The past few days have been pretty eventful…
The original plan was to travel by train, bus and plane all the way from Kuala Lumpur in southern Malaysia to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand in 3 days. We had even prebooked a cheap flight from Krabi to Bangkok for the 11th. After our 15 hour train ride immediately followed by a five hour minibus trip from KL to Krabi, though, we were feeling pretty zonked. When we started to have trouble getting a bus ticket from Bangkok to Chiang Mai we decided to scrap the Chiang Mai plan and head to Ko Phangan instead as the full moon was coming up in a couple days.
We ended up having a nice time in Krabi (my 3rd time there) staying at a hotel recommended by some friends in KL (Chao Fah Guesthouse) instead of the awful Thai Hotel. There was some kind of street fair going on with live music and good food and I ran into a Lanta Family friend, Mindy from Washington state (there is no escaping the Lanta Family). In the morning we booked our ride to Ko Phangan and were there by the early evening of the 10th.
Soon after arriving in Hat Rin we learned that nearly the entire town is booked up due to the holiday. Yesterday was the first day of the lunar new year and thus a full moon - Ko Phangan is world famous for its monthly full moon parties and this is the largest one of the year… after much fruitless searching for a decent affordable room we gave up and decided to just stay up all night to find one in the morning. We stashed our bags at an internet cafe, got some coffee, ran around all night and saw an amazing sunrise over Hat Rin beach in the morning.
At this point we were obviously tired as hell. At 9am we retreived our bags from the internet place and wandered about for a while to finally get a room. We ended up getting a double room at a crappy place near the edge of town and fell asleep instantly. When I woke up in the morning I met our roommates: a nice variety of cockroaches, lizards, centipedes, mosquitos, flies, ants, spiders, etc. (the only ones that really bother me are the centipedes). I took a shower, got dressed and went to grab my camera and head out only to discover it had gone missing. I’m pretty sure I left it on a bench somewhere as we walked around town looking for a room because i remember picking it up from the internet place that morning. Its depressing and I feel like an idiot for it, but in the end its only money. I didn’t lose any photos and thankfully none of Sarah’s equipment was attached to my camera at the time. It has inspired me, though, to send home everything of value that I have left. I have little need for my computer anymore and I’ve lost so many things on this trip already its just not worth the trouble.
I spent that day moping about, retracing my steps and talking to everyone about my missing camera but, of course, no luck. Later on that afternoon I was tackled in the street by Ide and Linda (swedish friends from, you guessed it, Lanta Family) who told me that the entire gang is here in Hat Rin - including Mat who I was supposed to meet up with in Chiang Mai!! Sometimes things come together in the strangest ways… I hung out with everyone (Mat, Ricky, Bazz, Stephan, Linda, Ide and Leigh) around their hotel that night and celebrated the new year.
Songkhran (the Thai water festival) pretty much comes down to a non-stop all-out water war in the streets for the 3 day period around the new year. As you might expect, everyone and everything is soaking wet the entire time… I spent most of the next day running around in the streets with buckets of water splashing and being splashed. Tons of fun.
Last night was the full moon party. Absolute madness. I’ve never seen such a crowded beach - not only is everyone from the island out and about, but boatloads of people from other islands arrive just for the night… I had a great time despite being tired from the past few days. Supposedly the town starts to clear out by tonight and Sarah and I can move to a nicer place on a quieter part of the island. After a couple more days here, we’ll move to Ko Tao for some scuba diving and then up to Bangkok (AGAIN, arg) to meet Jeff who is arriving on the 24th. From there I think we’ll go northward into Laos…