Sunday, June 3, 2012

Thaisland Part III: Koh Phangan

More view from the ferry to Koh Phangan- it's purrrty!
There was a massive storm overnight that killed the power, and it didn't return until about 7:00 am. Consequently, there was no A/C or even a fan. This made for a very hot and sweaty night (not the good kind). Although it was a miserably moist night without much sleep because of my insane itching (I even woke Colin with my scratching several times), I felt, overall, better in the morning. I was able to walk down the road to the 7Eleven to get coffee and yogurt without keeling over. If only I could ditch the rash! It was painful to wear my sandals, which have a textured base, but it hurt even more to go barefoot.  

one of many gorgeous sunsets on Koh Phangan
The morning was beautifully clear after last night's toad strangler, so I set myself on the porch, while Re walked out to the 7Eleven (yes, they even have them in paradise). We spent the rest of the morning reading on the porch and generally being lazy. Around lunchtime, we made the quarter mile walk into town and had a lunch of curries at a small Thai place. Back at the bungalow, we did some more reading before putting on sunscreen to head out on the beach. The water here is fantastic- clear and warm, and the beach is powdery, white sand. After the sun set, we returned to the bungalow to shower and then head out to dinner. One of the reasons our bungalow is such a good price is that it is the end of the season. One downside to this is that all the restaurants on the beach are basically empty. We chose the best sounding place and sat down at a table on the beach. We spent the next ten minutes trying to get the attention of a waiter or waitress, but to no avail. While we sat there, we both decided that the poutine at Crave sounded pretty good. So we gave up and walked to Crave via the main road. Unsurprisingly, the poutine was delicious. Re had hers with ground beef, and I chose pulled pork. While we waited for our food to arrive, we made use of their free wifi to research dengue fever.

After reading an online list of the symptoms, we are both pretty certain that I have dengue fever. It starts with a high-ish fever accompanied by severe aching, then you feel better, then the fever returns, then nausea and vomiting may set in, then a pink, itchy rash may appear, starting with tender palms and soles. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick...yup, that about sums it up. Classic dengue fever. We had no idea, because the symptoms didn't occur simultaneously. Anyway, there's nothing to do for it but rest, take analgesics for the aches, and drink lots of fluids. I added antihistamines for the itching, but there's no miracle fix that a doctor can provide. Just for education purposes, dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes (yet another reason to despise them). There are four serotypes of the disease, and having one of them gives you immunity to that serotype only. If you get dengue fever again, you are likely to have a much worse time of it. The ultimate variety is the hemorrhagic version which will put you in the hospital and can be fatal. Yaaayyyyy... Dengue is coming to a tropical paradise near you- there have been outbreaks in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and in Key West, Florida (in 2009), so USE BUG SPRAY!!!!!!! In the grand scheme of mosquito-borne diseases, there are certainly worse ones (malaria and Japanese encephalitis to name two) to get, but I would strongly advocate avoiding it.

Our bungalow
We spent six nights on Koh Phangan, relaxing in the hammock on our porch or on the sand, reading, swimming, walking on the beach, and scratching (just me). In and amongst our busy daily schedule, I managed to squeeze in a beachside massage one afternoon as well. The woman knelt on me, pulled my limbs all a-kilter, and rubbed with her elbows until I felt like a puddle of jelly. We also got to enjoy a couple more huge, overnight thunderstorms (minus the power outages, thankfully). One night, the winds blew so hard, that water actually came in around the windows! It was quite a light show on the water that night.

the green light isn't an UFO, it's a squid boat on the water
Our original plan had been to spend a couple of nights on one beach and then move to another one for another few nights. But since our bungalow was so comfortable and cheap, and the food was so good, we decided to stay put on Had Yao for the entire time (also because we didn't know if Colin's clutch would make it over the next hill, let alone back to the ferry dock when we did need to go). We finally found our island paradise! Since we were there during the off-season, there were very few people on the beach, and every place was quiet. My appetite returned over the next several days, and I am sure the restaurant proprietors were quite pleased to have us as guests. We found a great beachfront place where we ate dinner three nights, trying a variety of curries and pastas with fresh squid and prawns, green papaya salads, tempura vegetables (try pumpkin, enoki mushrooms, and green beans sometime, in addition to your onions and broccoli), and we returned to Crave one more time (Okay, now try a burger topped with melted brie, crispy bacon, and homemade mayonnaise. Then have a pulled pork sandwich with bleu cheese, homemade pickled jalapenos, and bbq sauce as a patty melt. Muy delicioso!).

Listening to some tunes on the ferry
This too, had to come to an end (so we wouldn't grow roots), so after six days, we rose early (5:00 am) and rode to catch the 7:00 ferry back to the mainland.  :^(    Colin's bike made the journey to the port without event, and we arrived at the ferry dock with plenty of time.  The morning was sunny and breezy, and because of the winds (I guess), the return boat ride took about an hour longer than the outbound trip. 
On the ride we met a Swiss couple who were riding their bicycles from Switzerland to New Zealand. We spent some time chatting with them before plugging in our earbuds, plopping ourselves on the deck, and watching the islands slowly slide by. It was a beautiful morning, with clear skies and a nice breeze. Around 10:15 am, the ferry docked at Don Sak and we were, once again, riding toward Malaysia.


  1. This really looks like paradise. Why the rush to move on? I hope the rest was just long enough to help you recover.
    Those friggin' mozzies are really useless creatures.

    1. It truly was paradise on Koh Phangan. I did recover fully-by the time we left, I was as near 100% as I ever am! Mosquitoes are only good for bat food, and I think the world needs many more bats. As for why we left so soon, we were there for six nights, we'd run out of books to read, and with the clutch in Colin's bike in such bad shape, we didn't feel comfortable riding more than we had to (to look for other books, find different food, explore). We'd love to go back someday and see more of the island, and we both would recommend it highly for a holiday.

  2. If you are comfortable talking about it, would you share how you handle transactions? Do you keep a minimal amount on hand? Do you use credit cards?

    I think your blog would make a great book! Please keep it up...

    1. Actually, monetary transactions are simple. ATMs are available everywhere we've been, so we just withdraw what we need in each country. We brought some US currency from home, but we've only used it for shipping the bikes. It was more of an "in case of emergency fund," but fortunately haven't had need to use it for that. We don't use credit cards other than to buy our plane tickets or make the occasional online hotel reservations. They are not widely accepted in the places we've been (except at some upscale establishments, which we don't frequent :^) Thanks for the compliment- I'm glad you enjoy the blog!