Monday, 19 December 2011

"So, After I lost Everyone" - Full Moon and Islands.

After Bangkok we headed south to the legendary island of Koh Pha-Ngan. This where the world famous full moon parties are held and this was the exact reason we headed to this island. The aforementioned party also lends it name to the title of this post as literally everyones full moon story started this way.

We had been forewarned about staying in Haad-Rin as we were told 'you won't get any sleep' but we decided to throw caution to the wind and did anyway, besides we didn't come here to 'sleep', we came to party, can sleep some other time. For the rest of the first day I read my book in the hostel after a quick tour of town and Welsh went for a beach walk and ended up nearly dying (of exhaustion) from a game of football. In the evening we met the 'lads' from football and played drinking games till we lost the quiz, even with horrendous cheating. Welsh bought me a cider as I had decided 400baht (£8) was far too expensive for it, even if it was Stowford. Welsh went to a pool party whereas I went to the beach, broke my flip flops and threw them in the sea. None the less an enjoyable evening of introduction to the island.

I shall call the second day the adventure day. We hired a moped for all of £3 for the day. We drove it over hills and far away to secluded but due to the weather miserable beaches. Took in a rather dull waterfall and drove back to town, after struggling to make it up a hill. This evening, being the evening before the 'big one' we had a quiet one, the danes from the night before and the scouser who looked EXACTLY like Manwell from Fawlty Towers had heard of a secret bar you had to take a boat too. Thinking this was a good idea, we took quite possibly the most dangerous longtail boat ride ever through rough sea's with absolutely no regard for the waves. It paid off though as the bar was awesomely chilled, quiet and with some people dancing to trance. Another slightly less risque boat ride home and we were prepped.

A completely lazy day of curry for breakfast(lunch) and a casual atmosphere. we saw them setting up the beach and we found our 'party' attire, ie a stupid vest. We returned to the hostel to get painted and in doing so met most of our dorm mates properly (we had of course met them before) where a sense of kinship developed as we took turns to paint each other various colours -cept for the spacehead Americans. We all got suitably attired and headed out to partayyyyyyyyyy. Due to a Lunar Eclipse the moon turned red and disappeared slowly throughout the night. Like previously mentioned at the party we all lost each other, and each persons story is theres to tell. I once lost found the Drum n Bass stage and enjoyed that for a long time before wandering the beach where I was given free stuff.
It is very much like Glastonbury on a beach.

The next night we had another 'quiet' one with our new friends, you know it's not going to be quiet when you buy a bucket to go with dinner(which was a curry where of course we ordered far too much). This night we didn't lose everyone and it wasn't as packed down the beach, everyone else either asleep or dead to the world save a few hardliners. This night was almost better just because we were altogether.
Full Moon a day later

welsh, Loes and Helen
Full Mooned up with the Irish
On a more annoying note Koh Pha Ngan is probably where I began to become disillusioned with travelling in Thailand. It's not so much Thailand as the traveller. For instance, in our hostel we had a group of French/Brazillian guys who can only be described as louts, or to use the technical term; complete Knobheads. They would drink from as soon as they woke up, (10am)blast music out of the hostel bar, catcall women and literally physically hold them while they shouted their taunts. This went on for all 3 days, non-stop An is just a microcosm of a larger issue, (more on these themes later). The islands do have a reputation obviously but I never thought it would be this extreme, I know these people aren't looking for 'Paradise' and I certainly aren't, besides I've already found it...

If people coming to Thailand are looking for the paradise found in the beach then they need stop looking, I should keep this secret to myself but as none of those ‘looking’ will read this here I may as well spill. Firstly, it is not Thailands commercial beach party vibe, that is exactly what Richard was trying to avoid and one can see why, read the aforementioned reason above. So the secret where is the paradise of utopia? If it is beaches then that is easy. The location of this paradise is the San Blas islands of the coast of Panama.
They are an archipelago of islands that are small with sandy beaches and clear waters to swim in. The locals live in wooden huts and fish for Langoustines, crabs and fish. There is one main island that has amenities and a bakery. There are no ‘bars’ on the islands, no discos and definitely no annoying trance music. When the backpackers disembark the yachts arrived they have sailed in on they eat the locally caught lobsters ($1 each) and rice. For ‘partying’ this involves drinking rum and sitting around a fire playing drums, in essence a true hippy experience. This occurs because there is no electricity.

The Panamanian government has also taken steps to protect the indigenous population and its culture, banning large scale tourism and resorts from the islands, in essence protecting uniqueness and brilliance of the islands. What little trade the backpackers do bring will go a long way to these people without destroying their way of life. Creating a harmony rarely found elsewhere. An I’ll end it there cause now I do sound like a damn hippy, so if you ever get the chance to go, take it, crystal clear waters make for awesome snorkelling too.

Sunset in Paradise
ANYWAY back to reality. After full mooning we went to Koh Tao which was amazing. Chilled but still with the beach scene, the boat ride here was fantastic. I read my book about sailing the world whilst everyone else looked a little worse for wear as we rolled in the swell. The girl next to me looking as pale as a ghost turned to me and asked "do you not get sea sick at all? Even reading?"
"You should be a Sailor". Im inclined to agree, sometimes I enjoy the getting there more than where were going and don't want it to end. Anyway after the Voyage of the Vom(sorry everyone) we chilled in Koh Tao in our Bungalow where we mused about where to go and played cards, while I dealt with the effects of the party before having dinner on the beach. We then headed for Krabi after two nights to head for Koh Phi Phi. I like Krabi although it is just a stop off, the hotel is nice and does a killer Mango Lassi.
Suffering before Voyage of the Vom

