Published: May 31st 2011May 24th 2011
Ko Pha Ngan
So after a great time diving on Koh Tao, we were headed to Koh Pha Ngan a few days before the full moon party to make sure we could still get a decent deal on a room. Because it isn’t high season anymore in Thailand, we decided to take our chances with not pre-booking a room. When we arrived on the island after our ferry ride, we grabbed a taxi and made our way to an area we thought we would start at. One thing we DIDN’T count on was how incredibly hilly the roads were here. When we got dropped off, we quickly realized that there was no way in hell we would be walking too far to find a place to stay at unless we felt like passing out from walking straight up a steep hill in the 95 degree, blistering, humid weather. Jonathan and Nate started to take a look at a couple of places after hearing from other people that we wouldn’t find a place for less than 700 baht per night. They stumbled into Boom’s Café where they found a decent fan room for 400 baht per night as long as we stayed
for at least 4 nights, and we even got free wifi! How about that? It’s a good thing we aren’t the type of people who are scared of dogs, because the owner had 1 German Sheppard (Sumo) and about 7 other smaller dogs (Panda, Fanta, Mama LuLu…and that’s all we remember!).
We had a couple days before the full moon party to do some exploring, so we rented a motorbike and started to check out what the rest of the island had to offer. The riding was pretty intense to say the least! When we were climbing a couple of the hills, Nate literally had the throttle pinned in first gear while he helped the bike up by pushing off the road with his feet. The scary part is at one point we popped an accident wheelie going up the hill which cause Jessie to dig her nails into Nate and almost shat herself on the spot. It was pretty easy to see that there would be many westerners walking around bandaged up here, especially when you know damn well they’re riding half wasted at night on these roads. How right we were. We met a couple of guys
who were staying at Boom’s as well who went out to a pool party the day before the full moon party. They didn’t want to pay the 100 baht taxi fee to get home since they only paid 60 to get there, and decided to hop on a motorbike with another guy who offered to give them a ride. As they got to the monstrous hill by our guesthouse, the guy slammed on the brakes and completely lost control, throwing all 3 of them off of the bike. They got to spend the night at the clinic having deep cuts and scrapes cleaned out and bandaged up. Their backs were completely full of road rash and each of them were limping pretty bad, but considering the fact that none of them were wearing helmets, we thought they were really lucky it wasn’t worse. Don’t get us wrong, we’d have to say you gotta be pretty stupid to put yourself in that situation in the first place, drunk or not. We knew we wouldn’t be riding the day after the party with plenty of potential motorbike assassins on the road, so we took the bike out the day before to check
out some of the other beaches on the island and stop at Tesco (a nice grocery store) to grab some waters, bread, peanut butter, and jelly for some easy meals during the day.
When we first walked in, we went past the meat area where there was a bin full of random meat parts, mostly fat, and a pile of ground beef (or fat) next to it. Jessie’s mouth opened as her body quivered. “That’s EXACTLY why I don’t eat ground beef 99% of the time right there!” That’s ok. We weren’t there for the meat anyways. The one bad thing about white bread and PBJ’s is that even if you eat 3 or 4 of them, you’re starving again in like 2 hours. It was a good thought and a nice change from our usual diet of rice or noodles, but we probably won’t be doing that again anytime soon. That night and each thereafter, we would sit down on the big rocks on the beach with everyone staying at the place and watch some beautiful sunsets before eating some AWESOME curry that Noc made us (the owner of the guesthouse).
We were all pretty stoked for
the full moon party and it was here before we knew it. We only brought as much money as we were willing to spend for fear of going a little crazy and regretting it the next day, and we made our way up the deadly hill to grab a taxi that would take us to Haad Rin for the party. When we got dropped off, it was instant chaos and we knew we were in for an all out party. The first thing we did, before grabbing a beer at the local minimart, was buy some body paint and get decorated for the night. The beach was peppered with drunk people dancing and screaming, lady boys trying to pick up western men, and plenty of people who looked like they could lose consciousness at any given moment. They also had a spot where they were twirling a jump rope that was lit on fire! One guy actually had the rope get caught around his arm and left one hell of a burn. Of course we didn’t find out about this until after a buzzed Nate and Jonathan were ready to jump in…until Jessie and Meghan grabbed them and told them
“Hell no you’re not doing that!.” It’s always good to have the voice of reason on your side when you’re ready to make a complete ass of yourself or do something stupid enough to land you in a clinic for a few hours. Good job girls!
