Headed To Long Beach And Instead Winding Up At The Peak
Sometimes, the journey is as much of a story as the destination.
That is certainly the case when I set off for an area of Phi Phi Island in Thailand called Long Beach and wound up instead at the very top of the island at a place called View Point.
I had been told by one of the lovely Canadian girls working one of the many dive shops that Long Beach was a “must-do” thing while on PhiPhi. She instructed me to walk thru town and just stay by the beach.
Thinking this would be a fairly quick jaunt – half an hour, perhaps – I set our for a leisurely stroll. But as soon as I got to the end of town, the sidewalk turned inland. There was some kind of locals building – a small school or something – blocking the path. So, naturally, I followed the sidewalk, expecting it to go behind the building and back to the coast.
But it just went further inland. Confused, I was about to turn back and ask further instructions, when I saw a sign that said “View Point.”
Hmm, I thought, this would be a nice thing to see on Phi Phi – Long Beach would have to wait.
So I headed up the path, which within a few yards turned into a road. This road took me past a few run-down shacks and small, empty fields. It was on an uphill grade, there was no end in sight, not another person around and the day was hot and humid. I was beginning to have second thoughts.
After about 15 minutes, I saw a second sign, this one pointing me up a dirt road that was even steeper than the one I was on now.
I pressed on – and on, and on and on, with nothing but thick trees around me. I was in a forest! After another sweaty 15 minutes, I encountered a guy puffing down the hill. “How much farther,” I asked.
“You don’t want to hear this,” he said, “but you’re only about halfway there now.”
I considered turning around but he offered these wise words: “You’re this far, you might as well go to the top.”
I had neglected to bring any water and was wearing only flip flops, but I shrugged the shoulders and said, “I suppose you are right.”
Eventually, another sign (nailed to a tree) instructed me to turn left onto a road that was a mix of dirt and mud. It was carved out among a forest of trees. Talk about primitive! I felt like I was in the Amazon jungle, not on an island.
After a while, I ran into an attractive 20s blonde, who was holding out her phone walking in circles. She was frustrated she could not get any service to get the GPS to function. I attempted to explain the concept of reading signs, but she just paced back and forth in frustrated circles (and so much for my brief thought of having a fantasy romantic rendezvous in the middle of nowhere!).
I should have told her that a GPS tracking device with no cell service can work anywhere you go even when there’s no cellular service
Finally, past a mud pit fit more for an croc than a human, I saw another sign instructing me to go to the left. Here, there was a narrow sidewalk. I took it a few yards but it ended at a locked gate. I looked around, went back, ran into an equally confused guy with his gal on a moped, and went back again.
Eventually, I saw some thick concrete steps leading to a little hut and figured “what the heck” and went up them. At the hut was a kid taking money – this was in essence a toll booth to View Point!
It paid the 200 or so baht, then I stepped up a series of rocks and viola – I had arrived!
View Point is a series of rocks leading to perches that provide looks down into the town and the isthmus between the side where the ferry dock is located and the beach bars where later that night would be dancing and drinking on the sand to house music.
There were about a dozen people there, including a cute blonde who started posing on the edge of the rocks as if doing it for a photo shoot. Naturally, I took a few pics for myself and publication on PubClub.com.
After 20 minutes or so – oh and by the way, I was charged 40 baht to use a hole-in-the-ground “toilet” from the tiny store at the top – I was ready to go, but after an hour-and-a-half hike, I was trying to figure out how much time I should spend to balance out my long journey.
As I stood near the edge, I noticed another lookout a little below the main one and went down to it – heck, after the effort it took to get there I was going to explore every inch of the place!
It was then I noticed people coming up a concrete path. I headed straight for it – could this be a shortcut!?
Turns out, the path is a shortcut. There’s another, much easier way to get to View Point. There’s a series of steps – steep, yes, but steps none-the-less – that go from another toll booth to the town. It took me about 15 minutes to go down them. It would take, with a series of rest stops, maybe half an hour to climb them.
Along the way, there’s even a cool “I LOVE PHI PHI” sign that is ideal for Twitter and Instagram posts.
As it turned, I had hiked around View Point and not to it.
Feeling suddenly refreshed, I went to the Banana Bar for its daily Happy Hour. Part of what I was doing was celebrating having not to have walked back the loooong way.
Oh, and speaking of long, the next day I set out to find Long Beach. That adventure is another blog post.