Flashpackers; Mac-Packers; Techno Trekkers... call 'em what you will, todays traveller is rarely wrenched from his Visual Display Unit it seems LOL [photo by K&D]
Well, Iâ€™m still here. Lying in my hammock. Half reading. Half dozing. Wholly chilled to the max. Time continues to go nice, smooth and slow for the Weselby - Muju collective having their holiday here at Harmony Beach Resort on Ko Phangan. But I donâ€™t want to give you the impression that we did nothing expect suck fruit shakes and top up our tans at Ban Kai all dayâ€¦ oh no! â€¦ we sucked fruit shakes and topped up our tans at a couple of other places too Iâ€™ll have you know! Travelling, â€śtskâ€ť, it can be a hard taskmaster.
Ko Phanganâ€™s circumference is littered I gather with rather pleasant beaches, coves and bays. It must be confessed that I must take most people at their word on this point as Kate, Dave and I did only bother to put on our sandals and shuffle around the island on 2, maybe 3 occasions in the 10 days I was there.
Classic Longtail photo [photo by K&D]
On all occasions we were kindly accompanied and taxiâ€™d around by the very interesting Jo from Switzerland. A long silver-haired Buddhism-studying, ex-music band and studio running impresario and weirdy trance-art creator and mini-movie maker who now lives principally in the more northern and easterly provinces of Thailand (near the Cambodian border) with his Thai wife and her extensive family.
Itâ€™s nice to get about a bit as one thing to be said about the south shore of Ko Phangan is that although it may look pretty enough in photos the sea here is a great disappointment. Far, far, far too shallow. I could (had I have chosen to do so) have walked out 100 metres and further and at most times, most days the water would not have come above the level of my knees.
Pretty little attol : Ko Meh off the north coast of Ko Phangan
Not great for keen dolphin swimmers like mâ€™sis and I. This also means the waters warm very easily and offer little or no refreshment from the blazing sun both in either depth and temperature. For snorkellers the visibility and marine life and topography are poor. Thatâ€™s an understatement. For these reasons, lovely though our time at Ban Kai/ Ban Tai was, I would strongly recommend the northern and eastern shores for a stay should you ever head this way.
On one day we visit a bay to the northeast of the island at Joâ€™s recommendation. Apologies, I forget the name. Itâ€™s very picturesque and quiet and a great relief to us all to go for a proper swim in water where we can drift and somersault beyond our depth.
Bro and Sis at Ko Meh [photo by K&D]
A couple of pretty, classic Long Tails bob on the waters, anchored at shore. We have lunch on high above the bay. A beautiful view. We stroll to a series of small waterfalls back from the beach. A favourite spot of one of Thailandâ€™s revered former kings, his name carved into the granite stone by the watery cascade. A quick stop on the way back to admire another larger falls and also officially the largest, most sacred tree on Ko Phangan.
Another drive with Jo, another day brings us to the north of the island and the beautiful sight of Ko Meh. Ko Meh is a tiny little forested atoll sat barely 150 yards from the mainland and connected to it by a sandbar walkway, more passable at some times than others depending on tidal depth.
The sand bar walkway to Ko Meh
The tidal range is not much though so this just effects how far you have to roll your shorts up if you can be bothered. Dave, Kate, Jo, Muju and I wade our way across admiring the view. Thereâ€™s little more on Ko Meh than a restaurant or so. The main attraction is the excellent snorkelling opportunities that the clear waters and reef bed provide. Our first time for a little underwater adventure!
During our time on the island a couple of trips are made to the island â€™capitalâ€™ and main ferry port Thong Sala. It is a site with little to commend it. The usual ugly barnacle-like encrustation of 7-Elevens and repetitious, tired tourist-targeted shops with this that and the other clothes, bags, trinkets and suchlike for sale.
Galaxy Muju! Another one of my sister's beautifully crafted toys joins us in Thailand :) [photo by K&D]
Bars bars bars. In the evening, girls and more bars. An over-abundance for my comfort level (on the whole island) of Brits-abroad and all the ingloriousness and tedium that can entail. Yes, I confess, Iâ€™m a card carrying member of this clan too. Ko Phangan, as with all the other major players in the south islands and beaches of Thailand exists for and subsists almost purely on tourism and in pursuing this end voraciously for so long now, in my opinion, has lost any sense of soul or genuine charm and individual identity. Famous for the monthly Full Moon parties, this is only the cyclical climax of an island-wide commercial itinerary geared every week to getting people buzzed to the max, partying, drunk and spending.
