Archive for the ‘Phi Phi’ Category

The Ping Pong Show

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Before going to sleep the night before Lindsay and I had pulled the window curtains in our room, and they were so thick that we both woke up independently of one another around nine am and went back to sleep thinking we had woken up in the middle of the night because it was so dark in our room. By the time we actually got out of bed, unable to lie there trying to sleep anymore we had no idea what time it was because there was no alarm clock in our room. We fumbled around in the dark looking for some sort of clock and then opened up the window curtains to be greeted with a blindingly sunny morning. We both had a good disbelieving chuckle and once we found a clock found out it was past ten am and not four in the morning like we both thought it was. Since we had mistakenly slept through the hours during which breakfast was being served we leisurely got ready for the day and munched on some fruit from the complimentary fruit basket in our room. We had a few hours to kill before we needed to meet the speed boats again, so we went and purchased stamps in one of the small postcard shops in town and then sat in the hotel lobby writing postcards to our friends and family.

We rode around the islands in two boats that looked like the one on the right- this is the dock in Phi Phi

Around noon we loaded onto the speed boats once more for a thirty minute ride to another coral reef where we then got to snorkel for another hour. Many of the people in our group were still hungover from the night before, and this coupled with the sunburn that had acquired over the last few days made them very grumpy. I have never been hungover and on a speedboat in the midday sun, but judging by the faces of some of the heavier party-ers in our group I am guessing its not all that enjoyable of an experience. This was day eight of a ten day trip and it seemed like everyone was starting to drag a bit. Even Lindsay, Anneka, Danielle and I who had been diligent about going to bed early and hadn’t really gone out drinking, were beginning to feel a bit worn down. The snorkeling turned into more of a floating and hanging out, and after an hour of that we all piled back into the boats and sped off towards a small island where a picnic lunch was waiting for us on the beach. We were also treated to wine spritzers and spent a good two hours resting on the beach and chowing down. Everyone seemed to have already had their fill of the sun at this point because almost all the girls who had been slathering on tanning oil and taking naps by the pool in the midday blaze were now hiding under towels and beach umbrellas.

Where we stopped for lunch

Once we had eaten our fill and rested a bit we loaded back up into the boats and sped off towards out final destination for the trip: Phuket. Once we had settled into our hotel, been reunited with our checked luggage, showered, and changed, me and my three favorite Thai travel companions set out in search of somewhere to eat for dinner. We ended up eating at the Banana cafe, which was an inexpensive thai/american restaurant along the main strip of the commercial district.

Courtyard pool at the Mariot Hotel we stayed in in Phuket, it had constellation lighting in it at night which was AWESOME

After dinner we spent some time walking around the various shops and vendor stalls, but most of the stuff we were seeing was no different from what we had already seen in Phi Phi and Chiang Mai, but here things were a bit more expensive since this was a very heavily touristy area and the vendors knew they could get western tourists to pay exorbitant prices and not haggle for them. Lindsay wanted to get a cocktail, and in search of a place to fulfill that desire we stumbled across this cute little VW van that had been refurbished to be a portable party bar. It had a sweet sound system with massive subwoofers blasting dance music, so while we stopped to have a little dance party on the street Lindsay ordered a bucket of pineapple rum for 300 baht (about $10). While we sat on the curb singing along to the music we met this really friendly asian girl who started talking to us and then asked if she could take a picture with us. We ended up hanging out at the VW bar for about forty five minutes and then around 9:30 headed back to the hotel lobby to meet our group leader Christian and most of the rest of the group for what Christian had been hyping all week as an “optional cultural experience.”

VW van curbside party bar

*******ATTENTION READERS*******

*****SOME OF THE INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*****

Ever since our first night in Chiang Mai Christian had been talking about this “cultural experience” that we simply had to have called a Ping Pong show. Christian had been mum on the details of this initially, but as the week progressed we had gotten little snippets of  what this would be like. He described it as being a weird strip show type of event where women pulled odd things our of their….well….vaginas. Judging by the name of the event I assumed that there would be some sort of spectacle made out of ping pong balls being birthed vaginally, but I honestly had no idea what to expect. This was a purely optional event, but he had put to the group that he would be going and that anyone else who thought they were brave enough was welcome to come along.

Anneka opted out, but Danielle and Lindsay both had their curiosities peaked, and I figured when in Rome, play ping pong with the Romans! While there were a few people who didn’t go, there was a group of easily 30 or so of us that did. Christian led us away from the hotel down a boulevard that was lined with high end bars and strip clubs with dozens of people standing in the streets trying to pass out fliers and pictures in hopes of luring customers into their various dens of inequity. Among the strip bars along this street some of them were inside with tinted glass doors so that you couldn’t see anything from the street, but many of them were open air bars where you could plainly see Asian girls devoid of any curves dancing on poles in skimpy underwear.

