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      Who knew humidity could give you an asthma attack?

      Current location: Rantee Hut, Rantee Beach, Phi Phi Don Island, Thailand

      Last accommodation: Beachfront Rantee bungalow, $7.50/person

      Last meal eaten: Thai pancake with Nutella

      Health Status: Excellent but very hot and sweaty

      We spent only one night (Wednesday) in Koh Lanta. We watched an amazing sunset and ate pad thai at low tables while lounging on cushions and drinking coconut shakes and Beer Chang. Our table was on a patio pretty much sitting at the beach’s high tide line, and as the night went on people kept popping out on the beach to try their hands at spinning fire either on long chains or poles. There was one girl who was so graceful, looked so at ease she might as well have been flinging water around, not fire. Then there was the white guy. He seemed to live there, work at the bar at least, but we worried a lot about his ability to spin huge burning balls of fire around himself. He stopped after he singed his feet a couple times. I was glad, because it sure didn’t look like there was much of a medical clinic around for when he smacked one of those things into his face. Over dinner we decided to head for Phi Phi Island the next day (Thursday) on the 1:00 boat.

      (We even saw the Lanta petrol station, complete with pump on barrel. Where you pay however, is still a mystery…)

      Our breakfast in Lanta Thursday morning was pancakes on a patio overlooking the beach. Just plain with honey for me and Orlagh but with banana for Anna and Sam. The thickest, fluffiest pancakes ever. We ate on a patio that was also the cook’s home, built pretty much in a giant tree. The branches provided shade for us and walls for the house part of the patio. The whole feel of Thailand’s islands, even the look of the land in the jungle, is so much like Ecuador. I think I will like it here, especially if I get to keep eating pancakes on the beach every morning.

      The boat trip was a short hour ride to Phi Phi. We sat on the side of the boat the whole time; letting our legs dangle over the edge above the water and the wind cool us off for a little while. It is HOT here.

      Our arrival on Phi Phi was greeted by a mass of touts offering every sort of accommodation, tour, and restaurant you could ever want. We immediately bargained with a guy for a longboat to take us around to the back side of the island to Rantee beach.

      Arriving on Rantee Beach:

      We were dumped unceremoniously in the sand upon arrival, where I crashed next to our luggage to watch it while the other three examined our range of housing options (three bungalow sets all lined up along the beach) available. Each of the three places offered both bungalows and a restaurant/bar of differing styles. A nice patio above the beach, little tables along the beach, or an enclosed space away from the sand and sun. The 500 and 800 baht bungalows were all filled up, leaving us with only the 1500 baht ($50/night) place as an option. We bargained them down to 1000 baht for the four of us (about $7.50 per person) for three nights, and then set ourselves straight for the sea, playing Frisbee and snorkeling in the clear turquoise water. We ate our dinner of more yummy Thai food under little thatched roofs covering small rough-built picnic tables with oil lamps on the table, mosquito coils at our feet, the sea at our side and the jungle at our backs. Our room for Thursday night only had one bed with one mosquito net, so Sam and I were forced to pitch our tent on the floor next to the bed to fend off the mosquitoes for the night, leaving just enough space to get to the bathroom.

      While drinking coconut shakes at the place that provided the cheapest bungalows on the beach we were able to procure a room for the next night, this time with plenty of beds and mosquito nets for only $6.50 a night instead. This one had only woven walls and just a palm tree keeping the toilet covered, as well as a small hose and a trash can for washing with, but hey, any plumbing is better than no plumbing. Plus it had a regular toilet rather than a squat toilet, which I am having plenty of troubles mastering. We moved our stuff to this new, better and cheaper place in the morning on Friday after watching the sun rise over the sea. We then took off for a walk over the island that would take us back to the pier and give us spectacular views.

      We hauled ourselves through the heat, humidity and mosquitoes Friday morning, scrambling up the steepest, root-iest slopes I’ve had the pleasure of traversing until we came out at the top, at a viewpoint that offered the most beautiful view of the center of Phi Phi Don island where two bays practically meet each other from differing sides of the island. We sat there for a long while admiring the view and catching our breath, then headed down the opposite side of the mountain/hill, though a little village, and down a long, long, long set of cement stairs.

      We ate our breakfast at a yummy little restaurant and explored the horror of Phi Phi proper, full of Swedish tourists and people selling cheap souvenirs. We spent the afternoon enjoying the turmoil of the crowded little alleys that passed for streets (handcarts only, barely even any mopeds here) and booked ourselves a snorkel tour for the following day, plus a boat to Railay bay two days after.

      Our hike back over the hill was even less fun than the hike there, as an afternoon rain had turned the steep root-covered slope into a steep, muddy and slippery slope. Not fun, especially in sandals and shorts. Coconut shakes on the beach while lying in the sun were immediately called for to pay for all the hard work we had done so far during the day. 😀 Our plan for the evening is to eat more Thai food on the beach, drink more shakes on the beach, and in general, to be lazy. Our snorkel tour leaves at 8 tomorrow, so we have to get up early to walk back over the mountain/hill in time to catch our boat at the main pier.

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