13 January 2008

Koh Phi Phi Don

Mooring Ball at Ton Sai Bay
Koh Phi Phi Don
Phi Phi Islands
Phang Nga Bay

Ahoy from Phi Phi Don Island!

We left 'The Beach' at noon after watching the hordes of day trip boats invading our peaceful anchorage shortly after sunrise. We took a quick motor trip north 2 miles to the next island of Phi Phi Don. We really did not know what to expect here as our guide book makes it seem like there is just a few resorts here and restaurants. Turns out that Phi Phi Don is a major tourist stop and the island is covered with all kinds of different things to check out. The anchorage is quite busy with all the ferry boats coming in from the mainland, dive boats taking their passengers out to the surrounding islands, long tail water taxi boats, fishing boats, kayaks, snorklers, swimmers, sightseeing tours and other assorted crafts.

We grabbed an open mooring buoy because there is not much room to anchor due to the harbor being filled with mooring buoys. Then we dinghied ashore among the sun bathers along the beach. Phi Phi Don offers all kinds of different accommodations depending on how much you want to spend. There are simple beach huts that are quite cheap all the way up to a couple of resorts that you can spend all your money at. The island is full of travelers from all over the world and is quite busy.

There are no roads on the island and therefore no motorized traffic. There is a mini city in the center of the island with small cobblestone sidewalks with all kinds of restaurants, bars and shops. Its kind of a strange place as everything must be brought from the mainland by boat and then hand carried to its destination.

During the day most travelers are out on dive boats or exploring other islands. But at night, the island comes alive with everyone out enjoying themselves. There are also many great restaurants from basic street food to fancy beach restaurants with live seafood. There is so much to see and do here that I think we only covered only half the island.

One of our favorite new drinks we discovered was that if you wanted to save a few bucks at the bar there are small stores that sell booze 'buckets'. Basically the stores have an assortment of small beach buckets with bottle of different bottles of liquor and soda. You point at what bucket you would like and the shop owner will fill your bucket with ice and mix it all together for you. Then you just walk around town checking out all the activities sipping on your ice cold 'bucket'. You can also just hang out in front of the 'bucket' shop as they play music and you can chat it up with all the other 'bucket' customers.

We had plans to spend one night at Phi Phi Don and head to the next island 20 miles away and then motoring 20 miles every day to a new island. Once we got to Phi Phi Don we decided that this island had everything that we like and decided to stay for 4 days to save our fuel! Right where Sandpiper was moored was a really nice beach that most the tourist's did not come to so we spent most our mornings and afternoons just floating around in the warm water, or laying out on the beach under a tree.

On our last night at Phi Phi Don we discovered a whole new area of the island that we did not even know about. We got to see a really good fire dance performance. It seems like everyone born in Thailand is a fire dancer of some sort.

As with much of where we have been in Thailand, Phi Phi Don was totally devastated by the Tsunami on December 26, 2004. The island has had quite a recovery and there is much building still going on. The good part is that the tourists are back and businesses are making money. While here we bought the book 'Tsunami' written by Luciano Butti who owns the restaurant 'Ciao Bella' along the beach. He tells of his experiences in the tsunami. If you get a chance, buy this book, as proceeds go towards the tsunami victims.

[Note from Ron: The book is in Italian. I can't seem to find an English version]

Our bottom paint that we had put on in Sydney Australia last year is starting to look a bit rough. So instead of pulling into a marina in the 15th of January, we have decided to haul Sandpiper out and have here bottom repainted with new anti-foul paint. We are also having the yard raise our waterline by 2 inches. When Sandpiper is fully loaded with fuel, water and beer, she sits quite low in the water and needs constant scrubbing to keep the hull clean.

There are also several other major projects that we need to complete before we head across the Indian Ocean. We need to have the cutlass bearing replaced where the propeller shaft comes out the back of the boat. This will involve lifting the engine up to pull the shaft out. Also, we are pulling the sea water/fresh water pump off the engine to be rebuilt. While the engine is hoisted up we will replace 2 of the motor mounts that have been giving us constant issues.

Also we have to pull off the anchor windless and take to a repair shop that we hoping that can repair that motor so I do not have to pull up the chain by hand. It gets to be a lot of full hauling up the anchor by hand when the depth of water is over 50ft deep.

Amy has a few of her own projects going on and will be working hard on the inside of Sandpiper, including picking up our new cushions which she is very excited about since she has been wanting to replace these for years. We think they are the original cushions from 1976!

So much that is going on we will try to keep you all updated.
Tom and Amy

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