local time: thursday, 9/23/2010, 12:30ish p.m.
quick correction to last post. it was brought to my attention that the samui mermaid's website is actually samui-mermaid.info (with a dash). free advertising complete. :)
i woke up bright and early (ironically that seems to be the norm on this vacation) on wednesday and caught the 8:00 a.m. ferry from ko samui to ko phangan. not having paid much attention to the lunar cycle - though i had noticed how lovely the moon was looking on my evening walk on tuesday - i discovered on my way to the boat that my visit coincides with this weekend's full mon, and thus with the island's famous monthly full moon party. i toyed with the idea of going, but finding that there was no decent affordable lodging available in hat rin (home of sunrise beach and the epicenter of the debauchery), and having heard and read many serious warnings against attending the event as a woman alone, i decided to stick to my original plan and headed instead to thong nai pan on the northern coast of the island. don't get me wrong; i like a big night out of drinking and dancing as much as the next girl, and i've enjoyed my share of all night parties, but i definitely made the right choice.
after a 45 minute motorbike taxi ride through ko phangan's jungly terrain, much of it along very steep dirt roads with a few harrowing hairpin turns, i arrived at dolphin bungalows. situated at the western end of thong nai pan yai (the smaller of the area's two sheltered bays), dolphin came highly recommended by lonely planet. i was soon to see why. the bungalows are built right up out of the jungle, surrounded by palm trees, lush vegetation, and gorgeous flowers. a sandy path winds through the maze of structures out to the reception area and open air bar/restaurant, with several tables right on the beach. tucked away throughout the complex are several shaded pagodas with plush, comfortable cusions - perfect spots for lounging in the heat of the afternoon. my bungalow is absolutely lovely, despite being the least expensive that they offer: a simple wooden structure with shutter-style windows, mosquito netting around the big, comfortable bed, the cleanest bathroom i've seen so far, and a porch with my very own hammock. this is what i envisioned when contemplating this trip. here is the thailand i was looking for. if there is any danger of me not coming home, this place is to blame.
this morning i took my breakfast at one of the beachside tables, enjoying a cool breeze and the sights and sounds of the day getting going - water taxis lining up; fishing boats coming and going from the bay; nearby resorts setting up lounge chairs along their stretches of the sand. as i lingered over english tea, fruit, and toast with nutella, i was joined by some delightful company. the dog belonging to the dolphin's owners wandered over, licked my toes, and curled up for a snooze at my feet. their cat plopped herself in my lap and promptly started purring (maybe she sensed that i've been missing thumbelina). a butterfly landed on my shoulder and stayed there a surprisingly long time. table for one? i don't think so!
today is going to be a pretty lazy day. i'm going to try to book a tour of the island's temples and waterfalls for tomorrow or saturday, walk around the village, and then head back to the dolphin. the plan for the rest of the afternoon? beach, pagoda, hammock, repeat. oh, and maybe a massage.