‘You’re lucky you did it when you did,’ said Dre with a knowing smile. He’s the English manager of our guesthouse on Koh Phi Phi, one of many European ex-pats that seemed to have washed up on the islands of Thailand at some point and never found reason to leave. ‘The Maya Bay Sleepaboard’s days are numbered, not that they know that.’ Dre chuckled. And it’s true there’s something a bit funny about partying in a national park after all the other tourist boats have left for the night, but that’s also the beauty of it. Who doesn’t want their own private paradise?
We started off snorkelling off the coast of some tropical rock, chasing rainbow fish through the coral before heading into Maya bay for the night. We went for a swim while the tourist crowd was still around, which started dispersing around sunset. We watched the sky change colour from misty gold to pink to purple to a dark night sky, changing the colours of the towering rock faces that frame Maya Bay’s turquoise water and white sand. We ate BBQ chicken and were soon handed buckets of rum and coca-cola, with the assurance of there being plenty more to come. Most of the others were party animal types who hung around the fire playing drinking games and smoking ‘Uncle Bob cigarettes’, while we were happy to take our buckets to the beach and song jazz ballads loudly at the stars before piling into sleeping bags on the sand. We woke up absolutely covered in the stuff! Wind blew it all through our hair and into our ears, eyes, mouths, let’s just say we were covered! We got back on the boat just as the first long tails were starting to arrive and headed back to Koh Phi Phi.
I can see why the locals get tired of tourists on this island. They are completely outnumbered by tanned beach bums who wander round the town in bikinis or board shorts in search of alcohol and dodgy western food. We’ve been living off fruit shakes and Thai classics from street stalls, which are infinitely better than the slices of anaemic pizza which attracts most of the party crowd.
The island itself is beautiful though – countless tiny bays of flour-soft sand separating aqua water from lush green jungle. Today we kayaked around the bottom peninsula of the island to a beach up the top of the island – we didn’t even get halfway to the beach Dre suggested! Still it was nice to get away from the main strip. We didn’t get back until late in the day so now as I’m writing this I’m just chilling in the air conditioning, waiting for the sun to sink lower so we can have dinner with the sunset. It’s a tough life!