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balance (2): peepee island

Friday, October 15, 2004

peepee island

finally arrived via ferry to ko phi phi this morning, which i decided based on a recommendation from a belgian boy who reads my site. after a full day of no real food and bedraggled exhaustion, i was irritated to notice the rampant development and resulting ugliness of ko phi phi (which by the way is the island featured in the film “the beach”). inundated by screaming touts as i hopped off, i fought my way through the crowd to the longtail boats docked at the beach and asked them to take me to ‘ma prao’, the bungalows that my friend had recommended. the boatmen all shook their heads, saying the tide was too low, but they would take me to the next beach and i could walk from there, so i agreed and hopped ungracefully into the boat with my bags. they dropped me off in the water at long beach and i hauled my bags across the sand, following a thai guy who kindly grabbed my big bag and volunteered to show me the way. i balked when i realized he was steering me towards a brambly path going up a high, mud-covered hill, but followed nevertheless, sliding backwards every 3rd step and hitting my head on low hanging branches. finally arrived, beet red and huffing and puffing, at ma prao, which was a set of unimpressive but quiet bungalows on a rocky beach. i wasn’t especially excited about staying there but i waited around for someone to check me in. no one showed for over an hour. a lounging european boy told me that the rooms were very overpriced and not the best quality at 1000 baht, so finally i shrugged and headed back down the hill, hauling my bags myself this time.

having fallen at least three times, been covered in mud and sand, and still being very hungry and tired, i felt like screaming as i dragged my bags back towards the longtail boats and away from the very uninteresting long beach. travelling can be a pain in the ass sometimes. i managed to catch a boat back to tonsai bay that was just leaving, with some european girls and a farang man with his gay (thai) boy toy. i sat grumpily at the front of the boat, feeling utterly disgusting. when we reached the main beach i knew it would not be easy to find a place to stay that was less than $30/night (according to the other travellers) and headed by myself past the annoying touts towards the main street. the gay gays followed me, grabbed my heavy bags, and said “come with us sweetie”. they took me through the (cute though very touristy) town all the way to the far side, where they helped me snag a bungalow at the resort they were staying at for 1100 baht. it was way more than i would usually pay, but there were few if any other options and at this point i needed a shower so badly i wanted to cry. my place is ok... no frills, just a fan and a small bathroom with cold shower, but it does have a pool, a nice big bed, and lots of roaming kittens outside the door. i finally took my shower and rested a bit.



headed out later on for an initial look at the island. it is not really the type of place i would normally voluntarily go, in fact upon first impression i would have to say it is my least favorite island in thailand... it doesn’t have the remote beauty, easiness, and bohemian way about it that my favorite place on ko chang for instance did. the looming limestone karsts are pretty but the water is polluted and the beaches, though very white, are crowded and lined with a hideous concrete wall. the town is very busy, with just one main (cobbled) street with a couple of small sidestreets, lined with shops and bars. the people ride bikes instead of motorbikes, and are predominantly muslim (though very relaxed and unthreatening muslims). they aren’t especially friendly, which in my past experience i have noticed about southern thais... still... it’s not NY. i ended up having dinner at a place overlooking the beach called ‘hippies’ (which was anything but). i had barracuda shish kebabs, a baked potato, and a mai tai in a coconut for an astounding 500 baht. i perused the crowd, which was made up mostly of upper class european couples and families, and yawned to myself until a couple of guys asked me to join their table. one was british and one was israeli. me being american and our three countries being quite possibly the most controversial on earth right now, politics inevitably came up and we talked over beers, with a moby album as the soundtrack. they were very friendly, and invited me to go drink buckets with them, but i left them early to go flop into bed... and that was that.


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