Koh Phanggan from Kuala Lumpur

Abg Acid

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Jan 31, 2007
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A gem island, laid back less development and a perfect idylic island to unwind.

Koh Phanggan is a little island slightly north of Koh Samui, less famous and always shadowed by the much talked about Koh Samui. Koh Phanggan is known for its full moon parties no doubt, sort of a congregation island for the backpackers. Most bikers would leave out the intenery of visitng koh Phanggan and head on to Koh Samui instead. Even if they do visit Phangan, they would leave their bikes on Koh Samui and travel to Phangan by boats.

So, 6 of us, mostly on small bikes made a plan to ride from Kuala Lumpur specificaly for a visit to Koh Phangan. The plan was to ride from Kuala Lumpur on the PLUS higway, into Sadao border crossing into road 4, to Surat thani. From Surat, catch the ferry to Koh Phangan and stay for 3 nights before heading home using the coastal road 401.

We started off at 12 midnight from Kuala Lumpur. sort of midnight express, an all nite ride towards the border. Travelling on the expressway PLUS is very safe at night, and convenient too. The rest and recreations stops along the hiway are strategically placed to, very convenient for our little tanks to be refueld, as we travelled on little bikes. 3 cubs 125cc, 1 scooter 175cc, and er6n and me on 150cc yamahan FZi.

8 hours later, we were already at the border, clearing our bikes enty permit, and immigration into thailand.The next phase was to ride straight up to Surat Thani and to the ferry terminal at Don Sak. We have travelled road 4 more than a dozen times, and we knew it was not going to be not an exciting one, but it sure is fast and we need to get to the ferry before 4 pm to catch the ferry to Phangan. Thus on the 1st day, we travelled a little over 1000km in one leg.

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Our little bikes, mopeds and scooter.
 

Abg Acid

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We managed to get to Don Sak a little before 4, perfect for the ferry that leaves at 4.00pm. Don sak is a little town, east of Surat Thani, not much of interest except this is where the vehicle ferry terminal to Koh Samui and Koh Phanggan is located. Further east of Don sak there are a few beach resorts at Hat Khanom.

There were 2 ferry services, SEa Tran and Raja Ferry. To get to Koh Phangan we were adviced to board the Raja ferry, the terminal is located 500 meters east, which is smaller. The price for motorcyle and driver were classed into 2 catagories. Big bikes and small bikes. Small bikes are mopeds up to 150cc. The price were 280bh for the small mopeds and 460 for the bigger bikes. Unfortunately my bike which is a 150cc falls into the big bike catergory as the design fails the moped look. Its a 3 hour ferry ride to Phangan and it is not aircon, unlike the Seatran that takes you to Koh Samui.

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Leaving the terminals, BON Voyage, our adventures began

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Our bikes, neatly parked on the front rows, eager to roll out on Phangan
 

Abg Acid

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The cabin, on 1st floor. Long rows of seats, its time to take a nap after a night long and full day ride. 3 hours on the ferry sure is a bonus for our ride today. We hope to get to the island just a night fall. There is a small mini-mart on board and we could have a little snack too.Its no smoking in this cabin

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If you get alittle bored sitting in the deck, you may go upstairs for fresh air, and some ciggaretes of course. Its open air roof top.

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Ferry crew working on the ropes as the boat leaves the terminal
 

Abg Acid

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We reached the island at 7.30, ahead of schedule as the swa was calm and there were not many passenger and vehicles onboard. Whilst on the ferry I had spoken to a local muslim passenger and she has made some suggestion as where to stay for the night. She suggest that we stayed at Golden Beach resort, approximately 10 kilomters south of Thong Sala. Thong sala is a little town where the ferry terminal is located. There are few bubngalows/hotel here too, but the beach is not rally worth the stay. As I travelled with a GPS, and the the golden Beach resort shows on it, I simply lock the destination and it was an easy ride locating the resort.

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The Golden Beach Resort,. beach front bungalows. situated slightly on higher ground. It was completely empty with no visitors when we arrived, and the surprised owners were happy to see us, They even did asked how did we know of this place. They were muslim, and that translate easy halal food for us tonight and breakfist too. As it was in the low seaon of July, the rooms were 300bh only, and we chose the ones right to the beach.

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My room, twin sharing, perfect to unwind whilst listening to the waves from the sea. It will be music to our ears tonigt instead of the rumbling of our bikes engine all nite long yesterday.
 

