After a noisy and bumpy overnight train to Surat Thani, we woke with the sun about 30 minutes from our destination.
Tired Pete after only a few hours sleep
Surat Thani is the city closest to Don Sak pier where you can get the regular boats and catamarans to and from the island Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. In my last trip, Koh Phangan was one of my favourite places. I was there in the low season and the notorious party island instead had a laid-back community feel to it. I stayed on the island for about 3 weeks, settling in and making many friends who I am still in contact with. I was both excited and nervous to go back. My memories of the island are so fond, I hoped it had not changed too much…
As soon as we disembarked the train, people were on us trying to sell us tickets to the islands and national parks. We signed ourselves up to the Lomprayah bus/cat combo and chilled for the next hour at a little cafe where we had breakfast and coffee. We were eventually herded onto the coach to take us to the pier and then on to Koh Phangan.
Waiting for the cat to get ready
The karsts at Don Sak
Relatively comfortable seats on the boat!
A few hours later we arrived on Koh Phangan. We checked into our hotel and were able to order some tasty vegan food (one of the reasons we chose this place!).
Tofu massaman curry
View at lunch
The bungalows were right on the beach
Our bungalow being protected by one of the many dogs!
Once settled in (and after a mid-afternoon siesta to recover from our lack of sleep) we headed out on a motorbike we rented to Echo, the backpacker hostel I had stayed at last time, and where I had made all my friends. We spent the evening here chatting to old friends, playing pool and having a few drinks.
The next morning we were up bright and early explore the beaches of the island. Pete got up even earlier than me and went down to the local outdoor gym for a training session first! We first headed out through the towns and then along the jungle road to the North of the island and out to Koh Ma, a small island off the North West of Koh Phangan, which is connected by a small beach. Just riding the little moped together was enough fun, we both really enjoyed it! The scenery and the views made it even better!
Our little moped
Spotting an Elephant camp
Mae Haad beach
The weather had been roasting, clear blue skies and 35 degree heat, but whilst at the beach the storm clouds began to roll in, people packed up and left, but we found it a nice relief from the heat!
Dark clouds coming in…
After a quick pit stop back at the Bungalow to repair Pete’s sunglasses (it seems they couldn’t handle the heat) we headed out again, this time over to the North East of the island and Thong Nai Pan Yai beach.
Stunning views from the road
Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach
Biking it up!
We headed back to the South of the island to watch the sunset, but unfortunately, it wasn’t so exciting with all the clouds. After which we returned to Echo to catch up with some old friends, Demon and Lin who coincidentally were also back visiting the island! It was a nice surprise and we spend much of the evening playing pool and chatting.
Pete’s head was a little worse for wear in the morning, so I breakfasted by myself and had an amazing Thai massage on the beach. Probably the best one I have had.
The beach at the bungalows
When Pete surfaced we ventured out on the bike again. I asked Pete whether he wanted to visit a waterfall or a beach… his answer was “both”, but luckily there is such a place on Koh Phangan where you can see both together! So we visited Haad Than Sadet Waterfall and Beach!
The biggest tree on Koh Phangan – a tropical rubber tree
Negotiating a recent landslide-effected road
Pete going for a swim
We found a quiet secluded spot on the beach with shade and watched the fish and crabs before heading back down to the West of the island this time to try and catch a better sunset.
On the way back we stopped at a little viewpoint cafe for a drink
Catching the sunset at Haad Son
That evening we went to a Muay Thai fight which was very interesting. The line-up started with some kids that were training and for a couple of them it was one of the first staged fight. They were brutal and extremely skilful. This lead up to the main fight which was a rematch between two long-standing rivals. Again, the fighting was pretty brutal and was one of 3 fights on the night which ended in a KO!
Overall, Koh Phangan was still beautiful, but perhaps because it was a high season with the Easter holidays and Songkran, it felt different and was much busier and more developed than I remember. Even Echo had expanded and grown since last time. Pete was surprised that I loved the island so much. Not that he didn’t like it, but just because of how commercial and busy it is. I guess I felt that last time I was here, but I embraced it and enjoyed the lifestyle and social life the island provides.
Post originally published on https://libbytesthailand.travellerspoint.com/
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