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Thailand : Koh Phangan

Thailand : Koh Phangan

18.1 - 1.2  

2 weeks on the island of Koh Phangan

I had big romantic ideas about island dwelling.  Waterfalls, tropical hikes, snorkeling, sandy beaches.  Surrounded by the open sea, tropical marine life, migrating whale sharks, dramatic cliffs and crashing waves.  Who knows, i may learn to swim here and give the kids the gift of diving. Sand is what my feet wears and coconut is how i flavor my food.  The rain would be warm and welcoming and don't mind if we're a few shades darker.

Koh Phangan was chosen months ago.  It's far from Phuket.  I no longer remember why or what else made it to be the place but I'd thank myself for setting aside 2 weeks when the time comes.

Well, the time came and i tried a number of ways to cancel our island stay.  By this time, we knew it would be touristy and we would prefer to visit the various places locals have recommended to us.  Unfortunately, there was no mercy in cancelling and the cost was too much a lost so we went for it.

We took the night train to Surat Thani.  Bus to the dock and high-speed ferry to the island.

 Some of us were crazy enough to claim front row seats.  The force of the wind was rippling our facial muscles and my glasses were glued onto my face.  A one time experience.

Some of us were crazy enough to claim front row seats.  The force of the wind was rippling our facial muscles and my glasses were glued onto my face.  A one time experience.

 Some were smarter to stay at the back one level below deck.

Some were smarter to stay at the back one level below deck.

We could still see the aftermath of a strong flood that swept through these southern parts just weeks ago.  Some roads were left sandy and others were too wrecked to drive on.   Transport was very expensive on this island.  Motorbike would have been the only economical way to go except that i had zero confidence and Alvin was not sure about it.  In the end, we did what we can always do - walk.  We soon realized we lived far from everything except for a waterfall.  On our first day, in our attempt to walk 5km to to a market, we must have looked wilty because 1km into it, a truck stopped by and told us to hop in the back.  Saved!  That's how we met Thomas and Kriszti!  

 Thomas and kriszti  We met up at their place a few days later.  They were surprised we were still just walking around so they lent us their motorbike!  That made a difference in enjoying the island.  A difficult thing happened a week after we met - Keanne (9) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  They had to leave the island and seek medical help on the mainland.  (Special Thanks for Erica M for the helpful online info).

Thomas and kriszti

We met up at their place a few days later.  They were surprised we were still just walking around so they lent us their motorbike!  That made a difference in enjoying the island.  A difficult thing happened a week after we met - Keanne (9) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  They had to leave the island and seek medical help on the mainland.  (Special Thanks for Erica M for the helpful online info).

Phaeng Waterfall at less than 3km away was a very good day of hiking and soaking.

 We hiked up along the water.

We hiked up along the water.

 The actual hiking paths were pretty too.

The actual hiking paths were pretty too.

 Our own little pool!

Our own little pool!

It was a safe hike but one where i had to close my eyes and hold my tongue often as the kids were bouncing from rock to rock.  I imagined carrying bloody injured body parts.... but no, no need for worries.  It really was a beautiful spot.

 Puppet shows in the evening.

Puppet shows in the evening.

 When we used the moto, Alvin would take us in 2 shifts.  

When we used the moto, Alvin would take us in 2 shifts.  

 WIth the moto, we could visit beautiful white sand beaches.  Eli's collection of corals at Salad beach.  

WIth the moto, we could visit beautiful white sand beaches.  Eli's collection of corals at Salad beach.  

 This beach was cool.  We waded knee high onto a patch of sea floor.

This beach was cool.  We waded knee high onto a patch of sea floor.

 Hermit crabs that were too slow for a little boy.

Hermit crabs that were too slow for a little boy.

 We stayed in 3 different homes in order to experience different parts of the island.  It was bad planning and i would not recommend it.  This was the second home of our stay.  Even though it was very costly, i was lured by the 'Dwell' magazine look of the place.  It turned out to be the worst stay of our trip.  The owner was nice though he was in France.  The host was a rude and bitter man.  We had a number of issues which he refused to help.  When i informed the owner, his only reply was to work things out as adults.  In the end, he sided with the host and complained we were spoiled guests who expected hotel treatment.   

We stayed in 3 different homes in order to experience different parts of the island.  It was bad planning and i would not recommend it.  This was the second home of our stay.  Even though it was very costly, i was lured by the 'Dwell' magazine look of the place.  It turned out to be the worst stay of our trip.  The owner was nice though he was in France.  The host was a rude and bitter man.  We had a number of issues which he refused to help.  When i informed the owner, his only reply was to work things out as adults.  In the end, he sided with the host and complained we were spoiled guests who expected hotel treatment.   

 We hid indoor after dusk.

We hid indoor after dusk.

 Our third home on the island.  They advertised free transport to the city but in fact, it was only to the village which is only 5 mins away.  Nice staff but again, we were far from most sights so we just hung around the beach Thong Nai Pan Noi.

Our third home on the island.  They advertised free transport to the city but in fact, it was only to the village which is only 5 mins away.  Nice staff but again, we were far from most sights so we just hung around the beach Thong Nai Pan Noi.

 It was a really spacious and comfortable stay.  

It was a really spacious and comfortable stay.  

 Eli and Lolo's Art Store.  Opened for business the whole week we were there.

Eli and Lolo's Art Store.  Opened for business the whole week we were there.

 Celebrating Eli and Lolo's 9th birthday!

Celebrating Eli and Lolo's 9th birthday!

 This puppy arrived a day before we did.  Instant buddies.

This puppy arrived a day before we did.  Instant buddies.

 This was often the view outside door!

This was often the view outside door!

 Or window!

Or window!

 Red flags - The waves were strong!

Red flags - The waves were strong!

 Strings of mini jellyfish!

Strings of mini jellyfish!

 Very cool to see the storm coming in from afar.  Took mins to reach our shores then the rain came within seconds!

Very cool to see the storm coming in from afar.  Took mins to reach our shores then the rain came within seconds!

 An island found near the north of the Koh Phangan.  We could reach it by walking on a path of sand/coral.  Great for snorkeling.  Only Eli had a snorkeling set (which worked poorly), the rest of us just wore goggles.  We saw fish and living corals!

An island found near the north of the Koh Phangan.  We could reach it by walking on a path of sand/coral.  Great for snorkeling.  Only Eli had a snorkeling set (which worked poorly), the rest of us just wore goggles.  We saw fish and living corals!

2.2.2017

Back on the mainland, we found a hotel close to the Surat Thani Train Station so that we could rest for the evening before boarding the train at 2am to the borders of Malaysia!

Malaysia

Malaysia

Thailand : Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai

Thailand : Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai