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Koh Pha Ngan: Lazy is as Lazy does

During the course of our travels in Southeast Asia, soon to total almost four months in two stints, my fiancee and I (Ha! I love saying that) have spent more than enough time in Bangkok. As a transit hub it is almost impossible to avoid. And so after flying in from Hanoi we spent just one night around Khao San Road before catching an overnight bus south, to within a boat ride of some of Thailand’s most famous islands.

Normally, we try and avoid the horribly touristy areas, generally preferring to visit quieter, out-of-the-way places. And when heading to a beach in Thailand, our attitude was exactly that. A pristine, secluded beach with a few bungalows on the sand and maybe a bar (well, not maybe, definately a bar! But a quiet bar) and a stack of well-thumbed paperback thrillers to read, that was what we were after (but then, who isn’t?) What we wanted to avoid were the party beaches filled with wanna-be hippies twirling fire and taking drugs. Where we ended up was Koh Pha Ngan, an island famous for it Full Moon parties; a huge rave held once a month where the beach fills up with thousands of wanna-be hippies twirling fire and taking drugs and dancing to the sort of music (trance or someother such crap) that can generally only be tolerated whilst twirling fire and taking drugs.

But, after we’d done a bit of research, it turns out Koh Pha Ngan does indeed boast some truly gorgeous little beaches with nothing more than a few bungalows, a bar or two, blinding white sand, and turquoise-coloured water that is postcard perfect.

Following two nights on Ao Thong Nai Pan; a double coved bay with two long beaches and a too up-market crowd for our liking (plus a bungalow that was next to a building site, no thanks), we caught a longtail boat around to Haad Khuat, otherwise known as Bottle Beach, on the north of the island. The reason we took the boat, just Bec and me, three other travellers and a local manning the outboard, was not only because travelling by longtail is quite possibly the coolest way of getting around – following the line of a rocky coast with salt water gently splashing up to cool us off in the hot midday sun – but also because there are no roads to Bottle Beach. Each morning a couple of longtails arrive bearing supplies for the three of four bungalow operations that dot the beautiful white beach. It is in a hidden little cove, just a small width of sand that stretches a couple of hundred metres between two boulder-strewn outcrops. At one end, low-tide exposed a floor of rocks for exploring later with a snorkel. But mostly it was gentle sand. A sand bar extended just beneath the water about twenty metres off shore. The shallow depth resulted in water of the most gorgeous green colour, like a light emerald. I admired this each day form my hammock, swinging gently back and forth on the front porch of our bungalow for hours, looking up every now and then from my book to allow myslef a shake of the head and a broad smile at the absurdity of the beauty.

Life doesn’t get any more lazy.

We spent a week here, where the only thing we had to worry about was what sort of seafood to eat that day. Reading, swimming, eating, drinking – that’s it. Internet on the beach was ten dollars an hour (hence the reason for very few updates over the past little while)

After a week here we caught another longtail around to Haad Sadet, an even smaller, more hidden, more beautiful beach, where we splashed out on nicer digs; a bungalow halfway up the hill that looked down over the little cove. It would be our final week overseas, before returning home to Australia for good. It was a bit like a honeymoon before our wedding. Waking up each morning to the sun rising over the water that stretched from below our balcony all the way to the horizon was unforgettable.

It was also at this beach that I managed to get severly sunburnt……without ever going out in the sun! I spent a typical afternoon swinging in the hammock reading a book under the shade of the balcony roof, never once venturing out into the sun. Three days later the skin on my upper arm began to peel off, breaking into little sections like the sun-baked mud of a dry lake bed. Bloody hell, getting sunburnt without even being in the sun. It’s like getting pick-pocketed whilst sitting on the toilet. It just shouldn’t happen!

To our relief and delight, the place we stayed that last week (Plaa’s Rooms and Restaurant, if anyone’s headed to Haad Sadet) had the best food we ate in Thailand. I ate more squid in that week than in the past five years combined. I ate so much squid I was sweating ink. I actually wrote this diary entry in ink simply using my index finger. True story, really, I never tell lies in this little journal.

Tender, juicy squid it was. Squid that you could slice through with the side of your spoon, and dished up with a delicious lime and chilli sauce, or crumbed, or with chilli and basil and rice, or garlic and pepper. Every meal, one of us would order squid.

When it came time to finally leave, we paid our bill and complimented Plaa on her food, “your food is the best we have eaten in Thailand.”

“Thank you,” she replied, smiling, “I think you like squid, yes.”

And then, after a ferry ride back to the mainland and an overnight bus ride back to Bangkok, we were ready to return home. For good. It’d been two-and-a-half years since we’d lived in Australia. To say we were excited to be going home would be like saying Cameron Diaz is not too bad looking – understating things just a bit.

What had us even more excited is that we were surprising our families. We were flying home on September 21st. For months and months we’d been telling our folks we were coming home on October 5th.

Evil little critters we are.

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3 Responses to “Koh Pha Ngan: Lazy is as Lazy does”

  1. Soph Says:

    Awww this can’t be it. It can’t be over. I LOVE this travel blog. What about the return home what about the wedding so much to still hear about. It’s so strange I feel bizzarley involved in your lives now…

  2. Lög Says:

    Great blog, you write well, all the best for your and bec’s future.

  3. Posted from Sweden Sweden
  4. admin Says:

    Cheers guys. Not sure how much more writing there’ll be, but I’ve got a truckload of photos to go through (once I get a job, and then somewhere to live, and then maybe buy myself a computer), a few of which will no doubt turn up on here over the next few weeks.

  5. Posted from Australia Australia

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