Naughty nightlife district

We arrived at a small establishment called “Playschool A- Go Go” and I wondered what in the hell I had gotten myself into. Lindsay, Danielle and I took seats close to the back, but Lindsay was a bit tipsy from before and as soon as she saw that there were open seats right on the edge of the stage that no one was sitting in she dragged us down there.  There is no cover charge for the club, but they will not start the show until everyone has purchased a drink, and since it was the end of the trip and I was trying to go home with some money in my pocket I went for the cheapest item on the menu, which was a beer for 100 baht (about $3). I have never purchased a beer for myself before, nor have I ever liked any American beers that I have tried, but the Thai beer that I had, a Singha, which was recommended to me by some girls in the program who had said it was their favorite, wasn’t all that bad. While everyone was ordering their drinks there were three or four girls up on the stage which was in the middle of the room. The girls looked very young and somewhat disinterested in being there. They weren’t stripping they were just apathetically dancing around each other and around the two poles on the stage to American club hits.

Going through this door I had no idea of the horrors that awaited me

Thai wheat beer: not half bad

Once everyone had their drinks in hand the show began. To call what we saw a ‘show’ would be up playing it up a bit. It was really more of one older woman showing off a very odd skill, like a peculiar circus act. A woman came out wearing nothing but a teddy lingerie top and proceeded to do all manner of odd and peculiar things with her baby maker. The first thing she did was to pull out a string of fake flowers out of her vag and then drape it across all the boys sitting in the front row of the audience. That was the most tame thing to happen all evening. After the flowers came a whistle that she played by putting it up to her lady parts and pushing air through it. I think she may have even been attempting a tune, but it was hard to tell admist all the awkward laughing and giggling.

With every passing minute the items to come out from under this woman got stranger and more alarming. The next item that was brought onto stage was a fishbowl with water in it. O no. I almost didn’t want to see what was going to end up swimming in there. The woman squatted over the bowl and squeezed out two small eels. Next a small cage was brought out onto stage. I tried to look away. She squatted over the cage and birthed a small terrified looking brown hamster into the cage. In between each inter-species birthing the woman went offstage and the dancers took over for a few minutes, I assume so she could reload with the next critter. She also had a bottle of lubricant off stage so thank goodness for that. Someone needs to alert PETA because this is animal cruelty if I have ever seen it. The next critter to be forcibly birthed out of this woman was a small bird with clipped wings, and then two small turtles and two fish joined the eels in the fishbowl. After escaping from this womans lady parts they crawled around and tried to escape from this hell pit of freakish fantasies, so I am sure they were real animals. As if pulling enough critters out of her vag to fill a small pet store wasn’t disturbing enough she then proceeded to light a cigarette and blow smoke through it out of her hoo ha. She also loaded two ping pong balls into her cha cha and popped them out sending them across the room. One of the more alarming props to emerge from the depths of her coochie was a string of razor blades, which she proved were razors by slicing up a plastic straw into tiny pieces after she had removed them. For the grand finale she put a blow gun loaded with two darts into her coochie and sent the darts flying through the air to pop balloons that were taped to the ceiling.

This whole ordeal lasted about thirty minutes and the faces of all the kids in our group who were there were priceless. I can’t say I really enjoyed the experience, it would be more accurate to say that I was oddly horrified, but watching the reactions of everyone in the room almost made the trip worth it.

The horror

The feeling I was left with post show is similar to what I imagine boys feel when they witness another boy get kicked in the balls and they shrink back in horror due to the imagined pain. This is how I felt. I was shrinking in horror imagining the pain that would come from putting small rodents and sea creatures and RAZORS into a place where they most CERTAINLY do not belong.

Reaction shot post ping pong show

group reaction shot

While some of the other kids went out to party on the town for our last night in Thailand, Lindsay, Danielle and I were too emotionally disturbed and exhausted to do anything else, so we headed back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep since the next night we would spend trying to sleep on a ten hour flight back to Sydney.

Just Another Day In Paradise

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Lindsay and I awoke early for our last morning in Krabi, went to breakfast with Danielle and Anneka and then had a few hours to kill before we needed to meet the speed boats on the beach that would take us to Phi Phi. On our way to the beach the previous day we had spotted a rock climb area that led to a lookout point over the peninsula, so we decided we would conquer that before leaving. This was a climb that did not require special shoes or a harness but it was by no means an easy climb. The first part of it wasn’t too bad because it wasn’t incredible steep and there was a rope to hold onto, but it was easily a thirty five minute climb the middle part which was the most rigorous. Eventually it evened out and the last bit of it was actually a dirt path through the trees, but we were all quite literally dripping with sweat once we got to the top. O and rock climbing in flip flops, probably not one of my better wardrobe decisions, but they were the only shoes I had with me on the island and I wasn’t fearless enough to attempt it barefoot.

