Naughty Climber

I had bought myself a ticket over to Phi Phi from a booth in Ton Sai last night. It was 400b (£10) which is far cheaper than I expected. The chap at the booth told me to get to the longtail boats on the beach at 9am. Because I’m British I was there at 8:45. By 9:15 I was concerned I’d somehow missed it, but people were still turning up so at 9:30 I resigned myself to “island time”. At 9:45 the ferry showed up and the longtail boatman sprang into action, heaving rucksacks into the boat and helping people aboard.

The crossing was pleasant, accompanied by a talkative American, Jeremy. He had freshly escaped the USA for some Thailand travel. Unluckily he, at the age of 20, had run into me, who remembered Americans aren’t allowed to drink till age 21. So when we landed, myself, and Dan, another stray American, went to get some food and introduce Jeremy to beer. After pouring it badly, he took one sip and decided better off it. He’s much to learn as in the same time I’d polished off a whole Singa, my preferred beer here.

Jeremy had only one night on Phi Phi before jetting off, so he left sharpish for a tour. Dan and I leisurely finished our lunch and then checked into a shared bungalow. I seem to have luck finding men to share with, if only it was a girl! Nevertheless, it upped the standard of accommodation considerably. We even had a pool so went for a dip to cool off.

On the boat we had bonded over our mutual experience climbing in Ton Sai. And as luck would have it, Dan had a full set of draws and a rope with him! After the swim it was getting on for 4pm and the sky was darkening in preparation for the expected mid afternoon rainstorm. We should be able to get a climb in before it rains right?

Enroute to the crag we were intercepted by a diver touting for business. He very helpfully told us that climbing was illegal and that we should go diving instead… Funny how that worked out.

Well whether it was illegal or not, we found the crag, and the climb we wanted. The clouds were watching us disapprovingly as we racked up. I jumped on the lead, confident in my new found ability and smashed it out. Approx 12m of 5 named “Brian Faguan”. It had a short, shallow overhanging section to make the jugfest more interesting. Pulling the rope, the clouds started spitting in frustration that we weren’t done yet. I coaxed Dan to go for the lead, and he sent it easily.

It was interesting to see the different style of ropework he used. Nothing dangerous, just different and with good reason. In the UK we usually re-tie into the rope and have our belayer lower us off, quick and easy. Dan preferred to un-tie and drop the end through the rap-ring till it reached the floor and then abseil off, cleaning the draws as he went. Reason being, where he usually climbs is quite sharp rock and by doing it his way, you dont run the rope over the edge under tension. This lessens wear on the rope. Smart.

Meeting up with Jeremy for dinner they indulged in some western food and I had a disappointingly small, but very tasty curry. We then progressed to the beach to see if Jeremy liked Smirnoff Ice better than beer. One of these later and he’s picking up the fire twirlers baton and giving it a go. We didn’t let him set it on fire… I was lucky enough to be allowed a go with the fire poi which was awesome. Dan gave it a go too and only told me after he’d not done it before and it was harder than it looked. Several black soot marks on his legs attested to his ability. We left it to the professionals as their show took on more and more impressive feats of fire manipulation. The finale was a guy 10ft up on a slackline, without a crashmat below, spinning poi and sticks on fire. It was incredible, and I think I’ve found a new goal!