5.4 Koh Phangan
My phone informs me that it has been five days since I wrote about Koh Tao! I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone.
We left Koh Tao and took the ferry to the larger ‘party island’ of Koh Phangan. We are staying in a beach resort which is relatively remote from the hub of the island, and absolutely beautiful. It is right on the beach and perfect for relaxing. There is also a bar/restaurant on site so it is now possible for me to eat hash browns on the beach at any time of the day or night. I may never leave.
We took a taxi ride to a local elephant sanctary (by taxi, I mean a pick up truck with carpet in the back, and by ride I mean a journey which made Moon, our trip leader, hold on to the railing with white knuckles and scream ‘we’re going to crash!’ over and over again…)
Before the Elephant trek we got to see crocodiles and snakes, and then were introduced to four beautiful asian elephants and their mahouts. (Yes I’m afraid of cows, but apparently totally fine with elephants…) Each elephant is fitted with a ‘saddle’ which provides a precarious bench for its riders, but because Moon, Rob and I were sharing an elephant, I got to slide forward onto the elephant’s neck and cling for dear life onto the pronounced forehead of her bristly face.
The four elephants, each with two or three passengers, went on a leisurely stroll through the wooded surroundings, and I enjoyed watching the huge creatures walking together so gracefully. Then I looked down at our own elephant, who was gleefully stuffing her face so full of leaves that she could barely see, as she waddled ungainly to the next tree to grab more trunkfuls of leafy goodness. She was definitely not as wise as elephants are always reported to be, but I liked her, and I suppose that after I had asked “are these Asian Elephants?” Despite the fact that we are in Asia, I was hardly one to talk. The ride was amazing and just being able to feed and play with the elephants was so cool. On the way back, our Elephant put on a surprising turn of speed to reach a particularly leafy tree, and dragged us through an ants nest, so Moon and Rob enjoyed watching me nearly jump off the elephant as I tried to escape the ants.
We headed back into town and stocked up on flourescent body paint and tye dye tees for the Full Moon Party (on the way back, Moon took to yelling ‘slow down please!’ at the scooters that sped past…)
The day of the Full Moon party must be the busiest for all of the shops and businesses on Koh Phangan. I spent the day sleeping, eating hash browns, and hanging out with a stray puppy underneath a palm tree.
Eventually, I managed to rally myself enough to go and find the others and cover myself in neon paint. The Full Moon party has turned into a massive event for tourists, and it’s almost an urban legend among the stallholders who try to sell you everything from flashing sunglasses to dubious milkshakes in preparation for the huge beach party.
When we arrived, we had to push our way through several streets of packed bars and flourescent teenagers to even get to the beach, and then the newly erected dance stages and drinks bars made the crowd so tightly packed that it was practically impossible to move. Because I’m quite fond of my ribcage, I was happy to move to the slightly quieter end of the beach and watch the thousands upon thousands of people dancing, drinking, running in and out of the sea and getting pumped up to go until dawn. (some may argue that this end of the beach was a little too quiet, especially hearing Rob hold the following conversation; “so, what’s the Waitrose discount like?”
“oh, pretty good…”
“and what is with your ‘dining for two’ promotion?”)
Anyway, we are in the perfect place to chill out after full moon madness so I’m going to go to the beach and lie underneath a palm tree. (I’m actually going to just lie in the middle of the beach because I’m afraid the palm tree might interfere with my tan.)
I hope it’s sunny where you are,
MTG, PV x
Photos: Rob Carroll