Ko Phangan

Trip Start Feb 18, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19- June 4th

After a LONG day of traveling from Ko Lanta, we arrived in Ko Phangan, home of the "Full Moon Party", not knowing what to expect.

  We had booked a room in advance at the Haad Gruad Beach Resort and Spa on the Northwest side of the island, far away from the young Australian and European tourists here to only get drunk and cover themselves in glow paint in Haad Rin.  It was 300 baht a night, so we thought we would try it out for at least one night.  Well we ended up staying for 17 days!!  The "resort" was beautiful, and our bungalow was right on the beach.  Again, very rustic, but at least we had a nice bed with mosquito net, a semi-functional fan, a western style toilet (bucket-flush style), a hammock on the wrap around porch, and geckos who lived between the walls.  The best part about this place was the pool!  We have only stayed in one other place with a pool, and it is a real treat!  This green infinity pool is set above the sand overlooking the sea.  It is a perfect place to watch the sunset. We took advantage of the bar quite often and chatted it up with the friendly English barkeep Miles who made a killer margarita, kept the cold Chang coming, and shared his daily herbal remedies.

We rented a POS semi-automatic motorbike (with a handy basket on the front) that barely got our butts up the steep hills of Ko Phangan, but we loved it anyway.  It was not the bike to take to try to find the waterfall, that's all I'll say.  But it did lead us to more elephants, where we watched them tear apart banana trees, smash coconuts underfoot, play harmonica and twirl a hula hoop with their trunk, bathe, curtsy and say thank you.  One even lifted me up with it's trunk! 

Our motorbike also took us past large monitor lizards, through tropical downpours, up and down a dirt driveway cut with large ravines, past heavily tattooed travelers, through local markets with cheap whole fish and rich Thai curry, into a Buddhist temple flea-market, to and fro Muay Thai Boxing, past beaches with piers of squid boats lined with huge lightbulbs, and inevitably to the Full Moon Party.

Every morning we eat tropical fruit by the pool.  Our favorite is the pomelo, a large pink-celled grapefruit-like citrus fruit.  But we also try out the mango, mangosteen, dragon-fruit, pineapple, watermelon, snakeskin fruit, rambutan, and a bunch of others we don't know the name of, as we sit and listen to the birds of paradise sing their unique songs.
We eat dinner at local-run restaurants and the night market.  Our favorite dinner place is a BBQ/Hot Pot buffet place where you cook your own meat and veggies and make your own soup and papaya salad.  It's all you can eat for 110 baht a person, so of course we love it!  Otto is the small and funny Thai man who runs the place, who waves at us every time we drive by and says "Me cry" when he doesn't see us for a day or two.

Our favorite lunch place is "Mama Pooh's" where she has an extensive menu (with perfect English translations, even though Mama Pooh speaks no English) of the most delicious Thai food we've ever had. She is the cutest lady, short and stout and always wearing a smile. Every time we go there we get something new and are never disappointed. You know how we eat, right? If not here's an example of how it usually goes (when we're really, really hungry): Banana pancakes, pork toast, wide noodles with pork, peppercorns and chili, chicken with cashew nuts, fried rice with prawns, and two yogurt fruit shakes.  A lot of food right? Well we never walked out of there spending more than six dollars....what a deal! (of course Mama Pooh got a 70% tip too)

Most of the time we spent just enjoying the beach and our books. (We plowed through 4 books each)  We even bought a hammock that stuffs into a pouch so we can travel with our very own.  We met some other travelers and swapped stories over beers.  We celebrated Jon's birthday with a fun packed weekend of brutal Muay Thai boxing, an all night Full Moon Party, and a lazy day of exceptional snorkeling.

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