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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Phi Phi Islands = Paradise

My time in Thailand has come to an end but it is most certainly a trip I will be taking as often as possible. I had the most incredible week on the Phi Phi Islands. I swam in the ocean of Maya Bay, the location for the movie The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio, I held a baby monkey, and I drank my fair share of Phi Phi Paradises.

Where I last left you, we had checked into our resort, The Natural Resort. This location was fantastic as there were multiple resorts on our portion of the island, meaning we had quite a few restaurants to enjoy within walking distance.

The tricky thing about the Phi Phi Islands is that public transportation does not exist. This is something I had not even thought of prior to arriving. Don't be expecting to catch a cab or request an Uber once you hop off the boat. The only real way of getting around the island is, you guessed it, more boats. These long tail boats are actually very comfortable and make for quite a fun ride around the island.

After a relaxing first day on the beach, we had dinner at a local place near our resort that had some very fresh seafood. I mean, they literally pulled my prawn from a bucket that had been caught earlier that day. It was delicious.

We wanted to see as much as we could on the island so we booked an all day excursion to multiple locations including Monkey Beach, Maya Bay, Pileh Bay, Shark's Cove, and a few others. This trip was only 750 Baht and completely worth it. We had 8 hours of exploration and even a little bit of relaxation on Maya Beach in the late afternoon. This even included two meals--shrimp fried rice for lunch and chicken schnitzel for dinner.

Our first stop was Shark's Cove where, on a good day, you can snorkel with a few vegetarian sharks. Our tour guide ensured us that these are friendly sharks. Some of our boat was a little weary of this fact and opted to stay afloat. Unfortunately, and kind of fortunately, we did not see any sharks during our time snorkeling. Though I did find that the fish do not care if you're in their way. I have dozens of videos on my GoPro of fish intentionally crashing into my face because I was in the way of their traveling.

Next was Monkey Beach, I knew this was a place I was going to love just by the name of it. Our tour guide loaded me up with some pineapple and we were on our way. As soon as I stepped off the boat, the monkeys came running in hopes of getting a piece of what I was holding. I had been off the boat for about 5 seconds when a monkey ripped the ensure pineapple out of my hands and starting scarfing it down. All I could do was laugh (picture provided below for proof.) The monkeys are not shy and even jumped on a guy from our boat to try to try and steal his beer bottle. Smart monkey.

Next up was Pileh Bay. I cannot even put this location into words. It was quite possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been. We were enclosed in rock cliffs and surrounded by flawless and see-through water. My pictures do not even begin to do it justice. We took a quick swim and were able to enjoy the sights. 

We did some quick snorkeling near the Bay where our boat driver threw rice on top of our heads to have the fish swarm us. It was an entertaining experience and I'm still so surprised at how bold the fish are. It's as if they didn't even take a second look at all of us swimming around.

After a few more stops along the way and a few history lessons (for example, people pay 1,000,000 Baht a year to the Thai government to live in a cave called Viking Cave where they take care of birds to sell their nests for thousands of USD per nest, fascinating), we finally arrived at Maya Bay. This is where The Beach was filmed. (I promise to watch this movie when I get home because of how much I've talked about it).

Here we were able to enjoy three hours of relaxation on the beach. The final two stops of our tour were to watch the sunset over the water and to see the plankton that light-up at night. Though the plankton were very visible, it was still a fun experience to see a few of them.

It was an incredible day getting to explore more of the Phi Phi Islands and the beautiful "best kept secrets" it has. I think the pictures speak enough for themselves on whether or not you should partake in a tour when visiting the Phi Phi Islands. It's the best way to get a lot done in a little time.

One of our days in Thailand, I came across Fish Doctor which is one of the locations where they have fish clean your feet. (I did some research after I had this done and I'm a little unsure of my feelings towards these practices due to treatment of the fish and the possibility of spreading illnesses or diseases. If you decide to visit one of these places, be sure that they review safety precautions with you prior to completing.) The technician I worked with was very informative of the process and very tidy. She examined my feet and legs very closely to ensure I had no cuts or open wounds then she cleaned my feet as sunscreen, bug spray, and other similar products would harm the fish.

Trust me, it feels as weird as it looks. But my feet came out smoother than after a pedicure.

The best gift of my trip came in the form of a baby monkey in a diaper. I didn't quite catch his name but he was not thrilled with me because I interrupted his breakfast and he kept reaching back for his "dad" who still had the banana in hand. This little guy doesn't even look real in all of my picture but you can definitely see the sadness on his face where he is wondering where his food went and who this stranger was.

Among our remaining time in Thailand, we enjoyed numerous beaches and countless delicious meals. Overall, I would certainly recommend our resort to those traveling in the future. The WiFi isn't great but when you're at a place like this, maybe it is time to disconnect (try telling that to my mother).

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays a group of guys come to our resort's beach bar and perform a fire dance at 8:00pm. This was certainly a highlight of the week. Given all the strange occurences that constantly happen to me, of course they asked if I wanted to hold some fire for a picture (I still haven't gotten my Mom or Nana to comment on this instance).

Back to what I said before...

If Thailand has been on your bucket list, please make it a reality. Even so much further passed my trip, there are a dozen islands that I've heard nothing but incredible things about. 

For my next trip, I would love to visit Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. When visiting Koh Phangan, Koh Tao is only a short boat ride away. The possibilities are endless for those looking to visit Thailand. Proving that doing your research ahead of time is important when traveling to new countries. I'm lucky that I had quite a few friends able to provide excellent recommendations.

As our time in Thailand has quickly come and gone, we returned to Sydney on Saturday where I will spend the next five days before heading home. I'm torn between feeling as if I've been here for months and feeling as if I've been here for five minutes.

This trip has been so much more than I could've ever hoped for. I am thankful for the opportunity and to have been able to share it with loved ones (those joining me and for those of you who have joined me from afar). My gratitude knows no bounds.

If an opportunity ever arises for you to do something similar, I encourage you to take the chance. You certainly will not regret it.

I look forward to planning many more adventures in the future but until then, I'll be enjoying my last few days in the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia.

Until then, my people. Xx

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