Like most backpackers, we had formed some sort of idea where we wanted to go and when before we left to travel! We quickly learned that it’s not always best to lock yourself into certain situations … as you may need to escape them quickly.
Our vague idea for our first 3 months was to bum around the south of Thailand soaking up as much sun as possible. Four days in, after getting a boat and a bus from Phuket to Koh Phangan to ring in the New Year with the full moon party, we experienced what has to be THE worst weather I have ever experienced in my life.
The words ‘fuck this’ were repeated pretty consistently for the 2 days we were slowly drowning in Koh Phangan before we mustered up the courage to take a high-speed catamaran across to Ko Samui. The thought behind it was ‘surely it can’t get much worse than this’ –we were wrong.
Praying we would finally see a bit of sun we booked into some cheap little beach bungalows right on Bang Por beach. From the minute our boat docked in Bang Por the heavens opened up and unleashed all holy hell on us. Our supply run to the 7/11 consisted of us wading in thigh high brown water, dodging opened up drains, and trying to not get swept away by newly created mountainside rivers.
It took us 5 days before we could get a taxi down the road to the dock to get off that god forsaken island. We bit the bullet and sacked off our island dreams, with all of our clothes wetter than an otters pocket we hopped on the cheapest ferry we could get to Surat Thani. The flooding was so bad in the south that no trains were running so we caught a flight to Bangkok where we were able to book an overnight train to Chaing Mai where we had heard there may be some sun.
1. Travel from Phuket to Koh Phangan : the transport to the island gets full quickly around the full moon parties, if you know you want to go get your tickets sorted in advance. Almost all prices are the same whether you book online, with an agent or through your hostel. From Phucket its pretty much just the one bus agency that runs. If you want to try it yourself, you can get to Surat Thani town,then either get a taxi or a public bus to the port where you can catch a ferry. It cost us roughly 30 gbp each to go through a travel company, I can’t imagine that there is a big disparity between going it alone or as a package.
2. New Years full moon accommodation in Koh Phangan: We had to book a minimum of 5 nights in a hostel as it was full moon, the prices are hiked right up and we were looking at about 20 gbp each per person in a 12 bed dorm. If you’re not looking to spend a great deal of time there , an alternative option is to stay on Ko Samui where many companies offer return boat rides to the full moon party.
3. High speed catamaran vs ‘low speed’ ferry : So many blogs I’d read had highly recommended the fast Lomprayah boat to get out to the islands quickly, it wasn’t until we found our inner cheapskates and paid something like 3 gbp each for the car and passenger ferry back to Surat Thani that we realized how much better it was. Essentially, for the extra hour or so it takes you’ll get a lot more room and comfort, spend less money and have an 80% better chance of not spewing your guts out. Honestly, nearly half of our boat were using the sick bags.
4. Bite the bullet and just go for it : no matter what you do or when you do it, if you don’t try it then you’ll never know.