Two Friends in Thailand | Phi Phi Islands

Today was one of those days where we had no plans on what we wanted to do. I had a semi-rough idea of what we could do, but I didn’t want to set anything in stone, unti I was with Chris.

Together, after a few options were discussed, we decided on another boat day. Except, instead of a sunset cruise, we decided on a sunrise speed boat tour to the Phi Phi Islands. The particular tour we decided on was called The Beach Sea Trips. I’m pretty sure we found at the stand where we rented our motor scooters.

The Phi Phi Islands are kind of a MUST SEE when you come to the west coast of Thailand. They are what most people think of when they think of Thailand. I’m not going to lie when I say, I was really excited about this particular trip! It would be the furthest south I’ve ever been (at this point in time).

As this trip was a sunrise boat trip, it meant another super early morning after a late night. (Remember I was bitten by a monkey and was at the hospital till well close to, maybe even after midnight). Thankfully, Chris is a morning bird and had enough time before our pick up arrived to get us some coffee! (Coffee is a wonderful thing).

The driver drove us to the starting point of the tour at a marina a decent 40-minute drive away. Thankfully, once we arrived and checked in, the company provided breakfast. During breakfast, they went over the itinerary and the safety features, so no significant time was spent on the boat! Always a good perk to a sunrise not trip!

sunrise over the sea

To say we were ready to board the boat is an understatement. I was just tired of standing around and listening to people talk. I wanted to be back on the water in a speed boat, jetting off towards the sun. Don’t get me wrong, I love Thailand, I’ve majorly missed the boat life from the Caribbean.

Koh Phi Phi Ley and Maya Bay Beach

I was so happy when we left the marina and sped off into the sun. We paused for a short while to capture sunrise photos before heading towards the first stop of the day, Maya Bay.

Something you should know. Maya Bay is indefinitely closed after succumbing to over-tourism. Thailand’s government decided that, to bring it back to its beauty, it needs to remain tourist-free. Why the over-tourism? Maya Bay was made famous by the 2000 movie, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. It quickly rose to fame as a Thailand island hotspot. Now, you can only witness this beautiful beach from a distance.

After a few minutes, we headed to our next location, Loh Sama Bay. Literally, on the backside of the Koh Phi Phi Ley where Maya Bay is located. This time, we were FINALLY able to jump into the beyond crystal turquoise blue water! That wasn’t all, located in this little reef area behind Maya Beach, were cute and tiny baby reef sharks 🙂

We stayed in this spot for about 30ish minutes. When we were ready to take off, Chris happened to be quite far from the boat and struggling to get back to the boat due to a current. According to Chris, swimming is not his thing. Makes for a great story though!!

The next location on this boat trip turned into an ultimate fail. Apparently, the tide doesn’t always work in favor of the boat. On this particular day, the tide at Pileh Lagoon was just that. The entrance was too shallow for the boat. Even with the motors practically out of the water, the boat was unable to pass over the sand bar. It would have been a great spot for more swimming, but it was just in the plans.

Thankfully, it’s not like this was the end of the boat trip. We had barely just begun. With little hesitation, we continued on our way with a just slow enough to see it, drive by, of a place called Viking Cave.

Monkey Beach

I wish I could tell you more about Viking Cave, but I just don’t have any answers. I was more curious about this Monkey Beach and Monkey Cliff I kept hearing our tour guide mentioning.

Did you read about yesterdays mishap with a monkey? Can you now understand my curiosity? A Monkey Beach with a monkey cliff?

It was pretty much exactly what it sounds like; a beach of monkeys and a cliff of monkeys. It was pretty entertaining watching these monkeys JUMP off the cliff and into the sea, then back up the ropes. It was slightly touristy, and boats were feeding the monkeys bananas. I know it’s not ethical and it does cause monkeys to become aggressive, but I still enjoyed it.

After a few entertaining jumps from the monkeys and soaking up the beautiful island cliffs, we continued to our next location; a beachside restaurant for our lunch. This restaurant is a part of a beach resort located on Laemtong Beach. That’s honestly all I remember. Well, that and that the food was delicious!

Koh Phi Phi Don

After lunch, we headed to Long Beach, located on Koh Phi Phi Don. I’ll explain this to you quickly. Koh Phi Phi Ley is the smaller of the two islands, and Koh Phi Phi Don is the larger island. Okay, let’s continue.

Long Beach is located on the southeast corner of Koh Phi Phi Don, between several resorts. This is where Chris finally got his “James Bond” long boat moment. There were several long boats anchored on the beach right next to each other and was a perfect location for his moment.

Chris and I, being the crazy, non-stop movers we are, decided to grab a beer and take a walk down the beach. It turned into a climb over a rocky corner, down a smaller beach, and over another rocky corner. It was at this point that we noticed the “Viking” sign. Come to find out, this is the location of the Viking Resort, but I did not know that at the time.

It was here where we had a mini-photoshoot on the rocky corner with the picturesque Thailand background, long boats included. I struggled slightly with the rocky shore and may have slipped a couple of times. I never fully fell in, but I had a few close calls.. Chris, being the amazing photographer that he is, captured it ALL on camera.

