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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.