Thailand: Return to the Phi Phi Islands

One of the greatest parts of my trip was camping at Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Leh.  The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was actually filmed on this very beach.  Every night, Maya Bay Camping organizes an exclusive trip to the island.  Included is transportation, several meals, camping equipment (no tents, the weather is perfect and there is definitely no need), and lots of fun activities.  Of course, having the entire island to ourselves was the real draw.  My group had 17 people plus some staff, all on an uninhabited island.  In the daytime, the tourists come by the boatload and congest the place, but in the evening – it was ours.  Just after sunrise, the water was so clear we could see a small shark chasing a school of fish.  It was an unreal experience.

Our boat
To access the island, we had to swim to this location despite the choppy waves
Maya Bay
Sunset on Maya Bay

We also did some things on Ko Phi Phi Don, the inhabited tourist haven.  We decided to spend one more night on Hat Yao (Long Beach), as we had done before.  The next day we had to catch the ferry to Phuket so we could fly to Bangkok!

Climbing to the Phi Phi Viewpoint
At the Viewpoint.  The thin strip of land is Tonsai Village.
Killing time before camping… those are fish nibbling on my feet.  Good for your skin, supposedly?
Site of our post-camping Thai massage… a woman walked on Andy’s back! At Paradise Pearl, Hat Yao
Sunrise and Ko Phi Phi Leh (where we went camping the day before)

Read more about my trip:
Part 1 – Ko Phi Phi Don
Part 2 – Ko Lanta

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A letter I received at work

Last week, Sae-hee, one of my first-grade students, surprised me with a package.  Inside said package was a bounty of candy (including gummy frogs) and two letters.  It came from her sister, Sae-yeon, a third-grade student I had had several months ago but who no longer attends my academy.  It turns out she is now attending Moon Kkang, a franchised academy in Korea.

The candy is long gone, but the letters remain.  Check out this cuteness (transcripts below):

Letter one (adorable mistakes intact):

to. Ashely teacher
teacher hi    how are you today?
Oh! I’m Sae-yeon  I’m missing you
teacher I want to go to kimyongjin English academy
because
This academy is very fun
and Ashely teacher is pretty and andy teacher 
is handsome
and I go to moonkkang English academy. But
moonkkang is very boring
and teacher I am very enviable Because your
pretty
and I think your rich or andy teacher is rich
teacher it’s my cell phone number
010.xxxx.xxxx Sometimes call me please
and My younger sister is    go to kimyongjin
you know Sae-hee?
If you want to send letter then
letter is give to Sae-hee then Sae-hee give letter
and can you give cell phone number??
Bye I Love you
Letter two:
Moonkkang Level is 3
My mom said if
you Level up then
you can go kimyongjin
academy
so I study English
hard
How cute is that?? Not sure why she thinks Andy and I are so rich! And no, I haven’t given out my cell phone number… although all Korean teachers do hand out that information.  The teacher/student relationship in Korea is very different than in America.  Teachers see students more often than their own parents do, so it makes sense.
Also you might note my name was misspelled Ashely… this is my biggest pet peeve in Korea and even my coworkers are guilty of it.  Although to be fair, I probably couldn’t spell many of their names.  I think it comes from the Korean pronunciation of 애슐리 which is Eh-Shool-Li.  Drives me bonkers!
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Thailand: Ko Lanta

After exploring Ko Phi Phi, we took the ferry to nearby Ko Lanta.  Ko Lanta is considerably larger than the Phi Phi islands, but it’s not quite as touristy.  Pair this mellow atmosphere with ongoing Ramadan (most of Ko Lanta’s residents are Muslim), and you get a sleepy slice of paradise.  Just what we wanted.

Our beachfront bungalow
Lanta Miami pool with ocean view
So close to the waves!

Due to rainy season, accommodations were ~50% off and definitely available.  Some resorts do close for the low season, but many remain open.  Upon disembarking, we took a free taxi to check out a resort.  We decided it wasn’t for us and went through the hassle of finding alternate transportation to check out another place (by alternate transportation I mean sitting in the back of an open pickup truck).  Finally we settled on the Lanta Miami Resort, full of beautiful bungalows, ocean views, and a great pool.  We decided to “splurge” and got a room literally 10 feet from the ocean waves (and poolside).  The bungalow cost 2000 baht, or about $65.  Amazing.

On Ko Lanta, we mostly relaxed at our resort, but one day we did rent a motorbike to fully explore the island.  Highly recommended, costs less than $8 for 24 hours.

Since everyone on Ko Lanta drives scooters, you can buy bottled gasoline at any roadside stand.
Ban Ko Lanta (Lanta Old Town)
Fill ‘er up
Typical architecture in Old Town; dates back to Arabic & Chinese trade routes between Phuket, Penang, & Singapore
Rubber tree plantations covered the interior parts of the island


Another highlight was eating at the Cook Kai restaurant.  We actually ate there both nights since it was so good! One of the best things I ate in Thailand was yam wunsen, a glass noodle salad with lots of citrus and fresh seafood.  Sooo good.

Cook Kai, best restaurant on Ko Lanta!

We left after two nights in order to return to Ko Phi Phi (Leh this time) for some isolated camping. Read about it here.

a beautiful sunset
one final balcony view

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Thailand: First leg of the trip

I recently went on an incredible trip to Thailand.  It would be way too long and wordy to properly explain here, so I’ll break it up into a few parts and share some photos.

The first day was spent mostly traveling (Daegu-> Shanghai -> Bangkok).  Less than eight hours after touchdown, Andy and I had a connecting flight to Phuket and then a ferry to Ko Phi Phi.  Needless to say, we were very tired!

Ko Phi Phi was absolutely beautiful.  It’s a tiny, touristy island located in the Andaman Sea.  It’s so small that there are no roads on the island, and so everyone travels by bicycle or push-cart.  To get to a different part of the island, it’s better to charter a longtail boat.  We got dropped off at the pier in Tonsai Village, but wanted a quieter locale.  100B (~$3) will get you to Hat Yao, Long Beach, which was perfect.

Longtail boats docked at the beach at Tonsai Village, Ko Phi Phi Don
Our bungalow! Paradise Pearl Resort, Hat Yao, Ko Phi Phi Don
Buddhist spirit house in Tonsai Village, Ko Phi Phi Don
Breakfast on Hat Yao, overlooking Ko Phi Phi Leh, the smaller sister island

As much as we loved Ko Phi Phi, we decided to check out Ko Lanta for the next few days.  My cousin and several friends raved about this quiet island, and for good reason.  After just one night, we boarded the ferry to Ko Lanta, which you can read about here.

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