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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Paradise Unfit

April 18-30. Phi Phi. From the cities of Chiang Mai came the beaches of Phi Phi in southern Thailand. I had never known there was a distinctive tropical paradise in any part of Thailand, but I experienced such a place. After a 1 hour on a plane and a bumpy boat ride, we arrived on the white beaches of Phi Phi, where the emerald water kisses the fine sand every so often. It was exactly like an ad for Budweiser or one of those cheesy tropical postcards people send each other and that aspect was a little unappealing to me. The only things disrupting this tourist paradise were the dozens of longboats motoring around the island.

The longboats were the taxis of the islands of Phi Phi. They have been used for several decades and used to be similar to rowboats. Now they are equipped with long propellers connected to a car engine. It was a wild sight that I hadn’t become accustomed to even after spending a week around them. We were picked up by one of these contraptions on our way to the hotel. Once we got on the boat we immediately noticed that if the weight of both sides wasn’t precise it would tip to one side and be in danger of capsizing. This was a slight inconvenience, given that we consisted of a 12 year old, two adults, 4 bags of luggage, and me.

Our hotel was situated right on the beach, so we never took the time to doddle in our rooms. The next few days were spent snorkeling right off the beach, rock climbing the stunning mountain faces, and relaxing on the beach. The snorkeling, in particular, was unique. We were able to see black tipped sharks, sea turtles, moray eels, seahorses, and several varieties of fish just off the beach. On one day we hired a longboater to give us a snorkeling tour of the surrounding islands, but after a while it seemed slightly repetitive. He took us to several tourist locations, each cheesier than the last. The most touristy of them all was Miami Beach, which is improperly and properly named. It is improperly named because it possesses a natural beauty of green waters, perfect sand, and stunning cliffs that a Miami beach cannot compete with. It is, however, properly named because it is filled with so many people that it’s hard to walk peacefully.

The nights in Phi Phi were fun, but also repetitive. The hotel we stayed at put on a fire dancing show every night. It was great to see, but then again if I had stayed for more than 3 nights at the hotel I would have been fed up with it. The food was great, just as Thai food usually is and I finally convinced my father to eat his first piece of fish in the 49 years he has been alive. I was pretty proud of myself after that.

I became more comfortable with my family during these 3 days, to the point where it seemed that the stage of getting to know each other had finally seemed to have dwindled away. I had a blast with them during this time, but time and time again I found myself longing for the experiences I had become accustomed to. Meeting new people, spending time with the friends I had made, sleeping on the floor, and experiencing vast cultures were the things I was used to. Then whenever I thought of this I would tell myself that I’m just on a vacation. Yet, I couldn’t help thinking that this was a sign that, eventually, my adventures will have to come to an end.