Koh Phangan

by Johnny

Anna and I had been looking forward to coming back to the Thai islands ever since we left Koh Chang in late November, and the fact that we were going to share the next few days in this beautiful part of the world with some of our favorite people made us downright giddy. A bumpy, partly off-road minibus ride brought us from Haad Rin (home to the infamous Full Moon Party) to Thong Nai Pan, where two coves form a scenic double bay on the northeast of Koh Phangan. We stayed on the southerly Thong Nai Pan Yai, which had enough going on to keep our attention for a few days while being off-the-beaten-path enough to make us feel like castaways. After checking into our bungalows at Longtail Beach Resort, we had just enough time for a quick dip before it got dark. Swimming in the clear, warm water with our entourage of eight while looking back at the white sand beach and surrounding lush jungle in the afternoon light definitely gave me a case of the warm and fuzzies. We grabbed some dinner at a beachside restaurant, hit the sack early and spent the entire next day lounging on the beach.

Thong Nai Pan Yai
Stoked to be back in the islands! Serious game of Chinese checkers
My wife and my best bud in Thailand…not bad! Marinating in the Gulf of Thailand

On our second full day, we boarded a boat for Angthong Marine Park, an archipelago of 42 islands to the west of Koh Phangan and presumably the setting for everybody’s favorite backpacking novel, Alex Garland’s The Beach.  Our boat, Orion, was a little slow, crowded and grubby, but the scenery…and super cool upper-deck diving board…more than made up for it.  We arrived to the cluster of islands after about an hour boat ride trough some tropical morning showers.  Anna and I thought the scenery looked a little bit like a less dramatic, more tropical Ha Long Bay.  We stopped off for a quick snorkel in Koh Wao before heading to Koh Mae Ko and hiking up to a viewpoint of the island’s stunning, emerald green saltwater lagoon.  The steep hike and climb up some makeshift ladders was a little gnarly.  Let’s put it this way, if it was in the U.S., we would have had to sign insurance waivers and be strapped into harnesses.  However, as you can see in the pictures below, it was worth the effort.  Seeing this beautiful lagoon hidden on a tiny island in the middle of a protected marine park definitely had us feeling a little bit like the characters in The Beach (with me being Leonardo DiCaprio, obvi).  After some lunch on the boat and a beach break at Koh Wua Talap, Orion brought us slowly but surely back to Koh Phangan for some well-deserved Singhas.

Rainbow on the way to Angthong Marine Park
The scenery reminded us a little of Ha Long Bay Angthong Marine Park
Snorkeling at Koh Wao
Mortal Kombat! Judges gave Greg a 10!
Hi Mom and Dad!
Emerald lagoon at Koh Mae Ko Greg and Hillary taking in the view
Tommy and Michelle making the climb They made it to the top
Peter and Sheryl on Orion Lounging on the way back to Koh Phangan
The view from Koh Mae Ko Koh Wua Talap

On our third and final full day, we took a longtail boat to Haad Khuat (otherwise known as Bottle Beach), regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Koh Phangan.  Only accessible by boat, Bottle Beach felt even more remote than Thong Nai Pan Yai, and we spent the entire day drinking fruity drinks, playing cards, eating Thai food and frolicking in the water.  Later that night, after our usual routine of some drinks in Tommy and Michelle’s Boat House, we grabbed a taxi to Thong Nai Pan Noi for dinner at the luxurious Santhiya Resort.  With views over both bays, live music and dancing, and an all-you-can-eat Thai food buffet, we had a great final meal together.  After dinner, Greg and Hillary surprised us with some sky lanterns they had bought earlier in the day, and we all took turns sending them off before heading to Flip Flop Pharmacy Bar for a final nightcap.  What a perfect way to end an amazing week.

Longtail boat ride to Haad Khuat (Bottle Beach) Bro and sis
Sending postcards from Bottle Beach
2016 Olympics synchronized swimming gold medalists Bottle Beach or Muscle Beach?
Drinks in the Boat House The best bartender in Thailand
Chantara Restaurant at Santhiya Resort Dinner entertainment
Plateful of Thai food from the buffet
Lanterns are for sissies; Tommy opts for the bottle rockets
Our final night at Flip Flop Pharmacy Bar…we’ll miss our Thailand gang

We had such an awesome time with Tommy, Michelle, Greg and Hillary and feel so lucky that they used their precious time off to come join us on our trip. Even though the week went by way too fast, we certainly made the most of it and it’s amazing to look back at all that we did.  After everybody left, I probably got the most homesick I’ve been this entire trip.  Luckily, Peter and Sheryl were stuck with us for another week, and I quickly learned that homesickness is easily curable by scuba diving and more Singhas.

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3 Responses to “Koh Phangan”

  1. such a great post!! You guys summed it up perfectly – Paradise with the most wonderful people. Thank you for this and for such a great time! We miss you xox

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