Climbing up to the lookout

The view from the top- the estuary is on the right and the Andaman Sea is on the left and the resort bridges the space between the two

We came, we climbed, we conquered.

Paradise: the view from above

Sweaty, but still smiling

Estuary side

After we caught our breath we began our climb down and arrived back at the bottom sweaty and mud streaked but feeling accomplished. We spent the rest of the morning lounging by the pool before having to pack up and meet the speed boats on the beach that would be taking us to our next destination: Phi Phi. On our way to our next hotel we were told that we would be stopping to have an hour long snorkel! I have never snorkeled before and I was super excited to get this opportunity.

So excited

The water is so pretty and clear

I was a little nervous to jump into the water because there were fish EVERYWHERE, but once I did and I put my face into the water I was AMAZED at the sights that met my eyes. Had I not been breathing through a tube they would have taken my breath away.  (the following pictures are not from my camera as my camera does not operate underwater, they are from another girl who was on the trip)

Fishies!

So. Many. Fishies!

After many years of watching Finding Nemo and flipping through the pages of National Geographic magazines in medical waiting rooms I was expecting a rainbow of colors in the coral beds, what we came across was quite different. Due to rising ocean temperatures in the last two or three years the coral in this region has been bleached, a condition in which the coral looses all of its color due to a stress-induced expulsion or death of their symbiotic protozoa or due to the loss of pigmentation within the protozoa. The corals that form the structure of reef ecosystems in tropical sea areas depend upon a symbiotic relationship with unicellular flagellate protozoa, called zooxanthellae that are photosynthetic and live within their tissues. Zoonanthellae give coral its coloring and under stress corals may expel their zooxanthellae which leads to a lightening of color or sometimes a complete loss of color leaving the coral gray or white. Once bleaching begins it tends to continue even without continuing stress. If the coral colony can survive the stress period zooxanthellae will often return within weeks to months to a normal density, but this is not always the case as some zooxanthellae and coral species are more resistant to stress than others. Increasing ocean temperature is the most common cause of this, as even a 1-2 degree change annually can trigger this phenomena. Increasing ocean acidification also can exacerbate bleaching effects due to thermal stress. (all information researched from Wikipedia)

The Coral Seekers employee who was our guide on the boat was explaining that in the last two or three years almost all the coral in this area has lost its coloring, but the fish have stuck around.

Sea Urchins- do not touch!

Bleached out coral

After an hour or so of snorkeling we were taken to check into our hotel in Phi Phi (this is pronounced ‘Pee Pee’ which I was not able to hear someone say without snickering, I’m so mature, I know) where we checked into our rooms and then headed to the hotel restaurant for lunch.

The pool at our Phi Phi hotel

I never actually swam in this pool but it was very pretty to look at

I love these flowers, they are everywhere in Australia too

Walkway to the beach

While we were eating lunch they had the Royal Wedding coverage on the big screen TV in the hotel, so even though we were in a country that is in no way affiliated with the British crown, nor do its inhabitants speak English, we could not escape the Royal Wedding. After lunch we loaded back onto the boats to do a tour of some of the other islands in the area.

There are these huge rocky outcroppings everywhere, it looks like we are on an episode of Lost

These caves are home to a rare species of bird that only nests in this one location, so there is a small tribe of people who live here to protect these birds and their nesting grounds from poachers

Island magnificence

Our main attraction for the afternoon was a stop on the island of Koh Phi Phi which is where the 2000 adventure drama film The Beach, starring Leonardio Dicaprio and Tilda Swinton was filmed.

Link for the trailer to the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EJ1T0cf-Wk

the beach from the movie "The Beach"

View from the shore

Doing more silly things with my arms. At least I'm consistent

Mountains beyond the shoreline

We spent a few hours hanging out in Ma Ya Bay, during which time the Coral Seeker employees who had been driving us around all day on two boats brought out two huge coolers of cranberry and vodka mixed drinks and jello shots, so we got to have a little early evening cocktail on the beach before dinner. A storm was moving in over the island and as it began to rain we loaded back into the boats and headed back to our hotel. Once there we changed out of our bathing suits and went out to check out the night life in Phi Phi. Unlike in Krabi, which is more of a resort town with very few local residents, Phi Phi had a bustling commercial district that was mostly filled with beach wear shops, dive bars, restaurants, massage parlors, internet cafes, souvenir shops, and island tour companies. It was a loud, cramped and crowded district filled with lots of drunk sunburned tourists and local shop owners getting up in your face about taxi rides and snorkeling trips. Lindsay, Anneka, Danielle and I pushed our way through all the madness to find a cute pirate themed restaurant where we had a light diner before heading back to the hotel where we collapsed into bed.


