29.07.2014 - 18.08.2014 35 °C
I left Chumphon early with the intention of catching a train to Surat Thani and a boat to the Islands North of there, Koh Phangan. However, I missed the train and so caught a minibus instead! I arrived in Surat Thani and waited for an hour to catch the last boat to the Island. Watching the sun set over Ang Thong marine park (a collection of small protected islands) was the highlight of the journey and made the start of my adventure to Koh Phangan memorable.
I landed on the Island at 8pm and caught a tuk tuk going to Baan Tai to stop at a place I had found online, Echo Beach Backpackers. I don't really know my reasoning for choosing here (think it had something to do with there being a pool table in the bar) but I was going to find out soon that checking into this hostel was the best decision I made on my trip!
The beach of Echo Beach!
I checked in around 9pm and was immediately approached by a group who were planning on going to a local party; Eden, on one of the beaches around the island. I showered and got ready quickly to join them! We travelled by scooters to Haad Rin beach, about 20 minutes drive away, I bunked a lift off Ryan, but as there were not enough bikes for people, Marty jumped on the back too! Making it three of us on one bike the whole way from Baan Tai to Haad Rin; a long and winding road with steep inclines and descents. A crazy night so far! We arrived on the beach and each bought a bucket, literally a bucket filled with alcohol! We drank on the beach and when the time came (you can't be too late to one of these parties...) we got a boat over to a secluded bay where Eden was. The setting for the party was incredible; clambering over huge rocks and on wooden stilted walkways into a dancefloor built over the sea. But it was the people that I was with that night that made it for me... We were there until the sunrise, at which point we all jumped into the sea in our underwear! We got a boat back at 9am and slept most of the day!
A selection of lovely buckets...
Lina, Chris, Chelsea, Jacob, Me, Dave, Marty, the Eden week 1 crew!
In the boat on the way over to Eden
The venue for Eden
Party on the rocks in the morning!
The following days rolled together with the group of us visiting local beaches, snorkelling, playing pool and partying more. We visited 'Secret Beach' a beautiful little bay fringed by rocks and coral with amazing snorkelling by the rocks.
Chelsea, Chris, Dave and I, with Marty at the front
Slowly, and one-by-one, the group left the island, but it was constantly renewed by new people arriving. I also got to know a few people living and working on the island, since Echo seemed to be a hub for local people to come to relax and socialise during the day, either around the pool table or in the air conditioned cinema room...
Jess, Michael, Ryan and I visited Koh Ma, a tiny island in the far North-West of the island connected to the mainland by a think strip of sand. Motorbiking across the island here was amazing, surrounded by beautiful scenery. We took a brief stop off along the way to play archery!
Ryan, Michael and Jess
One of the reasons Koh Phangan is well known as a island for tourism is due to it's monthly full moon parties. However, there are countless other parties on beaches and in the jungle throughout the rest of the month. Of these, the most popular are the half moon parties in the Jungle. My first experience of this was incredible, once again, because of the people I was with; Vince from the bar at Echo, Justine the new Frenchie, Ryan who also casually worked at Echo and Rob and Beth who live on the island and hang at Echo. There were thousands of people at the main stage of the party, however I preferred the music at a smaller Tech-House stage (as did everyone else at Echo) and so this is where we stayed
The music during the night started going a bit boring at around 5am and so we went back to Echo for an after party.
Beth, Justine, Myself and Deamon (with Zack in the corner... poor Zack!)
Resident DJ Vince entertained us all
My favourite party that I went to on the island was Maya, a relatively small event compared to half/full moon, with fire performers and usually great DJs. This party was weekly, so I did end up going to a few
Fire dancers starring Sarah, one of the Echo crew
Zack, Justine, Myself and Hugo
Taken by the resident photographer!
The few days I had planned to stay on the island quickly turned into a few weeks, and my flight home which I had booked for 26th August was looming.... I caved in, not feeling ready to stop my adventure, and feeling in love with the beautiful island and people, I rearranged my flight to the end of October and planned to stay on Koh Phangan for the rest of my thai visa. To couple with this, Mark; the owner of Echo, offered me a free bed at Echo in exchange for helping out a bit over full moon which was coming up. It was a pleasure to be part of the workings of such an amazing hostel and I spent the 4 days over full moon helping out where I could.
After the full moon period and once the island had settled down again, I decided to try something I had never done before and rented a scooter of my own.... It actually was very easy to ride and I loved the freedom of being able to do what I wanted and go wherever I could. I spent the whole day driving around the island before meeting some of the Echo lot down at the beach in the afternoon for sunset.
Ryan, Tom, Jen and Michael
The next few days rolled into one as I began to really relax and get used to staying in one place after travelling for such a long time. Koh Phangan began to feel like home... The beautiful natural surroundings were hard to ignore, but most of all it was the people that I met at Echo that welcomed me so genuinely and openly. In fact there is a whole different atmosphere on the island, more relaxed and more of a sense of community that I felt almost instantly when I arrived. And let's not forget the great parties on the island... it really does have everything. So I fell in love, like so many people do, I lost my heart to Koh Phangan. I hope it won't be too long before I find myself back there.