I got up early, jumped on my bike, and rode into the village to drop a couple cards and my photos CD in the post. That way if my boat sinks, I lose my pack, etc…at least maybe I’ll have some pics at home to remember this.
I sped back, checked out, and barely made the pickup truck to the pier. As usual we were stuffed into the back of a pickup, roasting under the Thailand sun at every stop…but spirits were high as everyone was moving to a new place. The boat was full, and the scary thing is that it was 70/30 tourists to backpackers. Lots of pull-along luggage. The ride was only 1.5 hours and very smooth. We docked at Ko Phi Phi and I immediately I noticed something wrong….no touts! This is the first time I have stepped off a boat and not had people pulling my arms and signs in my face for bungalows, dives, taxis, massage, you name it. The quiet was actually a little strange! I humped down the main road and was stopped by a nice divemaster in her shop that let me drop my pack while I explored a bit for a bungalow. She said the Tsunami wiped out 2000 rooms on the island, so it is very competitive now. This is the first high season they have had since the Tsunami. Reconstruction is going very well, things are very well laid out and its a pleasant island to walk around. The occasional pile of rubbish and tons of construction crews are really the only indication that anything happened. Literally every structure in a huge stretch is new as of last year. There are tent cities where backpackers and construction works stay in Coleman camping tents packed close together.
Ko Phi Phi is beautiful. Huge rocks like Railay and a very narrow strip of sand that connects two islands. You can stand at one beach, turn around, and see water on the other side. The streets are brick and narrow, there are no vehicles and very few work only motorbikes which is nice. There are MANY ways to spend your money here…from restaurants to bars, shops, cafes, etc. The internet is very fast and despite all the tourists, there are some very friendly backpackers here. I ended up in a guesthouse called “The Rock” which is a backpacker place..dorm rooms but I found a private room for 450 Baht. Its a total craphole, and I have a shared bath/shower that I have to walk to, but I am happy to have a place just for tonight. I may be dehydrated, its 21:00 and I cant keep my eyes open to type.
Its hard to believe that as I sit with my Mango shake and enjoy the beauty, that 1000s of people died around me or struggled for their lives. There are a few memorials and the general atmosphere is very laid back and somber, I dont know what it was like before the Tsunami but in a place so busy I expected clubs and the Ko Phangan feeling I suppose.
It looks like there are a lot of fireshows here on the beach so Im looking forward to some more live practice with my torch. Ive been playing with it a little but crave the real deal, the set it on fire. It continues to draw attention, people (Thais and travelers) always ask to play with it or for me to show them something. So strange, anyone can own one for 350Baht but you would think I was carrying around some rarity or something. Most people carry the Pois, 2 balls on chains that they burn, so I guess the torch is more rare.
Walking back from dinner I was approached to buy some Marijuana. Not the first time on this trip, but these dealers were different…they couldnt have been any older than 12 or 13! They are getting a young start and already had a look years ahead of their age in their eyes.
I’d still like to ring home, Ive got a family member very sick in the hospital. Unfortunately these damn ToT payphones just will not let me dial my area code. There is no one I can ask for help…the Thais dont understand and other travelers, mostly European, use their mobiles which work here unlike mine. I got deperate enough to post a request out on BootsNall’s forums, we’ll see what happens.