Abg Acid

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The dinning, awesome wood and ratan/bamboo all round. Very cosy. We loved it very much

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The views, ,, what else can we ask for. Its only a 300bh per night stay. You can see Koh Samui in the horizon. At night its even better with the lights filling up the island
 

Abg Acid

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More awesome view from the dinning, this one facing north

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Adjacent to the dinning, there is a space for you to sit cleopatra style, wnwind yoursel, read books or strum the guitar.
 

Abg Acid

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THE ROADS ON PHANGAN

There are not many sealed roads on Phangan, but nevertheless its just a small island, and you can almost get to anywhere travelling on your bike. The better roads are mostly situated on the western part of the island. But you may have a spin on the dirt track on the eastern sides to the beaches that are very exotic and secluded. Visitors that come to these places usually take the long tail boats from Hat Rin. Hat Rin is located to the southern most strip of this island, home for the famous Full moon parties,,.. I will tell you more of this later.

The seal roads stats from the town Thong Sala, which is the largest town anyway. It goes up north and partly around the island. To the North there are some beautiful beaches of Haad Salaad and Ao Chalok Lam. To the south the sealed road will lead you to Ban Tai and it ends at Had Rim. Further south will be unselad road, but worth the ride to some spectacular hill top views of Laem Had Rim.

To the east, this is the off road track, but passable. It leads you to the one of the most amazing beach, bottle beach. It can get very treacherous during the raining season though.

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Road map of the island Koh Phangan

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Roads to the north, some are sealed tarmac and some are concrete

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Few curves on concrete surface, but the gradients are not as bad to the ones leading south
 

Abg Acid

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The roads leading south after Ban Tai, is a bit hilly. The gradients are high and you will need to be extra careful. the tuks tuks and western visitors with shorts only and dark glasses on rented cubs go quite fast here. There are few tight curves too, and the roads are quite narrow. It can even get scarry if it rains.

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Steep gradients, narrow and curved roads from Ban tai towrds Haad Rim. Please be careful.

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every kind of vehicle will share the road, and almost all will ride without helmets on.

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[B}Furter south of Haad Rin, road leading to Laem Haad Rim is merely a track in the hills, but will lead to some spectacular views from high points. Located also some very nice bungalows on hills[/B]
 

Abg Acid

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DAY 2

Since our schedule is only for 3 nights on Phangan, we decided to move to another beach on the second day. Oh, yes, we had a perfect stay at Golden beach no doubt, but we need to feel and taste more of Phangan during our limited time. And we need some snorkeling too. The beach on the north boast some good snorkeling. Its an easy ride up north, past Thong Sala and into coastal roads passing thru lovely bungalows and resorts. We rode very slow here, enjoying every beach and places.

In less than 2 hours, we have found another perfect place to stay and snorkle, Haad Salad. There is a little island nearby Koh Ma, and adjacent beach Ao Mae Haad and reports were that its was good snorkling ground.

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Haad Salad, more touristy but still have the idylic aura of being laid back. The beach is of fine white sand, and clear water. Scattered closely to each other are bungalows, restaurands, massgges and everything else that you need. Its a cove licke beach, a perfect place for the westerners to get a little bit of sun

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The are dines on the beach too. The Thais surely know how to pampher tourists, everything is simply possible for them, the sort of "No problem man, We will take care" thats what they do. and we simply love this kind of set up.

For instance here is a conversation last night we had with a local thai, he is a tuk tuk driver and we were at Godlen Bench Resort.

Local Thai: You go pool party tonight?, good good party.
We: What is there at party?
Local Thai: many many thing you want have.
Us ; Huh?
Local Thai: Beer , many beer , bucket.
WE: No.. we dont drink beer.
Local Thai: You go there, no problem I take care.
We: What else have there?
Local thai: Many many, everything have. ladyboy have.
We: Huh?.. ladyboy
Local Thai: Lady boy... many many, no good, Take money, take wallet. No problem I take care, I take care. I slap lady boy, no problem I take care, You come. Call me. I take care. Have boom boom.
We: Boom , boom?
Local Thai: In swimming pool, boom boom, You come, no problem , I take care.
We: Whats your name?
Local Thai. My name?.. Bird.. yes Bird. I take care, you call,
WE: Ok ;D
 

Ian Bungy

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Hi Abg Acid, That is a Big Trip on a Small Bike Mate, 1000kms in a Day! Great Stuff! I always hear the Guys here with Big Bikes saying You can't do Big Trips or too much distance Blah Blah!!! You just proved them all wrong, Well Done. I have been to Samui many times but never Koh Phanggan. Looked like You had a great time."A little Bird once Told Me"!!!
 

