I am in a tropical paradise. I have no idea what month it is, have lost association to days of the week, even what year. I get cognitive dissonance each time I realize it’s nearly Christmas because it’s always 29 C here. Even at night it doesn’t cool down much. The resorts are covered in different flowers, and bungalows hang off of rock faces, or their roofs peep out of the low jungle.
Here, the sea is inviting like a soft, warm bed. It’s so salty, you cannot sink. Around the shallows, it is bright azure, and coral beds begin just a few metres from the shore. You can swim 20 feet out with a snorkle and float over the coral beds, full of coloured fish which are invisible from above the water. Some fish swim alone or in twos, while others move in diverse herds across the flat coral meadows, all feeding together.
Brooke and I have been here for about 12 days, and are slowly moving around the island – spending two or three nights at a time at different bays. Right now we are in Tanote, recovering from a short overnight hiadus to nearby Koh Pha Ngan’s monthly Full Moon Party.
Full Moon Party has a paradisical ring to it, but I can assure you, it is not all that. I knew it was going to be a bit of a free-for-all, but it’s a famous party, right near us, so why not go and dance it up? We took the ferry over in the afternoon, planning to pull an all-nighter so we wouldn’t have to buy accomodation. It was kinda fun, good vibe considering the number of people. But it was also a sort of millenial hell, with nothing but the same European style techno to dance to, with the exception of one small nook with drum and bass which attracted a few dance refugees. myself included. Every single male (except Brooke) had bought a cheap fluorescent Full Moon Party loose wife-beater, and about half the girls had a similar crop top. It was highly clone-y and the “buckets” of booze flowed freely among the clones and as the hours passed there was more and more stumbling, fussing over too-drunk friends, collapsing in the sand. By sunrise, the whole beach was littered with garbage which would either be scavenged for reusables, or sucked into the sea as the tide rose. Not only is there a Full Moon Party each month, but now there’s also a Half Moon Party, and a Dark Moon Party. So basically the whole life of Haad Rin beach is a never-ending cycle of techno-dance party.
In the end, I had one beer, got in about an hour or two of dancing, and mostly just people-watched. However, I might have well got blasted, because the ferry the next morning destroyed me. 30 hours later, and I am still recovering. The wind had stirred up big waves, and within 10 minutes i felt sick. I held it together with yogic breathing for about an hour, and thought I might make it. Brooke felt sick too and had retreated to the upper deck. I couldn’t even follow because of the bucking waves and likelihood of being sick if I moved. I looked up at the wrong time, just as we were descending over a big wave, and felt my stomach drop, roller-coaster style, and that was it. I spent the last half hour of the trip ignominously retching and puking up my cornflakes.
Now we are safely back in Tanote, staying an extra day in our hill-side bungalow.
When we first came to Tanote, we walked for about 3 km in sweltering heat, up and down a couple of steep hills, along winding cement roads and one semi-trecherous gravel path. Our bags were stuffed, despite all the things we threw out along the Annapurna trek in Nepal, and the large package we sent back to Canada. All the clothes here are awesome, Bronwyn-sized, and cost $3-$10 a piece, so I keep adding to my collection and then suffering and cursing myself whenever I have to carry my bag again. Anyway, the walk was exhausting, and we had to stop twice. On the first break, we were adopted by a friendly island dog – a squat, smiling pitbull mix – who we named Lucy. Lucy walked all the way to Tanote with us. Usually I am wary of the stray dogs, particularly at night when they have free reign on the streets and beaches. But one of the things I like about this place, and Nepal, strays included, is that the animals are of really of the place. Some are owned by people, but often they exist unto themselves.
Brooke and I are pretty set on walking as much as possible, even with our huge packs. This makes us a tiny minority here, since everyone else likes to try their luck on renting a scooter, motorbike, or quad, or taking one of the rather expensive taxi trucks. People seem to disagree on rather the roads are fine, or dangerous. Even if you don’t have an accident on the road, a lot of people get scammed by the rental shops, which hold their passports ransom, claiming damage over some negligible scratch until they get paid a lot extra “for repairs.” Still, the scooters look like so much fun, and our experience in Pokhara was great, so maybe we’ll be tempted anyway…
Tanote is peaceful – quite different from Sarrie, the main beach on Koh Tao. It’s all Bob Marley on this side of the Island, highly chill, even for chill Koh Tao. I could hang out forever, reading while sitting on one of these brilliant Thai recliner mats, eating shrimp soups, listening to the young Burnmese guys who minds the counter playing guitar