Bamboo Island

Next, we headed to Bamboo Island, a tiny island located just north of Koh Phi Phi Don. It is home to a beautiful white, sandy beach. Before we made anchor on our final beach of the day, we anchored off the coastline and did some more snorkeling.

This was a huge highlight for me, because…I SAW A ZEBRA SHARK. This was my first and as of now, my only time seeing a zebra shark. Talk about a random wildlife encounter! Chris even got to swim with the shark! Talk about memories in the making!

It was finally time to head to our final stop along our Phi Phi tour, Bamboo Beach. Chris, at this point, had one more item he wanted to check off his list. He wanted to drink a coconut on a beach. Thanks to our fellow boatmates, they gave us one of their coconuts, as they didn’t like it! You could say our boating day around the Phi Phi Islands have been an utter success!!

The best part was that our day didn’t end with the boat trip. When we returned to the marina, it was only about 3 pm. We were spent and knew we needed to rest before heading out on the town.

Our night was a pretty simple night. One thing we knew for certain was that we needed to complete our week in paradise with one final Thai massage. After all, Chris’s first experience wasn’t a true Thai massage. But this one was. There were moments during our massages, where the masseuses and myself were laughing because of the noises Chris was making.

I will say this, a Thai massage is nothing like the typical massage you might think of in America. It’s not relaxing AT ALL. I could totally understand where Chris was coming from, but it was still kind of funny. It wase the perfect end to our amazing week in Phuket.

We still have one half day left in Phuket before our flight the next day, so stay tuned for one final post on my time in Thailand with my good friend Chris!

Two Friends in Thailand | Big Buddha and Phang Nga Bay, Phuket

We woke up extremely early on our 5th day. Reason? We still had a few more hours left with our scooters, and we wanted to see the sunrise, but not just any regular sunrise. We wanted to see the sun come up at the famous Phuket landmark, The Great Buddha of Phuket, also known as Big Buddha.

Big Buddha is a beautifully built, 18-meter tall statue located high on a mountain facing east, towards Ao Chalong Bay. Although parts of the grounds are still under construction, you can see why Big Buddha is a popular destination for locals and tours alike.

Because Chris and I are both morning people (when I want to be, I should clarify), we jetted off towards Big Buddha during the wee hours of the morning. I think it was something like 4:45-5am. It only took us about 30 minutes to drive our scooters to the location, and about 10 of those minutes were spent driving around and up the mountain, arriving before the sky started to light up.

It wasn’t very crowded when we arrived, so I was able to search out a place to attempt to capture a timelapse of the sunrise with my GoPro. (This is an essential part to the story). Everything was going perfect. The sun started to wake, the sky was turning beautiful colors, and everything was quiet. That was until the monkeys appeared.

Monkeys are known to be ruthless little creatures and scavengers on the hunt for food. In my case, one monkey was heading right towards me and getting a little aggressive. Then it started towards my GoPro. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. So, I grabbed my GoPro, which of course, pissed this monkey off. Next thing I know, the monkey jumped on my back and attempted to bite me. It all happened so fast that I honestly couldn’t tell if he made contact with me or not, as he tried to bite my upper back between my shoulder blades. Two ladies, who were nearby, saw this event take place and were kind enough look on my back for any signs of bite marks. Sure enough, the little bugger broke the skin; not deep enough to cause bleeding, but he did break it.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. Why did I reach for my GoPro? Monkeys are known to be carriers, though not frequent, for rabies, and I put myself at risk by going after my GoPro. GoPros are not cheap, and I knew if this monkey got it, it would be gone forever. So, I took a chance.

I told Chris what happened with the monkey and texted my mom, who I am sure LOVED getting that text message. The three of us went back and forth about the rabies vaccination and ultimately decided it would be stupid not to get the shots. It’s just not worth the risk EVER.

Unfortunately, Chris and I had a prebooked boat tour for the afternoon and knew we would not have enough time to go to the hospital before the tour. I understand this probably isn’t the smartest thing, but I wasn’t worried and didn’t want to miss out on Pha Nang Bay, so we postponed getting the vaccination until after the tour.

At this point, it is now 7 am. We were both starting to get hungry, and both in desperate need of coffee. What I didn’t mention from yesterday, was that Chris and I stumbled across this random coffee shop on our drive home from sunset. We were curious about it, so we decided that we needed to make a visit before returning to Patong.

Yes Coffee, we found, was established to support underprivileged people in Thailand. It is more than just a roastery. It is also a school, which provides Burmese migrant children with education and currently has about 50 students and employs three teachers. Talk about a hidden gem of Phuket. Stumbling across this coffee shop was, for me, a major highlight of the trip. I genuinely love supporting businesses like Yes Coffee.

With the time of the tour creeping close and our time with the scooters about to expire, we headed back to Patong and our hostel. We had enough time to change into our suits and gather our things before we headed out towards the marina for our tour.