Even though we had more alcohol spilled on us by other people than we actually drank ourselves, we had a BLAST! It’s been a really long time since we’ve gone out to dance and have fun like that, mostly due to the fact that we’ve been saving up for this trip for such a long time. It was awesome to be listening to some great club music and dance the night away! The party was also a thieves’ playground, full of more potential targets than they knew what to do with. There were a LOT of people who had things stolen, but mostly cameras and money. That’s the exact reason why Nate had decided not to wear a swimming suit and wore a pair of shorts with a zip pocket on the side for our money. Some of these guys can be fairly easy to spot, but when you’re as hammered as most
people were, your senses are gonna be just a little bit off.
At one point in the night, there may or may not have been a random wasted guy trying to give Nate a reach-around as he was standing at the urinal relieving himself….he felt some fingers on his inner thigh and…How did Nate react? We’re pretty sure you can figure it out on your own. Ah yes, there were all KINDS of people here! It was an interesting mix for sure. Oh, and how could we ever forget the ladies running around topless with stars and hearts painted on their nipples? Or the guy that had “Huge Dick” painted on his back? The only thing funnier may have been if he had a friend next to him that said “Bigger Dick.” Haha! As the night went on, there were more and more people stumbling and falling over, and when the puking started (not us thankfully), that’s when we decided enough was enough. We had a great time and were SO glad we got to be at a full moon party, but it was time to go at about 3:30 in the morning. Of course there were plenty of
people still partying in the morning when the sun came up. One of the girls we met was staying right by the party and she told us when she went to check out the beach in the morning, she was shocked at how many people were having sex on the beach in plain daylight in front of everyone, while at the same time there would be some random guy peeing on the ground 5 feet away from them. Now that’s classy! Haha. Before we left, we bought a couple pieces of pizza on the street for a little snack before bed. Well, it was more like Jessie had one and Nate had 3. That would prove to be a mistake…
…the next day, Nate woke up with a nasty headache and a nauseous feeling, but it wasn’t from drinking the night before. He hadn’t even gotten drunk at the party(….ok maybe a little). The fact that he had eaten pizza that was probably sitting out for 8 hours before getting reheated for 2 min was probably not a good idea. He spent the ENTIRE day in sleeping in bed. It wasn’t until about 5 pm that he was able
to get up for a while, just long enough to eat some dinner and got right back to bed for the night. It was kind of a waste of a day to tell you the truth, but I guess that’s what you get when you take a chance on food. You’d think he might learn his lesson on this at some point wouldn’t you? At least he felt better the next day, and we decided to take a ride down to the pier to book our tickets to Railay, opting to skip Koh Samui mostly because travel between the islands was KILLING our budget. It was pure madness at the ticket offices where almost every westerner, half of whom looked like they’d gone 10 rounds with a weed whacker, was trying to get to their next destination. It still never ceases to amaze us how incredibly rude and arrogant so many people can be to the locals. Seriously, the way some of the foreigners treat them as if they’re far more superior is enough to make you wanna give them a good crack in the mouth to knock ‘em down a peg or two. We just don’t see how you
can be like that. It can be aggravating just to hear it. We can’t imagine how much of a pain in the ass it would be to put up with it all day long. No thanks! We almost had to laugh at the amount of people who were getting upset because they couldn’t leave on the ferry they wanted when most of them got to the ticket office about 10 minutes before the ferry left. Really? You mean they’re full? Wow, go figure. Everybody and their brother takes a day to recuperate before heading to their next destination. Obviously, we booked the day before and decided on the early ferry for that reason. It was pretty crazy how fast this island can go from being an all out spring break party on steroids to being a ghost town within one day.
The one bad thing about traveling around the time of the full moon party is that the price of everything is hiked up substantially due to the amount of people hopping around. Even though we would stay a couple days after the party, we paid more than you normally would to get off of the island. Oh well.
