Today I went to one location I had been looking forward to since before the trip started: Maya Bay, better known as "the beach" in The Beach. The rest of the pics should be uploaded in the next day or so, as the internet in Ko Phi Phi must be running off a single dial up modem.
Before even getting there, I knew it has become a massive tourist destination. I am a big fan of irony, so visiting a location made famous in a movie about escaping rampant tourism AS a tourist myelf WITH a big group of other tourists is about as ironic as anything can get.
I am a big fan of the movie, so going to that location (even if it is on a planned tourist trip) was still exciting. I joined a group of 8 other people on a long tail boat to head out and see what all the hype was about. We first stopped at Monkey Island, which consists of a tiny beach populated with a LOT of monkeys. These monkeys don't fuck around either. I had read the warnings that they are super aggressive and the health clinic in Phi Phi deals a lot with monkey bites so I kept my distance. And sure enough, within the 15 minutes we were there, I saw a girl get bitten bad enough to break the skin and make her bleed. Of course people are feeding the monkeys like crazy, which only leads to their turbo behavior. I kept backing farther into the water, where they didn't want to go, to avoid getting monkey attacked.
After that we went to headed to Ko Phi Phi Ley (the island with THE BEACH). I couldn't help but think of the movie and getting to the island for the first time. Of course my journey was 100% different than for Richard and crew- I was on a paid excursion on a boat, while they were swimming. Still felt cool seeing the island in the distance. Before going to Maya Bay, we stopped at an inlet for a swim. It was a super cool area that was really shallow, so you could stand up even though we were 100 feet or so in the middle of the bay. The next stop was snorkeling, which wasn't too great as far as snorkel sites go. The water seemed fairly dirty, and visibility wasn't anything special.
Then, finally, we were off to Maya Bay. Pulling in, it was pretty much what I expected- but still stunningly beautiful. Today the area is much different then when they filmed the movie. The bay is filled with TONS of tourist boats- mostly speed boats from either Phi Phi or Phuket. There were a decent amount of long tail boats like the one I was on, but not nearly as many. Like busses, the speed boats came and went- dropping of piles of new tourists to take photos of themselves jumping on THE BEACH.
The highlight of my day was when some Chinese tourists wanted a picture with me. At first I thought the couple wanted me to take a picture of them, but no- the girl wanted a picture WITH me. Then another couple wanted a picture with me as well. It wasn't clear to me if the second couple just thought "Just incase that dude is a celeb, we should definitely get a pic," or if RANDOM WESTERNER qualifies as picture worthy these days. I will never know if they thought I was a celebrity, or just a random white dude that they NEEDED a picture with. Either way it was pretty awesome.
There I was, on the beach made famous for being secluded from any tourism, taking pictures with random Chinese tourists who may or may not think I am a celebrity. Doesn't get much more silly than that.
Despite the insane over-tourism, Maya Bay is definitely a worthy stop if you are in Phuket or Phi Phi. Especially if you, like me, are a big fan of the movie and/ or irony.