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A Different Side to Koh Phangan

Party Island. When asking one backpacker what it was like, he stated he had seen things there that no man should ever have to see. Other answers we received were ‘crazy’, ‘messy’ and terrified looks that asked if we were ready for what was in store. Slightly nervous for what we were getting ourselves into, we left Koh Tao  where I found myself being sprayed with sick within seconds of reaching Koh Phangan. Extremely rocky boat x seasick boy x heavy wind = my splattered self.

Hoping this wasn’t a forewarning of what to expect from my stay, we headed off to the Nomad House, a hostel known for being very social and ‘fun-loving.’ With 18 bed dorms and a warning on the site of not to stay if you don’t want to get involved with the partying, we showed up expecting lively lunacy. The hostel was empty. Having work done to the hostel meant that they were no longer taking bookings, and not only that but the entire part of that island was completely empty. It turns out that our summer season is Thailand’s quiet season. And we had also gone at a time when Full Moon wasn’t on, making it even emptier. So our first night on party island turned into a quiet evening bike ride for two. Adventurous.

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Despite this, it appeared that our stroke of bad luck actually turned into a blessing in disguise. For if we had stayed at Nomad House for the week (which we definitely weren’t), we would not of found At Phangan. At Phangan was the best hostel that we stayed in on our trip, and where we found ourselves settling for the longest. The owner, Sopita, and another worker Mai, were probably the nicest and most helpful people that we met, helping me with my broken phone and blocked bank card, driving us to the Black Moon party so we didn’t have to pay for a taxi, taking us on an island tour that would have cost over 1000 Baht otherwise and also taking us to our departure boat to save us more money.

We were also extremely lucky to share the hostel with an amazing group of people that made At Phangan feel like home. Albeit a little home filled with complete random strangers from across the world, but it was somewhere we felt at ease. And with the beach about a 20 second walk from the front door, it could not have been any more perfect.

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So did we find the crazy side of the island that everyone had told us about? Yes and no. It’s true this is the place to party. A moon party will be on every single week, whether it’s Black Moon, Half Moon or Full Moon, with the Full Moon being the busiest. Eden Garden is also on every Tuesday and Saturday, a party held over the edge of the rocks on Haad Yuan, where you can dance over the sea until lunchtime and watch the sunrise over the island. Definitely the best night I’ve ever had. Guys Bar is also held on Friday, and then beach parties are available every day of the week. The Tree Bar is another good place for chilling in the day time if you want to watch the sunset – the reggae-playing tree house overlooks the beach which you can view from your comfort of your hammock. It was a hard life.

Despite the parties that were still going on and the amazing time that we had, others who had been to the island during busy season said that it was a completely different experience. One friend said that when she had come in the busy period, she couldn’t even walk down streets where they were so crowded. But she also said that she preferred it during the quiet season, so maybe we weren’t missing out. Only one way to find out. Koh Phangan – we shall meet again.

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