Ko Pha Ngan, here we come! Had a great time on Koh Tao and now it was time to Island hop for a new adventure. After shuffling with the crowd and basically being almost the last lot of people to finally get on, we had no choice but to stay above deck in the hot sun for an hour and 20 minutes as inside seating was already taken and the first class tickets were too expensive. But that was ok as we had a few others with us above deck to keep us company, not that anyone really spoke to each other.So Sara and I hung our feet over the edge on the boat and watched the world go by while getting a tan on. Arriving at Ko Pha Ngan dock we soon realized that being outside was to be in our favor as we were the first ones off and enjoyed watching the rat race continue on the boat as we got our bags. NOTE: When Island hopping in Thailand, make sure you don’t have anything in your backpack that can be broken as the staff offloading the luggage just throw it off the boat….literally. (Take that all you line jumpers haha!). No sooner had we walked 20 metres than we were greeted with people offering accommodation and transportation to anywhere. Sara wasn’t sure about our booking the night before, so we decided to catch a taxi to a place after we were tempted by a lad offering accommodation near where we were booked (or so we thought). We asked how much the taxi was – 100Baht each. I thought sweet, lead us to our car! Heading towards a very nice looking four wheel drive, i thought ‘what a beast’! As it took off before we got there I thought ‘What the f#$k?’ On the other side of where the 4×4 was were two little scooters. Yep our taxi ended up being a scooter (one each, including luggage). Now you have to picture this, a little 75cc scooter with the taxi rider in the front weighing about 89kg, me at the back weighing about 96kg with a near 20 kilo backpack wedged between the driver and the handlebars, was going to make for an interesting ride on this scooter that you could now not see, as well as a few sideways glances from people. Then I turned and looked at Sara where we both gave each other that ‘Is this for real!’ look, more commonly known as ‘What the!’ look But no, this is pretty much the norm. And it was the fastest way to get to our potentially booked accommodation. The problem is, when we got there we were at the wrong place (lost in translation). The name of the hotel they thought we said led them to a hotel that sounded similar to the one we were suppose to go to which was now 5 kilometers in the opposite direction. We paused in thought for a minute before Sara said to the taxi riders to take us to the Hotel that this nice gentleman offered us at the dock. 100 meters later we were there (hmmmm) but that’s ok as it was right next to a school that had a soccer field which made me very happy, especially when I found out there were locals playing there every evening! Game on! The hotel was real good as well, with two swimming pools, three pool tables, a restaurant, Soccer on TV every evening, and a beach bar. Our room was very cool as well, as it came with it’s own Gecko (large, 40 cm) in the bathroom during the morning and giant flying cockroaches in the evening with the odd giant beetle perched on our front door at night, but no sounds of barking dogs next door going off at all hours of the night with the odd cat fight thrown in every now and then (our experience from our last accommodation in Koh Tao). After settling in and getting our bearings with an actual map we could understand, and after having a swim and meeting two Muay Thai kick boxers (male and female from the west), it was time to hire a scooter of our own and go venturing! Scooter arrived 10 minutes after we asked for it, got a brief on the ins and outs of it and we were off to look for a food stall. We were naturally not disappointed! Found a nice food stall just out of town with the most awesome green Thai curry (hot hot) then went tiki touring around the streets and eventually ran into a food stalls street banquet! We tried as much as we dared (weight loss program thrown out the window that day) until my honey felt a bit funny in the tummy so we went home where I went to play soccer. Sadly Sara could not come due to situations of epic proportions. Thankfully we remembered the pills her doctor gave her before we left for SAE. They are miracle pills, because moments after she took them, after suffering two hours of dread (the fast and the furious), everything stopped and she was back to her normal Sara self! They are called Diamide Relief pills and I recommend them for any traveler coming to SAE. It’s a ‘must have’ in the first aid kit. Come the next day and Sara was much better! So, a swim and a shower before scooting off for breakfast and a bit of sight seeing. Breakfast was great, naturally, and after a bit of organizing we were off to see a part of the island. The ride was a blessing as it helped cool us down with the breeze, but then we started going from a flat run to a hilly run, not just small hills, but long steep hills that our poor scooter could hardly get up without the engine going full tick. It came to the point that our poor scooter was struggling that much that Sara had to get off half way up one hill so we could get the scooter up the top. This included taking a big run up before we took on the hill. (Video of this is on my Facebook Page). ‘Right’ I said, ‘we’re upgrading to a bigger scooter’. Sara nodded in approval.
Before we did that, I gave Sara her first scooter lesson in which she did well, minus a wobble moment down the hotel’s drive due to a big 4×4 coming in the opposite direction. After that, we proceeded to go to the bike shop to upgrade, and it was bloody worth it! Much bigger, more room, bigger engine. Bliss. Night was falling so it was time for another game of soccer (won 3 – 1), shower, swim, shower, said ‘see ya later’ to our big beetle friend on our door, then it was off on new bike for dinner and evening sight seeing. The night markets and food stalls are amazing. Then it was another lesson on new scooter for Sara before we parked up for the night to watch ‘Deadwood’. Nek morning was more venturing around as much of the Island as possible. and with new scooter, it was not a problem! Zip zapping up and down bigger hills, racing past other westerners and laughing at their weak and struggling scooters, we were having a great time! The whole day was committed to snorkeling, but each beach we went to was not very good due to the tide being out as well as having no good footwear to walk out over the sharp rocks while trying to avoid all the sea slugs and sea urchins. So we carried on with our scooter venture and saw the Island surroundings which was outstanding. We spent four nights in Ko Pha Ngan before deciding to head back to Koh Tau for better snorkeling and to sort out our visa run (Crossing the border to extend our stay in Thailand) which involves going back to Penang Georgetown where we were two weeks ago, then heading up to Bangkok for three weeks. To be continued…..