Krabi and Koh Phi Phi/Island Hopping(our boat broke down!)
Thailand is definitely in the top five of my favorite Asian countries that I have visited and I have yet to visit the entire country…Chiang Mai is next on my list. I had actually intended on going to Phuket instead of Krabi but met a friend in Singapore who suggested not going to Phuket alone as a solo female traveler, especially if this was my first time traveling to Thailand. Although I do not think that I would have felt unsafe, many people have told me that Phuket is more crowded with tourists and as a consequence there is a lot of prostitution; I am glad I took her advice and went to Krabi because it was more low-key and relaxing. You can still island hop and go to the Phi Phi Islands from Krabi–without having to deal with the creepy old foreign men who are there for a “good time” with girls who are definitely over 18(sarcasm, they are clearly too young) but that is an issue that we will get to another day.
I landed at Krabi Airport with no idea what to expect and not to sound sheltered( I am pretty sheltered, get off my ass) but the only time I had been to a third world country before this was Vietnam and I had spoken the language fluently so it was smooth sailing. I did not speak the local language and I have heard horror stories about the tuktuk scams. We were in a dilemma here: how was I, someone who can barely boil an egg, get from point A to B. A in this case is the airport and B as you can guess, is the hotel. Keep in mind, we are trying to do this WITHOUT getting scammed or taking unnecessary risks. Sure, I could just wing it and get in a taxi where I would risk getting overcharged or whatever but the thought of being in a foreign country alone, as a female, not knowing where the driver would be taking me seemed like a, say it with me…u n n e c e s s a r y r i s k. I opted for the bus with lots of other people after exchanging my Singaporean dollars for Thai Baht(funny story later).
After about a two hour scenic bus ride, I was the last person to be dropped off at my hotel that was at the end of a narrow dirt road. I stayed at one of the Centara hotels in Krabi and I think if I had the option to go back and have a redo I would’ve picked the Krabi resort or maybe a cheaper hotel that would have been just as good. TIP: If you are there for a honeymoon or want a more romantic resort vibe I definitely recommend the Centara Grand(it is more secluded/private) but as I was backpacking by myself this was not necessary since I wanted to fully immerse myself in the culture.
My first order of business was to find food since I was starving and it was a 5 minute walk from my hotel to the beach where I purchased my first coconut for 50 baht(about $1.50). Okay guys, I am not exaggerating I promise, Thai coconuts are legit unparalleled. It was cold, sweet, and had a kick of natural carbonation. If the food was just as good as the coconut yo girl would be a happy camper. IT WAS. I took a stroll along the beach and stumbled across a beach front restaurant and ordered some Pad Thai. My first Pad Thai in Thailand, I was literally in tears at this point, jkjk but it was awesome. After that I continued snapping pics because how could you not? Everything was picture perfect. So this wouldn’t be me if something like this did not happen; I got to the hotel and realized that my phone charger and adaptor was not compatible with the outlets. I was on low battery with no idea where to even purchase an adaptor but at least there were people in the hotel who could speak english and help the dumb American find a store to buy her phone adaptor because she cannot function without her phone. There was a 7/11 across the street and I had trouble locating the adaptors so I tried asking the worker who luckily understood my gesturing. So moral of the story is be prepared.
I spent the rest of my day tanning on the beach, exploring the village and finding a boat tour to go island hopping the next day. I decided to book the tour with my hotel and opted for the speedboat(which costs around 2500 Baht(80ish USD)). They picked me up in the lobby at 6 AM sharp and luckily(I am very lucky and that is probably the only reason why I am still alive as you will soon see) I was jet-lagged so it was no biggie. They fed me a children’s breakfast that consisted of soy milk in those rectangular juice boxes, a veggie sandwich and a piece of fruit. Very cute. I felt taken care of. I also have a feeling that they thought I was 12… I’ll take it. I was one of the first people to get picked up and after that there were two other groups. One consisted of two sisters who were from Sweden–they were still in university–and the other a father and daughter from France. Not gonna lie I felt more comfortable because I was not the only foreigner and at least I looked a bit local(not really but effort counts, right?). We had two tour guides and two guys that drove the boat. One dude would not stop racing with the other boats…LO AND BEHOLD I wonder why the engine gave out? I’ll talk about that part later after I rave about how beautiful the islands were. Have y’all ever seen pictures of the Maldives? if not you should google it because it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and on the top of my bucket list. Well, the beaches of Thailand were just as pristine and clear; we had a private island to ourselves since we got started so early and beat the other boats to it. On the first island, they fed us a second breakfast; I will call this the adult breakfast, there were hard boiled eggs and I forgot the rest as I was too excited about the eggs. Eggs on a beautiful private island. Life’s good. Then they drove us to about 6 other islands, Phi Phi and Monkey Island included. The famed Maya Island was closed due to tourist polluting and damaging it so we could only look at it from afar.
- Koh Phi Phi : Even though it was not too big of an island, there were so many things going on at once and it was more lively than Ao Nang. I would honestly want to stay overnight next time for 1 or 2 days since I there are lots of fun activities like Scuba Diving or shopping or even just getting a massage/laying on the beach. We had our lunch on Phi Phi, it was buffet style and there were plenty of options available. I wanted authentic Thai food though so I wandered off and bought a coconut(of course) and some exotic fruits. The mangoes and dragon fruit are to die for–LOL I know that isn’t considered authentic Thai food but it was legit only 1 USD for a dragon fruit and two mangoes WOT.
- Monkey Island: It’s exactly what it sounds like… an island with Monkeys. I should be way more excited than I actually am but the monkeys seemed miserable for some reason. Must be because they have to deal with hundred/thousands of annoying tourists everyday. Got to see some cute baby monkeys though AHHH.
- LONG AWAITED BOAT STORY: While we were on Monkey Island it started raining and so they rushed everyone on the boats and jetted out of there since there was possible a storm coming and being in the water while a storm hit on a tiny boat was…say it with me…UNNECESSARILY RISKY. Since our boat had been through a beating that day(’cause the dude that drove it was racing the entire time), when it was actually time to go super fast, the engine gave out and we were stranded in the middle of the ocean. It wouldn’t have been as scary as it was if the guides themselves hadn’t also freaked out. No one knew what to do. It was storming and there was nothing but water as far as the eyes could see. Now this was not the clear blue water you saw before with the cast of Finding Nemo swimming in it, this was legit the deep dark ominous looking sea(think Jaws). Bring back the turquoise water! They called in for a rescue boat that took about an hour to come and we had to tie the boats together and carefully jump into the other boat. No one fell into the water thankfully. Just when I thought the ordeal was over, the rescue boat dropped us off on a random island and told us to wait for another boat. So we wait on this random island for three hours, with no update and it is almost near sunset. I figured the worst and was devising ways to get back to Krabi in my head while HALLELUJAH a boat was seen coming in from the distance. We were rescued but I did not come out of it unscathed. Three hours of no food/water and sunscreen equals major sunburn, dehydration and grumpy Pham. Would i do it again? Yes in a heartbeat.
When it was time to leave Thailand, I packed my bags but then realized at the last minute that I did not have enough Bahts to get to the airport and there was no literally time to run to an ATM so I did what I do best.. I haggled the price. It was 800 Baht to get to the airport but I only had 500 so I told the driver I would give him American dollars on top of this(okay, so it wasn’t actually negotiating the price since I probably paid the same amount in the end but at least I got to the airport on time). Don’t be like me, check the prices and get enough local currency to get you back home so you do not need to panic.
Side-note: I am actually creating something right now that will solve this problem for travelers and the days of worrying about logistics while traveling will soon be over. Keep an eye out 🙂