Exploring Koh Phangan on motorbikes
Okay, so we decided not to go to the waterfall party yesterday, and we're probrably going to ditch the "jungle experience" today as well. It's just too expensive plus we had a really long day. As the heading already stated, we rented two motorbikes and explored the island.
In contrast to Koh Tao, it seems pretty impossible to get a motorbike with insurance around here (note that the Koh Tao insurance also just covered scratches, whatever that means exactly). That sucked, so we tried to book an insurance online. That is possible and does cover a lot more than just scratches, but then it occurred to us, that they would probably refuse to pay in case something happened, since none of us had an actually valid licence for the bike we were about to get. So we decided to take the risk and get one without insurance which, naturally, is a lot cheaper too (150 Baht per day). We just had to drive carefully. And since we had done it on Koh Tao already, we got comfortable with todays bikes pretty quick
The picture on the left (or above, if you're browsing mobile) shows my timeline of today, so it should give you a good idea where we've been. First, we explored the eastern part of the island, visiting a couple of beaches and towns. Then we made our way back to the south, because there are no roads that directly connect the east to the west. From there we headed up the western coast, which is a lot more populated compared to the jungle-covered rather empty east. Then we turned back to our accomodation via a road that leads through the center of the island.
We started out getting breakfast - one banana bread each - and something to drink at the local "supermarket". It's not really a supermarket since they most stuff in bulk only, but it works for us. Then we headed east, just following the road in roughly the direction of a waterfall, which I had found on one of the maps advertising roadtrips for 500 Baht per person. It soon lead us into the jungle, where we made our fist stop for breakfast on a rock under a leaf of a young coconut tree. Very chilled out. Then we slapped on suncream and mosquito repellent, mounted my action cam to the bike and continued our tour. There are lots of steep hills on that part of the island, and the roads are accordingly. But nothing could stop our surprisingly powerful 125 ccm machines and so we went on - up and down, up and down, repeat...
Eventually we came to a sign that pointed towards a dirt road saying "waterfall: 4 km". Thinking that might just be the thing we'd been looking for we decided to give it a try. After all, 4 km didn't seem like much. Just a couple of hundred meters later, we saw two people and one motorbike standing on the road. In front of them the road was incredibly steep with deep furrows that had been washed out by the rain. Let's make it short, it was very challenging to make it. Both of us did without accidents, but the occasional slipping tire had to be handled. You may check out the video I took, once I've uploaded its 4 GB onto Youtube and embedded it here. Unfortunately, it does not quite give the same impression of steepness as the actual experience. Also my Internet is rather slow, so you might have to wait a while for that. Also, the camera was directly mounted onto the bike, which meant a lot of vibration. It's been the first time I did that so I didn't quite know what to expect in terms of footage. Let's just say that the image stabilizer of my Sony X-1000V has given its best, which was a lot but not quite enough...
If you want to watch this video directly on Youtube please visit Riding the dirt road to the Lost Paradise Beach
After a while we reached the highest point of the road, which we estimated to roughly 500 meters above sea level. And the road was going there, very steep. We decided that was too much for the combination of our machines and skills and started out hiking. Even though we were not sure if we should do the whole way, it was quite hot after all. But we continued walking. At some point, a group of ATVs passed by us. Should be a lot easier to do the whole thing on four wheels. Okay, so after a long hike, we arrived at the "waterfall". It was ridiculous, almost non-existent. But hey, the way had been great. Both of us agree it was one of the best things on the trip so far!
After the waterfall we walked the short remaining way to the beach. There are a couple of bungalows around, as well as a bar. Quite nice and quiet. We stayed around for a while and then decided to head back, a long way to go (up). But we got lucky and could make ourselves comfortable on the back of a truck that went in our direction. When they dropped us off at our bikes, they asked for a bit of money for fuel. So I was about to hand them like 30 Baht, when they suggested something more around 200 Baht. Later I thought that had been a bit too much. I mean, they had made the way anyway. But who cares, it saved us a lot of time and energy.
Back on the road we went further up north, saw another small waterfall and a couple more nice beaches. After a stop at 7-eleven to get something to drink, we went back to the south, both to continue to the western part of the island and to get some fuel.
The western part is nice. A lot more people, a lot more resorts, a lot more bungalows. Still nice, but tomorrow we'll probably get back to another dirt road in the east, in quest of another hidden paradise. It was an awesome day in Thailand!