Koh Phangan, historical for it’s world wide phenomenon of a party — The Full Moon Party. A extravagant event that rages into the night on a pristine Thai beach. It has been rumored that over 30,000 people have been in attendance a one full moon party. This party once a mellow beach gathering set to watch the sunrise has turned into an every month thing. Complete with fire throwers, buckets of alcohol, and who knows what other kinds of mischief. We however are here a few weeks to late as the party ended early in the morning at sunrise on August 7th.
This island however is still full of adventure and mischief even by daylight. On our travels to Koh Phangan we experienced a chain of Thais who “helped” us get from one place to the next. For instance for 650BHT each person, we were set up to take a van for 2 1/2 hours to Surat Thani (the port city) and then get on a speed ferry (3 hours) to Koh Phangan. I’ll make a long story short. Minivan picks us up at our hotel — it has 11 seats. 6 people including ourselves are in the minivan, we are feeling good about the two hour ride. We get settled put our head phones on and let our minds wander. 20 minutes later we are stopped and being instructed to get out. New minivan. We get in the new mini van this time with 2 extra people. Okay Okay not to bad. Headphones in. We are dosing off — STOP. 5 more people squish into the minivan. We are now 13 in a minivan that fits 11 and still have 2 hours and 10 minutes to go. Chris and I are laughing as we have begun to think only positive thoughts about the way Thais use methods of transportation. We laugh and make friends with a couple from Spain. The minivan ride is cramped and stuffy but we make it out alive, only to be dropped off at a random extremely dirty tourist office/restaurant. We are instructed that we now wait 1 hour and 1/2 for a bus to take us to the port. Another 1 hour bus! The time ticks by slowly. We are instructed to board a huge bus. As we climb aboard we realize there are no more seats. Everyone on this bus looks just as confused as we. What better way for the bus driver to make a few extra baht that pick up a bunch of backpackers! We arrive at the port where a Thai man jumps out an buys 5 ferry tickets for the ferry that leaves in 4 minutes. We run to the ferry and make it just before it pulls away. Ahh at last on the water to Koh Phangan. We weasel our way up to the very small VIP seating with air conditioning and sit in luxury (secretly that is)!
On arrival we experience the similar hoarding of all tourists. We manage our way through — haggle with a taxi driver who quotes the 4 of us 600 bht for the ride, however we talk him down to 200. We apparently have begun to get the hang of this game. He lets us off 10 minutes later at our secluded beach front resort complete with an on the beach restaurant, beach side bungalows, and hammocks swaying on every tree. We feel a sense of pride and happiness that we have once again made it to our destination. Although a struggle, always unforgettable.
Our time on Koh Phangan was an adventure from arriving to departing, we became great friends with Raquel and Igor, our new Spanish buds (who happen to live in the city of Spain, where the running of the bulls takes place.) A trip to Spain may soon be in order.
The following morning we are searching for an adventure. We want to see the island but skip the recommended tours. What better way than to take a unscaled map and rent a jeep. I see the glitter in Chris’ eye as the jeep gets mentioned. He is in search for an adrenaline rush and unknown to him an enormous challenge. There is no other way to describe this moment– he mans up takes the keys, the right hand drivers seat, the left hand stick, the Spanish Igor (navigator) and two girl in the bed of the truck and out on the sandy road we go.
A stop at a waterfall with no water was deamed necessary, a high on the hill Chinese temple, a small island connected by a sand bank for snorkeling, Haad Yao beach, the resort for a shower, and Haad Rin Beach for dinner (infamous for the full moon party/nightlife) were all in order. Our drive started smoothly. I felt the wind blow through my hair and winced a few times as the locals zoomed around us on the two way streets. Yet the day was beautiful– full of laughs, fish, new cultures, and new experiences.
However I must mention the extreme challenges Chris faced on our morning and difficult evening (in the pitch dark) around the island. There are a few too many hills on Koh Phangan. So much so that there is only a road on the west side of the island as the east is to hilly to actually build roads. So picture roads with DANGER and WARNING signs followed by 10%, 20%, and even 30% downgrade signs. This is no exaggeration folks! I have proof on arrival home. Chris laughed his fear away, as cringed so hard I thought I would die. This man of mine shocked us all and most importantly got us home alive with an amazing story to tell. The four of us had a blast and will never forget the extremity of this unexpected day.