Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand
The nearest and largest island to Samui. Beaches and scenery are superb and is quieter and less developed than its close neighbour.
9 Aug 2000 - Ko Pha Ngan, ThailandOne of the nights was a mellow one on the beach. It was still hot but the cooling breeze on the beach helped and we chatted, drank and danced our way into the small hours.
One great piece of comedy occurred in a beach bar/club when I with a bit of money persuaded Adam to shuffle across the dance floor with his shorts around his ankles, thumb in mouth and saying 'ga ga'. He did but I can't remember the precise details of the deal and he defaulted on a technicality so I kept my money.
As the night grew old we all mellowed out on the beach and nearly fell asleep there. However, common sense made us stir and we got a taxi back to the hotel.
One cultural aspects to Thailand, common to all of the orient is the idea of 'saving face'. Losing face is shameful and is achieved by showing one's negative feelings in public. One should never lose their temper and if someone does then you should give that person a way of getting out of the faux pas they have made. Losing face also meant getting the worst service. Jint, Hywel and Richard turned out to be masters at losing face. Jint's displeasure meant that at the hotel restaurant we all got rice while Jint got a bowl of water with some rice in.
Jint also ordered a plate of prawns and vegetables with noodles. The food came back raw to my and everyone elses great amusement! Whether it was supposed to be raw I don't know but you should have seen Jint's reaction - one big lost face! Generally, take things easy and if something has gone wrong smile a lot like the Thai's do and you won't go far wrong. In fact smile a lot anyway.
Ko Pha Ngan - Beach drinking
Ko Pha Ngan is like an unspoilt and undiscovered island
Ko Pha Ngan - Whiskey and coke on beach
Along the beach are bars and the beach area is lit by candles which are the specks of light in the background.
Ko Pha Ngan - Its getting lively
Yep, same night. Here we are doing a form of dance to the music blaring a bit further down the beach. Jint appears to be more interested in something in the sand.
8 Aug 2000 - Ko Pha Ngan, ThailandOn one of our days here we were pointed to a local chap who had one of the long narrow fishing boats that are characteristic to this part of the world. We were taken around the islands to see the sites and stopped at various places for us to get into the water and snorkel. Corals and brightly coloured fish were there to see as well as the specimen known as the drowning Jint. Despite having no swimming ability, we managed to persuade him to get into the sea as it's easy to float with a snorkel in your mouth.
Easy if you can swim that is. Not so easy if you can't and you can't feel the ground below your feet. What a hoot! Have you ever seen raw fear on a man's face and witnessed him flounder? Even funnier when the panicking Jint grabbed Adam and tried to push him under in order to keep his own face above water. Adam struggled at first but the strength of a man who thinks he is going to die is overwhelming so Adam let himself sink. Jint soon let go.
Lunch was provided for us and was a healthy selection of exotic fruits.
Ko Pha Ngan - One of the outlying islands
What a great way to see the islands and to spend a day. We were taken around a number of islands where we could get out and snorkel or swim to the island like explorers!
Ko Pha Ngan - The beautiful colours of the tropics
I love this photo as I think as it captures the beauty of cruising the tropics. The fact that Adam is in it is neither here nor there.
Ko Pha Ngan - Hywel and I
This captures the mood generated by the rhythmic motion of the boat speeding over the waves with the hot sun beating down and the cooling breeze.
Ko Pha Ngan - Snorkelling location
From this spot we did most of our snorkelling. The thought of Tiger sharks did cross my mind a few times. It was to easy forget that this wasn't the safe mediterranean but a completely new envrionment. When Richard cut himself on some coral I thought that will signal feeding time but no sharks were spotted. This is where Jint got into the water with no buoyancy aid and thought he was going to drown.
Ko Pha Ngan - Jint is talked into the water again
Jint is the one in the middle. This time he dared to enter the sea on a lilo. Hywel and I (far side) are giving Jint a helping hand on getting around. We're also letting the air out of his lilo - not enough for him to sink but just enough to make him panic.
Ko Pha Ngan - Rocky isle
By now Jint was more than happy not go into the sea again so he obliged and took this photo of Hywel and I.
Ko Pha Ngan - Ready to go island hopping
Ready to depart with a couple of local lads who were willing to take us around the islands to see the natural beauty of the islands from the sea and to do a bit of snorkelling.
7 Aug 2000 - Ko Pha Ngan, ThailandAs you step off the ferry onto the pier you are immediately greeted by tens of people trying to carry your bags, get you a taxi or invite you to come and stay in their hotel (hotel to be read as beach hut). This all round assault puts raises your vigilance and need to watch your kit as you imagine little hands weaving their way into your belongings. The solution is to watch your own and others' bags and don't stay still while bartering.
After walking down the pier we eventually haggled a cut price taxi to the main area on the island whose name escapes me. This probably saved us about 80 pence between 5 of us. To them, 80 pence makes a difference.
After a scary ride to our destination on the back of what can only be described as a small version of a pickup truck with bars along the side and a canopy on top, our task was to try and find some accommodation. This was a comical exercise and the selfishness of some bubbled to the surface. The hardest to please was Rich who has become a little too accustomed to 5 star hotels.
Standard accommodation was the beach hut. Staying in one has an old romantic notion to it but when the night temperature is still in the high 20s, the room is 5 meters square and filled with a double and single bed, a window you dare not open for fear of hordes of biting nasties, no air con, a fan if you are lucky and is situated just off the beach in the jungle where the the hordes exist, you will understand why we turned our noses up.
This just wasn't good enough so it was back to where we came from for the hotel that we saw at the boat disembarkation point. In fact this was the only hotel on the island.
Ko Pha Ngan - From our balcony to the ferry pier
Sunset from out hotel room. The rooms here were cheap, good quality and air conditioned. This was our base for the next few days. One of the advantages of not being an 18 year old 'gapper' is you can afford to pay 2 pounds more for a quality pad.