Ko Phi Phi Ley, Phi Phi Don’s little sister, is a popular day-trip once your hangover is over. Pretty much all of the travel agencies in town sell a half-day boat trip to the small island for 250 baht (about $8). Still curious to see why people liked the area so much, we signed up for it.
When we showed up at the pier a little bit before 2 p.m., the meeting time, there were only four of us. I chatted a bit with two Canadian girls, who raved about Ko Phi Phi Don, “best place in Thailand so far”. Ouch. Seriously?
Suddenly, hordes of day-trippers started to show up and next thing we knew, there were about 50 people waiting to jump on the long-tail boats, all lined up and ready to go. While we didn’t dare to hope for a small group, the crowd was way too big and we ended up being 14 in our boat.
Our first stop was “Monkey Beach”, a tiny strip of sand unimaginatively named for the many monkeys around. The boats stopped close to the shore and dozens of day-tripper jumped into the water and walked to the small beach to have their picture taken with the monkeys. I felt sorry for the poor animals.
We climbed back on board and made our way around the island. I was feeling quite cynical considering the atmosphere—I’m not quite used to taking organized tours! —but I must admit the scenery was nice. The water was a deep emerald-green color, the sun gave the cliffs a warm hue and the sky was deep blue. We stopped here and there, to swim or to snorkel. The coral reefs around Phi Phi Ley were really damaged and nowhere close to what we seen in Australia, but there were hundreds of colourful fishes around us.
Eventually, we reached Maya Bay, the “highlight” of the trip: this is where the 2000 movie “The Beach” with Leonardo Di Caprio was set. Oh, the irony! The movie is the story of a bunch of backpackers who want to escape the boring world and look for paradise, starting their own community in a remote and secret location. Trust me, there is nothing secret about Maya Beach. About 30 boats were parked at the shore and the beach was jam-packed. Asians were in the shade, taking hundreds of pictures, while Westerners were in the sunny corner, sun-bathing and drinking. The whole place was a caricature.
On our back to Phi Phi Don, we saw a really nice sunset, which was pretty much the highlight of the day for me.
I’m not the most environmentalist person around but I can’t help wondering if anyone in Phi Phi realizes that the place is being over-developed and destroyed by greed. There are so many “tourist” boats around that all you see on the beach is dead coral reef, washed upon the shore. The water may look great in the distance but up close you can clearly see all the dirt and waste floating on the surface. Looks can be deceiving… Phi Phi was definitely not paradise for me.
You can see the complete set of pictures taken in Thailand on Flickr.