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Full Moon to Half Moon

Written on: Thursday January 15th, 2009

The ticket in my right, front, zippered pocket allowed me to step onto the pier on Ko Phangan after a twenty hour bus and boat transportation combination from Bangkok.  Grabbing my pack and walking the length of the pier, I quickly spotted the familiar faces of Dennis and Artem...waiting for me with motorbikes already hired.  Too cool!   While everybody else haggled with taxis drivers or stared dumbly at oversized island maps, I simply took the handlebars of the bike and followed my friends up the Western coast, to Haad Yao, where beachfront bungalos were also already rented.  The twenty minute drive was magnificent...along the palm tree studded coast, over windy mountain passes and through dense jungle foliage.  We finally turned onto a pothole laden dirt track that led to the beach and our new home.  I was forced into the expensive $14/nt room, as vacancy was rare.  For tonight was the infamous "Full Moon Party" (FMP) at Haad Rin Nok, on the other side of the island.

After a meal and a nap, we all met up for pre-FMP activities.  We took off for the other side of the island around 9pm, and finally made it to the beach around 10pm.  Originating on this island, the FMP is an outdoor extravaganza right on the beach, turning the sand into (possibly) the world's largest dance floor!  The five hundred meters between the cliffs were filled with food vendors, drink vendors, funky flourescent decor and elevated dance stages about every 50m, outside of which there was a huge set of speakers blasting the owner's favorite dance tunes into the night.  Just walking the entire span of the beach subjected the party-goer to nine or ten mini parties.  We grabbed a drink and found some music we liked and danced our asses off in the sand.  It was fun, and it lasted all night.  We, however, did not.  Around 2:30am we decided to head back for camp; after all, the road was long and windy and there were a lot of young, drunk kids to avoid all the way home.

The next morning was bliss: waking to the sound of the waves gently lapping at the shore...opening my blinds to stare at the sea.  I liked it.  But we weren't staying long.  The Russians had explored the island a bit prior to my arrival, and had found a beautiful little cove where they wanted to stay.  So we packed up and moved farther north to Haad Mae Haad.  And it was a good.  Four separate resorts stretched along the white sand of the cove, bungalos and palm trees dotted the sand, and a dense mountain backdrop completed the visual.  We chose our resort ($8/nt) and set off on motorbikes to explore more of the island.  We cruised through the center, stopping to look at waterfalls.  We cruised to the north, hiking up mountains when the roads were no longer passable.  We cruised home and had a relaxing night.

The next few days provided more of the same.  We regularly went south to the 'town', mostly to sample the delacasies of the food market (my favorite was clams in a spicy yellow curry sauce).  But we also explored the vast majority of the island, taking in several more waterfalls, trekking up Khoa Ra (the highest peak on the island at 620m) and visiting local restaraunts and bars.  'Rasta Home' turned out to be a home away from home, with us visiting frequently.  'Reggae Village' also has an obvious appeal to me.  There was even a cache on the island, which K&D&I found with ease.  We hunted for new beaches, collected seashells, snorkeled and relaxed.  It was a vacation within a vacation, and I didn't want to leave.  So I didn't...until the last possible moment. 

I chose to stay longer than anticipated to experience another local event: the Half Moon Party (HMP).  While the FMP was on the beach, the HMP was in the jungle.  A clearing of trees centered around a half dozen bars created just another excuse for tourists to Ko Phangan to get roudy.  We mingled, drank some Sang Som, ate, and of course danced.  It was our last night on the island, and we did it up!  The drive home at 4am wasn't much fun, nor was getting up four hours later to pack for the journey back to Bangkok, but such is the life for the traveller to Thailand.

Looking back, things went well here.  And it was good to get out of my system while I could, because I have a feeling that the next few weeks, and months for that matter, will not be so carefree and easily travelled.

 

 

From Steve and Nicole Miller on Jan 19th, 2009

Looking at the map, there are HUNDREDS of teeny tiny islands in that area. How did you know to pick this one? It can't be much bigger than the twin cities metro... too cool. Get the Pod yet?