August travel memory column
This travel memory comes from a personal account of the perfect day. This story takes you to the beaches of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. The date was 2014, the streets of Bangkok where tight with talks of a military coop. A boat took me from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi during a rainy late afternoon, upon arrival the streets were knee deep waterlogged from heavy rainfall. The simplicity of island life meant that the islanders don’t even know about the mainland’s coop, a nice contrast. A small cabin and a box mosquito net by the beach saw me sleep through the storm.
The next morning, a chicken Pad Thai a coffee was ordered from the local straw hut grill, I got talking with some other tourists and found myself booking a tour to Maya beach. Maya beach is the small island just off of Koh Phi Phi, made famous through Leonardo DiCaprio’s film “The Beach”. At the time I was a big Leo fan so I was sold at hello.
The boat to Maya beach would take me to three destinations, a monkey beach, a turquoise lagoon for snorkelling and then the beach itself. The boat trip cost about £40 and tickets were available fro the docks. The first stop at Monkey beach we stopped around 200 meters from the shore, I dived in and swam ashore to meet the monkeys waiting for snacks from these aquamen emerging from the shoreline. There was still a growl of lighting cracking through the sky every few minutes from the storm, this didn’t deter the monkeys from snatching small fruits from our hands. After swimming back to the boat, our captain took us around the corner to a bay filled with limestone cliffs and turquoise water. I took a snorkel set and swam around watching schools of fish dive between the reefs. Sharing utopia I partnered with an Australian guy as we explored the reefs, a light rain was falling on the ocean so as I emerged from the water I’d feel the cold rain in contrast to the warm ocean. The sound of the monkeys echoing through the limestone cliffs in response to the thunder and lightning was like something from the Jurassic era in sound, was this Kong island?
A yellow kayak took me further through the bay with my travelling companion whom was a little uncomfortable to get into the water itself at that time, another totally awesome way to experience the area. The bays limestone shelter had protected the calm waters making a relaxing ride. The little yellow kayak took us back to the boat and over to the destination.
A few short minutes had passed before we found ourselves opposite the outside side of the lower horseshoe of the island. Imagine the bay is in the middle of the horseshoe and the metal are jagged rocks towering in height. This side of the island was the easiest accessible route to the bay, but unlike the previous bay it was facing open water from a stormy sea. The sea battered the side of the boats as they took a protective “U” position to offload tourists onto smaller boats which would carry us to a crack in the horseshoe. The crack had an army style net rope falling 15 meters which would allow us to climb up. After the boat lowered us down and took us ashore, we clambered up the rope and into the protected island.
The horseshoe island had some old wooden houses spread amongst the thin trees surrounded by denser rain forest. The sound of the angry ocean faded away one thin branch at a time, replaced by nothing and then by the sound of a soft shoreline. The crowd followed the sound of the shoreline until a brightness began to emerge from the canopy ahead. We pushed a ferns aside to walk onto a secluded beach with a small narrow entry perhaps 700 meters from the beach for yachts to rest in the bay. Volleyball, water sports, BBQs and beers had taken over this once hidden paradise, but the beauty of the beach was still something to admire.
The boat journey home saw the stormy seas asleep, the peaceful nature of the bay seemed to continue out across the ocean by the time we left. I finished the day with a cold beer by the beach with some Australian friends I made whilst snorkelling, a day well spent.