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Andy’s Travel Diary

Friday, 15 Dec 2006

Location: Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand

MapKO PHA-NGAN - HAS ANYONE SEEN MY SHOE?
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Another awesome time on this party island. I don’t need to go into too much detail. The full moon party was wicked as were the nights leading up to it, partying on the beach, meeting new people (hello Charlotte from Oslo - we are coming to see you next year), spectacularly winning a whiskey bucket by throttling the enemy in a musical chairs battle, and watching Ruth annihilate the competition in a ‘dance off’ with a random guy - i’ve never seen “side step, clap, side step, clap” lose yet!

However, instead of just sitting on a beach every single day (which can become awfully exerting - though someone has to do it) we spent one out of the nine on a boat tour.

A number of companies provide tours around the island. We picked Munchies. The choice had nothing to do with the name.

We set off on a large longboat packed on so tight we looked like an illegal immigrant boat trying to breach fortress Europe. The tour was a mixed bag but fun nontheless.

Than Sadet Falls has attracted royalty and flocks of tourists like for decades. It is quite beautiful - as the water cascades along various paths and down a number of falls and levels into separate pools. Ruth and I stripped off and bathed in one of the larger ones which cut deep into the surrounding rock and contained a tall but narrow waterfall where we took turns enacting Herbal Essences adverts (Ruth rather more successfully). Unfortunately bad weather had rolled in and it began to rain which made the walk back up a small but steep muddy path rather more hazardous.

It proved a momentary lapse in the weather and we ate lunch on Bottle Beach which is the most beautiful of the northern section of the isle. Having never heard of the advice to avoid swimming immediately after lunch we stopped for some snorkelling. I originally assumed a shallow coral bay but the boat simply anchored out to sea and the seafloor was five or six metres down. Jaws has had a seminal influence on me. While other people happily swam away from the boat i would get a metre or so from it, panic, splutter around in the water and swim back, grabbing the boat while people laughed. Others who refused to snorkel sympathised.

Last stop was Thang Nan Pan beach but we had to leave quickly, a storm was setting in. Back on the main beach when the extreme weather failed to show Ruth, Charlotte and I decided our best course of action lay with a bottle of red wine to keep our alcohol levels on the up after drinking buckets on the boat. Good food and good drink provided. More would have been welcome, as would better weather.

As i mentioned in my previous Pha-Ngan post most of the travellers in Thailand make a pilgrimage to the island in the days leading up to the full moon party and so it was that one of the girls i met in the Perhentians tapped me on the shoulder the night before the big event. Unfortunately the others i planned to meet up with, the Israelis and Leila and Alice could not make it (the former left a few days before and the latter were somewhere in Laos). But we still had a great group for the main event including a guy called Simon, an essex lad called Sean and a woman called Sue.

But like the last time i was here the night preceeding full moon party eve was better than the ‘big one’. So good that Charlotte got her bag nicked, Sean had a bottle thrown at him by a ladyboy (it’s a very long story!) and Ruth lost a shoe. I scalded Ruth for the latter - it happened two nights earlier than planned. It is a backpacker rite of passage, a ceremony suffused with ritual and meaning, like the Jewish Bat Mitzvah or the Islamic Al-Kithan to lose one flip flop or shoe at the full moon party. It signifies a transition from holidaymaker to fisherman pant and ethnic bag wearing nomad and is a joyous occassion for all. The rite is formally completed in the morning when the crowds start to go home and calls of “Has anyone seen my shoe?” fill the air. Daylight reveals a flip flop graveyard.

As with Phi Phi whiskey buckets were extremely good friends to us. So good that i spent two whole days in bed.

It was midway through our time on Pha-Ngan that Sam left us as he only had three weeks available to holiday. See you back in blighty!

We left for Bangkok via plane from Ko Samui. Curse you Ruth - the sneaky bugger thrust a contract under my nose when i was still inebriated which tied me inot an agreement that i would fly instead of catching the coach to Bangkok. I signed it - I swear she told me i was signing a piece of paper with my breakfast order on it.

Setting eyes on the bamboo shack they call an airport heightened my nervous state. But 2 valium and a beer later i was on the plane squeezing Ruths hand. All over in an hour.
So for the third time I was in Bangkok. Two and a half months is more than enough for Thailand. It was time to leave.