Ko Phi Phi Lee
Koh Phi Phi Leh or Ko Phi Phi Ley (Thai: เกาะพีพีเล, RTGS: Ko Phi Phi Le, pronounced [kɔ̀ʔ pʰīː pʰīː lēː]) is an island of the Phi Phi archipelago, in the Andaman Sea. It belongs to the Krabi province of Thailand.
Koh Phi Phi Ley is the second largest island of the archipelago, the largest one being Ko Phi Phi Don. The island consists of a ring of steep limestone hills surrounding 2 shallow bays, the Maya Bay and Loh Samah. There is also one large shallow fjord like inlet called Pi Ley with a small coral reef at the entrance.
Maya Bay is popular for diving, and has become even more popular after the 2000 movie The Beach was filmed there. According to the Lonely Planet's Thailand guidebook, the 2004 tsunami dramatically improved the look of Maya Bay. This was due to the fact that the high waves had cleaned up the beach and removed all the landscaping the Fox production team had added.
The main dive sites are at Loh Samah, Maya Bay entrance and Palong Bay, and are often combined with diving at Ko Bida Noi, a rocky outcrop some 500 meters south of Loh Samah.
Controversy arose during the making of the film The Beach due to 20th Century Fox bulldozing and rescaping of the natural beach setting of Koh Phi Phi Leh to make it more "paradise-like". The production altered some sand dunes and cleared some coconut trees and grass to widen the beach. Fox set aside a fund to reconstruct and return the beach to its natural state, however lawsuits were filed as many believed the damage to the ecosystem is permanent and restoration attempts failed.
The lawsuits dragged on for years. In 2006, Thailand's Supreme Court upheld an appeal court ruling that the filming had harmed the environment and ordered that damage assessments be made. Defendants in the case included 20th Century Fox and some Thai government officials.
The island before and after
Prior to 2004, the island had avoided development. However, it is now a part of Phi Phi National Park and has since begun to see the beginnings of development and some clearing of natural plant life. There are current plans to build bungalows on the island. Since 2007, there has been an entry charge for private visitors of Bt200 per person. There are now permanent basic facilities on the island - toilets, a snack bar and camping sites.
- The Nation, December 1, 2006. Filming 'damaged beach' (retrieved on December 3, 2006).