Yet another long day of travelling! After a long boat, a 2 hour ferry boat & a bus, we were unceremoniously dumped at a street cafe in Surrathani where we had a 3 hour wait for our next bus, which would take us to yet another ferry port. I think this was the first day that the non-stop travelling started to wear me down & on at least a couple of occasions, I came close to shedding a few tears of frustration & pure exhaustion (little did I know at the time that a pretty nasty ear infection was on it's way, which explains why I was feeling so emotional)!
While waiting, we booked a taxi transfer to take us from the ferry port in Koh Pga-Ngan to Hat Rin as it soon became apparent how many hordes of other party revellers were heading the same way to join in the Full Moon Party. The rest of the waiting time was passed playing cards (possibly the most important item a backpacker can take away with them). Finally the bus pulled up & I was just a little concerned as the realisation dawned that there were way too many people for the one bus. We joined the back of the queue anyway & actually got as far as loading our backpacks on, only to find that there was not a single seat left upstairs. Ignoring the driver's bright idea of leaving our bags where they were & getting onto the next bus that would supposedly be there any second, we demanded that our bags be unloaded (there was no way we were letting them out of our sight). The second bus did indeed arrive & with relief, we loaded our bags onto it & guess what - by the time we got upstairs, there were no seats left on that bus either! In a fit of tourettes (which entertained Lin & Jill no end), I yanked our baggage off again & did everything I could not to hit the supposed 'organiser' of the whole disaster when he told us that there were now seats available on the first bus & we had to re-load onto there.
We eventually made it to the ferry port, where we were informed that our ferry was delayed by at least an hour, so while we were due to have been in Koh Pga-Ngan by 5.30pm, we realised that we now wouldn't get there until 10.30pm at the earliest! By this point, Jill & Lin who were doing their best to keep in good spirits, while I was doing my best not to throw a hissy fit, had befriended 'Crazy Dave' - who had decided that even though he had accommodation booked & paid for in Krabi, he was going to the Full Moon Party to try & pull a girl that he'd met travelling. Each to their own I suppose. While the girls endured 'Crazy Dave's' painfully long & boring anecdotes, I consulted the bible as we had no accommodation booked & I was more than a little worried about turning up in Hat Rin & not being able to find anywhere (especially as we were now going to be arriving so late). Going for the tried & tested method of picking the first random place we like the name of, we scored yet again when I phoned the 'Sandy Bungalows' on Sunset Beach (the quieter side of Hat Rin that doesn't get affected by the madness & break-ins over the Full Moon). They had a bungalow for 3 at the bargain price of 200 baht each a night and when 'Crazy Dave' found out, he decided to call them & book himself in - joy!
The boat eventually came & at 11pm, we finally arrived in Koh Pga-Ngan! Half an hour later, our taxi dropped 3 very tired & fed-up chicks at the 'Sandy' & we couldn't believe our luck as we walked through the lush green gardens & were shown to our very modern & well-kept bungalow, which was precisely 3 steps from the beach! Deciding that we fancied a nightcap after that journey, we went next door to the Seaside Bar, where Jill caught the 2nd half of a Hammers game & I managed to get one drink down me before calling it a night & gratefully hitting the sack!
After a long lie-in, we went back to the Seaside Bar (which soon became the venue of choice for brekkie, lunch & dinner nearly every day we spent in Pga-Ngan), before hitting the beach. We were very surprised & more than a little annoyed when we found out that the Full Moon Party was on the 6th Dec (not the 5th as we'd thought) but despite the rush we'd had to get there for the 5th, we soon realised that it was a blessing in disguise & as we were so fed-up of constantly being on the move, we made an executive decision to stay put until the 8th & extended our booking at the lovely Sandy Bungalows. It was a fantastic feeling to be in such a beautiful & chilled out place knowing that we didn't have to move again for at least 5 days! While chilling on the beach, our newfound friend 'Crazy Dave' kept popping up (nicknamed so because he is possibly the most boring man alive) but we could hardly ignore him when he was staying next door & had no other friends around.
