Koh Phangan: second round of this stunning island and the Full Moon Party

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View of Koh Tao

After bumping into some of our friends on the Koh Tao port, we traveled to Koh Phangan by ferry, which, actually, is the only way to get to the Island. With the weather starting to storm up, we arrived on the island in no time at all. Just as expected, we were picked up by a lovely lady from the hostel we would be staying at. As we were tossed around the back of the jeep, the heavens opened. Wet was an understatement. We were drenched.

One of the reasons I came back to the Island was because I wanted to attend one of the biggest must-do’d in Thailand: the Full Moon Party. However, we decided to get accommodation of the other side of the island, which was cheaper but also less touristy. For three nights, we stayed at Ling Sabai Guesthouse, which overlooked the beautiful Hadd Yao beach.     The rooms were basic with fans, bedding and a private bathroom but the staff were extremely lovely.IMG_4531

Once we had settled in, we took a stroll along the calm, quiet beach. There are not many beaches in Thailand that are abandoned but this does depend on the time of year and destination. As my feet touched the golden sand as I walked, they were slowly burning to a crisp. At the end of the beach, there were mountains of rocks, where I tried to climb them gracefully but this didn’t happen. My feet were getting scratched from round stone and the tiny pebbles that were scattered in the water nearby. It was one of those day, where drips were trickling down my face, I was constantly moving to get comfortable and the sea was getting more and more appealing. However, as I entered the water, the temperature was no different. It wasn’t particularly refreshing. I felt like I was trapped in an oven. My only way to cool down for a split second was to munch on a Magnum. I even decided to treat myself to one of the new one: creamy vanilla ice-cream with sweet caramel swirls, covered in delicious dark chocolate with the outer coat being gold in colour. I was in heaven.IMG_4534

In the evening, we headed to a restaurant to fill our stomach, where some younger children were playing. Even though we weren’t doing much, they found us hilarious and we soon made some new friends. We also met some travelers dawdling on the beach, who recommended us to go to a backpackers bar not too far away with a pool table. To our disappointment when we arrived, we found that, yes it didn’t have a pool table, but was definitely looking under the weather with balls missing and cues broken. In the end, we got a few beers and played a couple of rounds of cards before turning in for the night.

The next day, we hired out motorbikes to explore this incredible island. My love for driving around aimlessly on a motorbike was beginning. Before coming to Thailand, I had never driven a motorbike but after a few attempts, I started to feel comfortable turning, pulling off and stopping. A new hobby had emerged: motorbiking around. Koh Phangan is the perfect island to learn: it has extremely quiet country roads, with small hills and windy paths overlooking beautiful views and scenery.IMG_4872

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Haad Rin beach

While aiming for Thongsala, we managed to get lost taking a few different turns. However, we discovered a stunning, pictureque beach, which we later took photos of. After having lunch in the centre, we drove up and down steep, windy hills to Haad Rin taking in the views of tall trees in land and beautiful beaches on the other side. Haad Rin beach had crystal clear water, with tourists lying on the pale sand and shops and bars spread along the edge. To me the beach didn’t look overly big, which gave me a slight sense of peace about the Full Moon party as this is where party-goers dancing the night away. On the edge of the beach, there is a wooden plank path, not really leading anywhere. Struggling not to step in the cracks with my bare feet, I managed to reach the end which gave an amazing view of the whole beach.

Debating our options of the rest of the day, we decided to drive back to Thongsala Port to watch the sunset. I have to admit, the sunsets are beautiful from these beaches but I have found that it’s hard to find the perfect sunset as the times I have been on the Islands, most of the time it has become overcast as the sun is disappearing over the horizon. Thailand offers many food market and Koh Phangan didn’t disappoint with row of carts full of fresh, cheap Thai grub to fill out tummies for dinner. Leading my friends back to the hostel was a daunting experience as it was dark, with little street lamps, minimal signs and sudden meandering peaks but we arrived safe and sound for a chilled evening in our hostel.

We heard through the grapevine of many parties and evening events leading up to the Full moon Party but due to staying too far away, we didn’t get to experience these, which if I came back, I would stay on Haad Rin leading up to the Full moon Party.

The day after, we made the most of the day doing similar thing to the day before, riding on the motorbikes around Koh Phangan exploring as much as possible. In the end, we pretty much drove the whole of the Island. First, we motorbiked to the sand dunes (Ao Srithanu) that we found the previous day. This was one of the most incredible view I have ever seen with reflections of the sun in the water and the glistening, calm pools. we popped into Thongsala to grab a huge Thai tea, wander around the market and eat lunch. Thai Tea has become one of my favourite drinks in Thailand: it’s milk, sweet and just delicious. In the market, I ended up speaking to a cute little girl and her lovely mother. Thailand is just full of chatty (sometimes just through actions when there is a language barrier), lovely people, who like to take photos of white people. Our talking turned into a photo shoot.

