16/11/2008 – Shopping, Sea, Viewpoint and a Tattoo
I woke up early again today and the others were still stuck to the mattress, so after giving them a rude awakening I waited for them at the bookshop (yes, we spent a lot of time there) for a hot chocolate (again)…chocolate-y goodness….
I opted out of a street stall baguette as I had a major craving for bacon, so I popped into Little Britain for a bacon and egg sarnie with HP sauce. I figured that I needed to make the most of HP sauce and bacon in all the places that it was available ;-). Jimmy and Kelly went looking at possible tattoos for Jimmy`s ankle. He was ideally looking for a turtle design to remind him of his time in Borneo and travelling as a whole, but there wasn’t quite the design he wanted.
Kelly and I went shopping where I bought some beach bargains and basic essentials including some longer trousers to stop the bastard mozzies getting at my legs! I have a current count of over 22 bites on my right leg alone. Blood sucking fiends.
After some shopping, Kelly and I went for a paddle in the sea for a while and made the most of the tide being in in the shallow bay of Loh Dalum. As I was burnt from the day before I had to cover up with a t-shirt like a lame-o. Obviously my delicate white skin can’t take that kind of sun-bashing.
We met up with Jimmy who had been surfing the net for the afternoon and we all headed to Garlic 1992 for some grub in preparation of our impending trek of doom…
So I had thought it would be a good idea to take a nice stroll up to the Viewpoint at sunset on our last day on the island. I am glad that in preparation I did 2 things – I wore my new long trousers and I bought a bottle of water. And thank god I did, the stroll up to the Viewpoint was actually a small hike up a mountain! OK, slight exaggeration maybe, but it was an arduous climb up some seriously steep steps in the middle of a forested hill. I nearly died from heat exhaustion and dehydration…whilst Jimmy practically sprinted to the top!
When we did make it to the top, it was a stunning view of the island, overlooking Ton Sai bay and the magnificent limestone cliffs on the other side stretching out of blue sea. At the small shop at the Viewpoint there were some pictures of the island 20 years ago, before the tsunami and after the tsunami. It was incredible to see how much of the island has changed in only 2 decades. Before, the Ton Sai village was covered in trees, after the tsunami it was brown, everything there was washed away bar a few palm trees. Now, the village area is really developed which is a shame considering the island is meant to be a National Park.
That’s the thing about Phi Phi, it’s a stunning island, no doubt about that, but the sheer volume of tourists flocking to see the place has led to a large boom in tourist facilities which has its pros and cons. From my point of view, it was great to have a few bars, shops and ATMs. There was a good atmosphere in the evening and I had lots of fun. But at the same time, I felt that a lot of the Thais working there had become quite jaded to the tourist crowd. Many shop people were unwilling to barter and the cost of everything was astronomical by Thai standards. Plus with the weak pound at the moment, it’s just not a budget place to be.
So after the climb to the second viewpoint which was not quite so romantic when being shared with about 30/40 other tourists all bustling to get a good photo and getting their heads in my damn way, we made our sweaty way back down the hill in search of some relief.
We found this relief at Hot Spot which was showing Superbad on the TV and we were able to perch ourselves at the bar and enjoy a well-deserved cocktail. This was promptly followed by a couple of tequilas huddled away in a booth in the bar. Silliness soon ensued and we bumbled out to find burgers and discuss tattoo options.
At first we thought it would be a great idea to all have our initials tattooed as a memoir of Phi Phi, possibly inscribing KEJ on Jimmy’s ankle. But in the end Jimmy decided on the much more sensible option of having Kelly’s name written in Thai on his ankle. So off we went in search of a bamboo tattoo parlour. We then spent over 45 minutes finding the right font, the right spelling (a misunderstanding of pronunciation meant he nearly had `Kerry` tattooed) and the right position on his inside ankle. After much fuss, Jimmy finally had the tattoo, and it looked painful. Thankfully it also looked awesome and had no bleeding or nasty scar tissue going on. I think a good choice was made.