That’s kind of to be expected. It was more than worth it to spend that extra day here anyways. Noc was a great host and we had a great time talking with her for hours at night, learning all about how and where she grew up and hearing tons of different stories about various people who had stayed with her during the full moon parties. We really lucked out when we randomly stumbled on Boom’s Café the day we arrived not only because it was cheap but it felt more like a home stay then just a place to crash. Most people we talked to had paid a minimum of at least 600-700 baht for a room. On our last night, we just HAD to have her curry one more time, and Jessie, of course, took the opportunity to head to the kitchen and jot down some notes on how to make it for when we get home while Noc was cooking. The next day was going to be an early one. We were getting picked up at 6:00 am at the top of the hill so we could make it to the ferry on time. Yuk!
got up pretty easily and got the opportunity to say goodbye to Noc, who was literally fighting back some tears while seeing us off. She was really sweet. As we stared up at the hellish, beast of a hill we were about to hike up fully loaded down, we knew it was gonna be a chore. By the time we reached the top, Jessie was panting and out of breath, and Nate was leaning over in an all out sweat. There’s nothing like getting your ass handed to you by a hill that seemed like we were climbing Mt. Everest at 6:00 in the morning! Granted, when it’s that early in the morning, your packs feel twice as heavy as usual, but it was still a hell of a climb. All six of us (us, Jonathan and Meghan, and the 2 guys who wiped out on the motorbike) were setting off to Krabi, where we would actually spend a night since we needed to find a jump drive to store our pictures. This was because our 500 gig hard drive we brought with us has already taken a crap on us, forcing us not to use it and wait till
we get home to recover all of our pictures we have on there. There really isn’t much to say about Krabi. It’s just a small transit town that most people use to stock up on a few things before heading to some other islands, which is exactly what we did.
Railay- After spending the night in Krabi, we grabbed a songthaew to get to Ao Nang in order get a boat to Railay. Even though Railay isn’t an island, it’s only accessible by boat. There was only one thing Nate was excited for in Ao Nang. They had a frickin’ Burger King! He could actually get a burger! When we got to Ao Nang and walked into the BK, his heart sunk into his stomach as he realized everything was literally twice as expensive as it should have been. As in the same price as our room expensive! Damnit! There is definitely a food splurge coming soon, but it’s not going to be on fast food. Nate’s not quite ready to give his left testicle for a burger or anything, but the craving is building for sure! Instead we went down by the water and got a couple tickets
for the long tail that would take us to Railay.
Nate was a bit nervous when the wind really started to pick up. In his opinion, long tails, which are basically a long rowboat with a motor on the back, are NOT made for traveling through the ocean. Our boat was rocking and leaning in every direction all the way to Railay, causing Nate to have a white knuckled death grip on the seat underneath him as he looked up in the front of the boat at the life jackets locked securely under a piece of wood. Good place for those, he thought.
He breathed a sigh of relief when we made it to land again, where we ran into Jonathan and he took us to the place they were staying at. The bungalow we were shown was very basic, but it was cheap enough so we didn’t really care at first. Then, Jessie noticed a few red ants on the bed. The problem was, every time we killed 5 of them, there were 5 more to take their places right away. Then there was the fact that none of our 4 windows locked either, which didn’t make
us feel very good considering when you’re at the beach you don’t exactly bring all your money and your passports with you. We thought maybe we could make it work with tying the windows shut with some rope we brought for our clothes line, but then Jessie looked up and saw a cut out that was big enough for someone to fit through. Nate lifted up the little piece of thin wood to find out there was a big crawl space above and at any time, anyone could have dropped right into our room. That was the last straw. Nate: “Grab your stuff baby. We’re NOT staying here. No way in hell.” Needless to say, we found another place to stay, which actually worked out in our favor as it was a MUCH nicer place for only 50 baht more. If there was ever such a thing as a set up room in this town, we had definitely found it. We just weren’t too keen on coming back to a backpack missing or waking up in the middle of the night with some random man rifling through our stuff. Call us crazy, but it just sounded like a bad idea.
Railay proved to be an ok place to hang out for a while, and we did get to see one of the most beautiful sunsets either of us have ever seen! Then there were the monkeys. One morning we woke up and Jessie went out on the balcony to sit down and get some fresh air. “Baby. Come here. There are monkeys outside in the trees.” Nate walked outside and sat next to her. Before we knew it, there was a whole troop of macaques making their way toward us and having breakfast in the tree right next to our balcony. We had to laugh a bit when one of the males sat down on the tree branch, displaying his bright pink…um, manhood to us for a good 30 minutes. That a boy.
We spent most days on the beach soaking up some sun and taking a dip in the crystal clear blue water to cool off. Most everyone comes to Railay for the climbing but that was one thing we decided against. With our new love for SCUBA diving, we couldn’t part with the $30 each for a half day beginning rock climb. With low season officially
in full effect, it was crazy how quiet this little town was. The one downfall with Railay is that almost everything was more expensive than we thought it would be, probably because they have to ship everything in by boat. At least we found some decent “street” food that wasn’t TOO expensive. One thing that definitely surprised us was the amount of people who came here on a day trip. By about 2:00 in the afternoon, the beach was packed with people from other places and time for us to leave!