Is it Possible to Be Jealous of My Own Life?

Friday, April 8th, 2011
I have been so enjoying my life in Sydney lately that I had almost forgotten about my upcoming spring (technically its fall here) break trip. I will be going on a 10 day pre arranged excursion to Thailand through my study abroad program. I received a copy of the itinerary to my email yesterday, and in the interest of making everyone hate me I have posted it here. It is as follows:
DAY 1 – CHIANG MAI ARRIVAL
Travel Day – Our group arrives in Chiang Mai this evening. Here, you will be met by guides and
transferred to hotel for our evening welcome dinner.
DAY 2 – CHIANG MAI / HILLTRIBE VILLAGE
This morning we transfer in small local trucks to an Elephant Camp located on the outskirts of
Chiang Mai. Everyone will get to ride the elephants through the local countryside. After meeting
the elephants, we continue into the mountains with a stop for lunch.
After lunch, we begin our afternoon with a hike to a Hilltribe Village. The walk takes
approximately 3 hours and takes us through the countryside and other small villages, affording us
a glimpse into the lives of locals. Upon arrival at our village for the evening, we enjoy a
traditional dinner by candlelight, meet villagers, and enjoy some local entertainment before
preparing for bed.

Chiang Mai

DAY 3 – CHIANG MAI
This morning we enjoy breakfast with the villagers and then board our taxi trucks and head back
to Chiang Mai.
This evening is at your leisure. Take some time to enjoy the fabulous street bazaar of Chiang Mai
which contains blocks of open-air markets, with abundant cheap food, and amazing arts and
crafts. All of this is within walking distance from your hotel.
DAY 4 – CHIANG MAI
We leave the hotel early this morning to travel to the original Chiang Mai cookery school where
you can try your hand at making traditional Thai dishes and then dine on the results.
This afternoon we drive up Suthep Mountain, which is located west of the city. The journey is
around 17km and provides us with excellent views over Chiang Mai City. Near the summit is the
stunning Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This temple, one of the most important of the province and
an enduring symbol of Chiang Mai, is a place of fascinating history and legends.
Our Chiang Mai cultural experience finishes with a traditional Thai dining experience and
authentic Lanna entertainment.
DAY 5 – TRAVEL DAY / KRABI
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before we transfer to the airport to meet our flights to Krabi via
Bangkok. Upon arrival, we are transferred via minibus and longtail boat to the beach area of
Krabi. After some time to check-in, we provide a short orientation tour of the resort and local
area before providing the rest of the afternoon and evening to be enjoyed at your leisure. A
welcome dinner will be provided at the resort.

Krabi

DAY 6 – KRABI
Enjoy this amazing place as you wish today. Although there are no organized activities, there are
many options for you to choose from. You may want to go monkey-spotting as Krabi has many
primates playing in and around the beaches. Alternatively, you may choose to go sea-kayaking or
perhaps try your hand at climbing or caving that this area is known for. Or you can simply like
on the beach or enjoy a massage (or two).
DAY 7 – KRABI / PHI PHI
Around lunchtime, we depart Krabi via high-powered speedboats as we head to the island of Phi
Phi Don. Along the way, we take a bit of time to enjoy some great snorkeling (equipment
provided). We check into our hotel accommodations, have some free time, and then travel to
the island of Phi Phi Lei where the movie “The Beach” would filmed. Our boats take us to
numerous impressive locations as we explore the island. After some free time on the beach, we
head back for dinner. The evening is free for you to take in a fire show or perhaps check out the
local market.

Phi Phi

DAY 8 – PHI PHI / PHUKET
After breakfast, we head to Phi Phi Don for the island of Phuket. We view some smaller island on
the way and arrive with plenty of time for some afternoon shopping in street markets.

Phuket (pronounced Pu-ket, get your minds out of the gutter!)

The current exchange rate is about $1AUD = 30 baht. (The Australian dollar and the American dollar are very nearly equal at the moment) 70 – 100 baht will buy you an upscale dinner at a local thai restaurant ( for those of you who are not mathematically inclined this means I can eat a fancy dinner for $3.5 USD roughly, and get a massage for an hour for about the same price)
It is very easy to eat and drink for a day on $10
15 days left till I leave! Anyone left who doesn’t hate me yet?