Kho Phi Phi Don is one of two tiny islands floating in the Andaman Sea off the Thai mainland. The other island is called Kho Phi Phi Ley, a tiny and paradisiacal rock that is better known as “The Beach”, where the movie was shot with Leonardo DiCaprio and where the original book was set.
One of the biggest reasons travelers seek out Kho Phi Phi is the world-class scuba diving to be done in the waters surrounding the island. One of the things I “had” to do while in Thailand was get my Padi Open Water dive certification (rough job, right?) and so for 4 days I hit the books, watched the videos, and got wet. I came away with my dive logbook and the memories of a lifetime. The best way I can describe the sensation of scuba diving is that you feel like you suddenly have the ability to fly, and you’re flying over an alien planet inhabited by the wildest creatures you’ve ever imagined.
I’m not a person who always dreamed of scuba diving, in fact the idea of it always kind of scared me – why venture into the briny deep when I’m breathing air just fine up here? However, my first dive, at Bida Nok, absolutely blew my mind. Some of the many creatures I saw on that very first dive include giant moray eels, barracuda, a blue-spotted stingray, a leopard shark, many parrotfish, triggerfish, anemones, clownfish, and a varicose wart slug. Yes, a varicose wart slug. My life is now complete. On my next dives I saw 7 hawksbill turtles, 2 black tip reef sharks, sea cucumbers, an amazingly camouflaged cuttlefish, 2 lion fish, a grouper, and countless other colorful species. Go diving. You won’t regret it.
On my way down from a short hike up the hill to get a view over the island – see above photo – I ran into this little vivacious monkey tethered to a post. He was sitting on a table with a baby Thai boy and wanted nothing more than to play with this kid, who was way more interested in playing with some kind of white fruit that I had never seen before. The monkey continued to pull the kid’s ears and manhandle him while his mother and her friends laughed. Just another day on the island, I suppose.
Kho Phi Phi made it into the news in 2004 for being especially hard hit by the tsunami on the day after Christmas. As you can see in the picture of the viewpoint, the main town of the island is situated right on that low-lying isthmus. After this tragedy, an array of early-warning devices have been installed on and around the island to alert the inhabitants to future tsunamis.
Travel for Teens will visit Kho Phi Phi this summer on the Thailand Community Service trip which goes from July 7–21, 2010. We’ll soak up the sun, go diving and snorkelling, go hiking, and soak up the unique island culture on this tropical paradise. Click here to register and check back for more on Thailand…