We did enjoy our time at Railay, but it was time for us to move on again. We were about to be headed to Phi Phi for a couple days and then off to Koh Lanta to spend our last days in Thailand. We would definitely be in for a bit of a surprise when we arrived in Phi Phi… Traveler Tips Getting There
Koh Pha Ngan- If you’re headed to Koh Pha Ngan from Koh Tao, it’s pretty easy to find tickets just about everywhere you look. After asking a bunch of places in town, the cheapest we found ferry tickets for was 300 baht a
piece. You may be able to get them cheaper at the pier, but then you’ll also have to pay for a taxi to get you there.
Krabi- From Koh Pha Ngan, ferry tickets within 5 days of the full moon party are a little higher than usual, so you’ll pay 600 baht each plus another 20 baht each to get into the main part of town. You’ll also end up paying 100 baht per person from Ban Thai Beach to the ferry port (or more from Haad Rin), and there’s no negotiating on this unfortunately.
Railay- If you stop in Krabi first, all you have to do is grab a songthaew taxi for 100 baht to Ao Nang where you’ll stop at the ticket office by the water (just down from Burger King) and pay 80 baht a piece to take a ride on a long tail boat, which drops you off right on the west beach. Staying
Koh Pha Ngan- If you have the opportunity (and you want to be able to get away from the noise and party at times), we HIGHLY recommend staying at Boom’s Café. The owner, Noc, is incredibly nice and we only paid
400 baht a night for a fan room with a bathroom and balcony 2 days before the full moon party. Even in low season though, it can actually be a little tough to find a place to stay. It’s probably best if you pre-book a place just to play it safe. If you’re trying to stay close to Haad Rin, where the party is at, you’ll probably end up paying at least 700 baht for a basic room. In high season, it’s pretty much a necessity to pre-book a room.
Krabi- We stayed at KR Mansion, where we got a fan room with a bathroom for 250 baht. It’s pretty easy to find cheap accommodation here.
Railay- Railay surprisingly has quite a few high end resorts and spas to stay at. You can find places to stay during low season for about 300 baht, but for the extra 50 baht (350 total), we stayed at Yaya Resort on the East beach and got a nice fan room with private bath. Keep in mind that these prices can EASILY double in high season…you may want to head for Ton Sai beach at that time. Eating
Koh Pha Ngan- There aren’t
too many options here other than looking around for a cheap restaurant. If you stay at Boom’s, definitely try the curry if you can. There are some cheaper options by Haad Rin, but it’s a crazy ride up and down the steep hills to get there. We did get to eat some Pad Thai for 40 baht each at a market by the Tesco near the pier one night though.
Krabi- There’s a night market down by the water where you can find cheap, fresh made food, including Pad Thai for around 40 baht. We also ate some instant noodle bowls from 7 eleven, which believe it or not, are pretty tasty and only cost about 13 baht a piece. It can be a little tough eating hot soup when you’re already dripping with sweat, but if you want to save some money on food, this is a good option.
Railay- There’s a great place right down the road from Ya Ya’s Resort that serves up some really good curry and some of the best Pad Thai we’ve had in Thailand. Prices are pretty reasonable compared to most of the other options where you’ll easily spend more than 100 baht
per person on just about anything you order. Also, the cheapest beer in Railay is on the east beach down by “The Last Bar.” Transportation
Koh Pha Ngan- You can rent a motorbike from just about anywhere for 150 baht a day for a manual, 200 baht a day for an automatic. It’s a good idea to take a picture of your bike before setting off so you can’t get charged for a scratch or any damage you didn’t cause. However, this is one place you definitely need to be on your toes with tons of crazy westerners flying around, half of whom are either drunk, wreck less, or forget that in Thailand you drive on the left side of the road.
Krabi- No need for transportation to get around Krabi. It’s easily navigated on foot unless you want to head out to the mall by the airport. In which case you can rent a motorbike here for 150 baht per day.
Railay- This is another place where you can easily walk to wherever you want to go. The walking street will get you from East beach to West in less than 10 minutes and a little path on
the end of East beach will take you to Tham Phra Nang…best beach by FAR! Not to mention, there are hardly any motorized vehicles here anyways.
There are more photos below