Everything must come to an end... to Ko Pha Ngan!

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reaching the pier just in time to hear that the 45-minute ferry had an hour delay was awesome.  I don't want to leave Ko Tao and momentarily contemplate disregarding my plans and just chilling there for a few weeks, months, years.

Ko Pha Ngan!  Home of the full moon party and inspiration behind the movie, The Beach.  I arrive and head straight for the popular beach figuring that it would be crowded yet relatively uncomercialized.  My how I was wrong. The Mae Had area reminds me of a South Beach sorta. The city is set on a peninsula and it is a strictly beach party town with a few rules of its own.  The share cab I hopped on dropped me off at the very last beach on the peninsula, Leela Beach, which turned out to be the more beautiful of the three beaches, but also the most expensive place I've yet to see in SE Asia.  I couldn't say no once I saw the accommodations and beach at Cocohut Leela Beach. I quickly found myself going from paying $16 a night for virtual perfection on a quiet beach, to paying almost $75 for a modern luxuries and style on a crowded beach in a tourist-heavy place. 

Signs here are more often in Thai and Hebrew than English, and my resort sounds just like Tel-Aviv if you listen in to some of the conversations going on.  I rent a lime green moped, to be referred to as Limey from here on, and check out the crazy yet somehow small and cute town.  Relaxing on the beach, I spark up a few conversations and quickly realize that the people here are quite different than those on Ko Tao.  Here, there is a narrow focus on the partying whereas Tao highlights relaxing as its most sought after attribute.  I choose the shark steak at a local seafood bbq joint and then hit up Sunrise beach to see what all the talk is about.  Oh, Mae Had is centered between 2 beaches, sunrise and sunset (so aptly named for which direction they face).  Sunrise is known as the rave capital of the world, maybe???, or at least the site for the full moon parties.  The scene is a relaxed version of what you would see on Daytona Beach, at least for now, as bars set up chairs in the sand and vendors sell all sorts of jungle juice buckets.  One of the bars is offering free buckets to anyone who can kick a soccer ball into any one of a few circles in the goal.  It is harder than it looks, but I manage to walk away three buckets later with a bit of a buzz and the pleasure of having run into Lucy, the British girl I saw at Angkor Wat at sunrise just a few short hours after meeting them her in a bar. Note: Red Bull is rumored to have much more potent ingredients here in the land of Thai and I feel really good.

I head to a "cross-dressing" pool party where I find Nicky, the English girl from Bangkok who I had missed meeting back up with a week earlier.  She is now with her sister, Emma, and we all resume having fun and laughing just as Nicky and I did in Bangkok.  We pick another Brit, James (the level-headed guy who is quiet yet interesting, and will later become known as hammock boy), and head back to the madness that sunrise beach has become. Bucket vendors are everywhere and everyone seems to be holding one, or two.  Fire shows are burning along the shoreline and dying out just as another one starts somewhere else.  The deep vibrating beat of house and techno music resonates from speakers up and down the half mile stretch.  People from all over the world talk, dance, imbibe, smoke, swim, sleep, star-gaze and generally enjoy life while disregarding that there once was and will most likely be a reality again at some point.

The night ends with an early morning swim back at Cocohut and a little star gazing...
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