Thailand Day 73: Out On the Ocean Blue

I slept in to pay my dues to the sleep debt clock. After some Panang Curry for breakfast, I spent the late morning running through the all too many options of where and how I can dive. Since I am in Thailand, I would like to see and experience the best of the best and not just dive for the sake of diving at a cheap price and get the cheap diving experience that comes with it. I would prefer not to cut too deep into my budget so early on into my trip but the more I have looked into the more I know that I can’t leave Thailand without experiencing some of its world class dive sites. Plus, I haven’t been sleeping in grungy backpacker rooms for the sake of nothing. My two German friends and I booked an afternoon tour of Koh Phi Phi and a nearby island with an itinerary of visiting Monkey Beach and the beach from the movie ironically named The Beach and snorkeling with a sunset vista to cap off the long-tail boat tour. In the meantime we hung out at the beach for sun tanning and letting loose in the pristine waters just off the main beach. During out time basking in the sun Neele and I played a game of calling out the guys typically Asian and likely Chinese who wee showing “a bit too much leg” by hiking up those speedos far too up the thigh. Finally I could do some swimming with high tide at its apex; no matter how far I swam out I could always see the sandy floor of the bay. With the limited time I had left before our tour departed, I continued scanning the beach left to right in disbelief of where I sat so far away from home and so far away from the norm I had at times struggled to break from. The moment had arrived and so the long-tail boat armed with a small propeller began humming loudly as it pulled away from Koh Phi Phi pier for our afternoon adventure. The boat first docked at Monkey Beach, home to a band of scary looking macaque monkeys. The beach was not much of a beach at this point during high tide so the monkeys couldn’t meet us on the shore but heavily anticipated our arrival on the rocks and in the trees. I wonder if these monkeys were placed here for show since I have no idea how they could live without the trees that the tourists deliver. They are essentially in a wild zoo exhibit surrounded by high rising cliffs. The monkeys caught grapes and other treats thrown to them as if they were All-Star centerfielders and if they got their hands onto a water bottle, they refused to let loose their grip, claiming it as their own. I have enjoyed seeing monkeys in person and ‘in the wild’ but the appeal has definitely lessened when they turn into a tourist attraction versus spotting them in the wild by pure chance. From there we cruised to Koh Phi Phi Leh, the mostly uninhabited island made famous by the movie ‘The Beach’. Along the way we passed some of the same karst limestone rock faces as that of Koh Phi Phi but more dramatic and jaggedly cut like a shark that went through the ringer. Sliding into the somewhat narrow chute of Koh Phi Phi Leh, we entered Maya Bay. At its far side I could see the infamous golden beach know overwhelmed with sunbathing tourists and a full lineup of boats bobbing near the shore. The bay sat in quite a spot, shielded by the high, steeply cut rocks that formed a cove. After soaking up some sun and mellowing on shore awestruck by nature’s random sweeps of brilliance, we hit up a couple of snorkeling spots. Coming from the Great Barrier (sorry to name drop but how can I not) I have an altered view of what coral and marine seaside looks. The snorkeling was decent. I saw some of the same fish such as black and yellow banner fish and rainbow parrotfish along with others (possibly some barracuda) but the background of the hard and soft corals didn’t allow the portrait to pop. I liken it to a supermodel posing in front of a dumpster pile versus the experience of the Great Barrier Reef when she might be basking on some Caribbean beach. The metaphor might be a stretch but I guess it makes sense. The unfortunate part was the young revelers partying on their boat as if it were a rave while I preferred to relax in the peaceful silence of the world below the water. After snorkeling at a more isolated spot devoid of the pumping electronic music that reverberated through the waters and far better in terms of coral and fish, we pulled past all the karst rocks to some open water where we could enjoy the sunset without any distractions or hindrances. Seeing the giant golden orb drift towards the horizon slowly as if fighting gravity is a sight that should never be taken for granted. No matter how many times in punches the clock, the view will never the same; the light will hit the clouds, ocean, mountains, etc. in a different way every time. My German friend John reminded me that as the sun set on us in Thailand it was beginning its day’s adventures on my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and soon after that the rest of the U.S. of A. The day had brought a fun, busy and worthwhile trip to entertain us for the afternoon. After I proceeded to get us lost on this small island as only I know best, we passed several fire shows before quietly enjoying each other’s company with the stars and softly rippling waters as our companions. With all these great parties around, you may wonder why I don’t participate. For me, getting drunk listening to loud music while not being able to talk and meet people is not my idea of a good time. I am enjoying my evenings in an entirely different way with no regrets. Tonight is my last night in Koh Phi Phi before leaving to Railay for hopefully some rock climbing just off the shore.

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