Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand

Ko Pha-Ngan: June 15 to 18.

Ko Pha-Ngan, an island in the Gulf of Thailand, is confused. Much like myself, it doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up. Unlike me, it is trending toward the opulent. My miserly budget of $20USD/day could only barely be accommodated, and that’s only after rigorous negotiation over the price of accommodation.

Ko Pha-Ngan is known for it’s “Full Moon Party,” which I avoided due to my aversion to mixing Techno music, alcohol, “the Dutch” (not actual Dutch people, but the local word for “grass”) and “other”. As a guide book suggests: The party was once S.E. Asia’s version of Burning Man, but is now more like a Spring Break booze-a-thon. The cropping up of Half-Moon, Black Moon and Blue Moon parties evidences the lunar enabling of celebrations.

Beyond the parties, Ko Pha-Ngan does have its mellow side. My accommodation rented cheap bungalows that once sat alone ona ½ mile stretch of beach, but are now flanked by “Boutique” hotels. Occupying small strips of land with only a bit of beachfront, they pack in the vacant chairs below red flags of Che Guevara and blaring Bob Marley.  It resembles a ghost town of sorts, where you might find a rocking chair still swaying after the lounger had just moved on.

I certainly don’t mean to deride this fabled paradise, the beaches are stunning, waterfalls hypnotic and views stunning. My view of the island was certainly limited and narrow. Nonetheless, I find myself turned off by any paradise beach, which I can’t walk down without someone shouting, “Hey! Cheap, cheap Armani suits!”

On to the next adventure.

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