Ko Phangan : Easy times and Slow Life make for good times and good life.

Koh Phangan Travel Blog

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Bros & sis [photo by K&D]

[Owing to further technology problems and the loss of a lot of my Ko Phangan photos asa result, many of those that appear here were taken by either Kate or Dave and have been credited as taken by K&D]

The sun is out.  I slowly suck on another delicious coffee shake.  Reading a bit.  Checking the tan.  My sister’s partner Dave, one of life’s constant cascading waterfalls of creativity, sits and conjures up another mini-masterpiece of a Mujuworld illustration with pen and paper.  My sister scribbles away in her travel journal whilst today’s super-scrumptious tuna baguette settles.  Her journal’s still nearly as fresh and empty as the day the paper was cut but she and Dave are at the very beginning of their own 3 month travel odyssey, so it’s not long before between those pages, pressed by pen with care like so many tiny coloured flowers, her memories, observations and thoughts are being caught for posterity.

One of my sister and Dave's many arty toy photos, one of their many talents/ passions [photo by K&D]
  By the looks of things she’s gonna be no less wordy than I!

We are on Ko Phangan off the northeast coast of the southern swathe of Thailand.  It sits in the Gulf of Thailand with its sister islands Ko Samui and Ko Tao, all long established and exceedingly popular beach destinations.  Recently recovered from my highly stressful time on Ko Phayam (“ahem!”) it’s time for more of the same.  Slow Life.  Beached time.  Relaxation.  If I’m not careful I’ll soon have forgotten how to move let alone travel!  A blissful state.  Kate and Dave, in order to take a break and abandon the sinking ship Great Britannia have wrapped up the physical manifestation of their ongoing creative project ‘Mujuworld’, a small shop in Brighton, south England entitled Toylife.

[photo by K&D]
  They’ve been doing the self-employed gig for 2 years and it ain’t been roses and champagne all the way, especially not of late, so it’s time for a biiiiig holiday.  Fatigued from that great adventure it’s time for a gentler one for them so for the next 10 days we will happily do little more than nothing.

Our base during this time is the Harmony Beach Resort in Ban Kai.  It sits heavily secluded on the south coast of Phangan about a 10 minute Long Tail ride from Haad Rin, where the ferry boat from Big Buddha Beach, Ko Samui docks, and site of the infamous Full Moon parties.  On the morning of our departure from Samui (the 12th) I had watched as the ferry from Phangan disgorged and endless line of package-holiday party people… or should I say party wreckage from its decks.

Toy version of my flame-haired sister :) [photo by K&D]
  It must have taken 15-20 minutes for this tired, sunburnt, hung over and limping procession of the Samsonite wheelie-suitcase dragging masses to pass before my eyes.

Upon arrival at Haad Rin I experienced a minor moment of travel culture shock.  Getting an anywhere near reasonable price for either a taxi/ saungthaew or a Long Tail is just out of the question.  Rather than prices going down through a process of negotiation the prices keep racketing up by small degrees and there’s a general air of financial ruthlessness, or at least calculated indifference about the people that reside at the pier here in Haad Rin.  This is an attitude I have not so far (and will not again) come anywhere near experiencing in my 6 weeks in Thailand.  A symptom of the disease of hyper-tourism in full flush?  Most likely.

Kate my darlin' sis! :) [photo by K&D]
  Dave ‘Harmony’, the Brit manager of Harmony Beach Resort, a resident of the island for some six years at least offers insights into the situation here for us.  According to him for some long years now the island and the various arms of its tourism based economy have allegedly been subject to the dictates and controls of a form of Thai family mafia who call all the shots.  A minimum of 25% of all taxi fares on the island are due to them and refusal to pay simply means the removal of your license and unemployment.  Evidence of strange goings on is visible as every time we take a Saungthaew taxi to the main town of Thong Sala, our driver stops at a non-descript shop and hands over a 20 Baht (50 Baht?) ‘tax’ payment to a man who steps out.
Chillaxation! [photo by K&D]
  This acquires permission for the journey to continue.  Curious stuff.