Abg Acid

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Yea, we certainly did Ian. One good thing about Thais, even with their limited english vocabs, they will try to communicate in any manner. We sure had a good laugh. Mr Bird was laughing too when he realise that we were not interested with ladyboys and try to change the subject of ladyboy being not good. This Mr.Bird was someone who offers himself to become our bouncer, sort of guide as well and the way he presented himself was truly natural funny. Going for holdiays in thailand is always one big package, good food, good place to stay and naturally good people.

acid
 

Abg Acid

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This is the bungalow we stayed for the 2nd night, My Way Bungalows at Haad Salad. Every room has a hammock. Great place to relax and sip coke. Having a hammock on the balcony makes you feel as sentimental, as if you are on a lost island some 50 years ago. And there is a moquito net too above your bed. Really cook rock life style. I had not slept in mposquito net for over 40 years now. I remembered when I was little, mom would put on the nets but that was a long time ago, a lifestyle that has dissappear all together in Malaysia. Awesome, cook rock! We paid 400bh for this room

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The more expensive bungalows, really cool looking with atap roofs. I bet you have to be careful with your cigarrete buts or else you will burn this place to the ground. My way bungalows have air con rooms too, but we dont feel we needed one as this place is cool enough with lots of shade from the trees. If you ever came to this place, look for the captain, named Mike. He spoke relatively good english. A dark young man, early 20s who came from Burma. A bit funny too but sure is helpful and friendly. Strange to learn his name is Mike, and comes to our rooms every now and then would ask " Is everything OK?" And everytime we passed him we would greet him, " HI Mike, whats' cookin' man? The girls who work for My Way Bungalows, mostly young would giggle whenever they meet us, but we never heard them saying anything english, its always Mike who would ask us for anything. They have a wifi connections too at the restuarant, which is great since we have a netbook too with us
 

Abg Acid

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The beach in front of the restaurant. It is built of stilts, great place to dine. We sat here for hours, drinking coke, coffee and some toast. A taxi service to the Half Moon location is also provided. We learned that the party will be held tonight, and its approximately 20 kilomters south. Must be an awsome party. But we never did go to the party, and luckily we didint as it rain cats and dogs that night. We saw many of the party goers came back in the early morning, all drenched up, wet to the skin. Admission to the party was 500bh.

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You may book a spot for you to have a bit of sun on your back. Great place Haad Salad.

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Another part of the beach, really nice. We did have a go on the water that evening and we had a good time. The water was calm and warm too

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Clear and warm water of the gulf of Thailand.
 

Abg Acid

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Just 1 kilometer north of Haad Sallad is the little island Koh Ma. We wrer told by MIke that it is quite good for snorkling and he can arrange a boat to the island. We said thanks, but will take our bikes to the cove nearest to it. So, off on our bikes, still wet from the swim at our beach we headed for Ao Mae Haad.

There is a resort at Ao Mae Haad renting fins and snorkling sets at very cheap rate of 50bh per hour. We rented some and as we walked to the beach we met 2 young ladies in bikinis and with fins too.

We: Hi ladies,.. see you have fins there. Did you go snorkling?
Ladies; Yes, we certainly did.
We: was it good?
Them: ah yes, the water is absolutely good today. very clear . visibility is perfect. Yesterday I snorkled too, but the water was crap.
We: wow,.. we must be lucky today. (and in our hearts: wow, lucky too to have met you girls in lovely bikinis he he ;D )
Them : You certainly are, have a good time


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A bit of dissapointment though, it looks like most of the corals are either dead or dying. Though there are some patchy areas where there are teams of fish and colorful corals. Quite fascinating. The nicer ones are further away fromthe shore and closer to island Koh Ma. Thats the price we pay,.. you want more tourist visiting, more corals will die. Many of them are broken, probably due to snorkelers stepping on the shalower water. Its a common scenerio now everywhere even in Malaysia, places with lots of tourist has broken corals. You need to go to islands of National Park, where boats are only allowed to anchor on bouys.
 

Abg Acid

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A bit more continuation on Koh Phangan....

