Ko Pa Ngan

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Ko Pa Ngan…

No, we didn’t breathe fresh air, delivered from the Swiss alps while we were in Bangkok. And yes, compared to the air quality in Delhi we did. But now I’m sitting here on the Island of Ko Pa Ngan at 7am, while Eva is still fast asleep. I’m sitting on our humble balcony, that is attached to our humble hut, with the sea literally 10 meters away in front of me and TrueFreshAir is filling my lungs.

With most of Delhi’s population of nearly seventeen million, many of Bangkok’s eight million and the uncounted millions of people on this planet who often don’t have the means to leave their smog filled cities, breathing clean air has become a privilege in our world, enjoyed more by the few rather than the many.
And while this is hardly news, reading a line like “breathing clean air has become a privilege” in some paper, or on this very blog is very different to actually being in such a place, breathing heavily polluted air, looking at people, seeing their poverty, knowing most will never be able to go someplace else, knowing that young people in Delhi are too young to remember a time pre-smog and pre-pollution, but for them the status quo  has become the new norm.

It’s different seeing it as opposed to reading it. It does add another dimension. The impact on oneself is very different. I can only recommend going there and experience it. It’s eye opening and the impact you get is much bigger and stays with you for far longer than any Taj Mahal kind of place could ever give you.

…starts here

After 15 years of not seeing the Island of Ko Pa Ngan, it is a relief to see that relatively clean air is still part of the Ko Pa Ngan package and so is the forest and the palm trees that still make up 90% of the Island. Ko Pa Ngan has actually changed very little and this is maybe the best thing I found here.

Someone, somewhere must have resisted some quick bucks and uncontrolled capital gains in exchange for deforestation so that big hotel chains can spring to life.
Or maybe they do exist somewhere else on this Island. We are in Haad Yao, far away from the ghetto where the “Full Moon”-parties are being held. But even this place we have visited during daytime and I have yet to come across a Holiday Inn Express or a Hilton complex with a Swarovski shop attached to its lobby. Not even Starbuckz has been invented yet at the place where we are. Who says there is no God?

The accommodation

Nor have the prices changed much compared to 15 years ago. It has gotten a little more expensive, but less than I would have expected over the years. Our humble hut, that is so close to the sea front is available for 600 baht (€16) a night. It’s clean and so is the swimming pool that is part of the “Lucky Resort” place we currently call our home. That makes €8 for Eva and myself per day and it feels fair.

Our humble but clean hut in Ko Pa Ngan
Our humble but clean hut…

 

KoPaNgan The Sea hut view
… with frontline sea view…

 

The swimming pool in the "Lucky Resort" in KoPaNgan
… and pool for €8 each, seems like a fair deal.

Means of transportation

Renting scooters, which is still the main means of transportation on this Island costs between 200 and 250 baht (€5-6) for a day and it gives you so much freedom and flexibility, it’s dead worth the money. The petrol is still not pumped out by SHELL petrol stations, but by real people on the roadside, who have pre-filled rum and whiskey bottles with petrol inside, ready to fill your scooter up for 40 or 50 baht/litre (€1). It’s so charming.

A typical gas station on Ko Pa Ngan
A typical gas station on Ko Pa Ngan in a pre- SHELLed world.

It is true that a lot more resorts with huts like ours have sprung up, but they seem to integrate well into the surrounding nature and are mostly focussing on the shoreline, leaving the islands inner nature relatively untouched.
Riding your scooter underneath palm trees and other beautiful greenery with a brief stop at “Coconut” or “Coral” beach for a quick swim is still the best thing. Ja, we like it here.

Unwanted Things

Clearing the occasional cockroach from our home has by now almost become routine. We have practiced this in India a lot and have perfected our skills in Thailand. These creatures still fill us with disgust, but less so than they used to. Give us another 3 months in Asia and we let them stroll over the back of our hands like we did with Ladybeetles when we were kids.

A cockroach, actually taken from my Bangkok gallery, but trust me, they do also exist on Ko Pa Ngan.
A cockroach, actually taken from my Bangkok gallery, but trust me, they do exist on Ko Pa Ngan, looking just as lovely.

Ko Pa Ngan we like you. A lot. Solitude can still be found here while at the same time all the activities that you would expect on an Island like diving, snorkelling, or anything that involves a board and the sea is also readily available. It is chilled and relaxed and other foreigners can be easily ignored.

Sail Rock

We actually did go diving yesterday. An introductory dive with instructor at “Sail Rock”. This is about an hour away by boat and we dived down to 12 meters in 30C warm water. It was an introductory dive very similar to the one I did 20 years ago, when I visited my best friend in Australia.

Sail Rock Dive near Ko Pa Ngan
This piece of rock took us an hour to reach by boat. It doesn’t look like much, but there is a whole world down there full of life and peace to discover..

Our first dive was at around 10am and the second one at 1pm, with just a brief lunchbreak in-between. I have enjoyed it now as I did back then in Australia. It’s such a different world down there. The fish, the colours, the corals, the silence.
Gone is the daily shit that is happening whenever you open the paper or turn on the TV. No breaking news down there. No Syria, no terror, not another round of talks that broke down when it comes to Palestine. There is no chaotic UK Brexit team that tries to make an idiotic Brexit decision work. There is no Amnesty email in your inbox asking for your support. No Trump or his family members spewing out their daily crap in increasingly fluent Russian.
Far away is even the loss of Liu Xiaobo, whose death should shame all of us, not just China.

Remembering The Rainbow Warrior

Just silence down there apart from your breathing apparatus giving out reassuring sound,- and bubbly visual effects.
Silence, peace and some other divers who all look like special forces under water, with their masks and black neoprene suits and breathing equipment and their hand signs and symbols for communication. Special forces all out on some secret underwater mission, like maybe getting another Rainbow Warrior sunk, or a hopefully less foolish and murderous mission. They all look shit hot and sexy. The magic is gone when all have returned to the boat and the masks are removed.

Diving is expensive, but I consider doing it again before leaving this Island. It’s just so very beautiful down there and I’m sure it’s easy to get addicted.

Ko Pa Ngan and especially Haad Yao is a comfy bubble with superb food, fun, and chill options, all reasonably priced. The danger is getting totally sucked into this bubble and spend all our budget here if we are not careful. Best to move on soon, back to less comfort and more breaking news.

 

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