"You are on holiday, why aren’t you smiling.
It must really be weird for the Thais to see many foreigners (farang), walking the streets with downturned faces and furrowed brows, spending amounts of money and engaging in so many activities, and still not happy. The sign made me realize my own frown and I immediately changed my attitude.
An overloaded ferry took us to the famous Ko Phi Phi Islands (where the movie "The Beach" was filmed, I have never seen it) and we booked an afternoon cruise to Maya bay which is home to this beach. It was a fun cruise, while touristy it was not too bad and we ran into a fellow long-term traveler from San Francisco (after 6 months). Her name is Brittaney and it was really nice to talk with some one who was from home. It made clear to both of us how excited we are to be able to come back to San Francisco, and that despite all the remaining adventures we can't wait to come home. There was snorkeling, jumping off the boat and swimming to the beach and was finished up with a fried rice dinner at sunset."
Put Leonardo di Caprio in a movie, pick a fantasy backdrop and tell an adventure story about finding paradise and you the perfect tourist attraction. Ma Ya Beach, other wise known as “The Beach”, is where the movie of the same name was filmed. Today in this small secluded bay, up to 49 longtail boats park at the water’s edge daily and allow tourists to frolic in its crystal clear waters, snap a few shots and daydream that Leo had actually spent some time here. Forewarned that the day trips were chaos we opted for a sunset cruise that arrived at the famed beach later in the afternoon, when most others had returned from whence they came. We snapped our photos and watched as the setting sun bathed the rocks in shades only nature could create.
Before I went to bed I met up with our new friends at a reggae bar that featured thaiboxing fights (they were fakes and had a whiff of WWF, but nevertheless quite entertaining). We even got a free bucket (which is a way of drinking in Thailand - you get a small bucket with Thai-whisky and cola, straws) for us to get drunk. We all held us back though as we had booked ourselves some diving the next morning and gave the bucket to some 21 year young person ready to party.
Despite my care I slept badly that night and didn't feel well the next day. I almost missed the boat in the morning but ended up having some great dives in which we saw turtles, sharks and a huge barracuda hanging out.
I reunited with Alex later and at 3:00PM got ready to spend our night on the beach. This was absolutely fantastic. There is only one company that has a permit to take people to Maya bay for an overnight camping stay. On our day the owner, Paul from Australia was with us as well and he had invited all his staff to come along to the beach for a nice party. On top of that we were lucky as it was full moon. This was good on two fronts: We had only 10 people in our group (the rest was off to go party) and we saw one of the most amazing moon rises I have ever seen. We had the entire beach for ourselves and that means a lot since thousands of people come to visit during the day. Sleeping wasn't the most comfortable (sand isn't soft) but good enough for some hours of sleep.
This morning we left back to the main lsland (with a stop for some snorkeling and cliff jumping) so that Alex and I could catch the ferry at 2:00 PM for our next adventure to the islands on the west side of Thailand: Ko Samui and Ko Tao. We arrived in Krabi two hours later and almost missed the last bus to Surat Thani. But thanks to a motivated Thai who took us to a gas station where the bus would be stopping, we ended up still making it. After 2.5 hours we ended up in Surat Thani.
We left Surat Thani on a night ferry that resembled a cargo barge found in any port town. Amusingly, narrow mattresses lined the top floor that I am certain had once been a cargo hold, but was converted to this overnight transport when the backpackers just kept on coming. The hold below us carried mopeds, pineapples, ropes, pirated DVD’s and all the many other necessities that needed to be imported to the gulf islands. We wondered what this would be like…and after 6 hours of fairly good sleep and safe arrival in Koh Samui, we realized it was by far the best way to travel.