happnin' koh pha-gnan, thailand - beach bliss

Yolanda’s bit
Landing in Bangkok turned out to be a bit of an episode with my arrest (almost) included. After Sarah the spider and the Israelis I found myself a paradise while Miles worked his way out of Hong Kong. Our email communication had been out of sync. By the time I got Miles mails saying he was off HK 3 days in advance and asking where in Thailand I was, he was just a couple of hours away from me.
We met on the beach full of excitement.

White sand, warm turquoise crystal sea with microscopic baby jellyfish that stink all over your body.
Even staying at the quiet spot of Haadrin or "sunrise" beach, there's no way of escaping the all night every night raves with the megaspeakers banging top volume.

Party spots are lined up with bungalows, bars and restaurants. Just behind the beach there's two main streets that cross at Chicken Corner, the meeting point, disseminated with more bungalows, travel agents, cocktail bars, restaurants that show four pirate movies a day, internet shops and all the other shops -there's even a Thai-boxing Gym!- offering everything a tourist can possibly desire.

We are in the land of continuous entertainment.

Morning swim. At 9am it's already too hot and still a strange time to see the sand littered with bare tits and bottoms. It takes a bit of adjustment after the extreme imposed modesty in India.
I can finally wear my g-string and a plastic floating mattress is next.

A month followed of sunbathing, swimming, having Thai massages on the beach, watching a few videos till we got sick of them and going out.
Music, cocktails, and the famous full moon party which happens on every full moon since the last 20 years.

As the date approached the place was getting packed and being hard enough to get any sleep on normal nights, we strategically moved to sunset beach a few days before, just 10 minutes away and more the long term traveler scene. We found there the friendliest place.

The so long awaited party was as mad as promised and we had a great time. The beach was a huge rave in the water, on the sand, on the speakers, with fires, glow paint and fireworks all over the place and people losing their head.

As well as doing nothing at all on this paradisiacal place, we managed to go on a day boat trip round the island which was well worth it.
Snorkeling for the first time was fantastic. Multicolor multishape corals, fishes and other marine life. Ouauh!
We visited a couple of more beaches -beautiful and always quieter than Haadrin- and a waterfall in which almost all of us made THE JUMP, dreaming we were really in a deserted island…

A friend of a friend from London happened to be around at the time and we went out a few times, met him on different and varied states of high-ness with different and varied girls till it got too much and suddenly flew off to sweet England.
It's definitely the place for it. Get drunk, dance all night, get high, get laid, show off on the beach. Fun. It can also get to your head, either for being too much into it or not at all.

And the great day came. My birthday, sure. 33. So I was supposed to die (I always had the conviction I would die at 33 like Jesus Christ) but the only thing that died was my millennium watch. Bummer.

To celebrate we went to watch a Thai-boxing combat of 10 fights. It was pretty cool with all the ritual preparation.
The first fighters were just kids and it got quite violent later on. There was an American bloke and a French one fighting -and winning. Shit!-two Thais. The French bloke was a real bastard.

The end of Thailand was an almost missed rushed bus trip to Bangkok to catch our flight to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Miles’s bit
I touched down in the evening after another pleasant flight with Cathay Pacific. I planned to take another flight in the morning to the south of Thailand to catch up with Yolanda as soon as possible so my one night in Bangkok was pretty uneventful - I stayed near the airport.

Next morning nice an early I caught a flight to Koh Samui, whose airport was a laugh - a small, open sided bamboo building.
A couple of kilometers down the road was the ferry that took me straight to Haad Rin on Koh Pha-gnan. Easy, easy, easy, I was there by 2 in the afternoon and bumped into Yolanda straight away.

Haad Rin beach was great (but there was something kind of odd about the place). Picture postcard white sands, palm lined, clear blue calm sea.
The town was packed with cafes serving pancakes and spaghetti showing movies back to back, fast internet shops and cocktail bars at night booming out cool sounds.
Not surprisingly the place was overflowing with a mix of long term travelers needing a break (like us) and short term holiday makers on a one stop 2 week vacation.

There was even a Boxing gym that I visited a few times for a Kung Fu work out. We found it very easy to just hang around doing very little and ended up staying 3-4 weeks (longer than we'd planned).

We only left the beach twice while we were there, once on a boat trip around the island and another time for an evening out to go and see some Thai boxing (see video).

We got into a routine of lazing on the beach, swimming to cool down, snacking in cafes, having massages on the beach, watching films in the evening (we saw the beach which was crap compared to the book) etc…
We only broke a way from it after the legendary full moon party at the end of the month.

The party was a fairly full-on affair and was much bigger than the other parties that feature through the lunar month (black-moon party followed by new moon party, followed by half moon, full moon warm-up, the actual full moon, the post full moon chill out… its an endless cycle of parties).

Just after I arrived, by chance, a friend of a friend from London appeared, he was staying just down the beach from us so we enjoyed a couple of nights out together. It was good to see a familiar face after 4 months away from everyone.

Highlights of the month for me were: snorkeling on the boat trip, cheap grass, topless sunbathers, having the computer working again, sleeping loads.