Traveler: Juliette Steen – Photographer, Stylist & Writer
What is your most unforgettable escape? In 2010, after nine months of saving, my boyfriend and I escaped our small childhood town and flew to Thailand. After a brief stop in the frenzied Bangkok we made our way to Ko Phi Phi, followed by Ko Tao.
What was the purpose of your travel? To see the world. To run away for just a little while.
Where did you stay? We stayed in villas close to the beach on both islands. The air-conditioning was sporadic, the rooms were cramped, the showers were cold – it was perfect.
What did you most like about the trip? Exploring the islands on foot. Walking through luxury resorts (snorkelling gear in tow) in search of the best beach and snorkelling spots. The tired-but-happy feeling after a day of exploring and falling into our lumpy bed. Watching Thai music videos we couldn’t understand but getting them stuck in our heads anyway. When the skies opened up after a hot, humid day to cool us and the island down – if only for ten minutes.
Could you share an unforgettable memory about the trip? A boat trip we took from Ko Phi Phi to the surrounding islands. I was mesmerised by the cyan water, dark caves and the huge rocky ridges. We kayaked through the pristine water pretending we were explorers and dreaded returning home to Australia.
Your most surprising find during the trip? A secret snorkelling spot on Ko Tao that we chanced upon after a morning of wandering. We spent hours underwater, little fish nibbling on our fingers and our backs becoming much browner than our fronts.
Favorite restaurant(s) or food you have tried during your trip? Street Pad Thai nearly every night, Thai pancakes with chocolate sauce, fresh watermelon & mango shakes, $1 beers, burgers and chips when we felt homesick, and endless bags of fresh pineapple.
Any hidden gems you could whisper to us? Song’s Pad Thai on Ko Phi Phi. I can’t recall the exact location of this little food stall, but it’s in the main market area, parallel to the beach close to the main jetty. You’ll know you’ve found it because it’s covered in thousands of notes written by travellers saying how amazing the Pad Thai is. It truly is the best Pad Thai we have ever had, even 5 years on.
Would you go back? Without a doubt.
Could you list a few of your favorite finds you came back with?
Ferry tickets, island maps, accommodation brochures, airplane ticket stumps, Thai Baht, and a travel journal filled with fragmented notes and memories.
Any tips that might be useful to know before going there? Go in the low season (the weather is just as pleasant and we found it didn’t rain as much as people say). If you’re looking for peace and pure beaches, avoid the islands of Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and the like. And always walk that little bit further, whether that be on a beach or in a main district – the best food, snorkelling and swimming spots were always around the corner.
Next stop you would like to visit? A stark contrast, but New York City.