But all this has little impact on us, and horrible Haad Rin behind me, there are few more flies in the ointment of my time on Ko Phangan.  As I’ve said, little is willingly sought for or achieved in our 10 days on Phangan other than total, utter relaxation, which was pretty much the plan so I will not regale you with a thousand and one anecdotes of people, places and names.  It’s plain, simple family time for a brother and sister who’ve not seen each other in nearly six months (and may not see each other again for a significant period of time to come).

The gang at Harmony are extremely friendly and our time there is very pleasant.  500 Baht a night for a large, clean, private bathroom bungalow.

[photo by K&D]
  Not super cheap but pretty good for the destination.  The food is excellent.  Our 10 days there weave us into the observance of a day to day mini soap opera of resort management life with all the little incidents that this can entail.  Keeping the place running, the staff and guests happy and the pets in one piece as they battle for their territories daily.  Harmony Resort is the adoptive home of a posse of adorable dogs (Ruby and Amber are two names I recall) and cats (Socks being the cutest by far).  Dave has a Thai girlfriend, Khwan, who occasionally shows up jangling about with her gypsy ankle-bracelets.  She runs two small shops in Thong Sala.  There is Neung (‘One’) the friendly older hand of the staff and Karim the polite and charismatic chap who serves us bacon baguettes and coffee shakes by day and by night (well, one night whilst we’re there anyway) is an absolutely kick-ass Muay Thai kick boxing star of the ring! 

I took myself off to watch an evening of this national sport and support Karim (fighter name Roongprecha) along with a crowd of other Harmony guests.

Thong Sala night carnival/ market [photo by K&D]
  He did us proud.  KO-ing his opponent in the very first round with probably the most devastating head-kick of the seven fights on the night.  Strangely, by midday the next day Khareem is not to be found at Harmony.  Following words as to the tardy nature of his girlfriend’s work in the kitchen (resulting in her dismissal) Karim reluctantly has felt compelled to leave with her.  A shame.  The soap opera continues. 

Sadly too, less than a week since having been reunited with my f**k-arse laptop some major fault occurs requiring the hard drives total resetting and the loss of all photos of my time to that point in Phangan and the visual excitement of the Muay Thai fights.  Some of the first taken with my brand spanking new Panasonic Lumix DMC-F228 digital camera that my kind and loving family have all chipped in to buy me for my 30th birthday (and however many Christmases and future birthdays I choose to be absent from Home!).

Amber and the sunset [photo by K&D]
  Yes, the P.O.S.2000 is dead… look out people, Stevie now has an 18 X Optical Zoom and is comin’ to snap ya!!!

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Bros & sis [photo by K&D]
Bros & sis [photo by K&D]
One of my sister and Daves many a…
One of my sister and Dave's many …
[photo by K&D]
[photo by K&D]
Toy version of my flame-haired sis…
Toy version of my flame-haired si…
Kate my darlin sis! :)  [photo by…
Kate my darlin' sis! :) [photo b…
Chillaxation! [photo by K&D]
Chillaxation! [photo by K&D]
[photo by K&D]
[photo by K&D]
Thong Sala night carnival/ market …
Thong Sala night carnival/ market…
Amber and the sunset [photo by K&D]
Amber and the sunset [photo by K&D]
Harmony beach resort at day break.
Harmony beach resort at day break.
Boat at sunset
Boat at sunset
Burning, dark cloud sunset
Burning, dark cloud sunset
Neung (One), one of the kind Har…
Neung ('One'), one of the kind Ha…
(Meet Thy Maker) Muju [www.mujuwor…
(Meet Thy Maker) Muju [www.mujuwo…
Katie and the beach
Katie and the beach
Saungthaew to Thong Sala
Saungthaew to Thong Sala
Kate & Dave : aka Team Muju
Kate & Dave : aka Team Muju
Stevie & his new camera!!! WATCH O…
Stevie & his new camera!!! WATCH …
Koh Phangan
photo by: alanmica