It's astonishing to realise just how much I missed all that is learnt from travelling the world. It's one thing to immerse yourself in a book, but nothing compares to the life experience and knowledge gained from travel, where there is the opportunity to interact daily with so many fascinating people living in this wonderful world we share. Actually It doesn't take too long to get back in to the swing of a traveller's life, even after an extended break. At the conclusion of a wonderful time in Koh Samui I decided to branch out for a bit of island hopping in the region, and the boat journey is just thirty minutes on the fast ferry - akin to a speedboat, before an effortless arrival in Koh Phangan. This legendary island is home to the full moon party famous throughout the world. It's a privilege to be back here after such a long time between visits, and I checked in to the awesome Coral Bungalows just 500 metres on the hills from Haad Rin beach, the home of the full moon party.
The friendly resort team had me sorted before you know it in an air-conditioned room, with a motorbike
rental also efficiently organised. Once I attained the freedom of a bike I set out to explore. I had forgotten just how hilly the roads are around the island, Phangan is certainly not an island I recommend for beginner riders. As a matter of fact Thailand is notorious for motorbike accidents, and I have quickly become reacquainted with the strange habit of local car and motorbike riders joining the main road without even taking the basic precaution of checking for traffic. Why do people do this, do they have a death wish? Anyways, keep a careful eye on the traffic and ride at a leisurely pace (unlike some of the farangs) and you should be good as gold. The resort team recommended a visit to Koh Ma, one of several famous beaches on the island. It is a super cool destination, and features a unique sandbank leading to another small island, without even getting your feet wet! I'm told that during a very high tide it's not possible to walk across, but for most of the year the sandbank is a novel attraction. I got airborne on the drone every day while exploring the island, in order to improve my
skills and get a unique view of the beautiful islands featured on Koh Phangan.
I booked a day tour of the island with the resort staff, and what a day to remember! We headed out for a full day packed with beautiful beaches, waterfalls, scenic viewpoints, and much more. My guide told me during Covid when he had nothing to do he just rode around on his bike, determined to explore every little side street that he was not yet aware of. The most spectacular views on the island are from Bottle Beach viewpoint, but it's certainly not a spot for the feint hearted. When you arrive at the summit it's on very sheer rocks and a slide off on either side would lead to an inevitable and ugly demise. Despite all my years of travel I've never been able to shake my vertigo, which kicks in at the most unexpected of times, but always at precarious heights of course. I was doing fine, but suddenly the world started spinning for me again after some time on the rock summit. After informing my guide I need help I was able to proceed to safe ground without any further problem.
Perhaps I have discovered at least a partial cure after all these years suffering from the affliction, because as soon as I started moving the dizziness began to subside, as long as I refrained from looking down of course! Nevertheless the views at the summit are spectacular, and certainly worth the price of getting a little fright at the top.
The day concluded with another scenic viewpoint featuring a bar for visitors willing to drive or ride up on the extremely steep track to the summit. I was buzzing after such a magnificent day on the island. The beaches, the waterfalls, the natural scenery, the entire shebang! Koh Phangan offers much more than just a party life for young travellers, although I remember from 25 years ago the full moon party is certainly an experience to remember. The staff at the resort are very down to earth and friendly, they don't just come to your table with a drink or food order, they take the time to sit with travellers and have a leisurely yarn. What a great place to stay, the staff informed me the owner was in a good financial situation due to owning the land and
resort, and after twenty five years in business decided to keep a skeleton staff and battle through two years of Covid by staying open. He greets me every day with Sawadee Kap, what a lovely gent he proved to be!
The damage done to the tourist industry from the pandemic has been incalculable, both in Thailand and I'm sure right around the world. But despite all that humanity has been through the inner beauty of the gentle Thais shines as bright as ever, they are an absolute delight and will do everything to ensure a holiday in Thailand is a break you will never forget. I've enjoyed my holiday immensely, it's just a great part of the world and always interesting. I continued exploring and flying the drone for the remainder of the week, and branched out to different restaurants around the island for delicious food at rock bottom prices. Thailand is a wonderful country to visit, it really ticks all the boxes for an enjoyable and rewarding holiday. You know, I find myself perhaps even more polite than before the pandemic, as everyone has suffered in their own way. I make a conscious effort to be open, friendly
and smiling - calling the men sir and the women madam; it just feels important to make a good impression with the locals!
There's still time for more island hopping as I settle in to the swing of a glorious month visiting the country. Despite not scrimping on anything really, it seems difficult to spend much money at all in Thailand. However, as tourism is such a massive income generator for the locals, I recommend you consider a visit (or return visit) at the earliest convenience. A couple of weeks in Thailand may just have you thinking, basically all of you should be here now!
"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien
As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now
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