Thailand: A Cubs W, American Election & Total Relaxation in the Thai Islands
After satisfying our culture and history needs in the rest of Southeast Asia, we hopped on down to the Thai islands to enjoy some total relaxation #notcomplaining. We not only got lots of time to relax, but also witnessed the Cubbies FINALLY winning the World Series, experienced an American election abroad, and soaked in the unique experiences of the islands. Here’s our takeaways, suggestions, and moments we’ll never forget from Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta!
You can check out our GoPro video of the Thai Island by clicking here.
Koh Phi Phi: The Island That Could Have Been
Koh Phi Phi (pronounced Ko-pee-pee) could have been quiet and relaxing. Koh Phi Phi could have been clean. Koh Phi Phi could have been cheap. Key words: could have been. Koh Phi Phi is an endlessly beautiful island with lots of beaches surrounded by limestone cliffs, unreal turquoise water and scenic jungles. It’s an island of endless potential, but the mass of young backpackers flooding to this island taint the experience. The large numbers of visitors slam the island, which prevents hotels from staying well priced and clean. The downtown area is filled with bars advertising beer Olympics and fighting matches BETWEEN TOURISTS (WHAT!?! The sign advertising this simply stated “You can get beat up here”). The small winding streets are dirty and smell pretty bad (and we didn’t think India smelled too bad, ok?). Some of the beaches are filled with crazy, backpacker bars complete with flashing lights, loud music, and fire dancers. We all know I love a good party, but with these crazy bars comes lots of trash, making the edges of the water dirty, womp womp. While the recent passing of the King of Thailand is a tragic event deeply impacting the people of Thailand, the one silver lining to being in Koh Phi Phi during the mourning period was that loud music was banned and many backpackers skipped the island. THANK GOD, the island was super chill and we felt like we could relax even on the main strip of bars. We can only imagine how crazy the party scene is when it’s packed and the loud music is pumping!
That being said, you can’t overstate the unique beauty of Koh Phi Phi. It is truly one of the most beautiful places we’ve been. If you visit Koh Phi Phi, you can avoid the dirty backpacker scene by chilling out and staying on Long Beach. There are also several (pricey!) resorts, including Zeavola, which are located at the far end of the island and are much more secluded from the backpacker scene and have quiet beaches (take it from us, you’re not missing anything by skipping the backpacker row). We stayed at Dee Dee’s Beach House, which was a good value for the money and very clean (a rarity in Koh Phi Phi we hear), but it’s right on the strip of beach bars and would be very loud during busy times. The famous Maya Bay, which is where “The Beach” was filmed, is definitely worth a stop, but go early in the morning to enjoy it. By about 10AM the tourist boats roll in and the beach is PACKED. Until then, you get to frolic in crystal clear water, soak in the surrounding cliffs, and pretend your hanging with Leonardo DiCaprio. We took a 30 minute long tail boat to Maya Bay, which was easy, but it gets really wavy and a bit exciting! (enter Catherine’s sea sickness and my anxiety!!)
Koh Phi Phi is also the island where cats are king. They are literally living the dream. Cats are finally treated as pets here and are well-fed and pampered. Not only are they companions, but they also get to do whatever the hell they want all day. They roam the streets, beg visitors to pet them, hunt lizards and mice, and sleep at their leisure. We were super thankful for the Koh Phi Phi cats because they worked hard to keep our hotel creature free!
Koh Lanta: The Island for Lazy Bones
In the words of Aaron Rodgers, there is really only one thing to do in Koh Lanta: R-E-L-A-X. And we nailed it. Unlike Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta has lots of nice hotels at reasonable prices. We stayed at Moonlight Exotic Bay Resort for about $45 a night (the same price we paid for our place in Koh Phi Phi that wasn’t nearly as nice) and it’s one of our favorite places we have ever stayed. We got to stay in an elevated cottage up in the trees, which was a dream, and enjoyed relaxing by the pool and ocean. The sunsets at Moonlight were out of this world, especially because we got to watch them in seaside beanbags. We were all very sad to leave Moonlight to head to Soontreeya Resort on another part of the island (it doesn’t really matter where you stay on “Lanta” because everything is super spread out). Soontreya was a bit more expensive and didn’t steal our hearts quite like Moonlight, BUT it was still a great place to stay. We each had our own cottage and a great pool to waste the days away. We tore ourselves away from our resort for a day to walk to Relax Bay, which made for a wonderful time. Relax Bay is a nice, long beach with lots of chill beach bars and restaurants. We walked the beach, did a bit of swimming, and enjoyed sunset cocktails at Fusion Bar. After drinks, don’t miss Manao Restaurant also on Relax Bay for delicious Thai food with a side of amazing views. Ahhh, the good life!!
Phuket: The Island for Cheering on the Cubbies
We flew into Phuket to catch our ferry (which is a super easy way to get to the islands and the ride was smooth!), but dedicated our one night (actually early morning) in Phuket to the Cubbies. THANK THE CUBS LORD that our hostel, Quip Bed and Breakfast, had an enormous flat screen TV in our room that actually got FOX sports for the game–Harry Carry must have been lookin’ out for us! We also got to share a family room with our friends Jeff and Catherine so we had built in fans to help cheer them on! Johnny and Catherine both wore their “Beer Lao” T-shirts from Laos during every game that the Cubbies won, including game 7! So, we’re 95% sure they were the Cubs good luck charm.
Now, this was a BIG day for Johnny. He’s a life-long Cubs fan and we even seriously looked into heading back to Chicago for the games, but then our rational brains kicked in and we stayed put in Asia. Even though we couldn’t be in Chicago, Johnny’s heart was there for sure and WHAT. A. GAME. Talk about stressed, but WORTH IT. We celebrated by jumping on our beds, Facetiming some fellow fans, and heading to Koh Phi Phi for some celebratory drinks (you can see our hotel room celebration in our Thailand GoPro!)! We will always remember the Cubbies FINALLY winning the World Series and are already crossing our fingers they go all the way again next year when we’re back in the Windy City!!
By the way, Quip was awesome and if you ever need a budget friendly place in Phuket, hit them up!
An American Election Abroad
While visiting the islands, we had the unique experience of being abroad for the U.S. election…and what an election it was!!! Throughout our trip people in every country have been extremely interested to hear our take on Hillary and Trump. Turns out, everyone we met knew more about the election than most Americans (hmmmmm….). Here are some things we heard during conversations about the election, enjoy!
- What do you mean you can’t vote online?! –Australia
- We’re rooting for Hillary! We’re all watching! –Australia
- Your voting isn’t compulsory? -Australia
- We’ll miss Obama, he was good to our Prime Minister. –India
- Is Hillary feeling better? (during the election when she caught a cold) –India
- How could America let this happen? (post-results) –Israel
- We’ve got a bad leader too. -Israel
- Sounds like you’ve got another Brexit on your hands. –United Kingdom
- We understand, we didn’t think Brexit would happen either. –United Kingdom
- You’ve got a real problem with the guns over there. –United Kingdom
- You can always just move here. –South Africa
- It sounds like it’s your trucks and gun racks that are the problem. –Netherlands
- Many tourists tell me they like Trump because he tells it like it is. -Vietnam
- Don’t tell me Trump is winning. –American Tourist