Imagine beautiful white sands, water so clear you can see the fish swimming around the rocks at the bottom and sky so blue you wonder how it could ever rain.
Does it look something like this?
In 1996 Alex Garland wrote a book that inspired a film called The Beach (2000), starring none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. He based it on a beach that was so beautiful, people fought for the right to live on the island. For this reason, the place I’m going to take you needs little more introduction than The Beach. Nestled in the centre of The island, Koh Phi Phi Leh.
Life is as much about the journey as the destination, so let me first take you on our journey.
After a breakfast of (you’ve guessed it) eggs, cooked as we pleased, with two slices of toast, butter and jam and either tea or juice to accompany. We set off to see the other side of the island, The Blue Bay. Stopping first for a Fruit Shake.
We hopped aboard our sturdy (we hoped) wooden boat and set sail.
First stop, Monkey Beach.
It was also Miss Thompson’s birthday, not a bad way to be introduced to your 20’s!
After we’d braved the monkeys, we thought we should maybe do something a little more daring. Throwing ourselves off cliffs into the sea? That might just do it. I think I should put my hands up now and admit that I was one of the last to jump, I really don’t know how Tom Daley does it!
Say goodbye to Phi Phi Don, we’re off to Phi Phi Leh!
Passing by a historic cave that had just one inhabitant, an old woman that apparently uses something found in the caves for it’s healing properties and cures people that visit. The locals wouldn’t pull up to the cave for some reason and we carried on.
You know people say the sea sparkles… I never believed it. I guess seeing is believing.
The boat took us round the island into a calm lagoon, pineapple leaves were thrown overboard and in a flash of colour hundreds of fish appeared at the side of the boat.
(When I get them developed, I will update this post with the underwater photos.)
When we had finished stalking the fish with our snorkels, the boat set off again and we found ourselves in another lagoon.
We had our orders: Jump out and swim to the shore taking 100 Baht with us then climb through the rock. Confused, we did as they said. I convinced myself at this point that they were taking us away to corner us, and kill us all (they surely must secretly be cannibals?!) We did as they said though and climbed through a cave in the rock, a gorgeous tanned Australian guy stood above us in nothing but his boardies and helped us all up, who are we to refuse a gentleman? Sunlight flooded through on the other side and we found ourselves walking towards a group of locals carving wood, into what I have no idea. They asked us for the 100 Baht and we handed it over, with a nudge of the head, a grunt and a thumb in the direction we were meant to be going we headed off. Passing some tents, a few small buildings, and walking along a well trodden path with jungle on either side, we suddenly reached it.
We said goodbye to the island in the sunset and made our way back to the boat. WIN, we were still alive. Thankfully, for once my theory had been wrong.
There was fresh pineapple awaiting us when we reached our little boat and we left the bay. The ride back to Phi Phi Don was enough to make us fear for our lives, we just kept our eyes on the sunset and prayed.
After this, my camera gave up on me and the blurry twilight pictures don’t do the scenes that followed justice so I’ll do my best to describe it.
We neared our island home soon enough, and began to relax. As quickly as we saw the beach approaching, we spun off course. OH MY BUDDAH, they really are going to eat us. The thought momentarily passed through my mind as we pulled up onto a beach. However, as soon as I saw where we were I relaxed. I couldn’t not, it was beautiful.
There in front of us was a pathway lit by candles up the beach, two rocks opened up to form a cove and on entering the cove we had walked into a different world. A DJ played tunes on decks set upon the rocks, candles nestled in the walls of the cliffs either side and mats were laid down on the sand for us to lie on. All thoughts of how cold and wet we were from the journey disappeared as the three of us silently held hands and found our place on the beach. Lying back, the stars were as bright as I’d ever seen them in the night’s sky. I knew at that moment the island had worked its magic on me, as I looked at the girls lying next to me I saw that they were under the same spell.
The next few hours were an incredible blur of food, a fire show laid on by the locals and drink.
When the food had settled in our stomachs, we took our places again on the sand. Drinks in hand, we sat cross legged as one of the locals pulled out a guitar and started to play. We sang along to the songs he played, classics and charts. Not noticing that the boat had picked up some of the people and left already, we squeezed each others’ hands tight noting the mutual content and looked up at the stars. We were grateful for each others company, but we all knew a moment like that was too romantic to be shared with your girlfriends.
The magic didn’t end when we left the beach, we ran back to our little jungle hut and put on our best party dresses and dancing feet (bare feet). We celebrated Polly’s birthday until the early hours of the morning when our dancing feet were worn out and we were exhausted.