The Beach’ was a Danny Boyle movie based on a novel by Alex Garland set in the late 90’s in Thailand around discovering a secret beach. They follow a trail on Thailand’s south east coast along the gulf of Thailand.Seeking the same backpacker spirit of enquiry and awe for people and nature, we are trying to explore that trail to inspire people to take this journey through our tales and also the iconic movie ‘The Beach’. This is the second post in the series. Click here for Part-0, Part-1, Part-3 and Part-4
S T A R T I N G T H E D A Y
When the day started for us, at 10 am, the city was buzzing and active. I had actually woken up at 6 am, walked my way to the beach, just before sunrise, felt the waters and then come back to the hostel to sleep. We woke up late, since we had been up till about 3 am at the resort nearby(Coral Bungalows), at their pool party. The way we landed there makes for an interesting story. We had a free pick up van roaming near our hostel street soliciting people who wanted a free ride, and we decided we should sit in the van and explore this place. Once at the party, which was basically loud music around the pool, we found our corner of the pool, to relax and soak in a 18-21 hour journey from India to Koh Phangan (depending on where each of us came from). Since a lot of popular music was playing, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of Me’ was all over, and people were swaying to it, while jumping in and out of the pool. ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Summer of 69’ had a new successor in ‘Shape of Me’, which would play on until the mP3 files are erased due to frequent use. Our first night at Koh Phangan, was more so spent relaxed at the pool, listening to songs and we decided to walk our way back to our hostel, which was about a kilometre from where we were, and by about 3 am we had settled into slumber.
Getting back to this morning, I woke up at 6 am, because I am habituated to wake up around this time. The little island town was quiet. I took the quieter lane to the beach, which had some people who were probably around from the night, as they did not quite look that they had got up like me and come to the beach. I had my phone with me, and sat at the beach, waiting for the orange layer to percolate into a dark sky. The fisherman were active, and were probably still transporting people back from the parties advertised at Secret Beach, that happens every evening. Their ‘sun-set’ was approaching, after making money on tourists who wanted to go around for parties around boats and islands advertised as ‘secret parties’. As I was watching the sun-rise, I started to fall asleep. That moment, I decided that seeing the sun was inspiring, and it was time for going back to catch dreams, before I start the #TheBeachtrail2017
D I S C O V E R I N G C O C O B E A C H
Almost by accident, we walked on the hilly path leading to Coco Huts Beach. As we ambled along post our breakfast at Om Ganesh Cafe (One of the two Indian cafes in Haad Rin), we happened to double check our path. We had no real choice to make, and decided based on gut, that we’d take the road leading down the hill on the right instead of going straight or left. It seemed to be a good choice, as we made our way through a 5 star resort called the Coco Huts Beach Resort. The view that we had, left us gasping for breath. Palm trees swaying to the wind, a little hammock between them, Clear Blue Skies alongside a different shade of blue with a white sand beach, and the picture postcard was complete. We were in Paradise, and were savoring every second of this view. The colour of the sea was changing its shades of blue, depending on the weather and we were lapping it up
Some clouds on top, and the shade of blue became bluer, and we took turns at the swing between the trees. The rythmic motion of the swing, as we swung up and down, made us feel like we were flying in an arc seeing the sea in front of us. Initially I did feel apprehensive that I may fly off the swing and land straight into the sea bed. None of those fears came true, thankfully. The sea bed was also having very small waves, so we could just aimlessly float and feel motionless on the beach, as the waves came every now and then to look us up, if we were wet enough or not. The feeling of waters slowly curving around you, the feeling of sand in your ears, and a near stationery mind is the kind of bliss that we came in search of. Vikram and I chose to find some shade and read some books on our phones, while Abhi chose to walk along the expanse of the beach, and discovered the spa, and came out after a marathon session at the spa.
We had prepared for a long day out at the beach, and had brought with us some cookies and fruits to spend the day, since we did not want to go back to take a break to eat. One good brunch, and some cookies for lunch, apart from a couple of tender coconuts to keep us hydrated seemed to take care of our energy levels. The whole coastline seemed to be curving beautifully across the hills, but it had very few people on the beach, and boy, were we enjoying the quietness on the beach? We sure were
Abhi loves his massages. Being a frequent traveller to Thailand, he is a connoisseur when it comes to the spa treatments in Thailand. He tells me that the Spa at Coco Huts, took very good care of his afternoon, post which he came over to join us for the sunset. He got himself a good break from the routine life of running around, with his newly formed start up.
The beach has a beautiful walkway going right into the sea. It is not a permanent structure but a semi-plastic-fiber structure that goes out into sea. As you walk, its firm to the point that you wont slip off, but it is shaky since the waves can topple you, if the water inflow is stronger at that point. After a nice siesta post a round of freshly cut tender coconuts, we woke up in time to see a rousing sunset across the right end of the beach by the mountains. While some chose to chase the sun on the walkway, some chose to transmit this moment to their virtual world by clicking a selfie against the golden light of the evening sun.
