Two sides of paradise

Ko Phi Phi.

2 days paradise and 2 days pain.

I know stomach sickness hits you at one point or the other when you travel but I really didn’t see it coming in Thailand.

I didn’t eat anything particularly strong or strange but still, I was pretty much out for two days. People said it probably was the change of weather, and I wouldn’t be surprised.

Lost in the haze, my room was so hot I couldn’t tell if I had a fever or not. And what felt like a headache was often times just the blasting party music coming from the beach.

I closed down the curtains and dreamt of my mother going deep into the silent, Swedish forests and coming back with a basket full of golden Chanterelle mushrooms, just like I had read in her e-mail.

When I woke up after sleeping for 15 hours I was on this tropical island called Phi Phi Don, the sun was shining and ocean was turquoise blue.

I decided it was a good day for camping on Maya Bay, also known for being The Beach in the same movie with Leonardo Di Caprio.

We grouped up in the harbour and took a boat trip to the smaller Phi Phi Leh. The Beach IS stunning, and camping out there is worth the price of the trip, just for having it to yourself.

Shortly after we arrived, 11 of us strangers from different corners of the world were sitting by the fireplace, sharing stories and buckets of rum.

You can tell if there is a guitar, a ukelele and drums in the crowd that it’s gonna be a great night but if you add an amazing female singer to that you surely have a show.

Ciara is not an average campsite singer, she is an artist who has released songs on iTunes and plays gigs and festivals back in Ireland. We sat in silent awe as she covered songs from some of my favourite artists, including the XX, Florence and the Machine and Ben Howard.

Star falls and night swims later, we crawled into our sleeping bags on the beach and fell asleep to the sound of the sweeping waves.

Early the next morning boats full of people started to flock the beach and we knew the spell was broken.

On the way back to Phi Phi Don, I started feeling sick again and I crawled back to my nest, this time upgrading my room to one with a/c and slept away the remaining day. My two Argentinian friends came with my bag and checked on me occasionally.

Today before leaving Ko Phi Phi, I am reminded once again that it really is the people you meet that makes a difference to a place

I will remember the Dutch couple I met on the flight coming here, the conversations I had with the Canadian who was travelling with his 20 year old son and his friend, Karen from Venezuela who I had dinner with while we told each other stories very few people know, the Argentinian guys with whom I sat in a shelter for hours, waiting for the tropical storm to calm down and the South African girls who I met yesterday morning in a cafe and ended up spending the entire day at the beach with.

Being the small island that this is, as I was walking down the street yesterday evening, I ran into so many of these people, catching up on the last couple of days and further travel plans.

And hoping that somewhere along the way, we meet again.