Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Koh Pha Ngan

Koh Pha Ngan was a pretty crazy mix of things really. By day (when I wasn't sleeping) it was the ultimate chill out island where I would either be relaxing on the beach or by the pool. Then at night I would be raving it up on the beach for either the full moon warm up parties or the actual full moon itself. I was on the verge of being nocturnal here which is a bit of shame due to the beautiful surroundings and weather but I still tired to make the most of the time I had there during the days when I wasn't at the beach parties.

Tommy, Pete and myself got on a small boat from Koh Sumai and made the short 30 minute journey across the sea to the main port at Koh Pha Nhan. We arrived in the blistering mid day sun with all my 18kg of language on my back and absolutely no idea where we were going to be staying for the next few days. We had done some searching around on the net previously to try find some where to stay before we got there but the search had proved fruitless as the only accommodation we seemed to be able to find was top range bungalows or places wanting me to e-mail them my credit card details, which really wasn't happening after 2 previous cases of Internet Freud. So this meant that we had to trudge around in the fierce heat trying to find somewhere to stay, trying not to loose our rag with the many touts and taxi drivers trying to take you to wherever was paying them commission to take us there and at the same time work out what place was best located for what we wanted to do while we were there. Eventually we found a place called "The Drop Inn Hotel" which pretty much ticked all the boxes as to what we were looking for on the island. Although I had originally hoped that we would stay in bungalow located right on the beach but the hotel pretty much had everything else we wanted and more for a quality price of only 300 baht a night.

The first night in Koh Pha Ngan I didn't really do much, for various reasons thanks to Tommy I had had to stay out till the early hours of the morning in Koh Samui and did not get to bed to 7am. But only due to some nice thai girls giving me a lift on their moped back from the club saving me a very long walk indeed. So I was pretty much beat from the day before so stayed in and watched the Chelsea v Barcelona semi final alone in my hotel room while Pete and Tommy went exploring the restaurants and beaches of the island. The next day feeling a lot better we all went down to spend a bit of time around the hotel pool absorbing some of the lovely Thai sun. After an hour or so I didn't really see the point of spending all day by a swimming pool when you are surrounded by miles of Thai island beaches so headed off to the beach.

When I got to the beach I was quite surprised at the state of it, it was a right mess. There were 2 beaches nearest to our hotel which are the main beaches for anyone coming to island for the full moon party, they are sunrise and sun set beaches. I was now on sunrise beach which was the beach the actual full moon parties were held and it was obviously taking it toll on the beach. There was a lot of broken glass from beer bottles and the whole beach stank of gasoline from all the fire spinning a jump ropes they set on fire. It was a shame that the environment was obviously suffering from everything that was going on there. So in the end I didn't really spend any time on the beach just briefly did my little bit and put some of the glass I found in the bin and then headed off with Pete to grab some food somewhere.

That night was my first experience of one of the many full moon party warm up parties that were held each night on the lead up to the final party. I am not sure how many there are altogether and when the warm up officially starts but I went went to 3 in total and all were mint. It was on the first warm up party that I bumped in to a Thai girl called Aun. Aun was staying in the same hotel as us and I had seen her in the pool at the hotel foam party which had been held their earlier that night. Aun was from Bangkok and was here on holiday for a few days to have some fun at the full moon. She was cool and we shared a lot in common with music and films which I always like and she had seen "Down By Law" which impressed me no end so I knew I was going to have a pretty cool time with Aun as someone who likes Jarmusch films has to be pretty fucking cool haha. But anyway the warm up party on the first night was sweet, drunk buckets, watched people try jump flaming skipping ropes and just generally got a feel for what was going to be happening here over the next few days and it got me very excited.

The next day I eventually made my way out of the hotel room around mid afternoon and went down to the pool to mong out for a bit with Tommy and Pete and just generally do a bit of recovering. Had a nice bowl of fruit by the pool for an extortionate price which sorted me right out. I then bumped into Aun again who was just then planning on heading out to take some photos on the sun set beach. I was well up for this as have been taking no end of photos during my travels so went back to my room to grab my camera and headed off with Aun. We arrived at the beach about 2 hours before sun set so had plenty of time to kill. Aun had been to Koh Pha Ngan a few times and new of a good little beach bar we could chill out in a for a while. We played some pool and then monged out on the sofas looking out over the sea at Koh Samui enjoying the fact I didn't have a care in the world, it was nice.

Aun knew one of the guys who worked at the beach bar so got him to lend us 2 Kayaks. This was quality, I just paddled a few metres out into the sea and just sat there bobbing up and down with my legs in the seriously warm waters looking back at Koh Pha Ngan just taking in the awesome view. It looked exactly like the landscape on "Lost" with big cliffs covered in trees and thick vegetation. It was one of those moments that I knew would be a highlight of my whole trip and when I was stuck in a grey office back in England I would definitely be thinking back to this time right now, I absolutely loved it. I had to thank Aun a lot for this as it was something I don't think I would have ended up doing had she not suggested that we do it. I paddled and swam around for another half over or so, till from no where, the winds picked up and it started to rain. This was well annoying as the winds blew us right down the shore till we were a long way from the beach bar and Aun didn't have the strength to get back down shore line. So unfortunately my perfect little moment had to come to end when we had to paddle back to the shore then drag the kayaks by foot back to bar. I wish I had taken my camera out with me as it would have been great to have been able to show you what I was bobbing up and down in the sea looking back at but never mind.

