For a long time now the traveller in me has been wishing to take you, my dear readers, beyond the obvious city that’s the spotlight of this blog. And I’ve been wondering if you’ll love it or hate it…so as I take that first step today, do let me know if you want me to take that occasional flight of fancy and take you on a tour of some of the far off places I’ve loved visiting.
Today, I am going to Ko Phi Phi Leh, the most beautiful little island in the world, the one spot where I know I’ll find happiness.
The deep blue waters of the Andaman sea stretch for miles on all sides. The waves crash against the narrow long-tailed boat I am perching on, rocking it to and fro as it tries to make steady progress towards the limestone cliffs rising straight out of sea. It’s 6 AM in the morning, an unearthly hour for my normally sleepy self. But today, all my senses are wide awake.
The long-tail chugs along and finally the engine is switched off by the boatman as we enter the protected waters of this natural habitat. He slowly maneuvers the boat around the tall cliffs, and suddenly, there it is! Maya Bay. An apt name, indeed, for “maya” in Hindi is something as beautiful as an illusion, an imagination.
Nothing in the world prepares you for the beauty of Maya Bay. No pictures, no website, not even the movie “The Beach” that catapulted an unknown gem of an island into sudden worldwide recognition. The cliffs rise protectively all around, almost hiding this pristine little bay from the vagaries of the sea. And as I reach the shore, all I can do is run exhilarated across the beach on bare feet. It’s only around 7 AM, and I have “The Beach” nearly to myself…thanks to the advice of the boatman to start before dawn and beat the crowds that would inevitably reach Phi Phi by 10, on rushed day trips from Krabi and Phuket. I explore the paths leading into the woody area beyond the beach, and I’m slightly upset to see some campers from the night before. Phi Phi Leh is an uninhabited island, a protected place and a national park in Thailand. In fact, visitors have to pay an entry fee to get there for the day. Nowadays, however, even this dream island is on its way towards inevitable commercialization. Camping companies have obtained permissions for overnight parties, and some bungalows are rumored to be coming up. Everybody wants a slice of this paradise.
But let not the advent of civilization spoil our mood! This is Maya Bay, where the sand indeed is white and smooth. Where the water is turquoise blue. Where you can walk, albeit gingerly on the rocky seabed, for a long long way from the shore…And wonder of wonders, where you can actually view colorful sea life in all its glory right under the surface of the sea!
Every longtail boat has a simple snorkel kit on board, much to my happiness. The boatman rows me out into the bay to a spot that’s best for snorkeling, and all I need to do is don a life jacket and snorkel kit, and jump into the coolness! The experience is out of the world….That these beautiful finned and scaled creatures live in an aquatic world parallel to mine is unbelievable! The fish have mesmerized me.
Phi Phi Leh is indeed a jewel in the Arabian Sea, the most beautiful spot to visit in Thailand, if not in the world! And if I had the chance to take my loved ones on a trip that would completely captivate them, this would be that spot.
Written as my entry to the Creating Happy Travellers contest by Yatra.