Now, something you should know about Chris is that he is an incredibly active man, so when looking for tours, I knew I needed to find something more than just sitting on a boat. With all the research I conducted, this tour, John Gray Sea Canoe “Hong by Starlight” was rated exceptionally well. I knew it would be an excellent way to see the beautiful Phang Nga Bay, which I really wanted to see because this bay has what seems like hundreds of tiny islands clustered together creating a breathtaking scene. I couldn’t let either of us leave Phuket or Thailand without seeing this site, so this was the tour I decided we needed to experience.

Okay, back to the day. It didn’t take us long after our arrival to the marina before we boarded the double-decker boat. The main level is a full kitchen because shortly after we left the port and on our way towards the Hong Islands, we were served a delicious lunch with a beautiful selection of Thai food.

Something exceptional about this company is that one guide is assigned to each kayak and they paddle the sea canoe

“through “Tidal Nape” Sea Caves literally inside Phang Nga Bay’s marine limestone karstic islands into “Hongs “(Thai for “Room”)”

https://www.johngray-seacanoe.com/trips/thailand/day-trips/hong-by-starlight.html

Our first sea canoe adventure took us through a tight cave, requiring us to lay completely flat, before opening to an extremely shallow mangrove lagoon. We were even giving the chance to stand in the middle of this lagoon. I mean, really, a once in a lifetime opportunitiy.

We continued to our next location, which was a larger cluster of several islands and lagoons. These lagoons were a bit deeper, and after our first time through with the guide, we were given a chance to go back alone and explore. Chris took the paddle and guided our sea canoe back to the lagoons. This was another major highlight for both of us because once we headed back, we found ourselves alone in the middle of an island in the middle of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand. It was so beautiful and peaceful. Truly a special moment shared with two friends.

The next adventure, which was another reason I selected this tour, included making our own krathong with the help of our guide. A krathong, which is a floating flower offering/basket that is a part of a spiritual ceremony which pays respect to the water spirits during a festival called Loi Krathong. I had the opportunity to participate in the festival in November, and I thoroughly enjoyed the cultural symbolism of the festival and felt that Chris would too. So, after we finished creating our krathong, and after eating a delicious dinner while watching the sunset, our guide lead us through a dark cave with bioluminescence. The cave ended in a beautiful lagoon, where we found our own quiet corner, lit our krathong, and released it into the water, making our wish.

Unfortunately, these quiet, special moments can’t last forever, and it was time we started heading back into port. It was quite late by the time we finally arrived back to our hostel and knew we had another super early sunrise wake up the next day, so we quickly headed to bed.

Stay tuned for the next blog, where Chris and I take another boating adventure to the Phi Phi Islands!!

Royal Caribbean Day 7: Day at Sea

Our final day on the Adventure of the Seas. After we set sail from Barbados, we knew it was going to be a long 36 hours aboard the ship, but we also knew it was going to be a good time with good friends.

As per usual, our day started with breakfast, but thankfully, it wasn’t as early as the past five days, so we were able to sleep in just a little. Darren and I knew there was ONE thing we had on our list for the day….POOL!

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Royal Caribbean Day 6: Barbados

Day 6: Bridgetown, Barbados

Date: 26 April 2018
Port: Bridgetown, Barbados
Time on Island: 8am-4:30pm
Distance between St. Lucia to Barbados: 174.60 km or 94.28 nautical miles (5108.49 miles

Barbados, our final island and final port before our return to Puerto Rico…also the day I have been dreading. It means our Southern Caribbean Cruise is coming to an end. I know all travels and vacations come to an end but it’s been such an amazing past 5 day that I’m not ready for it to end. BUT…at the same time, I’m ready to explore another new island in the Caribbean!

Like many of the other islands, I didn’t know much about Barbados, except that there was a popular cave attraction. We weren’t totally sure if we wanted to include this in our day, but in the end we voted it would be something cool to see. Because of that, Darren and I decided on a half day tour, that included the cave, would be a good idea. It was tough for us to narrow down the exact tour we wanted, as many of them included the cave. Initially, we thought maybe a cave/rum tour would be fun, but ultimately, we chose a tour that showed a little more of Barbados.

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Royal Caribbean Day 5: St. Lucia

Day 5: Castries, St. Lucia

Date: 25 April 2018
Port: Pointe Seraphine, Castries, St. Lucia
Time on Island: 9am-5:30pm
Distance between Antigua to St. Lucia: 363.65 km or 196.36 nautical miles (225.96 miles)

The morning started just like every other morning on the ship. We got up, showered, got ready, and then headed to the buffet for breakfast. Following breakfast, Darren and I headed to the deck and take in the beautiful scene of the island of St. Lucia. Standing on the deck every morning was one of my favorite things to do on the ship. That first glance of this island and the others is something I’m never going to forget. We would do it every morning, but St. Lucia was my all time favorite.

Similarly to St. Marteen and St. Kitts, Darren and I pre-booked an island tour. I’ve found people either love tours or dislike them, but me personally, I don’t do well just sitting on beaches all day, especially since at this point I was living on a Caribbean island and had the chance to go to a beach all the time, so exploring the islands was something I really wanted to do.

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