a peek inside the fishbowl

02 May, 2020

Arrival at Phi Phi

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

The Thailand diaries continue! To read past posts in this series, click here.

In my previous post, we had just taken the ferry to the Phi Phi Islands.

We were excited about the promise of island living for a few days.

Disembarking wasn’t nearly as tranquil as promised by our first views from the ferry. I have zero photos of those initial moments on the pier because it was utterly chaotic. There were hundreds of passengers milling around the pier, getting off and getting on, all of them with luggage. There was an additional bottleneck as every person who got off had to pay some kind of surprise tax upon arrival. (I was grateful that I had some cash on hand!)

I was pretty sure our hotel was nearby and I was prepared to hoof it and make an educated guess but the youngest thought we should hold out for a hotel pickup since we really didn’t know the area. Amazingly, we found our guy in this immense crowd.

He came with a big cart for our luggage, but we were travelling light so we didn’t really need it. (But my backpack got a ride anyway.)

On our way to our hotel on Phi Phi Island

I think this part of the island is fairly new. Phi Phi was greatly impacted by the 2004 tsunami.

I was very surprised to see one of the things that greets new arrivals on Phi Phi was a Burger King!

Early view of Phi Phi Island was a.... Burger King

We were booked at a place called Phi Phi Nice Beach Resort. Excitement was running high as we made our way there. It turned out to be a 10 minute walk from the pier, almost at the very end of Ton Sai Bay. The walk was incredibly pretty and we oohed and ahhed the whole way.

Here’s what our “resort” looked like upon first approach. That’s the reception desk on the right. Small cabins face the beach, with more rooms tucked in behind them, “motel” style.

Phi Phi Nice Beach Resort

Here’s another view of Phi Phi Nice Beach, taken standing further back on the beach (the water was at my back here, obviously):

Right outside Phi Phi Nice Beach Resort

This central area is beside the main reception desk. Later we found out that this was the only place we could get a wi-fi signal:

Phi Phi Nice Beach resort

We were happy to learn that a sliver of the aforementioned beach was ours to use. (“Private beach” was a big selling point.)

This was our view from those beach chairs in front of the resort. We liked it, a lot:

View from our beach

View from our beach 3

View from our beach 2

The views, they were A+. Our rooms? They were bleak. (I suspect the only nice rooms were the cabins at the very front of the property, the ones pictured on the Phi Phi Nice Beach TripAdvisor page.)

Our first room (there’s a story here) was a disappointment, to say the least. It was tiny, although the size of it didn’t bother me as much as the the total sum of other issues. The power outlets didn’t work, the wi-fi was non-existent, the overhead lights buzzed, the overhead fan was dusty, the bathroom was smelly and dingy, and there was nowhere to put or hang our clothing (or wet towels!). Everything needed a coat of paint. There was paint where there shouldn’t be paint. There was also an issue with the air conditioning, although that wouldn’t be made clear until the middle of the night.

It looked like it could have been the winning entry for World’s Worst Hotel Room, or a set for a movie about a mother/daughter duo who were undertaking The Adventure Of A Lifetime with Many Comical Hijinks Along The Way. (During the movie, their dream resort loses their booking and after many hours of searching and calling, the pair are given the last room on the entire island, the room no one wants, the room that’s used as a Last Resort at the Last Resort and for errant clients of the bar next door who are drunk and afraid to go home to their wives. There’s a comedic close up as they grimace and look at one another when the door opens and it’s revealed to them, but they’re desperate. After they check for bed bugs they collapse with exhaustion into the crisp sheets.)

I have more photos of the room but do you really want to see the toilet and the hand shower? I think not.

Phi Phi Nice Beach Resort

Our second room at Phi Phi Nice Beach Resort

We consoled ourselves by telling ourselves that this was only temporary. We could do this, right? After all, it was just a place to sleep, right? And it was cheap! And considering it was right on the beach, well, we could try to turn our frown upside down!

And so, if you can believe it, (as I write this, I can’t believe it either) we decided to stick it out. We went for a swim and explored a bit, capping the evening off with a nice dinner at a beachside restaurant that had good food and impressive views.

Solo dining in Phi Phi

Is this the best restaurant view or what?

I ordered a large beer, which was larger than I had imagined when I ordered it. It was warm before I could finish it. The ice in the soft drink melted almost immediately. But I was ok with this, because we were on a gorgeous island off the coast of Thailand, after all.

Pad Thai dinner!

Despite the chaos of the pier earlier, there were surprisingly few people around. When we first arrived I was worried that we’d dropped into the equivalent of Banff in July, but the people disappeared. I have no idea where they went.

We retired to bed (and yes, we checked for bed bugs), hot and tired after a long day.

I don’t remember what time it was, only that it was dark, when the youngest awoke with a very loud yelp. My first thought was that there was an animal in the room (?) but I quickly learned that the wall-mounted A/C unit had just dumped a bucket of cold water onto my daughter as she slept. Her bed was soaked and she was livid. She marched right out to the reception desk and her fury set off a chain of events which had us moved to a different room. It was bigger, and marginally better.

We eventually fell back asleep, not knowing that this mother-daughter duo was on the cusp of having the best adventure, ever.


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  • a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Look who I found! - a peek inside the fishbowl: […] He (or she) was just hanging out on a hosta. He’s the only one I’ve seen from our brood. […]
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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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