Koh Phi Phi Leh

18 Nov

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If you’re staying on Koh Phi Phi Don, as we are, you really have to visit the smaller and, as yet, uninhabited island of Phi Phi Leh. Everyone does. And that is the problem. If you’re lucky, though, you can find a long tail boat trip taking only a few passengers that sets out early to avoid the crowds and a guide that really knows his stuff.

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Following a different pattern to most excursions our first stop was to a beautiful bay predictably known as the Blue Lagoon but never has the name seemed more appropriate. Shallow enough in places to step into from the boat yet quickly deep enough to swim comfortably in turquoise water and at the perfect temperature to cool without chilling, could there be a more perfect spot? Well, not until the other boats started to arrive at least.

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It is compulsory to see Maya Bay where “The Beach” was partly filmed. It must have been beautiful at one time but by now the hordes had arrived and any remnant of the original remote paradise depicted long gone. We took the obligatory pictures but, at our guide’s suggestion, didn’t linger to swim among the throngs.

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Instead we headed to a nearby bay known for its sharks and we were going to go snorkeling with them! It took quite a bit of reassurance to get me in the water, I can tell you. Neil’s assertion that they were vegetarians didn’t quite cut it. Besides, we had to don flippers, mask and snorkel then jump off the side of the boat – I’d had enough trouble getting on and off with bare feet and using a ladder. I’m so glad I did, though. With water as beautiful and clear as you can imagine as soon as I’d plucked up the courage I found myself surrounded by such an array of colourful fish that I’d only really thought possible to see in an aquarium. And the truly extraordinary thing was that they seemed totally unfazed by our presence. And, yes, sharks. OK, so not the one from Jaws but definitely sharks! What an experience.

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Our lunchtime stop was a small beach where we picnicked with a lone monkey who solemnly accepted slices of pineapple from us then helped himself to a can of Sprite which he guzzled with practised ease. Quite how he got there remains a mystery but it seemed a dreadful shame he was spending his life in isolation apart from the naked apes that lingered only briefly. There is another bay with smaller monkeys where tourists gather to see them but it was high tide when we passed so we stayed only long enough to see the family groups gathering in the trees and on the rocks.
Then it was time for more snorkeling, this time to see turtles. The water here was deep and the current strong making me regret all the rice I’d eaten at lunch but nevertheless another unforgettable experience. We returned to our hotel in the long tail boat, the breeze drying us off and keeping us cool during the heat of the day, tired but very content.

Photos by Mr Chet, our tour guide.

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