Heading to the south of Thailand, to Phuket, we hoped for clear skies and warm weather. The night before our flight, we checked the weather and against our wishes, it looked like we would be caught in a rainstorm. Great...So much for that beautiful golden tan! After all… a tan for any Canadian traveler is proof that you actually went somewhere. But I guess we shouldn’t have expected any different, it was rainy season in Thailand. Sigh…
When we landed into Phuket Airport, we didn’t let the dark shades of grey clouds deter us from making our journey by ferry to Koh Phi Phi Island. Within three hours we would sit on a beautiful beach rain or shine. I was ready to feel fine sand between my toes and take a dip in that crystal clear water that I have seen plastered on every postcard of Thailand. However, on the day we arrived on Koh Phi Phi Island we began to feel the light drops of rain that turned into light showers and suddenly, torrential downpour. Being forcefully rained off the beaches, we headed to a nearby pub for some beer to pass the time. Looking around the pub it was evident that other backpackers had the same idea as us. Drinks, conversations of travel and oven-styled pizza were the alternative option to rainy days on the island. Alternatively, there was the option of heading to one of the many tattoo places available to get that special tattoo which was sparked by too many of those afternoon beers. Nothing better than a beer and tattoo combo, right!?
For us, we passed on the tattoo.
Koh Phi Phi was exactly what we expected…a party epicenter, complete with fire dancing, beach limbo, musical chairs and Thai shots flowing on the beach at the Slinky’s nightclub. Add in those Thai bucket drinks and upbeat music being blasted into the early morning and you have a party that never slowed down the dancing on the beach as it poured along the coastline. However, the next morning we woke up so tired, realizing we were not 21 years old anymore. #hangover
Fortunately, Thomas had splurged on getting a guesthouse equipped with an infinity pool that overlooked the island. It was amazing. We spent the majority of the day relaxing, as the clouds held up in our favor. Consistently checking the forecast for the next couple of days, it looked like sunshine was in the near future!! The next morning, we got up early and noticed the sun peeking out over the limestone cliffs. We instantly knew that the day was going to be perfect for island hopping. Rushing down to the pier, we booked a ‘Big Boat’ tour that would take us around the islands of the Koh Phi Phi region. The big boat tour was complete with kayaks and snorkeling, unlimited fresh drinking water, and provided a hearty Thai lunch with fruit. On the tour, we would visit Maya and Bamboo beach along with other destinations.
As soon as we were on the boat, I rushed to the top deck to lay out my towel and enjoy the rays of sunshine on my skin. Arriving at our first destination (Vikings Cave) we soaked in the beauty of the cliffs and colour of the aqua blue water. The water was clear and we were ready to swim! It took us only two minutes to get our snorkel gear and leap off the boat like a flying fish. The water felt amazing on our skin. Taking a look underwater, schools of yellow tail fish surrounded us. In the distance you could see a couple dark spots that appeared to be sponge uprooted from the coral reef beneath us. The rays of sun showcased the beautiful colours of the fish that swam around us. We were in paradise.
While we began to swim back towards the boat, Thomas shouted “watch out for those brown things! They sting!” Listening to Thomas, I began to worry about being stung and began to panic. My foggy goggles blinded my sight in the water. The boat sounded the horn indicating that time was up and to get back on the boat. Worried, I began to swim frantically…questioning if the brown things would get me! Thomas continued to warn me about how much the sting burned causing me to panic more. As soon as I lifted my arm to continue on wards I yelped in pain!!!!
I HAD BEEN STUNG BY THE BROWN THING!!!
I went into shell shock and curled up in a ball….floating in the water. Burning sensations running through my entire body, I shouted to Thomas that I couldn’t swim. Being the hero, Thomas swam back for me… being stung two more times in the process. As he pulled on my life jacket I was able to get composed enough to swim to the boat. Other passengers helped us back on board as they stated that they had tried to warn us about the jellyfish that surrounded Thomas and I. Looking out into the once clear water, it was now covered with medium-sized brown jellyfish!!! Horrified I couldn’t believe we were submerged amongst it all. Both of us injured… we took a look at our swollen arms; a crew member helped us with first aid. Thomas was stung on his arm, shoulder and head. I was stung on my inner bicep.
….and no…we did not have to pee on it.
As we continued venturing to other islands, the burning sensation continued putting a damper on wanting to get back into the beautiful ocean around us. When we reached Maya beach, I decided that the pain was worth the beauty around us. The infamous Maya beach from the movie 'The Beach' showcased that magical island paradise. The lush greenery, fine sand, clear water and limestone cliffs alongside with the traditional Thai boats sparked the appreciation of what surrounded us. Maya beach captured the beauty of Thailand, however, the popularity of the beach partly striped away some of that magical ambience.
The next couple of hours we had the luxury to venture to other beaches including Monkey Beach, which was my favourite. We had the opportunity to kayak to the beach and relax in the sand in peace. We were even lucky to encounter a monkey eating a bag of chips that were given to him by some silly tourist despite the sign stating “please don’t feed the monkeys” in five different languages. Ugh.
Shark point was our last stop before heading back to the main pier of Koh Phi Phi. With clear skies we planned to watch the sunset. Taking our last opportunity to snorkel in the ocean for the day, I built up the courage to get back into the water despite being attacked by a jellyfish. With no regrets, the tropical fish did not disappoint! As we watched the sunset floating in the water, the skies began to turn into shades of blue and orange while the sun hid behind a distant island. When we boarded the boat and sat along the edge, heading back to the pier, I breathed in the fresh salty air feeling forever grateful for the day.