooden boat topped with a crispy tempura tiger prawn. Luckily it wasn’t a big serving and so I still had plenty of room in my stomach for the burger :). The burger was delicious, topped with caramelised mushroom and onion, pickles and melted brie cheese. We were so full after the meal and so we decided to head back to our room and rest as it had been a very long day.
TIP: If you plan to do an island tour of the Phi Phi islands, book a speedboat tour instead of a ferry tour if you can or perhaps book a couple of nights on the island itself and take a long tail boat to see the wonderful beaches and coves we didn’t get to properly see on the ferry. You will have more time to explore the islands and also more snorkelling time with less people around you.