Day 9: Arrival in Ko Phi Phi

Our stay at Sino Imperial in Phuket Town was nice. There was not much to see or do in Phuket Town, we just used it as an overnight stay for our morning ferry.  The ferry leaving for Phi Phi Island leaves at 11 am but we had to be there an hour in advance to check in. I thought that 1 hour early for a ferry ride was a bit extreme but when we got there we saw why.  There were throngs of people everywhere. I don’t like to generalize but the Chinese tour groups were the worst; they just push everyone to get where they want to go with little respect for others. We are all boarding, there is no reason to try and push past everyone.

The ferry was pretty full with people were laying all over the deck.  We got a place near the front with a nice view which was fortunate.

Once you arrive in Phi Phi you need to pay a surprise 20 bhat tax to enter the island. I feel it would make more sense to include that in the ticket price since this surprise fee creates a lot of confusion at the entrance point.

Our hotel is close to the pier so its no problem to walk from the ferry. The sun is beating down fiercely and I am very sweaty when we arrive even though its only a few minutes walk.  Its lucky our room is ready when we arrive even though we are early for check-in.

After arriving we explored the island a bit and relaxed on the beach.  Some photos below:

Day 7 & 8: Ferry From Koh Lipe to Phuket

Today I am leaving the island of Koh Lipe.  I booked a ticket from Koh Lipe to Phuket airport from Tigerline. (Cost: 2340 bhat)  They have an option for the full transport all in one ticket.  This is very convenient to get me right to the airport.

The ferry arrives basically on time and it is big, quite a bit bigger then I expected.  Because of the size of the ferry, I need to pay 50 baht to get a transfer from Pattaya beach to the ferry since there is no pier in Koh Lipe.

This is the first ferry of the season and there is tons of free space.  Later in the season it may not typically be this empty but I don’t know that for sure. I sleep for awhile and we arrive at some unknown-to-me port. Here, everyone is forced off and we get herded onto other smaller speed boats according to our destination. The entire process is so unorganized and no one knows what is going on. It’s a miracle we all got on the right boats.

The rest of the journey is not nearly as smooth as the big ferry was.  The speedboats are quite rough as they hit the ocean chop and we are getting wet. I would suggest sitting as close to the front of the boat as you can to avoid the almost constant spray of water. (more…)

Day 3-6: Koh Lipe Diving Adventures

Day 3-6 of my trip I spent working on my PADI Open Water Diving course at Sabye Divers.  The dive shop is small and out of the way, but on an absolutely gorgeous part of the beach.  There is a small restaurant area that serves pretty good food and an amazing place to relax and watch the sunset.

The diving was amazing.  I am not sure what more to say except I really enjoyed this.  I am looking forward to doing more dives in the future and Koh Lipe was a perfect choice to see some untouched, undersea beauty.

Day 6 was the completion of my course.  After, of course, its time for a bit of a party.  Grab a Thai bucket (A mickey and mixer in an actual bucket) and enjoy the evening.  Tomorrow I will be leaving the island.

The photos say it all:

Day 2: Air Asia Transfer From Bangkok To Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe was my first real destination in Thailand.  Since I was just arriving in the county, I thought it would be easiest to book the whole transfer as one ticket.  Air Asia has a full transit ticket from Bangkok (Don Muang Airport) to Koh Lipe for a very reasonable price.  I found the fare on promo for just 2009 bhat (approximately 60 USD) after all the taxes and fees.  Not bad.

The early morning was surprisingly easy to get up for since I hadn’t yet adjusted to the time change.  There is just one flight per day that Air Asia offers the transfer on and it departs at 6:30am.

Air Asia is not a comfortable ride to say the least. The seats are cramped and my back was sore after a delayed, but short flight. It is a budget airline and I wasn’t expecting much so I really can’t complain.

The bus transfer is waiting at the arrivals area of Hat Yai airport ready to take the transfer passengers to the pier.  It’s hard to miss, as there are people standing at arrivals with signs.  After a short wait for everyone we are off in the mini bus.  There are not many of us, maybe 6 or 7.

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Day 1: Travel From Toronto To Bangkok via Taipei

After arriving in terminal 3 (Eva has since moved to terminal 1) at Pearson International Airport in Toronto I find the EVA air counter.  There are a lot of people checking in and the lines are pretty long.  Fortunately, I am an Aeroplan gold member so I can use the Star Alliance Gold benefits to get into the short line.

Eva Air Check-In - Pearson International Airport Terminal 3

Eva Air Check-In – Pearson International Airport Terminal 3

When I check in I am told the plane was oversold so I will be upgraded to premium economy.  I figure this is similar to the United Plus seats; where there is just a bit more leg room but not much else.  It turns out these seats are way better than the standard economy seats.

They are configured 2-4-2 which takes one seat out of the 3-3-3 configuration in economy. The best part of the seat is it’s recline. It’s not the standard back recline, it seems to move the whole seat into a more comfortable position. There is even a leg rest that comes out to give you a quasi-lazy-boy feel.  Unfortunately, it’s not nearly the lay flat seats of Laurel class but it’s a pretty good step up from economy; especially for free.

Eva Air Premium Economy Cabin

Eva Air Premium Economy Cabin

Plaza Premium Lounge - Pearson Airport Terminal 3

Mini Cupcakes at the Plaza Premium Lounge – Pearson Airport Terminal 3

Stepping back for a moment, Eva air departs from terminal 3 in Toronto. This means that it doesn’t have access to the maple leaf lounge.  As a star gold member they give you a pass upon check-in that gives you access to the Plaza Premium Lounge. The lounge is small but adequate. It has beers and liquors and a bit of food. I wouldn’t say more or less then the maple leaf lounge but it’s a different selection. It seems to be aimed more at the Asian taste.

My arrival in Taipei is on time so I have plenty of time to check out the Eva lounge.  It’s really nice.  There is a selection of liquors and beer in the fridge along with the standard assortment of sodas.  But first I opt for a shower after the long flight.  There is a queue, but I am given a buzzer to alert me when it’s my turn.  Just as I open my beer, the buzzer rings.

I am amazed with the shower facilities in this lounge. The shower is very clean and well appointed. I relax in the hot shower for a while, taking a long deserved break from the 15 hour plane ride.

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