In keeping with family tradition, I've never been much of a beach person. After all, my father was taught to swim by being unceremoniously dumped into the ocean by his grandfather, and I have yet to see my mother submerge her head below water in a swimming pool. Unlike many of the friends I've met on this trip, family vacations consisted of mountains to ski on or climb (my father) or ancient ruins and/or cities steeped in culture to explore (my mother). As a result, flying from Singapore to Phuket was a bit of a shock to the system; all this water - now what to DO with it?
It turns out there was no cause for concern. Adjusting to island life actually involves no adjustment at all. One merely has to sit down and wait until the beauty of the pristine beaches, spectacular sunsets and lush island vegetation seeps deep into your pores and - I believe it might be the result of mixing with the sunscreen ALSO in those pores - presto! A new way of living exists.
Ko Phi PhiAfter a few nights in Phuket Town, far enough away from the touristy mess that is Karon Beach but close enough to take a day trip out to Kata Noi, Joanna (a lawyer from Liverpool, also a lefty, also looking 1/2 her age and also my height) and I took a boat out to Ko Phi Phi. With 6 islands nestled inside the Hadnopparattara-Koh Phi Phi National Park, Phi Phi is a wonder to behold. Think white sandy beaches, aquamarine water and lush forests. The islands are divided into Ko Phi Phi Don, where the main village is located, and Ko Phi Phi Leh, where the movie The Beach was filmed. You can take day trips out to Maya beach, Monkey beach and Ko Phi Phi Leh (as well as some of the smaller islands) and see their beauty from your snorkle goggles, but you can't stay on anything but Ko Phi Phi Don. Of course, where there is a beautiful beach, there are tourists galore and despite being wholly decimated by the 2004 Tsunami, Phi Phi is once again a party paradise.. It must be noted, however, that while the basic infrastructure is back, there are plenty of ruined bungalows and new construction to remind you that almost everything (and everyone) was wiped away on December 26, 2004. The Tsunami Memorial garden was certainly sobering to walk through; I can't imagine what it was like to stand on the viewpoint of the island and see meter-high waves crashing toward you.
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