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Published: January 14th 2007
As promised, someone came to the "Top" guest house and picked me up at 6pm. We stopped at a couple other guest houses to grab some other people and then walked over to a nearby road where we spent the next 45 minutes waiting for our bus to arrive. The bus was a double decker monstrosity covered in bright flourescent paint and enough blue and red lights to be mistaken for a fire truck. We loaded up and I managed to secure a seat with no one next to me. After a short wait the bus lumbered off towards the highway. They started showing a movie for us and it actually looked like the ride wouldn't be too bad. Then, about an hour out of Bangkok, we stopped and picked up several more people. For some reason, they decided that I needed to move to the back of the bus so that two people could sit together where I had been. That meant I got literally stuffed into a window seat with the seat in front of me reclined nearly into my lap. Suffice to say, the next 6 hours were not fun, although I did manage to get some sleep,
waking up a couple times to find the bus leaning at a precarious angle as we careened around a corner.
We pulled into a staging area a little bit after dawn and waited an hour for another bus to take us the short distance to the port. Once there, we boarded a large ferry and I grabbed a seat on the lower, air conditioned, level. It took four hours to reach Koh Samui. The sea was rough and the boat kept catching air and then slamming down on the far side of the large swells. Every time this happened, they would slow the boat down for a bit, probably to keep it from breaking in two. I don't normally have trouble with motion sickness, but that ride made me queasy.
We stopped briefly in Koh Samui to exchange passengers, and then we made the 45 minute crossing to Ko Pha Ngan (KPN), which wasn't nearly as rough. The port in Ko Pha Ngan is located in the main town on the island (Thong Sala), although it's not much to look at. I quickly made my way to the waiting pickup trucks (they have two benches in the bed)
This guy tried, and failed, to light his cigarette on the flaming limbo bar
and grabbed one heading to Hat Rin. On the ride over, I chatted with some Aussie guys and a Swedish dude named Andre. We arrived in Hat Rin about 20 minutes later, after going over the steepest hills I've ever seen asphalt applied to. There are signs for 18% grade along the road! After hopping out, Andre and I decided to find a place to stay. He was familiar with Hat Rin, so we went back to where he had stayed before and grabbed a bungalow on Sunset beach for 200 baht each. It wasn't A/C, but it had good fans and a decent bathroom, plus 2 big beds.
After settling in, we went and got lunch at a restaurant on Sunrise beach, which had nice views that almost made up for the crappy food. We finished eating and went back to the bungalow to get our swimsuits and then headed straight back to Sunrise beach. I went for a swim in the warm, wind-whipped surf, but the wind actually made it pretty chilly to swim so I only stayed in for a bit. Later that afternoon Andre went to thai boxing and I took a nap before we
There are tons of dogs (mostly stray) on Ko Pha Ngan and they love to lie in the middle of the road
went to dinner around 730. The restaurant was packed with people and the menu was eclectic. I ended up ordering a chicken burrito, which tasted good, but didn't much resemble a real burrito. During dinner a couple of Swedish girls sat down across from us and Andre started chatting with them. They talked a bit in Swedish and then switched to English once it was revealed that I wasn't actually from Sweden. Shocking! Apparently, and they're not the only ones to say so, I look a bit Swedish. We finished our food and bid them farewell.
We headed in to town to check out the evening's movie selections. There are several restaurants in KPN that screen movies on a nightly basis to lure people in for dinner. The movies are (almost) always pirated, and generally very new releases if they've even left the theater yet. We settled on Rocky Balboa, which turned out to be a decent flick, much to my surprise. At the end of the movie we hung out with some Swedish (they are seriously taking over the world, or at least KPN) guys for a bit before we all headed over to Sunrise beach.
Sunrise beach had the only waves
beach by day is full of people swimming, sunbathing, and walking around half naked. By night it really isn't that much different, except for the sun of course! There are a couple of bars along the beach (Cactus and Drop In are the two biggies) that are responsible for the party scene each night. These bars set up plastic chairs and tables on the beach and blast really loud music to accompany their fire shows. They also serve the infamous whiskey buckets, which are not to be underestimated in their potency!
We arrived at Sunrise beach next to the Cactus bar, where we secured some alcohol and waded into the mass of people. Eventually we made our way down to the Drop In bar a few hundred meters down the beach where we spent a couple hours drinking and talking to some English girls. I also went and got a whiskey bucket for 100 baht (about 3 bucks) and attempted to share it with Andre (they give you like 5 straws), but I ended up drinking most of the thing myself. At some point the girls left and we went back to Cactus where I got another beer and
Looking down the length of sunrise beach. This is where all the action is at night.
soon realized that the whiskey bucket had been a bad idea. I left Andre to fend for himself and made my way back to the bungalow (I'm still surprised I found it) and crashed.
