Day 15-19: April, 27-30
It is currently April 30th and I’m on a ferry leaving the Holiday Inn Resort, Phi Phi. This island is pronounced “pee pee”- I’ll assume it was named before the english language made that a well-known nickname to something else because nothing about the island would allude to that definition; tt isn’t far from Phuket and is very nice. It’s situated perfectly between Phuket and Krabi. I am headed to Krabi now and will eventually leave from the airport there.
Travel Hacking- Points add up!
I’ve been traveling through hostels for 2 weeks. Mostly in private rooms with the bare minimum- shared rooms (on occasion), shared bathrooms, etc. It was time for a swankier place. I also didn’t pay a dime for my accommodation. I used points from being an IHG member. I racked up many points from using my credit card and all my stays from my 2018 American Roadtrip. In fact, I still have over 150,000 points. It would cost 150,000 points total for 3 nights or over $300 USD per night. Point stays can only be used for standard rooms- I was upgraded, yasss! This isn’t typical but it’s a perk to my Spire status. Of course to earn points also increases your member ranking so this might actually be more common than I think.
I stayed in a private king studio- small bungalow, on the beach. My room had so much space and it was all mine. It was like a studio apartment without a full kitchen. Not that I’d spend much time here, but it was nice to lay my things out and not have to worry about lockers and roommates.
Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi Island
The resort offered free snorkel gear, had 3 pools, 3 restaurants, and I think 3 or 4 bars. They also had excursions for pay. I had everything I needed here. I also happily found out, all my food was 15% off because of my membership ranking. Can this get any better!? There was also a spa here, and although I recieved discounts here, too- I opted out. Even with the discount the massages were about twice as much as the ones in town.
I spent all 3 days on the beach. I think I got a little burnt on the ferry ride over. Other than that, I did not burn. I used SPF 50 and 30 everyday. I also opted to wear a life jacket when I’d snorkel. This protected my back and helped me enjoy the fish more. I think the more I was surrounded by couples, the happier I was to travel solo. I didn’t have to worry about how I looked, what I ate, or any of that nonsense. I could tell those paired up were mostly concerned- I was able to just relax and fully enjoy my stay without constantly feeling like I needed to impress someone. I would just have ice cream for lunch, dessert after every meal.. wear a life jacket even though I could swim and sport my bikini without sucking in. I also didn’t wear makeup. I saw maybe 2 other solo travelers. A few groups of friends, too; It was mostly couples though.
I snorkeled everyday for at least 1 hour, at most 3. By then my fingers and toes were pruning and my mouth hurt from the snorkel itself. I mainly had the reef to myself. I also had amazing weather. It only rained after 19:00 and overnight. On my first official day it rained in the morning, until about 09:00. I thought it would be a perfect time to plan more of my trip, after all I don’t have anything planned after Siem Reap. Even that isn’t exactly planned… and it still isn’t. Instead of planning I did laundry in my sink. When I finished I went to the beach. It was about 08:15 and I had the beach to myself. I’m always in the water so it doesn’t matter much to me if it’s raining. You could tell the storm was moving away and there was no threat of lightning.
The little amount of time I spent in the sand, I was either eating ice cream, sipping from a young coconut, or swinging in the trees. There were swings and hammocks set up on the beach and they were usually empty unless they were props for photos. Of course I took photos with them, too. Othertimes I would just mindlessly swing. The beach here was much cleaner- there was still some trash but not nearly the amount in BangTao. It was less than the amount you would find in the USA, too. I collected some of the bigger pieces that came my way. I didn’t find any in the coral reef.
The coral reef I swam through was mostly yellow or white with some vibrant blues and purples. The fish were very colorful and all over. I never passed the barrier. The barrier is set up by the hotel as safe swimming waters. Anything passed this is boat territory. I’d see many boats full of snorkelers and scuba divers right passed this barrier. I have a feeling the corals there are more colorful and abundant. I made a friend at the snorkel shack and he confirmed it was much more colorful and vibrant there. I thought about going out when the boats were stopped with their divers- I missed my mark.
**just switched ferries, I’m inhaling an entire full-size can of pringles, I’m thinking this is the wrong ferry. Every thai on the pier said it’s correct- I even asked the captain.
I purchased this ticket through 12Go and it said carrier: Songserm, speed ferry. However, I am onboard another Adaman boat.
I will update how this goes when I touch land again.**
The hotel continuously supplied my fridge with filtered waters and the AC was super cold, I even wore a sweatshirt around. I honestly understand more why people don’t leave a resort. I still don’t prefer it and think 3 nights is my limit. I would’ve had to venture out today if I’d stayed any longer, I became stir crazy! I had all the food I wanted to try, I checked out the pools, and I was ready to see more. I would’ve chose to do at least one excursion and maybe try to wander down the street beyond the property. The resort was huge and I took a golf cart everywhere. I didn’t even figure out how to get to the lobby by foot until the last day. I would just call the front desk and they would pick me up and take me to my chosen restaurant. I’m pretty sure if I’d find an actual road and venture out I would only find jungle or more resorts.
The first night I put on a dress and ‘wined and dined’ myself (minus the wine) at the Sunset restaurant. I timed it perfectly to watch the sunset. Here I ordered mineral water, Satay Gai was my appetizer, and Tom Kha Gai was my entree. I finished with cooked banana covered in coconut sauce and a scoop of chocolate ice cream. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the dessert of the night. I’m happy I ordered a side of ice cream to pair with it- an idea I stole from the kid at the table next to mine!