3rd Day,.. Haad Rin

Ater a good time at Haad Salad, we decided to move out again. This time south to Haad Rin, the home of Moon Parties. As we packed out bags and the bikes ready to move out, Mike the captain of My Way bungalows came to see us, probably to check the keys to the bungalows. The girls came along too, smiling as usual. Mike asked "Where you go now". We told him Haad Rin. He repliead "Ah, yes, good place, many tourist... you have room?" We told him not to worry, we will find one. As our bikes rolled off, Mike and the girls wave goodbye and that was the first time we heard the girls spoke in english,.. "Bye BYe, have a good time" ... aha, probably those are the only few vocabs they knew,.. cute!

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Heading on south,,,, Haad Rin,... singing,,, I left my heart at Haad Salad,.. oooooh My way Way Bungalows.. whats cookin' Mike...Its a cook rock time'!

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singing...""But we have to leave, Haad Rin is calling us,.. we need to be there,.. "
 

Abg Acid

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In just an hour we are at Haad Rin. There are so many choice of accomodation here, bungalows,hotels, guest houses etc. We were lucky to spot an advertisement, a resort at promotion price. It says 500bh aircon and 300Bh fan, For Foreigners only. Thats cool, we are foreigners too, just sharing same skin and hair color with the locals, but we are definitely foreigners. Sort of "Same Same, but Different" signs we saw countless times in Thailand.

Coral Bungalows... cool atmosphere, with some very nice landscaping and a swimming pool. Upon checking the rooms, we were surprised how large it was and check in. 500bh air con at Haad Rin... who could ask for more.

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The reception, cool. Now lets show them our passports, we are foreigners,... same same but different!

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At the cafe, enjoying the views to the swimming pool

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Ah yes, the view
 

Abg Acid

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Later in the afternoon, we checked out what Haad Rin has to offer. We took our little bikes to the city, the beaches and then we went up the cape,.. the southern most strip of this island. This piece of land is separated by the sea with only several hundred meters. The eastern side is the more famous one. Further south the land gets wider and turn into a cape.

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Haad Rin Beach, home for the famouse Full Moon Party. This beach would be fill to the brim during the Full moon season and accomodation are usually always full

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Haad Rin, the beach facing east
 

Abg Acid

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The street of Had Rin Town. narrow and crowded with shops

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Since we came during the low season month, sections of the streets were empty, no tourists
 

Abg Acid

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After the city of Haad Rin, further south the sealed roads end. There is a little trek that goes uphill and plenty of signboards too. The road uphill was quite tricky, and you may need some good balance along the dirt track.There are some awesome bungalows on the hills overlooking Haad Rin and to the west this road leads to a downhill and located at the bottom are 2 awesone resorts Leela Bungalows and LightHouse Resort. The Leela bungalows are the laid back bungalow style but with a very nice beach.This is the Laem Haad Rin. One of the best beach in Koh Phangan. The lighthous resort on the other hand prtrudes out into the sea on a rocky piece. You need to go on a wooden platform around the rocks.

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The signboard leding to the bungalows uphill on the cape, Laem Had Rim

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View from the top. The beach below is Haad Rin

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Cool place to sit and relaxs at Top Hill bungalows. There were no guests when we came, but the owner Mrs. sun boast that her place is usually full during full Moon Party. I bet it does. The only problem getting here is the steep gradients, dont think a tuk tuk can do it. The possible optios are either motorcycle, 4wd or on foot.
 

Abg Acid

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Towards the west from the hill top there is a trek that leads downhill. It will lead you to one of the most lovely beaches in Phangan. There are only 2 resorts here. One is Leela, the most laid back and beautiful beach. Also situated nearby is The Lighthouse Resort.

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The beach of Leela Bungalows,.. very nice, and always deseted.

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Beautiful white beach... Leela Bungalows
 

Abg Acid

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The Light House Resort

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It is situated at the furthest end of Laem Haad Rim, rocky section of the cape. You need to walk on this wooden platform for some good 600 meters. Wont be a good idea if you had some very big and heavy luggage, but probably you may be allowed to take in your bikes if you checked in here, though I m not sure of it. But nevertheless, its a good walk here, we enjoyed our walk.

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Spectacular view.

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Clear water underneath. Maybe fishing could be a good idea here

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Me, taking a break and looking out to the sea, wish could spend a night here

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Ashburn, our riding partner taking a walk on the wooden platform

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At the end of this walkway, are the bungalows. We did not went further to check it out, as 2 fierce looking dogs came out to check on us
 

burnjr

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After our Phi phi ride on 29th april to 3rd may lets go Kok Phanggan again...