As I shared a ride from the dock with three friendly Dutch guys, we ruminated on how booked up the island was and what we were going to do about accommodation. It was August – one of the busiest months of the year due to northern hemisphere summer holidays – and a few days before the monthly full moon party on Koh Phangan, the neighbouring island.
I had only decided to change my plans and leave Cambodia a few days before, so counted myself lucky to have snagged one night at a hotel that was much pricier than I would ordinarily have paid – about $80 – but considering how little seemed to be available on the island, I was happy with it. And, it was very luxurious.
I had agreed to meet the Dutch guys after we all checked into our accommodation. I took longer than I planned because I had to luxuriate in showering in my fabulous bathroom (this kind of resort would cost hundreds of dollars in Australia – $80 would barely get a private hostel room with a shared bathroom).
I met them at Su Chilli and we dined together before heading to the very busy Lotus Bar – the island was clearly far busier than it had been this exact time the year before. I found this to be actually less than ideal; I had found it seemingly easier to walk around the bar area and meet people the year before – or indeed to have people approach me. Nonetheless, I befriended a couple of Canadians from Saskatchawan and their British friend near the toilet queue (as you do).
That night I found that despite my luxurious dwelling, mosquitoes had gotten in. I covered myself in repellent, and then halfway through the night took advantage of having two beds and switched to a repellent free one.
The next morning I checked out at 11am and then attempted my plan of hot-footing it to Mama O’Chai’s bungalows, which I knew of from previous visits, and also knew didn’t take reservations. As I checked out, my resort told me they didn’t have any vacancy for that night – so I hoped my plan would work. Happily, I was able to check in directly to – as it happened – the exact same bungalow I had stayed in during my first foray into private accommodation in Thailand two trips previously, for less than half the price of m previous night’s stay. This bungalow got a bit sweaty in the middle of the day, but with the fan blasting I was still able to nap and found it generally comfortable and pleasant.
The next day I was finishing lunch at the cafe I always struggled to find, and at which I had had a very tasty burger during my first visit; when the Dutch guys invited me to join them on the beach. I did, but it wasn’t long before it started to gust heavily with wind. I tried to lead everyone to a pool bar but it wasn’t accepting non-guests and it started to rain; so we took shelter in a restaurant further down the beach and grabbed an afternoon snack and a drink.
We met up again to queue for the bar crawl that happens three times a week – only to find that the island was so packed, we were standing just behind the cut off point for making it onto the crawl, despite arriving on time. Apparently, you had to get there at least half an hour earlier than the listed arrival time to make it.
We went for dinner at Fizz beach bar and restaurant before I, already wearing my bar crawl tank top from the previous trip, decided to see if I could crash the crawl, to the others’ encouragement. Sure enough, nobody on the crawl doubted I was meant to be on it, so I joined the crawl for the rest of the night. An at the final venue, Fishbowl, I ran into the Canadians and Englishwoman I had met the previous night.
The next afternoon this latter group invited me to join them on the end of the beach near where they were staying, which was near the pier. This was a part of the island I hadn’t thought to spend much time – although I reaffirmed my preference for the Sairee area.
That night the Dutch crew and I were all doubly determined to attend the crawl legitimately, and we did. I found myself tiring of the second to last venue, which had live music, and found the energy of the crawl to be fading as we spent so long in the single venue. Another gentleman in the street where we were all mingling due to the bar’s crowdedness agreed with me. But I had decided on this night to start really appreciating where I was and the social opportunity I was having, so when we all headed to Fishbowl once again I made sure to mingle as much as possible, and so met a group of friendly Italians – and a friend from Australia who was now living in Koh Tao. The night became delightfully fun and ended with us – and the Canadians and Englishwoman, who were there again – revelling down on the beach next to the bar.
The next afternoon I grabbed a pizza from La Galleria and ate it on the beach near my bungalow before my afternoon ferry to Koh Phangan.