Monday morning I hugged Travel Buddies goodbye and set out on my own to the Phi Phi Islands. I caught a long tail boat at 8am that took me from Tonsai to Railay, where the ferry took us at 9:30am to the Phi Phi Islands. On the ferry I re-met two young English men who had played a game of pool with Travel Buddy 1 and me back in Au-Nang. They ended up staying at the same guest house in Phi Phi as me. I tried to stick with them when the Ferry landed, but got lost in the shuffle of the crowd. Once I got settled in Koh Phi Phi I began wondering around, and who was leaving the Island headed in my direction? None other than the Dude! It was nice to see a familiar face. He gave me some quick tips on tours to take and how to make friends on the Island. He was headed back to the US, and I was headed on my first solo adventure.
I didn’t spend much time solo. At the internet cafe I was befriended by two young Canadians who invited me to dinner. Through them I met my beautiful Ausi Girl, who became my great friend immediately, and several other people. It felt like a group of close friends who had grown up together, but most of us were on our own or had only come with one or two other people. I did a snorkel tour one day with my Canadian Writer friend, and we befriended two women from Seattle and a family from Tahoe. At night we all would go to the beaches and watch the fire dancers and drink from buckets. I ran into my Pool-Table friends multiple times as well. The English boys from Koh Tao even ended up in our circle of friends. One evening I went solo and did a night snorkel trip, where the phosphorescent algae glowed around my body. Again though, I befriended three English girls and spent the evening chatting with them.
The most time I spent alone on my “solo” adventure was Wednesday morning, when I hiked up to the Viewpoint at Phi Phi. I spent about 1 1/2 hours sitting there, writing in my journal. From the top you could see the strip of the Island that had been destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami, and how it had already been rebuilt. Although physically I couldn’t tell the Island was ever damaged, the energy was still there, especially in the locals who lived there. They had reminders everywhere, to remind themselves and I’m sure the visitors, to appreciate the Island, and life. I also ate breakfast and got coffee every morning from a place called the Garden Home, where I usually grabbed a mango shake. The Garden Home dining patio was covered in pictures and letters from the Tsunami rebuild. Many travelers, like myself, had returned to Thailand to help rebuild the Island. I enjoyed starting my days there, reminding myself to appreciate the adventure I was on and that I was lucky to able to enjoy such a beautiful place. I also tried to appreciate the locals who not only had to physically survive the Tsunami, but had to survive and rebuild their lives after it.
The Phi Phi Islands were a beautiful experience for me. I remember sitting at a cafe, alone, on Wednesday, watching the new group of people arrive. I knew that my friends and myself would be leaving the Island soon, probably all going in separate directions. A t that moment, my Canadians walked up and offered me a ticket to Phuket with them. The boat left Thursday afternoon…there was an airport in Phuket that could get me to Chaing Mai, my next destination, so I gladly accepted their offer.