During Christmas & New Year 2016/2017 me & my travel friend went three weeks so Thailand. Louise had never been to Thailand and I was curious to see what had happened since last. I went to Thailand for the first time around 20 years ago and then again around 15 years ago. I also had a short stop in Bangkok 10 years ago.
We had chosen to visit the South East islands Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Since we had heard Chaweng Beach, which was our first stop in Koh Samui, was a very commercial place we had picked a hotel a bit away from the center up on a hill. It was a very nice little retreat to acclimatize and with the sun shining almost the whole first day our hopes for the vacation were high!!
Koh Samui | Chaweng Beach
First I like to say that even though most of my pictures will look sunny we only saw the sun about 4-5 half days! And naturally that is when I had my camera out. I guess it will sound unbelievable to be three weeks in Thailand during December/January and hardly see sun but that is what happened to us. It started of reasonable in Koh Samui and our first day in Koh Phangan but then a delayed monsoon rain hit…
We only stayed three nights in Chaweng beach and that was enough. It is very commercial and busy. There is hardly any space on the beach as you can see on below picture.
On Christmas Eve, which is when Swedes celebrate the most, we had decided to meet up with a girl I got to know in Panama some years ago, in a beach close by. The taxi ride there was a rip of and we never managed to catch up since we had different understandings of which day we actually should meet. The area was closing down extremely early and we were happy to find somewhere to grab a Pad Thai before heading back to Chaweng again. We made up for the poor Christmas Eve experience the next day with a great seafood plate by the seafront. Those are things that are very affordable to do in Thailand. Another thing that is very cheap is to have massage. I think I had at least 10 foot massages during our trip. On one of below images Louise played around with the camera, can you see her? 😉
Koh Phangan | Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach
It was interesting to spend a few days in Chaweng to understand how the development has transformed what was once a tranquil place. But we hoped to find more peace in Koh Phangan. Yes, it is true that Koh Phangan is known for its huge full moon parties once a month. But it is a big island and I had read that there are amazing places to find on the island. We had decided to see two sides of the island. Our first stop was Thong Nai Pan Yai where we had splurged our selves with a better bungalow that appeared to even more luxury than we had prepared ourselves for. We had a little patio with own pool and chill area. The sun shined as we arrived after a short boat ride. And our hope for a relaxing vacation on the beach was higher than ever 😉
We stayed in Thong Nai Pan Yai for four nights. It was a very sleepy little place with beautiful green surroundings. Our fist day was very beautiful with calm turquoise water. But the day after that it started. It had become very windy and during the night lots of garbage had blown up on the beach. People spend a full day cleaning it away. But we still could enjoy two hours of sun in the afternoon. All in all our days on this side of Koh Phangan were very relaxing.
Koh Phangan | Haad Yao Beach
After four nights on the east side of Koh Phangan we moved to the west side to Haad Yao. Yet an extraordinary beautiful beach! Our bungalow was simple and a bit up on a hill. Just a short walk away there was a beach which they say are usually as wide as a football field. But unfortunately there was a very hide tide when we were there so even if we could have sunbathed it was more or less impossible since there was no beach to lie on. Since we only had half a sunny day during our four nights in Haad Yao it did not matter that much to us. We focused on eating nice and shilling bye the water listening to the waves and hoping the sun would come out. In the late afternoons the tie went down a bit and the restaurants could put out their tables in the sand.
Koh Phangan Count Down Party
On the 31th of December we took a cab to Haad Rin beach to attend the 2016 Count Down Party. The organizer was the same as the famous full moon party, which usually draw between 20 000 to 30 000 party goers.
We did like everyone else and bought a bucket with some “hard stuff” to keep us awake all night. We had heard that people would be colorfully dressed so we did our best to melt in 🙂
Nothing could have prepared us for the size if this party. What you see below is just a fraction. A whole long beach was filled of people dancing. There was about 10 different venues having DJ´s playing all sorts of music. The crowed was mostly young and painted in fluorscent colors. We actually spent more time walking than dancing. It was a very interesting night. I guess for some even more interesting than for us since we discovered that the grayish milkshake many people bought in one specific club was a magic mushroom drink that was supposed to enhance your evening. We had a great night people watching but both felt that “seen that done that”.
Koh Tao | Sairee Beach
After Koh Phangan it was time to hit our last island for this trip, Koh Tao. So far we had seen the sun about 3 half and 1 full day and were very eager to relax on the beach. I had seen images of Koh Tao and knew it was a beautiful island. And as a small note I also like to say that you might have to be Swede (or Nordic) to understand this obsession with sun 😉
We stayed four nights. On the first day we had 4 hours without rain. Then we took a walk to a beautiful beach called Sai Nuan. On the way back it started to rain heavy and we had to stop to have cake and coffee in one of the many cafés that you nowadays find everywhere in Thailand.
Unfortunately the rain never stopped after that and the next two days we were more or less stuck in our hotel room since the non stop monsoon rain that arrived cause floodings. We lived a bit up on a hill and were lucky to have a dry room with functioning toilet and shower. We also had a great restaurant and a bar just opposite our street so twice a day we managed to cross the road to get something to eat and drink. The picture below shows how our street looked like. We heard further down there were places were cars could not even drive anymore and where the water was up to the waist if trying to walk. Tourists did not manage to catch their boat and we were starting to get really worried as we listened to the heavy rain poring down with out a pause.
We were lucky and made it to the harbor after there had been some effort to get water away enough to bring people to the boats.
Summarizing the two weeks on those three islands I must say that even though we felt the vacation was partially destroyed by the weather I don´t think I would have felt “wow” even with sun. The nature was fantastic but the authentic feeling was missing, the locals had stopped smiling and it was very difficult to walk around since the streets were overloaded by youngsters trying to ride a motorbike. About 1/4 of all young back packers we saw on the streets wore bandages from injuries. It was really much worse than it sounds, it was not relaxing at all to stroll around. And many bring their own sound speakers with them everywhere they go, so just listening to the nature was impossible since you must live with other peoples individual and selfish manners everywhere you go. I loved Thailand in my twenties but I will not go back anymore. There are so many other beautiful places in the world to be discovered and I have seen so much authentic beauty lately that I noticed my expectations have raised. One final reflection is that my discovery of Afro and Latin dances has also brought an insight that destinations where this kind of music is played and where people smile and dance a lot are the places that appeals to me right now. Every thing has its time. And everyday I learn about myself.