We welcomed the sunset with a few games of beach volley ball. After a day of being well rested on the beach, this was the perfect way to get those muscles active as I ran around, the court in an attempt to play a competitive game with some fellow travellers. The evening was relaxed, and my body was now ready for the invasion of vegetarian Pad Thai in the Thai places down the hill this evening.
D R I V I N G A R O U N D P H A N G A N
The next day, we decided to drive around the island after taking bikes from a bike store near Om Ganesh Cafe. Petrol for the bike is usually sold at 50 Bahts a litre on the smaller shops in Haad Rin, but when you go on the highway near Phaeng Waterfall you get a proper Petrol Station that sells fuel at 37 Bahts, which makes it a few more rides on the beautiful roads of Koh Phangan. The ride from Haad Rin to the northern parts of the islands involves crossing a hill and then going down. As we were going down the hill, there was this beautiful point where you could see the sea from the top of the hill, and it looks like you are heading straight for the sea. It is a surreal scene to catch, and if ever you find yourself there here’s the point to stop and gaze
The scenery around the drive is beautiful, and calls for driving with an open mind, without having any fixed destination. We off-roaded a little around an orchard and found this beautiful place and stopped there to gaze at the tall trees and the sea beside us. Paradise was finding us, rather than we finding it. We were grateful to nature that we could soak in such sights.
Fruits! We could never be far away from it, since most of our energy came from tender coconuts, bananas and mangoes that we would buy at the local markets. It helps the locals earn a living and for us to keep our budgets low and keep us on a healthy diet in the tropical Thai weather of April.
P A R A D I S E W A T E R F A L L
Our next stop was the beautiful and serene Paradise Waterfalls, which has a bumpy path right off the beautiful highway, which prepares you for the contrast. The drive is inside a jungle that becomes denser as you drive in, and when the sound of the bats and crickets becomes more than people/vehicles. The waterfall is multi layered and we chose to start with the bottom layer to hold on to a rope and swing our way into the natural pool that the waterfall empties into. The simplest part was to get off all the sweat, from the drive to the place by jumping right into the waterfall. Emotions go from ecstatic to orgasmic to relaxing to jubilant. The water is the same, the force is the same but nature somehow manages to distill different emotions like the staccato of a track that has its ups and downs.
So the afternoon drill was all about jumping inside the pool, and swimming till the rocks, and then coming back to do the jump all over again. Sounds like a good plan? To experience bliss, you need lesser people and trust nature. In ‘The Beach’ Leanardo Di Caprio also discovers a waterfall this side of the island and jumps from a far higher height. We were having a beautiful #TheBeachTrail2017 so far.
After a few jumps, I chose to cool off around the fringes of the waterfall, and listening to the music of the forests, observing happiness all around. This is the kind of stuff that needs to go into our system instead of all the negative vibes from the news. We have a beautiful world to look for inspiration, and I have just started.
P H A E N G W A T E R F A L L
Right after Paradise Waterfall, we decided to search for one more waterfall nearby, since when we had started the day, we did a quick map search and found 2 waterfalls by the highway. A quick drive away from Paradise Waterfall was Phaeng waterfall, which was part of the Than Sadet National Park. As soon as we made our way inside, post a round of Pad Thai, we found a beautiful dense forest that was filtering the golden hour light across the greens into the water at one of the levels of the waterfall. Abhi did a trek all the way to the top of the waterfall, while Vikram and I found solace in observing and playing with a kid and her mother who were enjoying the sunset at the lower reaches of the waterfall.
There was a girl who was spending her whole evening drawing patterns on the sand near the water source. It occured to me that it had probably been ages since I had idled time away in this creative manner away in nature. The glorious sunset was lighting up the greens, and it probably also let us knew that we were so far having a great trip accompanied with great weather and discoveries of places to spend our time!
With that ends, Part-II of #TheBeachTrail2017. Here’s a map trail of the places covered so far in Koh-Phangan
While a Photoblog and text can only convey so much, I suggest you watch our documentary to know what we did in between the photos. Here’s presenting Part-II of the documentary #TheBeachTrail2017
Look out for cheap flights to Bangkok which starts at about 10,000 INR from Chennai to Bangkok. From Bangkok you could directly fly to Koh Samui through Bangkok Airways, but since its a private airport, fares are usually high. You could alternatively fly to Surat Thani from Bangkok, which has direct connections from the airport to the pier and to Koh Phangan/Ko Samui.You could take the train from Bangkok (Hualamphong Station) to Chumphon or Surat Thani, and head to the respective piers in those cities to catch a ferry to Koh Phangan . Alternatively you could fly to Bangkok, and book a Lomprayah Bus + Ferry ticket directly from Bangkok to Koh Phangan