Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Not a full moon in sight

Koh Samui to Koh Panghan

We breakfasted, finished packing and caught a minibus to the Lomprayah ferry terminal at 11 to head over to Panghan, the next island along. The ferry terminal was organised chaos, with people being doled out coloured stickers according to their destination (orange for Panghan, pink for Kho Tao, and other colours for wherever else they were going, be it Bangkok, Hua Hin etc) .Eventually we boarded the ferry, a fast catamaran, though we got on last as Panghan was the first destination, some 20 minutes away.

 Our last breakfast on Samui
As I said, as overdeveloped as the resort is, it's still unquestionably a tropical beach

 In mid flight on a catamaran to Koh Panghan

Arrival at Koh Panghan, not knowing where to go
The top of the catamaran is in the background

We arrived and were walking out of the terminal contemplating how we were going to get transport to our accommodation when we saw a guy holding a sign for Cookies at Salad Beach (yes, salad) and he let us aboard the songtheaw with a Scandinavian (I think) family of two adults and four (yes, four on an Asian holiday!) kids and we set off for the beach. The interior of the island is breathtaking. Hilly and covered in forest. Even the more settled parts are based around groves of coconut trees. We reached a sharp turn left and headed down a road. Well, I say road, it was actually half a road since it was under construction with only half of it metalled and the other half a dirt track. We were on the track part. It went up and down some very steep slopes before ending up at the accommodation, Cookies. Our luggage was left at the top outside what was to be our room while we had to continue down hill to reception. Our first view of Salad beach was amazing. White sandy beach in front of green forested hills and a few low-key buildings in dark wood fronting onto the sand. We checked in then were shown back up the steep slope to our room. It's hard work getting up and down to it, but the views are quite stunning. We're at the highest point of the complex looking out over the bay. The room itself is quite large with a decent, though dimly lit bathroom. The bathroom is bare concrete, but it was a certain utilitarian charm. We have air-con, a TV and a mosquito net. Best of all we have a large balcony complete with hammock with that amazing vista I mentioned. Good enough for a few drinks of an evening or somewhere to lie and read.

Salad Beach at low tide
As seen from our room at Cookies

We came down and had some lunch at the hotel restaurant (they did a good red curry) before a wander along the beach. The sea here is pretty shallow at low tide and quite rocky, but a nice colour all the same. There is supposed to be snorkelling just out to sea, but it's difficult to get to, with negotiating the rocks. The sand is mostly the fine, powdery variety which is the tropical ideal, borne of fish poo, according to QI. We came back to our place and had a swim in the pool. Again, this is great, a small infinity pool looking out over the beach. The only problem was the huge number of children of various nationalities using it at the same time. Now, I know we're doing this holiday as a prelude to adoption, but really, it would be nice to have a peaceful swim without some little Scandinavian tikes whooping and screaming in their strange Nordic lingoes. I thought the Vikings had invaded again

 View of Salad Beach from sea level
Our accommodation is the block to the right of the picture up the hill.Our actual room is top right

After our cooling dip, we freshened up and wandered up the beach for some pre-dinner drinks. At one bar, overlooking the sea, we watched as in the distance there were flashes of lightning over toward the mainland, though we'd been a little late for sunset (which wouldn't have been too spectacular anyway, due to the cloud on the horizon). The bar was called My Way and the service was pretty lousy, and worse still, they started playing stuff by cod-Oirish dirge-mongers Mumford and Son, so we'll be choosing the highway next time. Overhead the sky was fairly clear and you could see stars so we didn't feel too concerned at the possibility of rain. We went to look for our major culinary objective when we come to places like this: BBQ seafood. Sure enough, they were doing it at our hotel where we got the last seabass which was enormous and only B350 (£7), with baked potatoes. Utterly delicious it was, too, cooked with pineapple and Thai spices in foil on the charcoal. Then, just as we were enjoying a couple of postprandial drinks, the heavens opened. This was proper tropical rain and you could see the slope up which we needed to climb to get to our room had become a raging torrent. Still, the night was quite young, though the staff were trying to clear up (the problem with places like this is that they do tend to shut by 10pm). We sat out the worst of the rain, chatting to a family of a British guy and a Thai or Burmese woman (she had a very posh British accent so certainly no mail-order bride) with a teenage girl, before heading back to our room when the rain had finally subsided .

 Totally addicted to bass
Dinner on the beach

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