To our dismay the weather didn't improve, so we decided to rent a pick-up and drive around the island. We'd been warned about the state of the roads and how treacherous they could be, so Liam was the designated driver. I'm not saying women drivers aren't the best, but Liam took charge of the situation and us girlies were more than happy to let him. You can rent a pick-up for the equivalent of around 16 pounds per day, which was hardly anything between the 5 of us - me, Liam, Kirsten, Louise and Hannah (who we'd befriended on the train journey from Bangkok). It was my job to navigate.Hannah sat up front with Liam and I,whilst Kirsten and Louise looked cool (literally, it wasn't sunny remember) sitting in the back with their hair whipping in the wind.
We hadn't realised just how small the island was, and had travelled from Thongsala in the south east to the far north in about half an hour, taking in lush countryside covered in densely-packed palms, waterfalls and small townships. We stopped at an elaborately-decorated temple with brightly coloured ornate windows surrounded by tiny pieces of mirrored glass which made for a breathtaking sight. A few Buddhist monks dressed in the traditional orange robes and with shaven heads watched us disinterestedly as we circled the temple taking photographs, although we didn't try to enter as we were not dressed appropriately - shoulders and legs must be covered and we were wearing shorts and vest tops. We also saw elephants up in the hills, patiently waiting to pick up tourists and take them trekking. We decided against this at this stage as we have already planned to do jungle and elephant trekking when we go to Northern Thailand later in our trip.
As darkness drew in we decided to return to our villa since the roads are bad enough in daylight...
Back at the villa we showered and changed and took a pick-up to our entertainment for the evening..a Thai Kick-Boxing event. As we arrived at the outdoor stadium we could hear the beat of the music and noise of the crowd, who were drinking Chang and talking animatedly whilst awaiting the start of first match. Snake-charmer music was played to announce the start of the match and 2 Thai men climbed up into the ring, one dressed in red silk shorts, the other in blue. In Thai boxing pretty much anything is fair game - kicking, punching, pushing and slapping. Of course, it may be a bit more technical than this, but to my untrained eye this is what it looked like.
We watched a few more fights, the crowd egging on their favourites, sloshing beer about in their excitement and the atmosphere became more and more charged.I thought Louise was really getting into the match, but alas she was only jumping from foot to foot because a huge cockroach had crawled onto her leg.A Thai man casually picked it up and put it in his pocket, before throwing it at his girlfriend. I hope she dumped him for that.
Then came the turn of the English fighter. I'm not sure which weight category he was supposed to be in but he was definitely OVERweight. He looked like Dale Winton wearing a gorilla suit (this guy was HAIRY), only with more fake tan. He was 43, and looked every one of his 43 years, maybe even a couple more. He ddn't do his country proud - we were watching through our fingers, wincing with embarassment as he blundered around the ring, swiping at thin air, stumbling over his own size 11 feet and looking like an elephant fighting a ballerina, such was the grace and size of his opponent. Needless to say, he got his fat ass whipped and limped out of the ring with his mahogany-coloured balding head bowed only a few rounds later. We found it hilarious.
The hilarity was to continue, with an obese American guy taking on 2 Thais who were about the same weight as one of his fleshy arms. He practically knocked them out with just a flick of a moob (man boob in case this expression is new to you) and despite their best efforts were both KO'd in seconds. The rest of the fighters were a bit more evenly matched, which seemed fairer but was infinitely less entertaining. After about 12 fights we decided to call it a night. On the way back we stopped at a classy-looking bar (not!) called Smash Hits Bar(the name says it all) - a tacky establishment with half-naked Thai girls (we think they were girls anyway) gyrating on sticky tables outside. Once we realised that a steady stream of ugly Western men seemed to be coming out of a room at the back of the bar with sleazy grins on their faces we decided to drink elsewhere and headed back to the beach bar next to the villa. Having met some other English people, Liam and Louise coaxed everyone to sit up until 3am to watch the Spurs match. Everyone was pretty merry by the time the bar revealed at 2.59am that their Sky channel was down and that we wouldn't be able to watch the footie after all, much to the Spurs fans' disgust. Oh well, let's just have another cocktail instead then..
The next day we took the pickup to a different part of the island and found a nice restaurant and gorgeous beach. We spent the day chilling (literally, the weather was rubbish again) before dropping the car back in Thongsala.
After 5 days of overcast weather we'd had our fill of Koh Phangan and decided to go to a different island in the hope that the sun would be shining. We'd heard that Koh Tao was only an hour away by ferry and that the weather there was better.
The following morning, having bought our ferry tickets to Koh Tao, we awoke to brilliant sunshine.This was mildly annoying as we'd waited patiently for the sun, only for it to come out with a vengeance just as we were leaving, completely altering the look of the beach.Whereas the beach had looked a bit grey before, now the hammocks swayed gently, the sea looked bright blue and the whole beach was bathed in a gentle orange glow.
Let's hope the weather is just as good in Koh Tao...