Off to China and Thailand! travel blog

The View from the Viewpoint

The Viewpoint Garden

The climb


I guess it's human nature to settle into a routine, even when you have no requirements beyond pleasing yourselves. As such, we settled into more or less a daily routine that began with The Viewpoint.

Ko Phi Phi is a series of limestone hills connected by saddleback ridges and sandy bays. A steep staircase and pathway has been chewed out of the rock, leading to a picturesque viewpoint on one of the limestone hills behind the main village at Ton Sai beach.

The path to the viewpoint begins with more than 300 concrete steps that wind their way up a steep limestone cliff. From there, the pathway meanders steeply through pineapple and coconut plantations, through flocks of chickens and turkeys, arriving finally at the boulder-strewn viewpoint.

The view is staggering. Laid out before you are the two bays, Ton Sai to the left and Loh Danum to the right each ringed with white coral sand, like two great parentheses laid back to back. In the centre, the narrow strip of land is a mass of buildings and coconut trees. The water is crystal turquoise blue darkening to black where if flows over submerged reefs. Rising steeply up from the water are the limestone cliffs, streaked gray, brown and white and covered in places with tenacious greenery clinging to the sheer faces. Boats of every description bob in the harbour -- wooden longtail boats, sleek sailboats and rusty fishing boats along with the many dive, snorkelling and touring boats that ply their services to the tourists.

Around the boulders is a beautifully maintained garden of bougainvillea, plumeria and other flowering trees and plants while a small snack shop sells water (thankfully!) among other things. The recently arrived fling themselves onto the sunbaked rocks to recover and take in the scenery.

After our first visit to the Viewpoint, Dan was inspired to make the hot and sweaty climb to the top on a daily basis. With Adrian as his usual companion, they would head off early to avoid the heat of the day. From time to time, Robin and I would join them on the climb, but most days we would hike into the village and join them for breakfast at our favourite bakery, the Phi Phi Bakery #2, where inevitably "Larry King Live" would be on tv.

The daily trek to the Viewpoint provided a certain structure to our days, even those when Robin and I didn't actually do the climb. In the past week or so, Dan and Adrian have begun doing the climb twice as an extra challenge; they would arrive at the bakery shaky and with sweat literally pouring off them, full of exhilaration.

Most visitors to Ko Phi Phi probably only visit the Viewpoint once, or maybe twice. I think Dan and Adrian may have set a record for most visits in a one-month period!

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