Allow me for a moment to indulge you in a metaphor.
When a star of similar size or smaller than our own sun eventually dies, it still continues to shine for most of eternity as a White Dwarf star, unable to fuse carbon in its belly only Paulis exclusion principle allows it to fight off the force of gravity trying to squash this once great star into oblivion. I put it to you that a similar thing has happened on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand.
Photographs from the early 2000’s show an island paradise of unimaginable beauty, arriving by boat on January 4th 2017, although still beautiful, it was clear this place had met its ‘stellar death’ well before we arrived. This place was clearly being crushed, just as a white dwarf star is by gravity, by holiday tourism, by cheap drinks promotions, and even cheaper personalities.
The greenery of ten years ago, now buried by concrete. This once isolated volcanic island in the Andaman Sea, now two nights shared with thousands of ‘Ibiza chique’ teenage degenerates. But guess what, I still liked it, just as a white dwarf star is able to shine for millenia after its death, Koh Phi Phi still retains enough natural wonder to itself shine for eternity, despite the force it finds itself under.
I was also here with three of my favourite people, so it is true that I could have been in Skegness (sorry Skegness…..ians??) and still had the time of my life.
Booking accommodation only the night before as we always do, we had to settle for a place a little more than our budget dictates, Golden Hill Bungalows is set amongst the hills at the top of the strip, where monkeys sang us morning lullabies and the swimming pool cooled our bones, i would most definitely spend a little extra again to stay here.
The hike to the viewpoint is a relatively charmless affair, that postcard panorama is more Golgotha than glorious these days. Basil Bistro half way up the main drag knocks out a Massaman curry that rivals any dish in any country I have ever eaten, and for a bargain price to boot.
We took a half day ‘sunset boat’ tour from down by the harbour, and it was fantastic; first stop, a little cove set against the rock where monkeys come down to play, then onto snorkelling out towards the next volcanic peak along, where hundreds of multicolored fish ebb and flow around you, the next stop was ‘Maya Bay’ or ‘The Beach’, this part was pretty gross, the tour wanted another 400thb to spend an hour on this once untouched sand, only thing is now there was the sum total of maybe fifty other boats piling onto the sand, speakers booming and party boats arriving every other minute, this was about as idyllic and unchartered as the Trafford Centre on a Bank Holiday. We opted to stay on the boat, the only ones that did, I think we were about the most isolated people there that afternoon.
Sunset never materialised, the clouds had other plans, we headed back to shore to indulge ourselves in some of the debauchery that is now island life on Koh Phi Phi, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.