Festive Frolicing

Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
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Flag of Thailand  , Surat Thani Province,
Friday, December 14, 2012

So after 2 lazy weeks we are off to Koh Phangan for another 3 lazy weeks over Christmas and New Year. Koh Phangan is notorious for being the hammock swinging relaxation island so armed with our lilos and suncream we were set.

The weather had turned and was pouring with rain so the ferry trip across to Koh Phangan was not as picturesque as I had anticipated and to top it off our hotel had not sent the transfer to pick us up at the harbour.  Being 45 minutes from the hotel across mud tracks we decided against waiting in the rain for them to come and instead we hopped on the songtail.  A songtail is a pick up truck with two rows of seats in the back and a metal canopy, so we were treated to a nice air conditioned ride across the island with a perfect view of the mountains and forests.  I had read that the road across the island was bad but I didn't really appreciate how bad, especially when there had been monsoon rains.  The roads had turned to slimy thick wet clay so the songtail was slipping and sliding along the road which had sheer drops on either side. Some Farangs had decided it was a good day to hire mopeds and they were sat at the side of one of these roads unable to go up or down, so were in the process of abandoning the mopeds and slipping down the road in their flip flops like Bambi on ice – mental note to self, do not hire mopeds!  We finally made it in one piece and I think at that point decided that we would only take that road again to get back to the boat.

Our hotel was another pre-booked bargain and it was possibly a bargain for a reason, we had to laugh when we arrived to find that it looked like our room had been burgled.  Other than a bed and a fan the room was bare, this was worse than hostel standard, so we resigned ourselves to the fact that we would be living off of the floor for 3 weeks and started to collect our water bottles to make our own furniture.  On the bright side the hotel had a pool and was on the beach and we appeared to be the only guests so had no problem getting the best sunbeds.

One of our purchases from Daiso (pound world) in Japan had been safely tucked away in our rucksacks awaiting our arrival in Koh Phangan, Santa costumes so we could make moonpig cards to send home.  We felt like absolute numptys but luckily there was no one at our hotel and not many people at the beach so we donned our suits and let the photo shoot commence, Merry Christmas!!!!

The beach that we stayed on was called Thong Nai Pan Yai, this is the bigger of the two beaches  Thong Nai Pan Noi being smaller but filled with 5* hotels.  Our beach was really very quaint, it had 4 restaurants on the beach, 3 bars on the beach and then a 7/11, 3 restaurants and 1 bar on the road with a few travel agents, moped rentals and laundry’s mixed in.  Considering we were on the bigger beach (Yai) I was intrigued to see how small Noi was, however not intrigued enough as we didn’t go!

We quickly found our feet and discovered one restaurant which looked like a temporary refugee camp.  We have discovered in Thailand that far from looking for a restaurant that has matching furniture and staff stood at the door to welcome you, the more temporary the restaurant looks, the more mis-matching garden furniture and the older the chef the better.  When you go to these restaurants you are guaranteed either the worst or the best food you will find in Thailand, the best thing is that dinner for 2 will generally only set you back 4 so if it is the worst you pay and move next door.  Our restaurant was simply called 'Thai Food’  I guess it did what it said on the tin and boy did it do it well.  Having eaten not much but Pad Thai Pak (friend noodles with vegetables) since arriving in Thailand, I was becoming something of a connoisseur and grans Pad Thai blew all the other completion out of the water.  We didn’t really bother eating anywhere else for the next 3 weeks other than a beach restaurant dinner now and then, we even went mad and had Christmas dinner at Grans.

Whilst I am on the topic of food there is one other delicacy in Thailand that is not to be missed the pancake/roti wagons.  These can be found most evenings parked outside of one of the many 7/11’s and for a meagre 1 you get the BEST desserts.  These are most commonly served with banana but the menus are usually as big as the cart. The piece of roti dough is rolled out and spun into a perfect circle, it is then thrown on the hot flat wok, banana is sliced into the middle, it is folded into a perfect square and the topping of your choice (usually Nutella or Peanut Butter) is smeared over the top.  This really is heaven on a paper plate.  Charlie who had the only cart on your beach was our best friend after 3 weeks.  Who was it who told me you lose weight travelling… liar!

Koh Phangan is most notorious for its full moon parties on Haad Rin beach.  Maybe 15 years ago this was the place to be, now however it is fully of drunk and drugged up teenagers looking for a fight.  The full moon is so popular that there is a different type of party every night from half moon, jungle parties, black moon to end of the world moon.  Needless to say we didn’t bother taking the 1 hour taxi over the island or the 40 minute speedboat in the dark to check these out.  There are always accidents and arrests and bad things in the news after these parties, but the most tragic was the death of a Brit caught up in the crossfire of local gangs.  So tragic and made us all the more pleased we stayed put on our little beach.

So whilst the rest of the island had flocked to Haad Rin for NYE we stayed put and got ourselves a bar stool at Flip Flop Pharmacy, one of the only 3 bars on the beach.  We were spoiling ourselves with cocktails and there were plenty of free shots of Jagermeister from the staff ringing the bar bell.  Midnight was hysterical with everyone and their dog setting off fireworks on the beach, and rockets were flying in every direction.  We took cover behind a concrete pillar in the bar and Tim somehow managed to get hit in the chest with a rogue screw?!  By about 2:30 I was done and tim took me home, then kindly took a picture of me passed out fully dressed on the bed to show me the next morning!

I felt quite sorry for anyone that came to Koh Phangan over Christmas and new Year as the weather took a turn for the worst, we had several cloudy days and when it rained, boy did it rain.  The thunder storms in the night were some of the craziest I have ever heard.  The claps of thunder felt like they were going to knock our roof off and the lightening lit our entire room.  I got up one night to look at the rain and got flashed in the eye with lightening and was seeing white spots for about 6 hours, thanks Thor.  I did wake Tim up one night and told him I was scared, he just told me it was angels bowling and rolled over and went to sleep.  Bloody angels!

The wildlife in Koh Phangan consisted mainly of beach dogs, we had given most of them  names and shared our breakfast daily with our favourites, I liked the beach dogs a little less when I realised that the odd smell when we sit on the Thai day beds outside Flip Flop was dog pee.  Nice.

We had one more animal that took a shine to us, it was a gecko.  I like geckos as they eat my arch enemies, mosquitos.  This gecko however was like an alarm clock.  He would come scurrying into our room every morning at 6am and would proceed to shout like an alarm. One day I tried to find him (not that I had much furniture to explore) and all I found was a pile of gecko poo in the corner.  I think he came in and whistled while he went and went out again.  Very odd.

So three weeks have flown by and we are back off to Samui.  This time staying on many different beaches  and with an itinerary of tours and things to do, I promise.
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