The Funnel of Fun
Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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The island of Koh Pha Ngan is a lot bigger than it first appears, at least if you're game enough to get out of the western trap of Haad Rin - the epicentre of hard party culture. We did the usual and ripped open the throttle, taking in many of the secluded nooks and crannies that make Koh Pha Ngan a much better proposition than the world-renowned chaos of drink, drugs and all-night partying.
Considering we were straddling the stock 125cc Hondas we took some ridiculously steep and craggy dirt tracks, crossed rickety bridges over rivers and flew mountain-bike stylee down some serious gung-ho mud slides, which after riding the panic and screaming into a few very near misses we eventually wound up kicking about in some great coastal locations - of the kind you wouldn't normally access without a boat. Some of these bays were to die for and once we'd 3-2-1'd our way in we whiled away the best part of a whole afternoon splashing about in utter tranquil bliss.
One of the highlights was venturing inland to 'The Waterfall'. I forget the name but it's said that the King of Thailand bathes here, so we did the same and slipped in for a dunk before clambering up the rocks and into the waterfall for a crazy spray. All was good until something slippery and eel-like brushed against our ankles. Under normal circumstances this wouldn't have been too much of a drama of course, but we'd just been having a lengthy discussion about Cobras and how they sometimes live in pools of deep murky water, much like the one we were up to our neck in.
The Full Moon Party..
After all that lot we wound up the afternoon with a couple of cheeky Changs at Gunshow Gary's before heading back to get ready for our 'full moon experience'. This meant persevering through a sudden nasty onslaught of needle-like rain, needle-like because when you're riding 80km's an hour on a tropical island in a tropical storm without a helmet, it feels like a thousand needles jabbing into your face. Trust me. And having someone on your back whimpering and clutching for all he's worth just adds to the demise.
After about an hour it all got too much for Dave and he started chirping from the back seat. All the grimacing and discomfort had made him gag for a beer and as there wasn't one within reach of either hand he started crying. There was no argument from me - I was shivering uncontrollably and the warm glow of the roadside bar ahead of us was more than enough to warrant me sliding the bike in sideways through the crashing rain. We were in there all of two minutes - shirts off and towelling down - when the heavens opened proper and let rip. Talk about timing. And my god did it rip. Almost instantly we were plunged into darkness and sat there silent, jaws hanging, watching trees get blown sideways and our motorbikes wobbling precariously on the tarmac like frail bone-china.
The storm raged for most of the night, which meant we were pinned inside this dimly lit bar with no real option other than to get comfortable and get on the Changs. Those who were already down on the beach in Haad Rin for their 'full moon experience' would have been scrabbling around for cover wondering where the hell the moon is. As it turned out the five of us (myself, Nick, Dave, and a lively young couple from Huddersfield we met on the boat) had a blast in that little bar and got well oiled. By the time the storm passed it was well after midnight and almost 1am by the time we got back to the beach hut. I was minced by then and decided a power nap was the way forward. I could always join the others later. In my dreams. It was gone 5am when my power nap finished and by then I wasn't going anywhere. Such was my 'full moon experience'.
Pete and Gemma (the Huddersfield duo) came back around 1pm the following day (still hammered) and told the rest of the story from the hammock. Apparently Liam couldn't be found anywhere, and could still be anywhere, Nick passed out on the beach like a dead dog the moment they arrived (see pics) and Dave carried on partying hard. When they left him at noon (the following day) he was still partying hard. Now this is immense, cos' at that point, while most people were either falling to their knees or lying face down in the sand he was going strong, beer in hand - probably on his seventh wind - and apparently did so for the rest of the day. And night. I know this cos' at 4am the next morning there was a heavy knock at the door. Who else but Dave, standing lifeless in the doorway like a rotten vegetable, his breath smelling like a fresh tin of paint. Just get your head round that for a minute. That's thirty-six hours of drinking. With NO food. How? Tell me how..
Anyway that was yesterday, and as I lift my head now from the hammock and look through the doorway I can still see his little cabbage-like head - still there, still comatosed. It must be so uncomfortable. He looks all re-arranged as if someone's tied him in a knot, and he's breathing funny - in short erratic bursts. Every few minutes his body twitches - like he's getting the defibrillator - and every few twitches seems to trigger another surge of dribble that dispenses from the corner of his gaping mouth. He's what you call: F*@#*d! The room smells like it's just been re-decorated, and the toilet.. well it's best if we leave it there. It looks like he could be banged up for a while. Such was Dave's 'full moon experience'.
So for now..
We're gonna stay here a bit longer, and if you could see where we're staying you'd understand why.
Over on the west coast of Koh Pha Ngan there's a beautifully serene sweeping bay of warm turquoise water and squeaky white sand. It goes by the name of Laem Son. The beach itself is dotted generously with lush swaying coconut palms, which provide much needed cover for the light scattering of beach huts that sit on the waters edge. We have one of these huts, and it has two very comfortable hammocks out front on the purpose built balcony, where we spend an awful lot of time swinging back and forth, taking in the spectacular views or catching up on a bit of light snoozing. It's times like these that remind me of the years I spent wasting time in an office without purpose, a time that seems an absolute eternity away. And I'm not exaggerating when I say there's no-one else on the beach. That's because there's no one here. It may as well be ours. The masses are down in the south-east corner of the island partying hard in the too-cool-for-school zone. This is perfectly fine and something that certainly should continue. A simple formula: keep the mayhem in the zoo and leave paradise unspoiled.
So that's where we are, where we're at and why we're here - and seriously, this is the sort of stuff holidaymakers and honeymooners could only dream about, if only they knew this sort of thing existed. We have a motorbike out front which takes us where we need to go, and every time we pull up at the hut a chirpy black Labrador comes bounding over tail-a-wagging to welcome us home and get another belly rub. At night he sleeps outside the door under the hammock protecting us from evil. Now why would we be in a hurry to leave such a soothing set of circumstances? We're not. We're staying..
(Side Note: If you're in to sunsets, the serenely decked balcony of the 'Amsterdam Bar' (near the Stone Hill Resort) is easily the best vantage point on the whole island, giving way to a vast panorama of distant landscape, a long beckoning horizon and the occasional tiny silhouetted fishing boat set against a deep burnt orange finalé. What could be better? The pics are all there..)
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Where I stayed