Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Partying (sort of) in Phi Phi

For many people Koh Phi Phi is a hedonistic party island with buckets of booze and fire dancers, for me it was an exercise in learning to love and occasionally hate solo travel. My first day there I wanderd a lot but most of my human interaction was speaking with the people at the nearby dive center who'd talk to me whenever I walked by. I felt a bit lonely while also feeling antisocial, a perplexing combination for me. I'd walk around seeing groups of non solo travelers and be jealous but then I ran into someone I'd talked with a bit on Koh Lanta and had I really desperately wanted company I could have tried to latch on to his plans but instead I said hi, made small talk, and left. I had bigger plans for that night: I was going to watch The Beach in my shitty dorm as the noise of partying tourists filled the air and then I was going to bed early. It was magical and antisocial and selfish and exactly what I wanted to do. Solid pro in the category of solo travel. Also how does The Beach make people come here and visit Maya Bay?? A movie about a crazy cult, deadly shark attacks and deadlier marijuana farmers would not pull me to this side of the world.

The next day I walked. And walked. And walked. I started by heading up to the Koh Phi Phi viewpoint that was supposed to be a grueling 30-45 minute hike and while it was steep it was by no means a difficult hike. The view at the top was stunning as you could see both beaches and the mountains on either side and I ended up sitting on a rock reading there for nearly 2 hours till hunger hit and I decided to walk to Long Beach and find some Pad Thai along the way. A decent priced pad thai is 60 baht ($2 CAD) however it is an expensive island so sometimes it'll be 150 baht. Well stupid me I trekked to Long Beach without stopping and when I got there a pad thai was 400 baht. So I starved, swam, then walked back to town and ate there.

After more beach time and having a swarm of mosquitoes fall in love with me it was time for dinner where I ate in the street at this one stall with the cheapest food I'd found on the island and damn delicious too. I met a Quebecois couple who laughed at how my response to where are you from in Canada was "OttawanearToronto" but to be fair, very very few people know Ottawa or that it's the capital. So far the frontrunner is Toronto with Montreal as a close second. I confessed that I had not yet seen the firedancers or had a bucket and they told me I could not leave the island without doing so. Then they told me that by soing so I would not be making my 9am boat the next morning. Now a heavy con of solo travel: I wanted to go out, party, see firedancers and hang out with people but I had noone on the island and after waiting for some time in the area outside the dorm and bungalows to see if I could meet people I gave up and decided to go it alone. I am fine being alone but when you want to be with people and you are surrounded by backpackers partying together it can be a pretty depressing thing. It can also be an empowering thing, that moment when you say 'I am not waiting around for people, I am going to put myself out there and make something happen'. I made my way to the beach and walked back and forth between the four fireshows that were happening. It was surprisingly hard to meet people and since people were watching the shows in rows of chairs it wasn't the easiest to approach a crowd. Again I found myself waiting for something to happen and realized I wanted a damn bucket. So I went back to the main road and for 150 baht I got a full mickey of...rum? whiskey? that came premixed in my very own blue bucket with a single can of sprite and a small bottle of sketchy thai redbull thinking that if I were anywhere else walking around drinking a bucket of booze by myself this would be a sign of alcoholism and a cry for help. Instead walking with a personal booze bucket here is just a sign that you're in the Thai islands. Back on the beach I continued watching the firedancers who seemed like fiery cheerleaders and while I was desperately wanting to learn how to do the firespinning another solo traveler Chris from Scotland approached me and for the rest of the night I had someone to hang out and drink with. Also the miraculous thing? I made my 9am boat the next morning.

Fiery cheerleaders

My own bucket that contains an entire mickey (375ml) of booze

Lesson learned: Okay Universe, I get it! You clearly have some magcal plan so I will stop trying to force things and make stuff happen. Instead I will sit back,  watch fireshows or whatever else you present me with and trust that good people or things will come.

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