We were met again by the bluster and puff of the locals offering anything and everything at extortionate prices. We tried to haggle but it was a fixed price no matter where we were going. The beauty of having more of us means costs are shared but mainly any weakness can be supported by someone else who is prepared to stand strong and not give in to the locals’ manipulation. That’s exactly what we did and walked straight past and hired some scooters, again. Isabel got a great deal for us with the cost of the scooters for two days being cheaper than a tuk tuk to our accommodation and back. Goes to show how inflated prices are on certain things and as a tourist, the locals at the ports and terminals will literally extort you for everything you have!
All the bags on the bike again and feet out in front, we headed to our bungalow on the south-west of the island.
The afternoon was spent preparing for the night ahead. We are not spring chickens any more! The reason for our trip to Koh Pha Ngan was to attend the Half Moon party. Everybody no doubt has heard about the famous Full Moon party, but possibly not its smaller sibling. In fact, Koh Pha Ngan are well and truly trying to maximise the tourists and keep the party going all month long with many moon themed parties, nearly on a daily basis……. Basically, if you’re in Koh Pha Ngan, and want to party, there will be a party. The main parties are the Full and Half Moon. Due to dates, we missed the Full Moon event but maybe that was a blessing. 30,000 people pack a tiny beach and party hard, generally a younger crowd. The Half Moon party is located deep in the jungle in Ban Tai and a large dance floor has been made along with a chill out deck. There are fluorescent lights and psychedelic string sculptures dangling from the coconut trees giving it a really different vibe to the Full Moon Party.
In true backpacker fashion we grabbed some liquor from the supermarket so we could enjoy some home made cocktails before going out. The $15 drinks inside the party seemed a tad expensive so given the price of two bottles of spirit and mixers equated to that, it made sense to save a few pennies all round.
Evening came and we got ready for our big night. Music, alcohol and a table on the beach. We were set. Natalie did her nails under the spot light of her head torch then prepared Issy’s eyelashes and quiff. As the night went on, the quiff gained an extra few inches, with Natalie re-puffing it and clipping each time Issy got some more confidence with the extra drink.
We grabbed a tuk tuk to the jungle, got some luminous body art, a bucket of samsong whisky (local whisky) and red bull, and off we went. Party Time!
The party itself was a lot of fun and we all had a great time. Natalie drank a bit too much so spent most of our money on kebabs inside the party….(nothing changes). Greg and I were on the hunt for pick pocketers after we got targeted at the beginning. Greg felt it happening, so thankfully nothing was lost. I was the distraction so lost my drink, when a guy picked it off the floor pretending to clean up. Issy just danced all night and didn’t stop! The rest is a little hazy, like the 300 pictures I took. It did help piece the night together though when we looked through them the next day in fits of giggles.
On the way back Greg decided he didn’t want to be a team player, nor pay the $3 taxi ride so jumped on the back of a different tuk tuk and off he went. He did eventually remember Issy and the rest of us as we spotted him a little way up the road, so with his tail between his legs he re-joined the group!
Activity the day after was pretty limited. We all lazed around for a while. Team Plan tried to work out our next routes and itineraries. Feeling a little more human, we took the bikes out in the afternoon and to the beach where the actual Full Moon Party is held. It was hard to believe that 30,000 people party on this tiny beach each month. I think personally we made the right choice.
Later on and in true fashion, I made time on Sunday evening to watch the F1 and everyone came along too. Natalie jumped on Skype, Issy attended to her blog and photos, Greg and I drank beer and watched the race. Following the race we stopped at a beach bar for one final drink slouching on bean bags chatting about all things Cayman, life, work and basically anything and everything.
Team Plan, during their morning planning session whilst hungover, discovered that there was a local night boat which is used to transport the locals from the island to the mainland. It isn’t advertised or very well known so was a great find. This therefore opened up the following day to explore the other side of the island, as we didn’t need to leave until the evening. We set off around the coast heading North East stopping at a restaurant not too far out of the town which Natalie had researched, and wanted to take us to, Mama Poohs. They have been recognised on Trip Advisor, but what was funny was that as you sat down, in a dirty shack, you are handed a menu, piece of paper and pens. The menu then basically advises that no one speaks English nor can they read English. Please can customers write down the number of the dish of their choosing, the quantity and price. Also, stipulate by starring, how spicy you want the dish. I.e 1* is mild and 5*s spicy. The food was delicious and we indulged. Perhaps, over indulged! We did skip breakfast so it doesn’t count. It really was local and so delicious. A real gem and true local experience!
We continued on the journey struggling up and down the very steep hilly roads, Natalie and I more so than Greg and Issy. We initially thought it was because they had a more powerful bike but after consideration we realised in fact, we were both fatter. Something actually Isabel, who I initially thought was lovely, confirmed the day before by calling me “chubby” on the beach. Poor Natalie had to keep jumping off the bike so that we could breach the crest of the hills. Much to the others’ entertainment.
We continued round to a small remote road, past the fishing village, which turned into a dirt road. We parked up the bikes and to the side was a walking trail which took us up and over rocks and through ‘jungle like terrain’, about 1 hour, until finally we got to first sight of white sand and blue water. This was a trek that Greg had read about and was excited to complete, we read that we would be rewarded with a secluded beach, with fantastic views and blue water. We were perhaps hoping for a scene out of the Beach whereby the beach was completely secluded a las, there were a few holidayers who were either staying in bungalows or cheated by getting a boat ride over.
Not a dry patch on us and extremely hot and sweaty, we immediately jumped in the sea to cool down. We relaxed for a little while with a fresh coconut before trekking back to our bikes for our journey home, in order to make our first overnight sleeper boat.
A few pictures are on Flickr. Many got deleted as I am sure you can imagine, drinking and photography, doesn’t mix. I mean they were out of focus….. We don’t take a bad picture.