On The Road – Day 6 (Koh Pha’Ngan, Thailand)

After a few days in Koh Samui, it was time to get off the beaten path and up into the hinterland. I booked a ferry from the pier and crossed the channel in waves that suggested a storm was a brewing (after two days of non-stop rain, I was wondering if it ever stopped raining here)!  I landed at the pier on the leeward side of Koh Phangan, and tried to get a taxi up north to the nature reserve.

Of course, as luck would have it, I was the last to exit the boat and all the taxis had disappeared with tourists looking for a place to sleep that eve. It was fast getting dark and I had visions of pitching up into town after a nice long walk from the boat station! Not ideal as the rain and wind were starting to howl.

Since I am not shy when it comes to “getting it done” while on the road, I chatted up this woman who offered to broker me a ride to Haad Rin. I didnt want to go to the main city of Haad Rin on the island. My goal was to get into the northern parts, where few people were heading this time of year. After some back and forth, she introduced me to a thai couple and their two kids who were making their way back to Ao Tan Pan Noi. I got in their truck and played with their three year old as we sputtered and squirted up and down the washed out roads in the last light of the day.

Before we set out, they wanted to stop and pick up some food. This was a slightly different transaction than say, a family of four stopping off at McD’s in the states. We pulled up to a wooden stand and with one honk from the ’96 Toyota, a woman came out and brought with her two fish that wished they were still trawling around the reef that was located less than 200 meters from this shanty-shack. Holding them by the tail, the wife in the driver side reviewed the specimens for fleshy parts and determined there was enough meat to feed the four! I was about to invite myself to dinner but decided I would hold back!

Taking off at breakneck speed, the Toyota truck zipped up the muddy roads and heaved around hairpin corners at alarming speeds. It was raining, windy, the jungle prevented any light from above to make its way as a beacon. I suggested in really bad Thai that unless there was a fire, maybe the Indy driver should take some weight off the metal?  He looked at me with a quixotic look as if to say “quiet farang, I know how to drive on road that lacks pavement and is without a middle divider, much less a demarcation”. I was happy that as we rounded boulders, he would give a nice toot on the horn to warn cars coming at similar breakneck speeds from the opposite direction that we were rounding the turn and to be aware!  And yes, there were potholes. Luckily, as the rain came down, they were filling with muddy rain water, which provided some entertainment for the young child as massive water would be displaced as we hit said mentioned hole with speed.

After an hour of nail biting, I let go of the “oh shite” handle above and exited hastily from the truck. I gave the traditional Thai bow (two hands clasped, brought to my lips and a slight bow) and made my way to a bungalow that was available for this weary traveler.

But lo and behold, this trip was worth it. I awoke to a cove about 1/2 a mile long, surrounded by lush jungle on both sides. The sand was like rice, making sing song noises as I walked across it. The few establishments that were open were serving american style coffee and some noodle/soup concoctions. This was “Karate Kid II” (when the Daniel and his mentor are in Okinawa at the local village) meets “The Beach” (that really bad movie with LDC).  Picture postcard with crystal clear waters, a few long-tail boats awaiting their owners, and a tourist looking to capture the moment with his digital camera.

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