Decisions. I’ve never been very good at them. Something your mother knows all too well Mya. Normally, I just wait and see what unfolds, leaving most things to the absolute last minute. Which is how I am where I am now. Sat in a taxi in Bangkok, racing though the streets towards the airport on my way to the famous Full Moon Party on Koh Pha-Gnon. It only struck me today that it’s been over a month since my last post. Far too long in Rosalina’s opinion. For this, I am sorry. However, it also means I have a lot to catch you up on. Starting from where I left off.
It’s all rather bizarre really, how events happen. The night of Rosalina’s birthday we had a blast! We played beer pong and jenga, then danced the night away on the sand. Whilst playing beer pong, I started chatting to the Australian barman. He desperately needed some help to run the bar as well as with the advertising. Another English girl, Brogan and myself jumped at the chance, accepting the job immediately. The job paid well enough to cover all basic necessities and only involved working four hours a night. By day, we relaxed on the glorious, sandy beaches, or shopped around the small, cobbled streets. By night, we partied with the punters. That is one thing I did love about Koh Phi Phi. The only people to own transport were the police and the hospital. Everyone else had to walk around, and on an island so small it was easy to do. Before I knew it, two weeks had flown by and it was time for me to depart for Sri Lanka.
As I woke on my last morning on Phi Phi, I was startled that when I swallowed my throat felt like I was swallowing daggers. I’d caught a horrendous bug which meant that my glands were the size of golf balls. Needless to say the whole way to Sri Lanka I slept. Even passing out for five hours at my stopover in Kuala Lumpur airport. Luckily, there were some lovely Lankans who woke me up when it was time to board the plane.
Arriving in Lanka at one am, I was still exhausted and needed to find somewhere to stay the night. I arranged a last minute hotel room, falling asleep until 2pm the next afternoon with a phone call from reception asking why I hadn’t checked out yet. I still was unwell so stayed another night in Colombo before heading down to Hikka the following morning.
By the time I arrived in Hikka I was relieved to see a friendly face awaiting me. Jolene, her husband and I had met the following summer back in Brighton through a mutual friend. She welcomed me into her home and I quickly settled in. The first week we spend relaxing in the garden and catching up. I met most of her neighbours who are all absolutely lovely. Next door lived Indiga, his wife and their five children. During Poya (full-moon) he proudly invited us to his home to show us his paper lanterns, decorated in assorted colours and that fluttered in the light breeze. A few days later, he invited us to a family celebration as his niece had up just come of age. A massive celebration in Buddhism, it signifies when a girl gets her first period, and thus becomes a woman. The whole family was there, who instantly treated us like their own, making sure we enjoyed the humongous buffet. That is one thing, Sri Lankans sure do love to eat, making glorious curries of various hotness, and using different mixes of vegetables and meats.
The following week I suggested a trip to Mirissa, a small, beach town on the south side of the island. The sort of place you have to pinch yourself, it looks that much like a dream. A place I wanted to go back to, and one that Jo had never been to before.
On the way, we stopped by a Buddhist temple for a blessing with Indiga. Arriving at the temple,we stopped at a shack to buy a fruit basket, flowers and a couple of coconuts as an offering. The monk blessed the fruit, as we laid the flowers in front of him. The monk then placed two fire burners on the coconuts. Once it had extinguished, we went outside, thought of what we needed help with, rotated it three times in front of our faces, and then smashed the coconut onto a rock. Back inside, the monk then finished the blessing, and afterwards, we handed all the fruit out to anyone within the temple grounds.
In Mirissa, I had booked us a hotel room for one night. We ended up staying for four. Going back, made me realise how much I missed Mirissa and how much it feels like home. Visiting friends as well as my second mama and her family, I fell back in love with Mirissa and the locals. I never wanted to leave and even promised my mama I’d come back before I left Lanka. I spent a further week with Jo, before decided it was time to go back to travelling solo.
First stop, Mirissa. This time I stayed back at mamas house with her family. Much has changed within the space of a year. Her sons wife and her grandchild now live with her, as well as an English lady is building a yoga retreat in the garden. Time flew being back at mamas. I slept my days swimming in the sea, playing with the baba, who called me aka meaning sister, or helping in the kitchen cooking Sri Lankan style. This involves cooking over a wooden fire and preparing everything by hand. Even down to removing the coconut fruit from shell using what only can be described as a metal scoop attached to a stool. This task alone took me fifteen minutes, however mama can do it in five. My nights were spent back with friends I met last year who all work in a beach bar. Being around Red, Ravi and the guys made me realise that Sri Lanka is where I want to live eventually. It also easy to do, as Ravi now has an English girlfriend who lives with him there.
Being back in Mirissa also gave me the chance to reflect on what to do next. Not only with the time I had left in Lanka but what I wanted to do when back in Thailand. Working in the bar gave me a glimpse of what it’s like to work in a foreign country, but I wouldn’t be able to do it full time and earn enough for all I still want to do. I’ve always been a caring person and am happiest when working in a job where I can help people. Which is how I decided I wanted to undertake a TEFL course, a qualification that means I would be able to teach English in any country in the world. I tried to look up courses in Sri Lanka, however as it is still up and coming with tourists there aren’t many opportunities. Which then made me think more. I love Thailand too and the people here are equally as friendly and welcoming as Lankans. So I have found a course which interested me, as well as helps with placements and classroom experience. Hopefully, I should be able to start it soon.
