Blessed to be a witness

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Saturday, July 23rd

A wonderful day

Our return to Phi Phi surprised me. Arriving at the pier felt otherworldly - as though I was in a dream, or as though the previous few weeks away had been a dream. The place was more beautiful than ever, the colours seeming more vivid, and plants taking hold where before had just been rubble-strewn wasteland. Tourists were everywhere; this was a huge contrast to our arrival in May, when with very few exceptions the only people there were volunteers.

We walked down main street grinning, and began to bump into people who gave us smiles and waves of recognition, then met people we knew who gave us hugs. Eventually after lots of saying hello to people, we arrived at Andaman Legacy Resort, and the reception staff waved and smiled huge smiles, and gave us back the very bungalow we'd been staying in before, proudly showing us that it had been redecorated. This surprised me, as I didn't think they had really liked us all that much. As we walked to the bungalow, to our delight we suddenly heard miaowing, and Scar and Emily One-Ear appeared, and followed us home. Later Frankie Blue-Eyes turned up too. They remembered us, or at least that we had fed them.

As we unpacked, we heard screaming from outside, and our friends Anna and Tina came running up, having missed our arrival and having been searching for us for the past hour. We had a couple of beers with them, then went to the volunteer meeting as we had done every night of May and June. The meeting was ill-attended and the jobs few. It was a bit of a shock, and at first I felt bad that the atmosphere had changed. The huge infrastructure jobs were unneccessary; all that was needed now was a bit of planting work and helping individual businesses to recover.

Then after a bit of kicking some sense into myself, I realised that the lack of jobs and volunteers was a good thing. Phi Phi is starting not to need us - it's on its way to recovery. And it felt so good to be back.

That night was a leaving do (yet another and another these days it seems - at one point in the past fifteen volunteers left on the same day), and also the opening of a new bar. And M made a new friend, despite being terrified of them:

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