We arrived in Koh Phagnan after taking a ferry for several hours straight from Koh Tao. The ferry was very large and carried several hundred people between the two islands, mostly young foreigners, but some Thai people as well. This was the first indication of what Koh Phagnan would be like. Although there are countless islands, big and small, dotting both east and west coast of southern Thailand, most of them are known for something. Koh Tao for diving and Koh Phagnan for the monthly full moon party. The port at Koh Phagnan looks like Khao San road. For anyone who hasn’t been to the tourist backpacker wasteland of Thailand’s capitol, let me paint a picture: you’re surrounded by faces hid behind fake Gucci sunglasses, tribal tattoos, white guys with dreadlocks, and cheap guesthouses, banana pancakes, and Thai food for farang (tourists). It sucks immensely. Fortunately we didn’t come for the pier, and this was just a prelude.
The goal was to get as far from where we were as possible. The most secluded area of the island. The place where no one goes. We made a compromise when a Thai songthaew (a taxi where passengers sit on two rows in the bed of a pickup truck) driver who had lived in America recommended that we stay near a small beach in the quiet northeast region of the island, directly on the opposite side of Hat Rin, the bustling tourist development on the southern coast which attracts the majority of Koh Phagnan’s visitors. His recommendation turned out to be excellent, as we paid 200baht and stepped off the pickup truck after stretching out after the jostling 45 minute drive over dirt and mud roads which looked like they were from a war zone.
We quickly meet a Thai man named Romeo (he must be very romantic?) who leads us to his settlement, a collection of humble bungalows about 200 meters from the beach. Upon entering the grounds I noticed the comfortable atmosphere, drawn largely by a large grassy area between¬† the bungalows which had children’s toys littered around it. No sir, this was no resort. And so we became friends with Nicola and Romeo and their child Adam who lived there, and the group of five Swedes who were all staying there for a month – part of their annual winter Koh Phagnan trip together. We spent several days enjoying the tranquil side of the island¬† before even going to see Hat Rin, the tourist area. It was terrible. We quickly left. A day later, we decided to leave the island and return to the mainland, cross that, and take another ferry to an island on the opposite coast of Thailand; the Andaman Coast.