Weekend Getaways: Koh Phi Phi
Out of all the Islands off Thailand, Koh Phi Phi was one of the hardest hit when the Tsunami of 2004 hit. Despite the millions of foreign donations raised, it seems that little has actually made it to the places that need it the most. Never less, Phi Phi is being reconstructed but in a mould that is unlike any other of Thailand’s beautiful islands.
Copyright DC 2007
Travelling to Phi Phi is easy enough; you can get flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Krabi and then get the ferry (350 baht and 2 and a half hours) or hire a speed boat (5000 baht and 40 minutes). Once on the island you are confronted with what looks like a massive building site, and in reality that is what Phi Phi is today. The beach is still littered with concrete rubble and the front is a miss-mash of old and new shops and restaurants.
Views of how much the Tsunami really damaged this fragile eco-system is apparent when you visit the beach during low tide. Our Long Boat driver told us that the beach never had any rocks before the Tsunami and had a flourishing coral reef, but now all that is left is a beach full of boulders and the remains of the reef.
My initial reaction was tourists, especially the Scandinavians, overran the island, as Phi Phi is a major island for 18-30 year olds from Sweden and Norway. This has resulted in loads of “cheap drinks, you want cheap drinks” bars and people trying to get you in them. I understand that the Island needs to be re-constructed and to do that requires serious money, but turning it into a mini Phuket isn’t the way to go about it.
The whole atmosphere left us with a sour view of the way Phi Phi is heading. It is no longer a tranquil resort, but one full of tacky souvenir shops and bars with badly lit neon lights and full of drunken farangs.
Pity, the Island could be so much more