|Longtail (Photo: Jason Schwary)|
After exactly three years to the day, somehow, somehow most unexpectedly, I find myself sunbathing on the exact same beach. Not a beach of my home state California, or one from the Jersey Shore...but half way around the globe in the exotic country of Thailand.
I’ve always been someone to say that I prefer doing things twice, it helps me remember things. However, sitting on the same beach exactly three years later wasn’t something really planned by design, in fact, it wasn’t planned at all. I think the term fluke would be more accurate, but through an interesting landscape in the southeast asian airline market, economics forced us through Thailand on our northerly migration into the Vietnam amphitheater.
If you knew that a flight from Bali to Ho Chi Ming city cost $500 and a flight from Bali to the paradise beaches of Thailand cost $42, what would you choose? Yes, a classic case of one of the most annoyingly overused English phrases of all time, but perfectly applied in answering this question; it was the perfect case of a classic, no-brainer!
|Maya Bay, aka - The Beach (Schwary)|
So, after surrendering the same quantity of cash to buy entry to a movie at the local cinema (and maybe a Coke and popcorn depending on which overpriced American city you find yourself living in), TheVicariousAdventure crew found itself lapping in the waters of a particular beach that previously made our Top 10 Beaches of the World list, compiled last October. That $42 investment proved savvy when I came face-to-face with the sharp towering limestone cliffs draped in a verdant blanket of palm tree vegetation, surrounded by emerald hued waters, laced with powder white sandy beached. The feeling of returning to a place I’d previously considered a once in a lifetime vacation makes me feel like I’m living a second life.
|Self Amusing (Schwary)|
Subsequent to spending two months on the peaceful island of Bali, the contrast of Thailand’s island, Ko Phi Phi, is as polarized as any. The intense party pulse that dominates the island was the first thing we noticed. As I recall back in 2008, you could still fell that this island was one that was stuck in the process of recovering from the devastating tsunami of 2004. But, those days were long gone. Ko Phi Phi had officially returned to what the locals refer to as, the glory days of the island. Different from my experience before, the south half of the beach that stretches one and a half kilometers long, is now completely lined with club after club. Don’t be quick to prejudge this as a negative, all the clubs have been constructed with taste and cohabitant well with the island’s natural surroundings. The sound systems of these clubs are top notch, the lighting is semi-professional, the themes different from the next, and the overall vibe...highly enjoyable. Although the culture shock of such an exaggerated environment proved too overwhelming for us to engage in, we happily took refuge in the nearby waters with cold cans of Thai beer purchased on the cheap, compliments of the ubiquitous 7/11’s that are found around every corner of the island. And, in case your wondering, Singha beer was the official brew of choice.
|Our Humble Abode (Photo: Jason Schwary)|
The infrastructure of the hoteling and accommodations was the second aspect of the island that made it’s presence felt, and the second aspect that distinguished itself from the Ko Phi Phi of years past. Accommodations are more than plentiful, most of which are well situated within the hills and ravines that shape the island. I write mostly on purpose due to the misfortunate fact that if I had it my way, I’d personally rip the roof tops off of a couple hotels and replace them with palm fronds, immediately! You know which hotels you are! Anyway, the accommodations run the gamete from expensive, to dirt cheap, and most certainly create a unique feel that screams aloud, “I may be on the most perfect island on Earth!”.
Shopping. Holy shoot! The shopping on Ko Phi Phi is superb. I mean, the knock-offs sold in Thailand rival those of any other country in the world and the price is practically inconsequential, assuming you’re not like us, traveling on a six month travel budget. You may be thinking, big deal, big deal if the quality of the knock-offs are great. However, take into account that everything in the world that you actually don’t need to buy, but more importantly want to buy, is available for about ten to twenty bucks. I’m referring to Gucci sunglasses, Prada handbags, Billabong board shorts, high-end egyptian cotton t-shirts, and on, and on, and on. All-in-all, this place could easily be confused as a international shopping destination, only if it was dropped on top of such an incredibly beautiful island.
|Got Water? (Photo: Jason Schwary)|
The surrounding island of Ko Phi Phi Ley is one of magic and splendor. Despite the explosively new, decade long interest in the island, created by the successful Hollywood movie starring leonardo DiCaprio, The Beach, the movie was an immediate classic among the hardcore backpackers of the early 2000’s, and today has only grown in interest. I have to be honest though, if you ever have any aspirations of discovering this island as Leonardo once did in his iconic movie, you’ll be highly disappointed. Simply put, there’s way too may Italians and Russians roaming the place in either distastefully short swimming trunks, or ever worst, speedos that divulge more than just a bulge. Aside from this distracting eye sore, the beach at Maya Bay is a sight to behold, actually, it may be more suitable to say that the sheer awesomeness of this beach could arguably be the 8th Wonder of the World. If wasn’t already pretty obvious I’ll say it straight...I love it!
|Medium Well, Please (Photo: Jason Schwary)|
And lastly, the food, Thai food is delicious! The seafood that dominate the menu is fresh, well prepared in exotic Thai spices and herbs, and the price, almost as sublime as the food. Even the hawker food that lines the majority of the streets that link the two opposing beaches along the ismuth of the island is something worth writing about. It was great to enter into a world of Thai food that’s more diverse than any other country yet experienced on our Southeast Asian conquest. It’s a shame our travels throughout this culinary county is a mere twelve days long. It’s a fact that the majority of my time here will be devoted to one of my favorite hobbies, eating!
|I Love You This Much! (Schwary)|
The charade of recounting my love affaire for this exotic and crazy island can continue long after the cows have come home, but my current location now finds me 500 miles north of where this post began. Bangkok is the city of current exploration and as the world turns so does that of the TheVicariousAdventure.com.
Gotta go. See you soon...I hope.