The next day I checked out another restaurant and had the Moroccan wrap with a young coconut. The wrap was delicious and just the right amount to satisfy my hunger. So far both meals were paired with a side salad. I decided to go to a different restaurant for dinner. Just kidding, it turned out to be the same one. I was a little confused because 2 restaurants and 1 bar are all right in the same vicinity. I figured it out the last night although I continued to order from the same one. It’s became my favorite.
I went to the beach after my moroccan wrap with plans to return later for dinner. After the beach I went to the sunset pool. This is an infinity pool on the edge of a cliff. When you’re in the pool it looks like it extends into the bay. It was beautiful. It became a bit crowded as we neared sunset. I got out to watch while everyone else was making it a back drop and looking the wrong way.
As much as I enjoy taking photos to share I also love having moments only engrained to memory. I learned this through photography actually. Photography has taught me to live in the moment and also to cherish my memories even if I can’t share them. Those are memories meant to be personal. The latter lesson was learned when I couldn’t capture the feeling or beauty of a particular experience. That’s when instead of giving up, I took it all in. A lot of times these are memories felt with all your senses. A memory one picture will never be able to capture.
I had a coconut as I watched the sun set. Then I left to go back to my room. I wasn’t hungry enough yet for dinner, it was 19:00.
I already knew what I’d have for dinner because I was eyeing the menu at lunch. I had a buggy pick me up around 20:30 for a late dinner. I ordered Por Pia and Gai Pad Med Manuang. Por pia was my appetizer- fried spring rolls with plum sauce. Then Gai Pad Med Manuang was my entree- a thai version of the common chinese chicken and cashew dish. This was served with jasmine rice. I had too much- I couldn’t finish the whole meal. It was delicious and they definitely served a big enough serving. The plum sauce was outstanding, I was expecting a purple preservative but this was a clear thin jelly sauce- light yet satisfying.
After dinner I went to the infinity pool by my room. I floated here for 15 minutes before the pool closed. I spend most nights culling through pictures and listening to podcasts. This night was no different. I fell asleep early.
I don’t recall when but I learned there was ice cream at the beach shack. So on my last full day I had ice cream for lunch while I relaxed on a swing in the sand. I had a single scoop of coconut in a cone and later I had a scoop of the green tea in a cone. Both were good, I liked the coconut best.
As I ate the green tea one I watched a snake eat a lizard. The snake was really pretty. A green pearlescent color. It strangled the lizard multiple times as it tried to get away. Once he finally got the whole lizard in its mouth, face first, the snake streatched out and you could watch the digestion.
Eventually he slithered up a coconut tree and I stayed away. I returned my towel and snorkel gear for the day and showered. I planned to finally check out the seafood restaurant for dinner but quickly scratched that idea when I saw how they prepared the crabs.
I’m from Maryland, a place known for eating crabs. We steam them. I saw them grilling them in the shell and I just couldn’t get into it. They would take blue crabs- whole, and place them over a charcoal grill. The crab heats up turning the shell red signalling the crab is ready (at least when steamed), yet they left them on the grill. I typically enjoy trying ‘different’ foods and experimenting but I felt like they were overcooking the meat and it wouldn’t pull apart the way it does at home. I am pretty spoiled at home when it comes to crabs- this makes me picky, pun intended. I figured the fish would be good; the seafood restaurant is all outdoor and a storm was approaching.
You’ll never guess where I ended up. I ended up in my favorite restaurant again- predicatable. This time I sat outside and ordered a thai favorite. I don’t recall the traditional name- it was duck and bok choy cooked in a red wine sauce served with jasmine rice. I knew the portion sizes were large and wanted to save room for dessert. There was a stand outside serving Thai pancakes; these are thin like crepes and they smelled like Trdelnik from Prague, Czech Republic.
I ordered mine with bananas and nutella- a fantasticly flavored dessert. I walked back to my suite and began packing all my stuff; I really did spread out in there. I lost my ear buds there, this happened after my first day but I am officially announcing it- I sorted through everything reorganizing and all.
My bag somehow continues to grow from place to place, yet I’m losing things and sending things home. I’m not sure how this is happening. The only sensible thought I came up with is: I’m wearing less and less each time I transition to the next destination. I was purposely wearing long pants each time previously and still plan to at an airport but not for boats. I am happy I brought some though- the trains and planes are cold. The ferries do have AC but depending on where you are it’s not any colder than 78 degrees. I tie my sweatshirt around my waist for the option to warm up if I need to. The ferry just started the engines.
I’m leaving from TonSai pier now, heading to Ao Nam Mao. I no longer have my ticket. They collect them before boarding. I might need to get on a bus when I get there- No clue. I have a sticker on my shirt for now. Oh yeah, I stopped with the Pringles. I think I ate about 3.5 of the 5 servings in the can. I can’t tell if it’s about to storm or of it’s nice out. The windows are tinted a bit and the clouds were dark on the way to TonSai Pier. There’s a group of people outside though, they seem warm enough.
**Update: it was the correct ferry. I eventually made it to my resort in Railay- nothing like my resort in Phi Phi; still wonderful nonetheless.**