Day 12 - south to Phuket
In the morning we ate breakfast with Aviv and said goodbye. We headed to Phuket, while Aviv took the bus to Bangkok in order to go to Kanchanaburi. We met Sander and Jetty in the airport and exchanged plans.
When we reached Phuket we had two options - try to catch the last ferry to ko Phi Phi (which was about half an hour later) or spend the night in Phuket. We decided to stay in Phuket and leave to ko Phi Phi early in the morning. We left the airport and realized we couldn't all squeeze into one taxi-meter so we hired a driver with a new pickup truck. This was a major mistake since 10 minutes after we left the airport it started raining heavily and our bag were thrown in the back of the truck, being soaked by the rain.
We asked the driver to take us to the TAT where we could get some information. Being a conniving taxi driver, he took us to one of the agencies he worked with which wasn't TAT, but we insisted on him taking us to the real TAT and so he did. We received there a brochure with a list of all the hotels in Phuket, their ranks, prices and the services they offer. We decided to look for a hotel with this brochure in the low-medium price range (up to 700 bahts a room). We checked 3-4 hotels but they were all moldy, dirty and asked for prices which were a lot higher than what was written in the TAT's brochure. In the end, we gave up trying to find a decent hotel on our own, and went to a hotel the driver recommended which was reasonable.
The driver asked us to go with him to the docks in order to buy the ferry tickets. We went to the docks with him, but they wanted 500 bahts for a ticket so we decided to manage on our own. When we got back to the hotel we found out that the contents of out backpacks were completely wet and we had to hang them all over the room using strings we had.
In the evening Tomer started showing signs of illness, but we thought that he would feel better after a decent meal, so we decided to eat a non-Thai food in a place called the "Pizza Company" near our hotel. Oren and Einav ordered together a plate with 20 chicken wings, and after 15 minutes got a plate with only 12 wings (which were not especially tasty). Tomer was half wasted because he started having fever, but he is not a sucker, so despite our warnings he called the waitress and explained her in Thai-English (so that she'll understand) and with thae assistance of his hand, that we ordered 20 wings but that it is ok and we just didn't want them to charge us for 20 wings. The waitress nodded and left. Five minutes later, and just like we anticipated, we received another tray of 20 chicken wings...
We returned to the hotel and Einav started feeling sick also so we called off the rest of our plans for the day. Tomer and Einav slept on the bed, and Oren slept on the floor as far away from them as possible in order to not get infected.
Day 13 - arriving to ko Phi Phi
In the morning, after Tomer and Einav had been sick all night, we told Jetty and Sander that we'll be staying in Phuket until Tomer and Einav feel better, and decided that they will leave to ko Phi Phi and that we'll join them later that day or in the next day i the worst case.
A few hours later, after eating some good pastries we bought in a bakery near the hotel, Tomer and Einav felt better and we decided to take the ferry to ko Phi Phi and we went to the docks. All explanations about Sander and Jetty paying only 350 bahts didn't help us, and we had to pay 450 bahts (the formal explanation was that the noon ferry is more expensive than the morning ferry). The cruise took longer than expected and lasted 3 hours and we arrived to ko Phi Phi around 16:30 and started searching for a place to spend the night.
We couldn't find a place we liked, and since it got dark and we were afraid we'd stay without a place for the night, we decided to take an expensive room - 1500 bahts for the 3 of us with air conditioning. The owner told us we were the first visitors to sleep there since the tsunami struck ko Phi Phi.
Tomer felt much better so we ate dinner in a fish restaurant called "chao koh" in which you select a fish from a big stand, without even telling them the number of the table you are sitting by, and in some miraculous way the same fish is delivered to your table. Anyway, dinner was good, and not very expensive.
We returned to our room and Oren found out that he spent the previous night on the floor for nothing and got sick (the fish from dinner returned to the sea sooner than expected).
Day 14 - Ko Phi Phi
We got up pretty early in the morning so we can look for another guest house to stay in, and have a morning swim in the amazing bay before everyone wakes up. We talked to Jetty & Sander and they told us there is room for us at the guest house on the beach they are staying at for 1000 baht a night (no air conditioning and no hot-water). We decided to join them and they organized a ride for us on a long-tail boat by the guest house owners. We had a half an hour left before the ride so we decide to go up to the view point. We climbed a whole lot of stairs only to find out that the view point did not exist. However, we did see a sign there leading to the beach where Jetty and Sander stayed.
the view of phi phi island
We arrived to "Relax Beach" around noon, and went for snorkeling through the corals, sea-urchins and fish. Staying at the "Relax Beach" is pretty secluded and makes it difficult to enjoy the restaurants and bars of the main shore, however it has the most beautiful private beach and a rich naval environment. Moreover, the restaurant of the guest house is decent, and offers a big range of dishes. If you insist on getting to the main shore, you can get there by foot, through the trail we saw in the view-point. The road back however, requires climbing a lot of stairs...
The main problem with the "Relax Beach" was the conditions within the bungalows: the water was cold, the bathroom was not clean and frankly smelly, and the "Relax Beach"'s generator was only on from 18:30 to 03:00. If you add the price of the taxi-boats (400-500 baht) per direction the ROI is pretty low. However, the bungalow we slept in was straight on the beach.
the bungalow we slept in
After lunch, Tomer, Jetty and Sander caught a ride to the main shore on the owners' boat to buy us some snacks, candles (highly recommended) and an air-freshener for the smelling bathroom. The rest of us stayed at the beach walking along the corals that were revealed in the low-tide. At the evening we went out to stroll on the private beach with a flashlight, to watch the crabs running around, until the high-tide covered the shore getting as close as three meters to our bungalow.
Day 15 - Ko Phi Phi
After having breakfast we took a taxi-boat to the main shore where we decided to go out for snorkeling with "barracuda" for 600 baht a person. The boat we went out with was pretty new and big since it mainly serves scuba divers. It was a fun day, which included snorkeling in two sites - Ko Phi Phi lei and Ko Bida Nok, a lunch, fruits and drinking water. The visibility was at its best during the morning hours. When we got back from the snorkling, we took a taxi-boat to the "Relax Beach" which cost us 500 baht, because the night was already falling.
At dinner, Tomer ordered two meals - one for him and one for the crabs: after we ate, he took a fishing rope without the hook and tied some of the food to it. Then, he put it into the carbs' caves and started "fishing" them... A tourist that passed us by looked at us like crazy people but when Tomer gave her a small demonstration of the crab's strength as it pools the rope she decided to join us. After an hour or so, Sander and Tomer were the only ones left there, until the bait was gone.