That night we took a wander over to Sunrise Beach - the very lively side of Hat Rin where the Full Moon Party takes place & had a few beers while watching the fire dancers practicing for the big night. Unfortunately, my ear infection had arrived & I was feeling pretty rough, so we headed back for an early night.
A rather uneventful day as I spent virtually the whole day in bed trying to sleep off my ear infection but I did manage to drag myself out of bed in the evening, so we went back over to Sunrise Beach & found a restaurant that was showing films. Of all things, we watched Jackass 2 - not what you want to see while you're trying to eat!
6th Dec - Full Moon Party
We were woken up at 9am by torrential rain hitting the windows of our bungalow. After snoozing for a couple more hours, the rain still hadn't let up so we decided to make a run for it to the Seaside bar (armed with our books & trusty deck of cards), where we ate breakfast, lunch & dinner & drank lots of tea! By 4pm, when the rain had still been hammering down non-stop, we started to worry that the Full Moon Party was going to be rained off. By 8pm, it finally stopped, so we decided to get ready & head over to Sunrise Beach to see what was happening.
We needn't have worried! As if a bit of rain (ok, even an all-day torrential downpour) would put off the Full Moon revellers. We arrived at 10pm & the second we stepped onto the beach, we were greeted by the sight of thousands of people talking, laughing, dancing & drinking buckets on the beach of highly toxic Thai vodka redbull. There was different types of music blaring out of every single bar along the beachfront & a never-ending line of men, standing in the shore with their backs to us, using the sea as a public urinal! It was utter madness, so of course we loved every second of it! We didn't waste any time in getting our faces painted in UV paint (Jill in Westham's claret & blue colours of course) & with buckets of drink in hand, we went for a dance. After some Japanese guys tried & failed to engage us in a conversation we could all understand, we went off to explore other parts of the beach & stumbled across the 'sleep area' - for those who had peaked to early & took some great photos of the casualties!
The rest of the night passed very quickly as we moved around the different parts of the beach, dancing & chatting to people we met along the way. A group of Irish guys we bumped into thought it would be funny to bundle Jill to the ground, roll her around in the sand & then pick her up & run around with her which was quite amusing. Before we knew it, it was 5am & although we knew it wasn't too long before the sun would rise, we were cold & tired so we took a slow walk back to our beach & by the time we got into bed, it was daylight anyway!
After spending another whole day doing nothing but sleeping, eating/drinking & playing cards & pool, by the 8th we were ready to move on elsewhere & so decided to book onto one of the ferries heading 30 minutes across the water to Ko Samui. There had been more torrential storms & lots of power cuts on Koh Pga-Ngan & so the crossing was extremely rough & unpleasant. That was the first time I'd ever been physically sea sick (not a pleasant experience in the Thai excuse for a bathroom) & even less so, when what seemed like 500 people were crammed like sardines onto a boat designed for less than a third of that!
On arrival at Ko Samui, we thankfully pushed our way through the crowds & found a taxi driver who said he'd take us to Mae Nam (the less popular & commercial part of Samui) for a reasonable price. However, just as we got in the cab, the driver disappeared & came back half an hour later with another 6 people who he'd obviously conned into paying more! We were not best pleased when he took our bags out & pointed randomly down the street, telling us to get into the 'other' taxi that was going to Mae Nam, which of course didn't exist! So we flagged another taxi down & half an hour later, we were checking into another bargain bungalow resort. Not as nice as the Sandy but good enough & very cheap.
The next four days were blissfully spent chilling - literally! We had practically the whole nearby beach to ourselves & spent a very happy time reading, swimming, sunbathing & playing cards. We found some lovely little restaurants nearby for evening dinners & made the most of the peaceful life before heading back to Bangkok.
On our last night on Samui, we took a cab to Chaweng - the very popular part of the island that is famous for it's nightlife & shopping & met up with our friend Jamie & his girlfriend again. We had a fun night at the lively bars there but I found Chaweng to be very similar to Phuket - very commercial & too much like a holiday resort in Benidorm or Greece for my liking! Usually being a sucker for cheesy clubs & karaoke bars, I was surprised at how much staying on remote & idyllic islands like Krabi & Phi-Phi had changed my perspective.