As much as I would love to waste another few days on Ko Mook, a dive course beckoned from Khao Lak, way North of here, so the compass was set. 50 baht longtail tax for the 2 minute ride to the ferry then a very pleasant few hours watching the Andaman coast slip by took me from Koh Sublime to Ko Superficial. Cruising into Phi Phi Don, Ton Sai village hits you 110% right-hook-shock-and-awe straight off the pier – give up on all pretence of arriving on a lost tropical paradise and bid welcome to the Asia-Pacific’s Costa Del Sol – the one EasyJet don’t fly to (yet). Arranged on a semi-geometric grid, the layout should be simple, but there are no landmarks, so it’s just an ultra-confusing full-on repeating pattern of bars, cafes, tattoo parlours, travel agents, restaurants, dive shops and oh-so-poor value for money guesthouses.
Even though I had chosen an over-priced bungalow on the (theoretically quiet) edge of town, Christian was still woken first by the “I think I’ll have an early night” types at 2am, and then by the “why don’t we go down to the beach before we go back to bed” crew at 5am – this is a fine place to be in your 20s with baht in your pocket. By chance I met the guilty parties (5am division) the following afternoon – the lovely Jo and Charlotte from Yorkshire – Jo at least had recovering from dengue fever to celebrate, but no excuse for Charlotte – bad girl.
Still, had to be up at 6am, so a 5am wake-up call wasn’t all bad. Wandering through town to the dive shop, a few, strangely-contented looking travellers lay asleep on pathside grass verges – ending up sleeping in the gutter back home would be a night out that didn’t go to plan, but here it seemed a lot less tragic.
By 7.30 our dive boat was motoring steadily towards Bida Nok, South of Phi Phi Ley for a nice couple of short dives – great to refresh the buoyancy skills and get ready for next week. Lionfish, boxfish and eels aplenty, with the odd jellyfish to avoid and the odd turtle not to. Missed out on the reef sharks this time, but the lovely people at Adventure Club Divers are taking me shark watching at 5am tomorrow, so fingers crossed…
Overall, if you can stretch the budget (and it is a stretch), Koh Phi Phi is still worth the time, and takes absolutely no effort – just don’t come seeking solitude…
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