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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Phi Phi Island, Thailand

"Maya Bayyyyy....... Maya Bayyyyyy......"

Our second island day trip from Phuket felt more like a cattle call as we were herded into groups, labeled with stickers and then hustled along to our waiting speedboat, ready to take us to Phi Phi Island.

Our squawking guide was a stark contrast to the quiet start the day before, a tour to James Bond Island that included sea canoes and cave systems. Today's tour with Phi Phi Eco Excursion felt more like a school trip, with a strict headmistress in charge.

Pi Leh Bay

By the time we were out on the water, however, our worries melted like butter on a baked potato. We sat back and reveled in the clear crystal blue water, soaring cliffs and glorious skies. At Pi Leh Bay we peeled off our T-shirts and jumped into the warm water in our swimmers, drifting about lazily as we floated on our backs.

Phi Phi Leh island

Our next stop was Maya Bay in Phi Phi Leh Island, famous for providing the breathtaking scenery in The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio.

Just me and two hundred of my closest friends

Of course any tourist attraction in Thailand is over-run with tourists. We made our way up to a beach that was swarming with people, everyone either holding a camera or posing for a photo. We shamelessly joined them.

Tour speed boats

Swimming at Maya Beach

Tsunami warning sign

The tsunami warning sign on the beach a stark reminder of the devastating tsunami that hit the island on Boxing Day 2004. There have been suggestions that the tsunami did help regenerate the dunes that were damaged by producers during filming.

Lo Samah Bay

At Lo Samah Bay we snorkelled alongside schools of fish, darting flashes of colour that disappeared as soon as you got too close.

School of fish in the coral reef of Loh Samah Bay

Feeding a mother with child at Monkey Beach, Yong Kasem Bay

We stayed on board as our boat was guided toward Monkey Beach. The local macaques at Monkey Beach in Yong Kasem Bay were treated to an afternoon snack of rambutans. 

Macaque at Monkey Beach, Phi Phi Don Island

Macaque eating a rambutan at Monkey Beach, Phi Phi Don Island

Buffet lunch

Lunch was an odd mix of Thai green curry, garden salad, fruit and onion rings. We had much more fun that night back at Phuket, bypassing the tourist trap restaurants and collecting our own makeshift dinner from the food stalls on the street.

Barbecue grill street stall

The street lights are few and far between in Phuket, but the street stalls are like beacons of hope, cloaked in plumes of smoke and stacked with all kinds of deliciousness. Eating street food is always a game of chance when you're traveling, but wise choices and some commonsense will usually keep you in good stead.

I wasn't adventurous enough to gamble on the Hainan chicken (sorry Minh!) but we do load up at the barbecue grill, picking up skewers of chicken livers, chicken hearts and chicken giblets that are placed on the charcoal grill to re-heat.

Chicken wing skewers

Chicken livers on the charcoal grill

Moo Yang Nam Tok spicy grilled pork salad and Som Tam green papaya salad

We add on a spicy grilled pork salad and a crunchy green papaya salad, both dressed to order and packed up in plastic bags for takeaway.

Stalking random cute customers waiting for dinner

Pad Thai stall

The next cart along sells Pad Thai. Perfect!

Making Pad Thai

The noodles are tossed through with fried egg, prawns, tofu, bean sprouts and garlic chives. It smells wondrous and when we dig into it back at our hotel, the noodles are perfectly sticky with sauce, with a little crunch from the scattering of crushed peanuts. 

Pad Thai 40 baht (about AU$1.40)

Dessert cart

And we can't end the night without dessert. We pick up two banana and Nutella pancakes, made from freshly stretched roti folded over banana slices and slathered with chocolate hazelnut spread.

Banana and nutella pancake 50 baht (about AU$1.70)

Dinner and dessert is sorted for 430 baht (about AU$14.80) between three - less than AU$5 each. Bargain!

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Read the last Malaysia 2010 post (Crab and 1 metre roti tisu, Kuala Lumpur)
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25 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/18/2011 01:54:00 am


  • At 5/18/2011 2:03 am, Anonymous Simon @ the heart of food said…

    Ah! Finally get to see what I'd missed during my time away from you guys.

