Monday, 29 July 2013

Day Twenty - Ko Pha-ngan - Part Two - Thailand

We got up early on our second day on Ko Pha-ngan and planned what we were going to do with our day. Originally we were going to take a day trip to Ang Thong Marine Bational Park but decided to carry on exploring the island as there is so much to see here.

We set out on the moped to visit the north of the island. As the crow flies this is less than a couple of kilometres around the bay from us. However, due to the lack of roads reaching our side of the island we had to go to the south of Ko Pha-ngan before taking the road up the centre of the island to reach the north!

Our first stop was to a beach that has a sand strip reaching out to a small island called Ko Ma. We parked up the the bike and walked along the beach taking in the views. After we went eastwards to the town of Chaloklam which is a traditional Thai fishing village on the island practically untouched by tourism. Jamie bought a snorkel here fromma diving shack before we set off on the road again to a nearby waterfall and national park.

The waterfall flows down the side of Khao Ra the tallest peak at 625 meters on the island. We got off the bike and started to walk up the river towards the waterfalls that are higher up. The first hundred meters were all paved with steps and were easy to get up. Then the path just stopped and you literally had to climb up the side of the mountain pulling yourself up with the help of roots that had been exposed in the rains. We had to climb like this for a few hundred meters (me sensibly in flip flops)

The first waterfall called Pang Noi is about thirty meters tall but as there had been no rain lately it was just an exposed rock. Someone had also graffitied the sign to read 'Pang No' waterfall too which was quite entertaining! As we climbed higher alongside the main waterfall called Tran Nam Bak (also with not much water) we looked back and saw views across the island out to the sea. At the top there was a plunge pool that people were bathing in after the climb too.

You could carry on the hike another few kilometres to the peak of the mountain but we decided to descend as I had bad shoes and that along with the heat and bad path made us feel we had seen enough. It was a beautiful path though leading through dense jungle and the waterfalls must be spectacular after it rains. I guess you can't have it all - we had beautiful sunshine for days now so we can't complain about there being no water - we would have only moaned if we had days of rain!

We set back on the road to home passing small sleepy villages along the way and signs pointing to more waterfalls, elephant rides, bars selling 'bloody cold' beer and gasoline huts. As we made our way across the island and back to our dusty road we stopped every so often to admire the amazing views out over the island before reaching home mid afternoon.

We stopped for some lunch before spending the afternoon lazing on the beach and watching the sun go down. Ko Pha-ngan is a beautiful island that you could spend days exploring and even longer just getting into the swing of its laid back vibe and just chilling out. It's an island visited by many but without the impact marked on it that is often left by tourism. Instead small natural looking palm bungalows pop up to the side of coves hidden under huge jungle canopies. People rarely move from their small bays and if they do you hardly notice them as they get lost in the maze of tracks that can lead you to remote coves that you can have to yourselves if you make the effort to explore. I could easily spend months here but sadly tomorrow we leave to the neighbouring island of Ko Samui which is supposed to be completely contrasting - will see.

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