My few days in Lanka, I spent in Argum bay on the east coast. I went with Indiga, as his brother in law runs one of the bars there for six months, the other six at one in Hikkaduwa. My three days in Argum Bay were a blast. All the workers treated me as one of their own, as well as being bad influences on my drinking! The first day I went on a mini-safari, seeing so many wild animals, including elephants, crocodiles and tortoises. Some just casually crossing the road in front of our car. My final day I spent relaxing on the beach before a massive party with the guys, staying up until sunrise.
The next couple days were a blur of travelling and little sleep. Leaving Sri Lanka for the second time was pretty hard to do. However, I knew my next move, the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan.
Once I arrived in Bangkok, I took a day off to recover, hiding out at a hotel pool to cool myself down from the heat and humidity. The following day I took my flight to Surat Thani and the the two hour boat ride to Koh Phangan. Luckily for me, I’d had the foresight to book my hostel in advance. Turning up I’d knew I’d made the right choice.
I’d chosen a place called Blue Dreams, away from the main party beach but with an amazing travellers atmosphere. Within twenty minutes of being there, I had a beer and was learning new cards games with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. The hostel sleeps 120 people and mostly everybody got on and spent their time together. In total, I ended spending eight nights on Koh Phangan. The days involving the hostel’s swimming pool, various tropical beaches and an attraction called the Slip and Fly. Now, the Slip and Fly may be one of the craziest things I’ve done so far. It’s basically two huge slides, one which “flies” you a long distance and the other making you go ridiculously high. It’s was stupidly fun however, it does hurt if you land in the water funny. Mostly I did just watch other people though.
In the evenings, we went to Amsterdam Bar. A place to relax and the best place to catch the sunset. Words cannot describe watching the sunset here, especially as it’s on of the top 15 places in the world. So for here, all I can do is use pictures. Even then, they just can’t show you how beautiful it truly is.
The day before full moon, one of the the guys, Neil and I went for a mission to a secret bar called Eden. All we’d heard about it was sensational things so we thought we should give it a go to. The beach the bar was on is u reachable by roads, so of course our journey began with a taxi ride to Had Rin beach, where the full moon party is held, then a taxi boat to the beach. The whole journey there took us about an hour. Not including the trek up a very steep hill. But once we were there, we had incredible views of the surrounding area. The bar is so secret that not many people know about it, or bother to do the trek as it is that far. It is so worth it. We stayed for a couple of drinks before descending down the other side of the hill to another hidden beach. On the way down we found a bar called Stones Bar. It’s not really a bar, just selling water, however, it’s covered in incredible artwork all in neon paints. We were back at the hosteling time for the pre-full moon party in the Jungle. A massive party based somewhere in the middle of Koh Phangan. Everybody was dancing and joking having an incredible time. Roselina and I left early as we wanted ourselves to be ready for the full moon the following night.
Full moon itself was completely incredible. My hostel was superb at creating the right atmosphere. Everyone was on a natural high. Covering each other in neon paints, decorating any visible skin possible. A few games later and we were all ready to go. We piled into a taxi as many people as possible, so many some were stood on the back having the hold on to the railings of the truck. Once there, we stuck with our group, about twenty of us, weaving through the 15,000 strong crowd. It was like a festival back home. There were lights everywhere with music blaring out of every single bar. Each bar playing a different type of music. Along the beach a bit further, one bar had a water slide going down from the first floor onto the sand. Something Roselina, Neil and I had to try, even if we did get a bit of a wet bum! Even further along, there was a massive skipping rope game going on. Not one I tried myself this as that skipping rope was on fire. Even watching it was incredible. Some people are so brave! Most of the night was spent dancing it away outside the bars on the sand. It is certainly a night I will never forget. In the end, we got home around six am, then stayed up chatting and watching other people come back for a further hour. By half seven, we were fast asleep in our bed.
The next few days were spent discovering the island a bit more now that most people had left. Most people leaving the two days after full moon.
Koh Phangan is truly a paradise island. Long sandy beaches with smaller clusters of islands just of the mainland. My final day on Koh Phangan was spent on the north of the island with Melanie, Bas, Matt and Cel from the hostel, snorkelling around the reefs looking for tropical fish. For this I wish I had an underwater camera as I saw a fish as big as my arm, it’s turquoise and pink colours reflecting the sunshine. Following this, we went to the local food market and then our final trip to Amsterdam Bar to watch our final Koh Phangan sunset. And oh my was it beautiful.
The next day we departed for Ko Tao. The famous travellers home for snorkelling and diving. That and it’s a few people’s birthdays. Roselina can’t say no to a good party! Which is where I am writing this now. I’m sorry it has taken me this long to post Flo-Co and Mya but I’m sure it has been worth it! I’m unsure what my plans are next but I will FaceTime you both soon and keep you filled in!
Sarah and Roselina