Beach whose name I can't recall. Very nice! [photo by K&D]
When itâ€™s not full moon there is the Half Moon: Jungle Fever party, Black Moon party, Shiva Moon party (whatever a Shiva Moon is?â€¦ answers on the back of a postcard to this blog people) and a parade of Pool Parties in-between. The F.U.N. (F**king Unnecessary Noise), it seems, never stops on Ko Phan-party-gan. â€śAlright if ya like that sorta fing of course!â€ť.
But all of that is far away from sight or mind of the Chill Out Trio. The chaos scene is easy to avoid in fairness to the island. Following on from my stretch on Ko Phayam, life again is gloriously reduced to little more than considerations of â€śwhatâ€™s the next meal to be?â€ť; â€śHmmm, what flavour shake should I have this time?â€ť and playing Frisbee in the sea on the extremely rare occasions the waterâ€™s deep enough to allow it.
Stevie in the waterfall! :) [photo by K&D]
Technological traumas aside I try desperately (despairingly) and in vain to catchup with a 6 week backlog of blog. Kate and Dave continue an intensive programme of R&R, whilst keeping their inspirational duel-dynamo creative engines ticking over with photography, illustration and web-site maintenance all the while. You have to love Wi-Fi people! Of an evening we let loose some paper lanterns into the night sky, purchased in Thong Sala. A little taste of Thai life. This is great fun. Our faces lit bright orange and gold as the tissue-paper canopies fill with heat and light before being let loose to join their sister-stars.
Itâ€™s been good times. Beautiful times. With family and love and familiarity on Ko Phangan.
Katie chilling by da beach [photo by K&D]
The best. There is no chance of my admittedly bias-towards-negative view of the island touching this truth. If anything this marks out more that I am becoming a spoilt traveller. A little too spoilt by the overwhelming richness and diversity of all that I have visited, seen and experienced in the last 6 months to fully remember the virtue of wanting; of needing to just stay still for the sake of staying still; of recovering sometimes. This first part of their holiday is a soul-station for my sister and Dave. A rest and refuelling stop before they launch into their own dream destinations (Melbourne, New Zealand and Japan to come!). And itâ€™s been perfect.
But itâ€™s time to move on. Iâ€™m not sure I would say by day 10 my feet were getting itchy per se, but with no inclination within the Team Muju Camp to see more of Thailand this time around, and my itinerary schedule tightening as my pregnant best friendâ€™s waistband does likewise*, it feels right to part once more from those I care for the most and head off and lose myself further, deeper in this wide and wonderful world.
Not bad for a first attempt at torch writing!!! I was even impressed with myself! :D
As they drop me at the ferry pier at Thong Sala (Taxi Jo to our aid once more) Iâ€™ve withdrawn slightly into a minor state of numbness because it feels like starting all over again. Which is hard work psychologically as I know it will now be so, so long before I see any of my family again. Another pained farewell. The vaguest most distant plans of a potential reunion in Nepal at the end of the year the only faint guiding family star in the night sky that descends as my ferry pulls out of port to head back to the mainland. And it is only at this point that my emotions roll out of me a little. A few tears from loss and tiredness drop from my eyes as I stare at the darkening sky and waters below. Tears lost in the churn and foam that recede in the boats wake.
Send your appreciation to the stars people!!! [photo by K&D]
Missing my flame-haired, kind-hearted sis already. And they fall again a little right now. The tears. Soâ€™s I had better stop typing or Iâ€™ll short-circuit this nightmare of a computer. Safe travels Kate and Dave. Thank you for everything. Good night all.
* For those readers not fully versed and fully immersed in the Weselby blog marathon, my original rough itinerary meandering around the world in an easterly trajectory, changed quite drastically a few months ago with the news of my best friend and her husband conceiving their first child. This meant a drastic shift in my route, as I am desired and desire to meet my de-facto nephew/ niece around the time of his/ her birth at the end of May.
This means at the time of writing Iâ€™m on a huge loop-back to Europe and Cyprus (where they live) via Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Russia! â€śYelp!â€ť. Will he make it in time?! Tune in over the coming months to find out TB crew!