Time to recharge the batteries with some beach time, scuba diving and surfing off the Andaman coast of S. Thailand. Phuket and the surrounding islands were devastated by the Boxing Day Tsunami. By now thankfully, the cities have been rebuilt and only the painful memory of the tremendous loss remains. We arrived in the midst of the monsoon season to blue skies and warm weather. We found a nice little guesthouse on Patong Beach and made the most of our planned 2 nights in Phuket. We filled the 3 days with surfing, making new friends, and riding moto’s around the island visiting Phuket’s myriad of beaches, surfing, and sightseeing.
On the 3rd day we headed for the docks to take a 3 hour boat to Ko Ph Phi for some diving and beach time. Phi Phi and the surrounding islands are unique in that they are very rocky and consist primarily of dramatic limestone cliffs pockmarked with small white sandy beaches and lush tropical jungle. In fact, if you have ever seen “The Beach” it was filmed on an island 30 minutes from Ko Phi Phi.
While Ko Phi Phi is beautiful and we had a great time, the “monsoon season,” which we had/have timed perfectly for all of SE Asia, reared its head again. Luckily the best place to be in a storm is 18 m underneath the ocean, which is conveniently where we were on our dive trip (saw a nice leopard shark, a morey eel, big trigger fish and swam through a large group of jellyfish). Our entry into choppy waters was the only noticeable shift from our other dives and there was a serenity to being beneath the ocean in the time of a storm.
The next day we were not so lucky. The sunny morning baited us into an afternoon tour of Maya beach (where the movie the beach was filmed and arguably the most beautiful beach in Thailand), and after boarding the world’s sketchiest boat (with a captain that drove with his foot – no joke!), we began the Odyssey. To access Maya beach you have to swim from the boat to a series of ropes and navigate the powerful waves crashing against the jagged rocks. That was the easy part. The intense rain and was joined by it’s sister, intense wind, and within a few minutes, a full on storm rocked paradise lost. As we ran across the island, large palm branches were ripped of the trunk and came crashing down (two feet from where Noel was standing!). We sprinted to the beach and were met with, you guessed it, a 40 mph sandstorm! You had no choice but to flee and seek refuge in the ocean, which we did along with 100 other tourists. At this point the idea of Tsunami #2 did not seem too far-fetched so we decided to head back to the safety of our boat. Oops. We forgot about the world’s sketichest boat and Captain Foot Driver trying to cross the eight foot high waves in a storm! How many life jackets are there? Ha ha! Not that we would need them…but SERIOUSLY, how many are there? To make a long story medium, we ended up okay. But all of us did have to get out and pull the boat to safety when we got stuck in the rocks.
Chillness Factor: Low
Storm/Rain Factor: Extreme