|Hello from Ko Pha-Ngan (“Ko Pan Yang”)!
Sorry about the sporadic updates. Today you get several entries at once, since finding good internet access which is fast enough to upload pictures is a bit difficult.
On Friday, I took an hour boat ride from Ko Samui to Ko Pha-Ngan. Ko Pha-Ngan has a much smaller population than Ko Samui and is less popular with middle-aged tourists. Pretty much the whole traveler population here is under 30... which makes for a lively crowd, although pretty much everyone is here with their significant others, so there aren't many other travelers to mingle with. Actually, I haven't met anyone else in Thailand who is traveling alone. Not one single person. And not one single American either! There are many British, Australian, Swedish, and Israeli backpackers though.
I am staying in Hat (Thai for "beach") Rin, which is a small peninsula with two beaches, one facing west and one facing east. From my bungalow at Sunset Beach, you walk up a dirt/gravel road (the main road in town) for about five minutes to reach Sunrise Beach. Along the road are countless tiny travel agencies, tattoo parlors, boutiques, and reggee-themed stores. Ko Pha Ngan is famous for its "Full Moon Parties" which happen every month on the full moon. Basically, it is a drug and alcohol fueled all-night rave/huge, crazy party on the beach with thousands and thousands of people. I will unfortunately not be here for one, but it is cool to see where it takes place anyways, since it is a world-famous party.
Yesterday, I went on a boat tour around the island with about twelve couples. I was totally the 25th wheel on that boat! I did figure out how to get sunscreen on my back though.. it took about 15 minutes in front of the mirror in my hotel room, and lots of yoga-like poses, but I did it! The boat tour was called "Munchies." Charming. You can guess what came free with the boat cruise. No one partook except for the guide and a few Thais... all the Westerners looked at each other and said, "Um.. isn't the punishment for drug possession in Thailand, like, DEATH?? No thank you." The weather didn't really cooperate on our boat trip.. it was mostly overcast and windy.. but it was still lots of fun. We saw about four other beaches, hiked to an anti-climactic waterfall, and snorkeled. The waterfall was pretty funny, because it was just brown sewage falling down some rocks, but the guide told us that the water was lucky, so we all had to jump in.
Snorkeling was the BEST part. The colors weren't as vibrant because of the cloudy weather, but I still got to snorkel all around some huge coral reefs. There were fish, eels, etc. and it was amazing. Snorkeling over a reef feels like flying (like in Disney's "Peter Pan" movie when they fly over London). The guide would throw fish food over the side of the boat, and hundreds of tropical fish would swarm all around us.
At night, I've been eating crepes with Nutella from the street vendor and watching DVDs on my computer. Currently, I am working on "House" and "Ugly Betty."
Tomorrow, I take a high speed catamaran to Ko Tao, a smaller island about an hour away. It is famous for its diving and snorkeling. Let's just hope the weather cooperates!