We travelled from the west of Thailand to the east to get to Koh Phangan. This involved a bus from Phuket to Surat Thani and then a ferry to Koh Phangan, altogether taking the best part of a day. We arrived in Koh Phangan as darkness descended and took a taxi to our hotel in Sri Thanu Village.
We were ravenous when we arrived so set off down the windy, dark road that encircles Koh Phangan to find somewhere to eat. Building after building was quiet with no sign of life. The din of crickets and howls of stray dogs were all that accompanied us. Just as we began to grow concerned we came across our saviour; a lonely streetside restaurant glowing in the darkness.
It was deserted except for the kind old lady who whipped up our dinner. I had a delicious meal of chicken with cashew nuts.
This little guy ended up keeping us company at dinner.
We stared each other out for a while until I decided he was just an innocent bystander and went back to my dinner. Obviously it was at that moment he decided to jump up on my leg, while I was mid-chew, scaring me half to death. I may have leapt out of my seat… The kind old lady may have had to save me… It was all very startling, okay. After that I was more on edge walking along that dark road back to the hotel.
Brushing off the frog incident, I awoke the next morning ready to explore Sri Thanu. In comparison to my previous visit to Koh Phangan (a few years ago for the Half Moon Party), I saw a very different side to the island. It was incredibly chilled out offering numerous yoga retreats, vegan restaurants, coffee shops and peaceful beaches. There was also an epic looking Total Wipeout course in the lake (it had a slightly different vibe to the rest of the village…). I was excited to get involved with the local activities, however we soon realised that we had timed our arrival to Koh Phangan rather poorly. It had coincided with the former King Bhumibol’s cremation therefore all local businesses were closed to allow people to attend the ceremonies honouring the event.
Alternatively, I sought entertainment at our hotel. After all, it did look rather beautiful.
After catching sight of the beach in the hotel’s back garden, any lingering disappointment about missing out on a yoga session began to dissipate.
I had a peek at the rest of the beach and realised I was actually extremely fortunate to be relegated here for the rest of the day.
The view was absolutely breathtaking.
In the evening we had dinner at the hotel. I had an incredible chicken massaman curry.
Massaman curry, or ‘curry of the Muslims’ is a Thai dish adapted from Persian cuisine. It is rich and flavoursome made with coconut milk, potatoes, peanuts and usually beef or chicken. It is without doubt my favourite of the Thai curries. I could eat it every day!
Following a day of chilling out, I awoke the next day eager to see Koh Phangan in action. Instead I was faced with this.
Torrential downpour, flashes of lightening and the loudest thunder I have ever heard.
Needless to say, shelter was taken in the hotel room for a considerable portion of the day. The weather cleared up late afternoon so we headed out to get some food. Since we were in Sri Thanu, getting some vegan food seemed like the thing to do.
Pure Vegan was a really cool restaurant with a huge variety of tasty food and a beautiful garden. We ordered a Thai larb mushroom dish and a falafel bowl. I also had a very refreshing pink lemonade with acai.
The food was delicious, especially the crunchy falafel which had been cooked to perfection.
Regardless of our short trip to Koh Phangan not quite going to plan, I found it refreshing to see this side of the island. It is often overlooked for the popular “moon parties” but in my opinion, it is just as worthy a visit (did you see that beach!?). Despite not having the opportunity to engage in the spiritual activities available, I left Koh Phangan feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. In any case, I will be back some time to stretch out with a yoga session after conquering that Total Wipeout course!