Sunset in Koh Tao

Koh Tao Beach
Koh Phi Phi is the island from the beach, it is in fact two islands. It is very similar to Koh Phangan in that it is largely a party town for backpackers. Every bar has about two hundred promo staff and drinks promotions. We met Helen, a feisty Irish girl we met in Koh Pha Ngan, she has more banter than most hockey boys and probably hates me cause I'm English. She gave the Welsh jip for being under English rule. Anyway patriotic differences aside we went to a beach and tried unsuccessfully to snorkel. Although we had some fun nights out (free bbq at the irish bar and a nice place called Banana bar) I remembered why I dislike these 'party' islands, too full of people who are literally only on them to get as drunk as possible, every single day. I am not being a travel snob, or a hypocrite I like too party every now and again but every single day? No thanks I'd like some culture too please. Also in musing with Shauna(a girl from the hostel) I realised that in every other single country I've been to by this point I would have been out with a local by now, In China they came and sat at my table and I had a deep conversations about politics and the economy. In Peru, a good percentage of the entire people I hung out with were Peruvian, as examples. In Thailand the only drinking invites I've had have been to "go to my bar" etc. Reasons for this are quite obvious, this area of Thailand is very much geared to tourism, and most of those Thai people who have bars also work on the tour boats. Just when I thought i'd had enough and it couldn't redeem itself we went on a boat trip to Maya Bay (The Beach from the Beach) and other islands, snorkelling, kayaking and jumping off the top deck. The staff were friendly and when we went swimming/kayaking would encourage each other to also jump off the boat and also get us involved. One guy did a backflip off the top of the boat which was impressive. At last, I had found it, Social interaction that goes beyond the "let me sell you something". Our boat had all of like 12 people on it which was great, the whole trip had only cost £6 in the first place. In contrast, a boat doing virtually the same tour (we would anchor next to it) was full of the "let's get drunk brigade" and to further cement this, the Brazillian twats from the full moon were on it. It was pretty packed and looked like a nightmare. However are trip was absolutely amazing from Kayaking around sheltered lagoons to snorkelling. In the evening half of our boat (the non couples it seems)had dinner in the other Irish place and got free shots. If everyday was like that, I could stay but as it was I was ready to move on. Another stop off night in Krabi and we went to Rai Leh.
Flying Welshman
Thai Dive

Boat Krew

Maya Bay

'The Beach'
Oh, further disillusionment and tales of stupidty I have forgotten to add. On the way to Koh Phi Phi a Belgian guy was telling anyone who would listen to his tale of woe from the boat trip from Koh Pha Ngan. In his own words "I left my bags three times to go to the toilet" -idiotic, guess that happened? Yeah he had 25,000 Baht (£500) stolen from his bag. Thinking that would be the end, how wrong were we. When you have stuff stolen you'd think people would learn, nope in the next hour he left his bag unattended at least 4 times. I almost stole from him just to teach him a lesson, but I figured he wouldn't get it. Later on the boat, he asked Welshie (bear in mind we hadn't actually spoken to him, just shared a taxi) a stranger, to look after his stuff. Now I could understand this stupidity had he been a fresh backpacker, like 18 years old on their first trip, but no he was at least mid-thirties.
Second tales of stupdity, this happened all of which in about 10 minutes apart. A guy in a dorm struggled to explain to his friend what initials were. Now firstly a) its pretty easy and b) who doesn't know what they are? In the second quick incident, a girl claimed to have spent £450 on injections, probably a pragmatic thing to do if your doctor says so, but NO who told her this? A fortune teller from Mali said "im worried you don't have enough vaccinations and might get ill". Now I'm immune to most travel things (lots of jabs) and i don't think I've spent anywhere near £450 in getting them all. Anyway, it's not really the cost that bothers, its the reasoning.

Moving on to brighter happier pastures, Rai Leh. This is a climbers paradise. Karsts jut out of the water right on the beach where you can climb from as well as creating amazing scenery. However not being a climber I had little reason to go here. In fact not being a climber or a diver I have little to do for activities... We sat on the beach and watched the climbers which was incredibly relaxing. I liked the people here, not only was it 5000 times less crowded here most people were here to climb rather than get drunk. Welshman helped fix a light fitting in a beach bar, I decided it was a too many cooks job and took my camera back to the bungalow. When I returned it was not working and my Maglite has also decided to break. Anyway for our (Welshs) hard work we were rewarded with a bamboo hit. The light eventually worked and we continued our beach bar pub crawl (hardly a crawl or excessive as there are only about four) and went to bed after I 'lost' the key only to find it again this morning.
Aon Ton Sai(Rai Lei)

Sun going down on Rai Leh

Climbing the Karst

Longtail Boat

I could have stayed in Rai Leh for a long time but fearing I would get bored and having just learnt I actually can rent a boat in Phuket (like the first place so far) I decided to ignore the fact Phuket is probably the worst of all the party places (so i've heard) - expensive etc etc the fact that I can sail has swung this so I am back in Krabi (for the 3rd time) to connect to Phuket. Things are looking up, Ko Lanta should be nice and relaxing for christmas and then it is off to Cambodia.
Photo's of Rai Leh now up and welsh is still feeling sick.


  1. So as Ryan and I plan out this trip to SE Asia in Feb. you're telling me paradise is really found in the San Blas!? ... almost makes me just want to go back there instead.

    I've enjoyed viewing your photos and the depictions of the various places you've traveled. It has actually been quite helpful in thinking about where we want to go next. I flew home for Christmas and will spend a month skiing in the mts. before heading out again. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  2. Yeahhhhhhhh but not say SE ASIA isn't pretty sweet too. Full Moon is a must, and koh phi phi too. you will love all the vests they have here.

    Can give ya more tips if ye like, just shoot me an email :)