Fluorescent painted baboons dancing in the sand.

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May 1st 2010
Published: May 1st 2010
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Ko Phangan - Marine park

Posing at lookout pointPosing at lookout pointPosing at lookout point

This is only a few days after my hospital visit, this hike 550m proves I'm healthy!
Haad Yao is an amazing beach with the most spectacular views of sunsets I have ever seen. We spent 7 days relaxing on the beach and in the pool, got a chance to update our blogs, and most importantly recover. Our bungalow had a nice view of the beach and the ocean, the food was quite nice and on one of our days there we signed up for a day trip to the Ang Thong Marine Park which is breathtaking!

“Ang Thong Marine Park is a group of over 40 tropical islands that are protected as a nature reserve.” (Ko Phangan Info issue 20). We started off the day by jetting off to the islands in the distance, barely visible from Ko Phangan, arriving at one of the smaller islands for some amazing snorkelling, again up to Ko Phangan’s quality we saw thousands of colourful fish, beautiful coral rocks and hundreds of other things that I don’t even know the name of. After this we carried on to another one of the islands, I believe it was named Mother Island (but the Thai equivalent), there is a huge blue lagoon in the middle of the island which took about 20
Painted KristyPainted KristyPainted Kristy

Like my work?
minutes to hike to among rickety wooden platforms and steps. There was no swimming which was unfortunate because it was a boiling hot day but the view from the top was amazing, and the lagoon was like something out of a movie.

Actually, the book and movie “The Beach” (book by Alex Garland, defiantly worth a read whether your coming here or not, but reading it here makes the book feel more real), take place on Ko Phangan, and the said beach is located in the marine park that we visited, Scott was reading the book when we went to visit the island and we were both imagining the characters just waiting to pop up from behind a bush or see some hint of a ‘beach life culture’ (sadly we didn’t). Also parts of the movie were filmed in the marine park here as well as on Ko Phi Phi in the Andaman Coast!!

Anyway, after the lagoon we went and had a tasty lunch on the beach and enjoyed the views a bit before taking off to the marine parks biggest island (can’t remember the name) where we had the chance to go kayaking, hike up the mountain to a viewpoint, or just relax on the beach. I chose the lazy path as the heat was almost overbearing and found my spot on the sand in some shade and mellowed out to a nice breeze and my book. Scott hiked the 550m to the almost top with a German guy, and got to the top in 20 minutes wearing only sandals (trust me this is impressive!!). He told me it was just rock face and a rope along the side, and you had to basically just pull yourself up to the top, but it was apparently worth it. The view was of almost all the 40 some odd islands and stretched on forever. He came back with dirty feet and ripped sandals, a huge grin and some fantastic photos!!

After this it was time to head ‘home’ and we got back to our resort on Haad Yao around 5 and had an early night to bed as the heat and adventures from the day had left us exhausted!

We also rented a motor bike three of the 7 days that we were there and made good use of it. We spent one day adventuring down the west coast of the island, through Thong Sala and made it to Haad Rin in about an hour. Another day was devoted to taking in some sights, we re-visited the Chinese temple from the snorkelling tour with Mike and Lynn and got some more pictures, as well as visiting one of the ‘waterfalls’ on the island, which was hugely disappointing as it’s the off season for rain and water, so it was more rock cliffs then water falling, we did manage to find a small pool with a trickle coming in at the top of the cliff face by following some Thai voices, and found a group of young kids playing in the pool and were invited in to cool off. Our last full day on Haad Yao we rented the motor bike one last time and came back down to Haad Rin looking for accommodations for our last week here before we carry on, spent the entire day looking and realized that the locals here really make a huge profit off of full moon.

Most resorts have a basic rate that they charge depending on the season (high season being more expensive, low being less). These prices are blown completely out of proportion the week before full moon as some resorts bump the price up 1000 - 2000 baht extra (one place was charging 700 ($22 cnd) for a basic fan room, bumped it up to 1700 ($54 cnd) just for this week, sheesh!!).

