Koh Phangan is home to the full moon party but for us it was all about yoga, meditation, pilates, vegetarian food, chilling, and chats. Not the typical scenario you’d expect from an Irish trio.
As we drove by sawngteaw to Haad Rin (full moon party beach on South east corner) through villages and up windy hills, I liked the vibe immediately. We stayed at The Sanctuary which is on Haad Thien Bay. It’s a tiny bay that is accessed by getting a long tail boat from Haad Rin. I knew it was my kind of thing as soon as we pulled up on the beach. It seemed to be away from civilisation–a private reverie.
The days passed with morning yoga, afternoon pilates, and evening meditation. The Buddha Hall, where the classes took place, was a walk into the jungle by the scattered bungalows. Aisling did her first ever yoga class and was converted immediately. Our instructor Ben was great and the yin type yoga in the open air hut was perfect for us beginners. The Vinyasa flow yoga was more difficult with downward dogs and the likes, and the pilates was completely new to us all and so was difficult also but it was great to challenge ourselves and do exercise other than walking. A meditation called ‘Journey Within’ was enlightening.
We became good friends with an Australian and American who we’d sit and chat with on cushions on the floor as time strolled by. The vegetarian-only food was more expensive than restaurants in the main towns but it was so fresh and tasty, especially the sweet potato burger.
One afternoon we walked over the hill to Haad Yuan Bay. The rain that came didn’t stop us from enjoying a quick dip and a go on the swing.
Instead of attending the half moon party on Halloween night we followed a few people over the other hill to an even smaller bay called Why Nam with one bar and that’s it. We danced with the hippies–barefoot and carefree. If they were actually in fancy dress for the occasion or in their everyday clothes, we’ll never know.
It was on Koh Phangnan that I got to see my first sunrise in South East Asia (thanks to Ozzie friend Odette for waking me) and say goodbye to Orna for the first time too. I waved her off for a night alone on Koh Tao to get some diving in.
For me, Koh Phangnan was a dream. A chilled, relaxed atmosphere with good friends, food, scenery, and yoga. As the monsoon started to wash in with waves and lightening storms, we made our exit.