Fresh off the boat from the Maya Bay Sleep Aboard Trip, I was planning for a relaxing few days on the beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi. At the time, that seemed like a perfectly reasonable plan, but I realise now that the reality is, it's pretty hard to 'relax' on Koh Phi Phi.
A quick Google Image search for 'Phi Phi' returns hundreds of peaceful looking images of crystal blue waters and the whitest of sands. I can vouch that the images are accurate - it's an absolutely stunning little island - postcard perfect. You wouldn't realise from the photos that the island is also a bit of a crazy party destination - rife with the backpackers who flock there for the fire shows, cheap alcohol and general debauchery. I, however, was there for a relaxing time, and was not going to get involved with that side of it...
After moving into my scabby twenty bed hostel dorm (which was somehow exactly five times the price of some of the more luxury four bed, air conditioned rooms I'd occasionally treated myself to elsewhere in Thailand,) I met up with Heather, a friend from home, and dragged her to come and get pizza with me, (purely so I could get a video of the size of the slice compared to my head,) before we made our way up to the Phi Phi Viewpoint.
We traversed crumbling mountainside, dodging thorns and branches, losing half of our body weight in sweat, and narrowly avoiding broken ankles as we struggled upwards in our flip flops - finally making it to the top - where we realised that we had walked the wrong way and could have simply taken the steps... We'd thought it seemed a little desolate considering it was supposedly a popular tourist attraction! The fact that there were crowds of people who had managed to successfully take the correct route up to the viewpoint meant that we had someone to take a photo of both of us together at least, because for some reason Heather has seriously got it in for my little Pound shop iPhone tripod, and I've got a feeling she would have banned me from using it.
The journey back down to the bottom was a lot simpler, and ended up being probably my most relaxing moment on Phi Phi...
Dinner that evening consisted of Pad Thai (five times the price of any other Pad Thai I'd had in Thailand...) and afterwards I was persuaded to have a couple of drinks as we went to watch the fire show on the beach. The problem with the drinks in Thailand is that they come in buckets, and they're so strong that even a few mouthfuls of a drink is a couple of drinks, so it didn't take long for Mrs Lightweight here to decide to get involved in the fire show, and find herself sat in front of an audience with fire spinning inches from her face.
It was full steam ahead from there, and by the time they'd brought out the limbo stick, I'd drank enough to believe I was the limbo queen. (I was at least a limbo princess to be fair...) You got a free shot every time you successfully passed under the stick, which didn't really help my intoxication situation as my new found limbo skills were surprisingly good and kept the shots coming.
Despite having (what I believe to have been) a fantastic night, it was almost cancelled out by the repercussions I suffered for it the next day. It was past 4pm before I was physically able to even roll over in bed, which completely ruined my chances of spending the day relaxing. (Unless you're able to consider being bedridden in a room with nineteen other hungover backpackers as relaxing...) I managed to drag myself out for a burger later that night, and almost had to crawl back to bed again after. There was definitely no way I was ever drinking again.
The following morning was a new day, and with at least 60% of the use of my body back, I made my way out for breakfast with my Kindle, ready for a day of eating, reading and recovering on the beach. I'm not entirely sure how, but before I'd even finished my food, I'd somehow agreed to go snorkeling with a lady and some sharks. There were three other backpackers that came out on the boat with us, and after our first sighting, they decided that they didn't want to be in the water with the sharks anymore, so the shark lady and I had a pleasant couple of hours snorkeling together, before a mental storm came out of nowhere and we had to rush back to shore before it got too dangerous. I didn't mind too much - going back to the room meant that I'd have more time to relax.
Fast forward to the evening, and I was still feeling ropey. If anything, I was feeling worse and worse as the hours progressed. Several promises to me that 'hair of the dog' would make everything better persuaded me to have a few sips of someone's drink, and as good as everyone's word, I suddenly felt fine. Next thing I know, somebody has bought me a bucket and we're on our way to watch a Muay Thai fight.
It's safe to say that the night escalated from this point. It's free entry to Muay Thai, but you have to buy a drink when you arrive. Now wise to the danger of the buckets, I'd managed to secretly get rid of the one that had been purchased for me, but the compulsory Muay Thai vodka and lemonade (85% vodka and 15% lemonade) was unavoidable and definitely tipped me over the edge.
Twenty four hours previously, almost on death's door, I was adamant that I would never be drinking again. Yet here I was, less than a day later, bucket in hand, dancing on a table on the beach. Unfortunately for me, the table looked a lot longer from my viewpoint than it apparently was, and I danced my way right off the edge, smacking my head on a rock as I fell, ripping the edge of my ear in half.
The logical thing to do when you can wiggle the top half of your ear in a different direction to the bottom half is to go to the hospital. Apparently though, I'd decided that it would be better for everyone involved to take a visit to the tattoo studio with me...
I find it absolutely fascinating that if I were to walk into a tattoo studio in the UK, covered in my own blood, blatantly extremely intoxicated, I wouldn't even get as far as asking for a tattoo before they'd shown me the front door. Thailand however, is a different kettle of fish - not only did they welcome me into their studio with open arms, they actually persuaded me to get a bigger tattoo than the one I'd asked for.
The hangover I had a couple of days prior was absolutely horrendous, but at least with that one I didn't wake up in agony, caked in blood and with a crap tattoo on my ankle... It was definitely safer for me to stop trying to relax on Koh Phi Phi and move onto the next destination.
Upon arrival to Koh Lanta, I did have to go to the hospital to get patched up. Five stitches, a tetanus jab, £200 (and a selfie) later, it was time to spend a few days relaxing...