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Koh Ma Island

Once lunch was consumed, we zoomed to find our next destination: Phaeng waterfall and Domesila viewpoint. The waterfall was a slight disappointment due to there only being trickles of water. Hiking over the huge stones, around trees and up steep, narrow hills was exhausting but a spectacular, breath-taking opening revealing the island and beyond was well worth the trek. After struggling back down, we vaulted on to our motorbikes to go beach hopping. Searching unsuccessful for a beach meant that we got lost and constantly backtracked but I didn’t mind as I loved driving and seeing new landscapes. Instead we discovered Ao Chaloklum beach and then watched the sunset on Haad Mae beach, which overlooked Koh Ma island. It was beautiful. There was a tiny, spiky trail through water to walk along Koh Ma beach. I would definitely recommend to go to this area and spend some time just appreciating the exquisite seascape. While taking some photo here, we bumped into the guys we met on the boat previously. The funny thing was that we drove to have dinner after and about five minutes later they turned up unexpectedly at the same restaurant. It was even that close to the beach and we took so many different turning that it was pretty much impossible to follow us (if they even wanted to).

Just before leaving, I treated myself to a peanut butter Roti, which is one of Thailand’s specialities (well, kinda – they are made for tourists but you only find them in Thailand). They are basically a square, greasy, crispy pancake: so appetizing for my taste buds.

In the evening, a group of us played Uno with a guy who worked at the hostel before heading to bed early.

The last full day on Koh Phangan was relaxing as we knew we would not be sleeping much due to the Full Moon Party. I didn’t realised that the whole point of this festivity was to dance all night and reach sunrise the next day: challenge accepted.

During the day, we walked to a secluded beach, which coincidentally was called ‘Secret beach’ but ironically had a sign on the main road. The beach was small, like most coasts, it had golden sand and the sea (there’s only so much you can say about beaches that look similar). While on this beach, I skyped my family back home as I had free Wifi, then ate some lunch and chilled in the Guesthouse.

IMG_6075At a Full Moon Party, it is expected for attendees to dress in bright neon attire and have body painting that would stand out in the moonlight sky. A few hours before leaving, we painted each other with flowers and pattern in colourful neon. As Haad Rin beach was the other side of the Island, we had to plan our departure in advance: we wanted it as cheap and easy as possible. The best way we found was to go with a tour company that would pick you up at a certain time, then speed across the island, where we flung from side to side (not the safest of journeys). For our return journey, we could decide what time to come back as there would be a Songtaow returning every 30 minutes until 7 O’clock in the morning. This meant we could be flexible and not worry about how we would get back to our accommodation.IMG_4957

The Full Moon Party is something that is a must-do in South-East Asia. It is a monthly rave, which makes other wild parties around the world weep with Envy. Picture a white sand beach, an endless row of palm trees, and a calm cove of blue green water. Then take several thousand neon-clad partiers from around the world washing down MDMA with alcohol out of plastic pails while techno beats compete for attention; blend thoroughly. Yes, this is pretty much it. An estimated 20,000 to 40,000 young backpackers and bucket guzzlers attend the even each month but I did however spot a few families and older people.IMG_9596

Somehow I managed to survive this crazy event. It was pretty full on. When entering this beach, I felt completely overwhelmed: the music was pounding, thousand of young travelers squashed and dancing. Even though usually I like swimming, I wouldn’t go near the sea with so many people in such a small bay the once-idyllic waters are quickly transformed into a cesspool of urine, discarded beer bottles and zombie-like partiers gone too far. There were fire skipping robes, where after a few buckets people would be easily persuaded to try to jump these and fail. It was entertaining to watch and luckily I didn’t see anyone get burnt. Many people don’t manage to make it to sunrise but I was one that did. Unfortunately for me, even being told, my phone got stolen out of my bag. One minute it was there, I felt it being taken, the next it was gone. It kind of ruined my night as I was fixed on finding it on a flip flop infested beach, where people constantly moving. It was a lost cause.IMG_9631

The Full Moon Party was an experience not to be missed. It is great fun and an excuse to be covered in neon pain head to toe.

With not much sleep, we left Koh Phangan. For now, I will miss this spectacular island and cruise to the next one.

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