    Love the dramatic photos of the BBQ stall. It takes me right back. Ahhh... good times :)

  • At 5/18/2011 7:25 am, Anonymous Dumpling Girl said…

    The pad Thai looks so good, it's giving me cravings.

  • At 5/18/2011 9:22 am, Blogger muppy said…

    Love the tourists on the beach shot! Glad to see the economy has somewhat recovered after the tsunami, doesn't seem that long ago...

  • At 5/18/2011 9:24 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    Oh Helen, we'll never know if that Hainan chicken was any good... we'll never know... But seriously, how awesome was that random stall?

  • At 5/18/2011 9:56 am, Blogger Michelle Chin said…

    Wow, the waters are so blue!!!

  • At 5/18/2011 10:33 am, Anonymous FFichiban said…

    Mmm I love food metaphors and omg soo cheap!! Looks tasty as well!

  • At 5/18/2011 10:42 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh Helen, I so wanna go there next!! Love Thai food... err, what am I saying... I love food!!! especially street style!

  • At 5/18/2011 11:16 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    aw i totes want to jump off that rock into the water! picture perfect beach!

  • At 5/18/2011 11:28 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    Awesome photos! The banana and nutella pancake made from roti looks delicious!

  • At 5/18/2011 12:50 pm, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    Thanks for this Helen :) I cant wait to go in Jan! Now I know what Banan Pannkaka means lol

  • At 5/18/2011 1:44 pm, Anonymous Nobal Glomad said…

    My biggest phobia... tourist central, although I'd go for the rockstar Pad Thai - come on Sydney we need street carts in our neighbourhoods.

  • At 5/18/2011 2:23 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I would happily eat those livers. But not nutella liver pancakes. Never that.

  • At 5/18/2011 2:45 pm, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    The closest I got to Maya Bay was scuba diving around it. Sadly the day we were there it was raining & lightning bolts were striking the water a few km away. Scary stuff, especially when we were 20m underwater! Much more pristine when you were there. And I say a big yes please to the banana & Nutella pancake!

  • At 5/18/2011 5:27 pm, Anonymous Rocket Spanish said…

    This temptation island type of thing looks very wonderful, love the blue water...thank you for posting one...

  • At 5/18/2011 10:07 pm, Blogger Apple said…

    Aaahh!! That kid is so cute!
    And those chicken wing skewers look so succulent

  • At 5/19/2011 7:37 am, Blogger Gastronomy Gal said…

    Looks like an amazing trip Helen- I couldn't get to Phi Phi as I get too boat sick and there were cyclones around when we were visiting- this looks amazing though and the food looks good too, especially those chicken wing skewers. P.S CONGRATS on being in the best new australian food writers - how very exciting for you.

  • At 5/19/2011 12:29 pm, Blogger Dolly said…


    i want to go to thailand now... !!!

    mmhh... and the food,, oh sooo cheap!!! <3

  • At 5/19/2011 1:05 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    its so prettyyyyyyy!!!! mmm..banana and nutella pancake...

  • At 5/19/2011 1:59 pm, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    I wish I was there right now! All your pics are postcard worthy :)

  • At 5/19/2011 3:08 pm, Blogger susan said…

    It's amazing how many people visit that beach at the one time. We hired a boat ourselves and got to the beach and there was hardly anyone there and then all these boats started arriving with what seemed like a neverending group of people getting off.

    I love som tum, but we got really sick from ours that we got from a street cart. We later learned from a local that they usually eat this if they are having trouble going to the toilet...

  • At 5/20/2011 9:59 pm, Blogger tori said…

    Oh my goodness- haven't been to Phi Phi since before the tsunami, but you've just made me put a return visit high on the list of priorities. Those photographs are just beautiful beyond belief.

  • At 5/21/2011 5:29 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Great captures Helen-especially those night markets! They always have the best eating options!

  • At 5/21/2011 8:28 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh my! Those are great photos you have there. How I wish I could also go to Thailand someday. It seems to be a pretty awesome experience.

  • At 5/21/2011 10:33 pm, Blogger L said…

    Thailand looks amazing! Crowded but amazing. XD

  • At 5/26/2011 3:39 pm, Anonymous sara (Belly Rumbles) said…

    That is just the most adorable stalker photo of the little boy. Wow look at all those people on the beach!


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