I came probably the closest I have come to death so far on this entire trip on Koh Pha Ngan. We were all sitting in one of the many restaurants on the island watching a bit of Friends when all of a sudden there was a loud popping sound. I looked up to see a small amount of fire coming up from a BBQ at the restaurant opposite. At first I didn't really think much of it until I realized what was actually on fire. It wasn't the BBQ at all it was actually a massive gas canister just behind it. It was when people started fleeing from the area that I realized something was seriously wrong and then when our waiter flipped and and told everyone to run I really was in the shit. We all pegged it and headed for safety, Tommy opting to hide behind an even bigger canister the idiot but I turned around to see a small Thai guy wrestling with the canister trying put it out. Thankfully some how he did, possibly burning his hands quite badly, but saving many lives in the process, hero. When we got back to our seats not only was there one massive gas canister near by which Tommy (idiot) had hidden behind but at least 5 or 6 other gas canisters no more than 2 meters away. Had it blown I imagine it would have taken with it an area about the size of a football pitches as these gas canisters were massive! If I were a cat that would have been one of my nine lives gone for sure.

The highlight of the week was obviously the full moon party itself on the 9th. I have given that its own little post which you can read below (Or click HERE if you horrendously lazy)

My health did eventually succumb to the drunken antics that is Koh Pha Ngan. As early on as the second night my stomach was starting to feel a little worse for wear and by the night of the actual full moon I could not actually last the full night. I was suffering from very bad stomach aches and I just felt constantly hungry, even just after I had eaten and also like someone had their hands around my stomach just giving it a little cheeky squeeze every so often. So the day after the night of the full moon I thought it best that I go to a pharmacy to see if they had anything that could help this or at least suggest if I needed see a doctor. Thankfully the pharmacist didn't think I needed to see a doctor but instead gave me no less than 2 different types of medication to be popped several times a day. The first one was for spastic stomach (lolzzz) and the second was for stomach ulcers. I don't actually really know what was wrong with me over the last 3 days of Koh Pha Ngan but it definitely wasn't nice. I put it down to the buckets I was drinking as you really don't have any idea what is going into them. I have even had reports some even have Speed in them but I don't think any of mine did as I definitely didn't feel like I was on speed, quite the opposite really. Either way since the party I spoke to several others who were experiencing similar symptoms to what I had so it must have been the buckets. : (

The night after the Full Moon Party I spent on the beach with Pete, Tommy, Aun and her friends. We all sat watching the sun set, ordering food and drinks from the beach bar and sat on the little beach tables taking pictures and talking about how good the last few days had been. It was a perfect end to a great 5 days and allowed me to recall quite a few things that had happened a long the way. My stomach was giving me a lot of grief at this point which was a shame, but the call sea breeze and beautiful scenery soon made me forget about it. Once I had finished eating I kicked back and laid down staring up a the stars and even managed to fall asleep for half an hour which is good going as the only place I can really sleep at all is in a bed. Like I said it was such a good evening and a right way to see out my time in Koh Pha Ngan.

During my time on Koh Pha Ngan I noticed that there were a huge amount of people walking around with cuts, burns, bandages or on crutches walking around the place. What with the island being an epicenter for drunken tom foolery so many people were injuring themselves in the slightly more dangerous surrounding of Koh Pha Ngan than they were used back home to the point they were requiring medical attention. To be fair a lot of the injuries were cuts on peoples feet which much have been caused by the large amount of broken glass on the beach. I think due to the fact I put a large amount of glass in the bins on my first day I must have had enough good karma to allow me to party on bared footed during my time on the island without succumbing to any gashed feet, thank god!

I really liked Koh Pha Ngan and was very sad to leave the place. Obviously there is a lot more to the island than I saw. I heard rumors while I was there of beautiful waterfalls just a few minutes in land. If I had stayed on the other side of the island I would have had a totally different experience. However it was the Full Moon Party that I went for and the party atmosphere I wanted. I loved how chilled out the place was during the day time as well. The whole area was so geared towards catering for the party goers that during the day all the bars would just either be showing Friends, Family Guy, The Simpsons or pirated copies of the latest block basters back to back all day letting everyone recharge for the night ahead. So all you had to do was peal yourself out of bed, head down to a bar or restaurant and just chill out sipping beer or juice till the sun set and the beach parties began. I spent a quality afternoon slowly eating a Phang curry while watching "O Brother Where art thou?" with Pete and Tommy, sipping juices and shakes and just generally not doing very much apart from enjoying the good vibes of the island. I miss it a lot and I will definitely be going back one day. But it really was worth changing our entire travel plans around as it was a brilliant 5 days which I wont be forgetting for a long long time.

Peace x

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