Koh Pha Ngan
Coming in on the ferry over turquoise blue water, Ko Phan gan was ahead. The island is beautiful with buildings and homes lining the shore with an inclining backdrop of luscious green trees. As we worked our way off the ferry, we realized we needed to find a way to our hotel in Haad Rin. Weirdly enough, there were no taxis cars in sight. However, the area was covered with scooters and their drivers trying to coerce everyone to get a ride from them. “How are you going to carry us and our suitcases?” We asked one driver who had successfully gotten our attention.
The driver simply pointed between his legs and in rough English said, “No problem.” Good enough for us, so we hopped on the back of the scooter; me on one and my boyfriend on the other. What made it absolutely worth it was that now I will have a forever picture in my mind of my six foot boyfriend straddling a five foot thin Thai man. They had to have been the sweetest looking couple I have ever seen taking a scooter ride. After ups and downs, twists and turns and other scooters and cars whipping by us, we made it safely to Haad Rin and our hotel.
We had come to the island for the notorious Full Moon Party; a great and fun night of lights, numerous DJ’s, buckets of alcohol, fire, hugs, stumbles, and waves crashing on the shore. There was even a water slide and random pull up bar where the guys showed off their muscle, or for some, the lack thereof. Yet, my favorite moment on Ko Phangan was renting scooters and riding around the island.
As we were riding down the main road that connects Haad Rin and the main pier, we came across a SUP (stand up paddle) board rental sign. To get down to the board rental shop and the water, it was probably one of the steepest inclines I have ever seen. At one point, it looked like only a mountain goat could get up the hill.
There was definitely no way we were going to get the scooter down, nonetheless back up. Very meticulously, we made our way down and found an adorable hotel. Beautiful wood and bamboo elevated huts scattered about and they opened right out onto the sand. A little bar and restaurant (with pool table included) was in the center and looked out onto the picturesque beach. Bamboo lounge chairs lined the beach under the delicate shade of palm trees. There was even one palm tree, in classic paradise picture form, sticking out towards the water with a rope swing hanging off it.
Jumping on the boards, we paddled out. Unluckily for us, the wind had a bit of a kick to it, making a decent current to the north. If you ever want to try a paddling sport, a tip to keep in mind, always paddle into the current to start. You will know if it is even doable and it will be ten times easier to get back when you’re exhausted. I would definitely recommend getting out on the water while visiting the island. Rent a paddle board, kayak, jet ski, boat or whatever you like. You can truly capture the beauty of the island and who knows what you may find.
As we paddled (getting a great workout), we passed by beautiful natural rock formations, gazed upon hidden homes up in the mountainous green jungle, and came across picturesque homes/hotels on private beaches. One rustic home even had what looked like a small outside stage with circling concrete benches. Though slightly covered in graffiti, I could see some festive bonfires and even a drum circle taking place with a great group of friends. We would not have even known all of this existed if we had stayed on land.
As we made our way back, we just let the wind and the waves carry us. This time we were paddling with the current, making it a very easy and almost unnecessary paddle in. The locals helped us bring the boards back up and got us some fresh coconuts to refresh and relax. If you are ever in Thailand, you must drink from a fresh coconut! They are everywhere and the locals highly recommend it, as do I.
We took our time drinking out of our coconuts because we knew once we were done, it was back up the treacherous incline to our scooters. Come to Koh Pha Ngan to relax. Take your time and explore the land and sea!