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The Pirate Streets of Koh Phi Phi

Ferry from Krabi, heading straight for the storm.
Ferry from Krabi, heading straight for the storm.

After riding elephants in Krabi, Thailand, it was time to leave that madness behind. So I hopped a ferry for the island of Koh Phi Phi.

Midway though the hour-and-a-half-long ferry trip, ominous clouds could be seen blanketing the island. As we approached, we too were enveloped in the storm. On board the vessel, huddled together under a tiny awning, the other passengers and I attempted to stay dry.

I noticed a German fellow with a case that appeared to contain a guitar. I inquired about its contents, and a ukulele was revealed. He asked if I knew how to play as he handed it to me. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to strum the few chords I knew.

Playing the carefree instrument amongst stormy chaos on the boat was uplifting; the contrasting emotions made for quite a memorable experience.

Shortly after, we arrived at Koh Phi Phi amid the storm. Once on the island, the storm quickly passed, replaced by a new sort of chaos. I was heckled by vendors, as is common in Thailand – not by the usuals selling suits or massages (as you might expect), but by Aussies hawking scuba diving lessons.

Koh Phi Phi is a tiny island that was almost entirely destroyed by the tsunami in December of 2004. It’s a crammed-together pirate metropolis of bars, restaurants, hotels and shops...and a fair amount of garbage, some left over from the tsunami.

There aren't many pirates, but lots of tourists and just as many locals. The locals all have ’50s-era-looking kids' bicycles, and ring their bells or yell “beep beep” as they navigate the tiny people-filled streets.

After exiting the pier I spoke to a man selling scuba diving trips, asking him about accommodations. He recommended his friend Sunny’s place on the beach. He offered to call his friend, and within a couple of minutes Sunny, who turned out to be from Burma, arrived on his bicycle. We proceeded to navigate our way through town on what I thought at the time were side streets. (Turns out all the streets are side streets.)

After working out a place to stay, I hopped in the sea for a swim. Later I beat Sunny at a game of pool to win myself the first of many beers I would drink that day. That night we went down the beach to watch a fire dancing show, which turned into the craziest beach party I've ever seen.

I figured the party might be for a special occasion, or maybe just because it was Saturday night. I asked my new friend what the occasion was. Sunny just laughed and informed me that they do this every night.

After four days in the trash-laden pirate streets of Koh Phi Phi I’d had enough. I decided to make my way to the opposite side of the southern stretch of Thailand, to Koh Phangan. After a quick ferry back to Krabi I would spend a night, then leave in the morning.

The next day I took a six-hour bus, then a two-hour ferry, and arrived in Koh Phangan. I didn’t have an accommodation arranged, but when I got off the boat I was approached by several people with places for rent waiting on the dock.

An older woman who offered nice-looking bungalows on the beach seemed to have the best prices, so I hopped on the back of her scooter and away, off into the sunset, we went.

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Ferry from Krabi, heading straight for the storm.
Ferry from Krabi, heading straight for the storm.

After riding elephants in Krabi, Thailand, it was time to leave that madness behind. So I hopped a ferry for the island of Koh Phi Phi.

Midway though the hour-and-a-half-long ferry trip, ominous clouds could be seen blanketing the island. As we approached, we too were enveloped in the storm. On board the vessel, huddled together under a tiny awning, the other passengers and I attempted to stay dry.

I noticed a German fellow with a case that appeared to contain a guitar. I inquired about its contents, and a ukulele was revealed. He asked if I knew how to play as he handed it to me. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to strum the few chords I knew.

Playing the carefree instrument amongst stormy chaos on the boat was uplifting; the contrasting emotions made for quite a memorable experience.

Shortly after, we arrived at Koh Phi Phi amid the storm. Once on the island, the storm quickly passed, replaced by a new sort of chaos. I was heckled by vendors, as is common in Thailand – not by the usuals selling suits or massages (as you might expect), but by Aussies hawking scuba diving lessons.

Koh Phi Phi is a tiny island that was almost entirely destroyed by the tsunami in December of 2004. It’s a crammed-together pirate metropolis of bars, restaurants, hotels and shops...and a fair amount of garbage, some left over from the tsunami.

There aren't many pirates, but lots of tourists and just as many locals. The locals all have ’50s-era-looking kids' bicycles, and ring their bells or yell “beep beep” as they navigate the tiny people-filled streets.

After exiting the pier I spoke to a man selling scuba diving trips, asking him about accommodations. He recommended his friend Sunny’s place on the beach. He offered to call his friend, and within a couple of minutes Sunny, who turned out to be from Burma, arrived on his bicycle. We proceeded to navigate our way through town on what I thought at the time were side streets. (Turns out all the streets are side streets.)

After working out a place to stay, I hopped in the sea for a swim. Later I beat Sunny at a game of pool to win myself the first of many beers I would drink that day. That night we went down the beach to watch a fire dancing show, which turned into the craziest beach party I've ever seen.

I figured the party might be for a special occasion, or maybe just because it was Saturday night. I asked my new friend what the occasion was. Sunny just laughed and informed me that they do this every night.

After four days in the trash-laden pirate streets of Koh Phi Phi I’d had enough. I decided to make my way to the opposite side of the southern stretch of Thailand, to Koh Phangan. After a quick ferry back to Krabi I would spend a night, then leave in the morning.

The next day I took a six-hour bus, then a two-hour ferry, and arrived in Koh Phangan. I didn’t have an accommodation arranged, but when I got off the boat I was approached by several people with places for rent waiting on the dock.

An older woman who offered nice-looking bungalows on the beach seemed to have the best prices, so I hopped on the back of her scooter and away, off into the sunset, we went.

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