Let me just start by saying there are two different ways to say the name of this island: The Thai way which something like Koh Pa-ngaa and the Farang way which is closer to Koh Pen-yaan. If you say them outloud then there doesn't seem to be much difference but I've tried saying Koh Pen-yaan to a few Thais trying to tell them where I was going and they all gave me a puzzled look. Just another example of the Roman alphabet not accurately capturing the Thai language.
So anyway, the islands were awesome. I got home from work on Sunday and went straight to Khao Sahn road to catch a bus. (The islands draw attention as a big backpacker destination so the most of the package trips leave from Khao Sahn, the 'backpacker district'). So Ryan, his friends, and I got aboard and began our incredibly long journey. All in all it was about 18 hours(!) That included a super long bus ride with a layover just hours from our destination in Suratanee. I didn't mind the layover so much because we went exploring the little town and got to meet our other busmates. We were also first in line for a breakfast of fried chicken and sticky rice from street vendor who was just starting his day. Delicious. Then came the ferry. It wasn't too bad except that I was up on deck and got sunburned pretty bad. I was having such a good time soaking in the scenery that I totally forgot about soaking in cosmic rays. When we made it to Phangan, we rented motorbikes and headed off to find a lace to stay. The first place we saw had a super cheap bungalow and two expensive ones so we moved on but then I went back almost immediately to get the cheap one for two reasons. One was that I was awaiting the arrival of Margy and Justin and this bungalow would be perfect for the three of us, and the other was that I was totally ready to just start my vacation. The name of the place was rainbow bungalow and it was exactly what I had imagined when I wanted to go to Phangan. It was right on the beach and had an open air chickee-hut style dining area (along with great food) and also every bungalow had a hammock!
I spent most of that day lounging on the beach and swimming. That night we went to Hat Rin which is the big crescent beach where they have the full moon parties. There was so many people there it was crazy. There was also about every kind of fire game going one. I'll explain. They had fire twirling, fire jump rope, fire limbo, etc. Very cool. They also had several places that would paint you with day-glo paint. I got a Thai flag and 'Conway' written in Thai. The next day we took our bikes on a cruise up to the northern part of the island and went to a very cool little island. I'm not sure if it was technically an island since there was a spit of land that we could walk across to get to it, but it was still righteous.
The rainbow bungalow had a huge rottweiler named Roly. He was super friendly and a total loafer. He would just lay around all day until it cooled off. He came swimming with us which was fun except he loved doggy-paddling into you which didn't feel great in my sunburn. I had to work on Thursday so I had to get on the ferry at 8:30am on Wednesday morning. A daunting task. I awoke in my hammock after one too many snooze buttons and found myself in more of a rush than I had anticipated. I quickly scooped up all my things, hopped on my bike, and took off down the road. I pull into town around 8:20. Wow, I might make it after all! I returned the bike to the shop only to find that the owner is still in the shower. come on! So i finally return it. I glance at my watch. 8:27. I can still make it! I take off sprinting down to the end of the pier with my backpack wildly swinging and rubbing my bright red shoulders. I ditch the flip flops and opt for just carrying them the rest of the way. I finally reach the end of the pier only to see the ferry slowly floating off into the distance. Had I come so close and overcome seemingly impossible odds only to come up short? I nearly dropped to my knees in anguish. I was now stuck on the island with no bike, no food, no ferry for another 4 hours, and above all else no money. I had just 31 baht in my pocket, not nearly enough for a meal on this tourist-ridden island. I strode over to the motorbike taxi drivers to share my plight with them. They were having a good chuckle at my situation. I was more angry than distraught at this ferry since it was the first vehicle in the entire country that left on time. So I show them my ticket and then they simply gesture over their shoulders, nonchalantly, to a different pier with a different ferry and a long line of passengers slowly entering. What's this?! Could it be?! Yes! where minutes before there was darkness, now a single light shone through. All I needed was to muster the strength for another 1000m dash through the dry brush between piers. Ignoring the scrapes and scratches on my feet I explode over the fence and take off like a cheetah on the African plains. My legs are a blur.
I make it! Hooray! Now all that's left is another 12 hours of lucid dreaming as I slip in and out of consciousness while watching parts of The Dark Knight, Wanted, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, and some weird CG one with Joel McHale and Mike Epps as animals in a national park. All in all a very successful trip.
That's the news from my island getaway. Next adventure is Thai New Year which is a 4-day, nationwide waterfight. I'm standing on the edge of my seat!