The next morning we slept in big time and finally got up around noon. We had some food and then went to check out the beach situation. On the way we ran into Mickan and Jossan, our two Swedish friends from dinner the previous night. Andre had actually ran into them after I left and he supposedly setup "dinner" with Jossan at 4pm(?), so it was lucky we saw them because they were expecting to see him at 9. We changed the plans a bit and arranged to meet a little before 9 to grab dinner at one of the movie places. After working all that out we headed to the beach and spent the afternoon in essentially the same way as the day before.
That evening we met the girls and settled on a place showing Babel. It wasn't until 10 minutes into the movie that I realized I had actually seen previews for it! None of us had a clue what it
was about until that point. The movie was decent, though it was a pretty bad choice to watch with dinner. The food sucked. I think I ended up eating half of what they gave me and most of what I ate was rice. As we discovered over the next several days, certain restaurants were good for eating at, others were only good for a beer. Plus, I had been feeling somewhat off all day, possibly from the alcohol the night before, but more likely from the lunch we had when we arrived. I think the chicken was bad.
After the movie we walked around for a while trying to figure out what to do. Eventually we decided to grab beer and head over to Sunset beach to chill out. The four of us had a great time hanging out near the water drinking and chatting the night away. I'd also like to thank the makers of OFF for their fine (and nice smelling as Mickan put it) product and the wonderful job it did at making us taste bad to mozzies. Around 2, I think, we went back to Sunrise beach and spent the next couple hours drinking and dancing in the surf before calling it a late night.
We spent the next day doing pretty much the same things as the day before. Do you see a pattern emerging here? We ran into the girls on the beach in the afternoon and arranged to have dinner again (minus the movie). Aside from that, we didn't do much besides swimming and lying in the sun (actually, it was the shade -- maybe that's why I didn't tan?).
That evening we met up with the girls around 930 and ate dinner at a "Mexican" place, which was decent. Once again, the food was good, but not very Mexican. After dinner we all headed over to a really cool little bar peched on some rocks overlooking Sunset beach. We had some tasy Beer Chang, which is definitely the best Thai beer if only because it's 6.4%!a(MISSING)lcohol. The bar had a Pink Floyd cd playing (probably pirated), which was a great change of pace from the music heard on Sunrise beach. We chilled out there for a while before heading over to the bar at the girls' bungalow to get ready for the Half Moon party.
Earlier in the day, Andre and I had been adamant that we weren't going to the party. More trance/house/whatever they call it just didn't seem appealing. After drinking a couple beers and coming to the realization that this was THE thing to day on KPN, second only to the Full Moon party that we missed, I decided to go with the girls. Andre took more convincing (and a lot more beer I think), but he came around in the end. While visiting the girls' bungalow to use the bathroom, we got introduced to the spider living behind their toilet. Now, I had a hard time believing that they would let a large spider just chill out in their bathroom so I was expecting something maybe the size of a daddy long legs. In reality, the thing was huge. It was the size of a big tarantula, but with a slimmer yellow and black body. I could see why they had left it alone. I don't think a shoe would be big enough to squash it. We made a hasty retreat from the bathroom when Andre scared it and we saw how fast it moved. Eventually, we decided that it was living in their bungalow, and was their problem. I certainly wasn't going to try and kill it! I think it may have been one of these: banana spiders
, but I remember it had a much darker body.
Eventually 2 am rolled around and we all headed to wait for the taxis to take us to the jungle party location. Mickan found some finger paint and we all managed to make quite a mess out of our faces before the taxi arrived. The taxi took us on a roller coaster ride back over the hills towards Thong Sala and onto a small road that lead straight into the jungle. We arrived at the gate and paid the 300 baht entry before heading towards the sound of pumping music. We spent the next 3 hours dancing, drinking, going deaf, and generally having a blast. Andre kept disappearing, leaving me to dance (horribly) with Mickan and Jossan. I still don't know where he kept going, but he lost his t-shirt and kept coming back more drunk so he was doing something. We left around 430 and took an even scarier ride back to Hat Rin in the back of one of the pickups. After walking the girls back to their guest house Andre and I made a late night trip to 7-11 before going back to the room to crash.
I have to apologize (although you'll probably thank me for ending this long entry) because I did a really poor job keeping up with my written journal on the island so I don't have good notes to go off of beyond this point. Suffice to say, all the days were spent in pretty much the same way: sleeping late, watching Family Guy with lunch, swimming in the afternoon, watching movies with dinner, and then drinking and partying on the beach until the wee hours. We met some great (mostly Swedish) people and had a blast, but eventually it was time for me to move on. After 8 days on the island I decided to leave and head north.
Stay tuned for Bangkok (again).
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