After checking out and paying our tab we came down to Haad Rin with one thing in mind, cheap and as quiet as possible (not easy on Haad Rin). We wound up staying one night at a place called SK Home, which is just above the only 711 in town on the main strip. It was 250 baht ($8 cnd) , going up to 340 ($10 cnd) the next night (not a bad price considering it was very central), it turned out to be hotter then we could stand, even at 3am. So after a sleepless night there we went a wandering, thinking we were going to have to cave and stay at a place for 800 ($25 cnd) a night, and luckily (thanks to Scott’s persistence and curiosity) we found a place called Yoghurt home 340 baht a night ($12) for a huge fan room and a hot cold shower, about thirty second walk from the beach. It’s quite nice, has a large patio that looks over a simple garden and has a good breeze going through it most of the day!

We had a restful evening that night and met our neighbour Noah from Israel and enjoyed a few games of Durak (a fun Russian card game for 2 to 5 people). The next few days was a blur of laying in the shade on the beach, swimming, and playing cards with Noah and his friend Guy (also from Israel) who arrived the day after us. I think on our third of fourth day we decided that the four of us would rent a jeep and go sightseeing around the island, and found a beater of a jeep for 800 baht (about $22 cnd) and took it up to the north eastern part of the island on some curious roads. We tried to visit one of the famous waterfalls on the island and were all quite disappointed as there is very little water this time of year (you think Scott and I would have remembered this from our trip with the motorbike a week prior). So what should have been a huge rushing waterfall turned out to be a slow trickle with some pools and big plastic tubes going everywhere (normally hidden by the water I assume).

We made it up to Thong Nai Pan Yai about an hour before sunset and decided to find some cheap accommodations for the night. Noah and Guy managed to find us two bungalows for 300 baht each, nothing spectacular but it did just right for the night, after an accidental sleep in, waking up at 11 we realized we had to get the jeep back and headed for “home”. More beach time and playing cards on the balcony and it was time for the infamous Full Moon Party!!! They started setting up the beach the day before and wow what a job they did!! There were huge stages and dance floors set up on the beach with massive tent like banners glowing in black light, hundreds of bucket bars (small stalls selling a huge array of alcoholic beverages), vendors with black tarps behind them painted up in florescent paint designs to pick from and have painted on yourself, and hundreds of gigantic speaker and sound systems. The music started before sundown, and the four of us (Scott, myself, Noah and Guy) started the night off with some buckets and music on our balconies while painting random designs on each other with florescent paints, then it was time to party. We wandered the beach checking out all the different bars and clubs, there was at least ten different types of music going with entertainment at some of the bars, such as a HUGE rope ladder leading to a massive slide with piles of mattresses at the bottom.

Needless to say we had a fantastic night enjoying the music scene and legendary party on Ko Phangan! The next day waking up at 11 and people were still partying hard on the beach, it’s defiantly a party you don’t want to miss when in the south of Thailand!

So after much discussion and planning Scott and I are off for the next, impulsive leg of our trip headed into Malaysia. We’re at the end of our visa’s and unless we flew out (which isn’t an option as we have luggage waiting in Bangkok) we were considering a visa run to Malaysia to give us an extra 15 days in the country, we both thought... if we’re going to the border of the country, we should at least give ourselves the chance to see some of the country. So we’re off, we’re hoping to stay for about two weeks before coming back into Thailand to see the west coast, but you never know what may happen!! First stop is Georgetown, an island on Penang just off the west coast of Malaysia! We’re both a bit nervous, but mostly excited at the prospect of not only a new country, but a new culture all together!!

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14th May 2010

Hello to my namesake (and kirsty!)
Been reading your blogs for a while (just recommended you!) and really enjoying them. Was initially attracted by the name! but continued to read as your blogs have bought back some great memories as I have visited many of the places that you have, and will be again later this year. Can't wait!! I understand you are off to India soon? You will absolutely love it. It is a challenging country but one that really rewards the effort you put in, especially on a longer stay. I'm heading back there in Aug as the starting point of our next trip, perhaps I'll meet my namesake then (and kirsty)!

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