Welcome to “Every Picture Tells a Story”; a weekly post about living in Thailand. Each week we’ll post a picture that illustrates some of the little things those of us fortunate enough to live here hold dear.
I live in Pattaya. If you look up the phrase “bad reputation” in the dictionary … it says “see Pattaya”. From the time of the Vietnam Conflict right up until now, Pattaya has been known as Thailand’s “brothel-by-the-sea”.
It doesn’t matter how many 5-star resorts and waterfront shopping meccas are erected, people who have never even been here will snicker every time the name “Pattaya” is mentioned. World class golf courses, waterparks, spas, internationally renowned cuisine and shopping galore … Pattaya can out-class countless other holiday destinations and yet it still wears its seedy reputation like a dirty shirt.
But, Pattaya isn’t the only party paradise in this country that gets a bad rap. There’s a place in the Koh Samui group of islands with a bad reputation spawned by its notorious once-a-month party scene.
While the poster child for Pattaya’s dark side is a beer swilling sex tourist; Koh Phangan is recognized worldwide as the home of the world’s wildest drug party. The Full Moon Party is held monthly on Haad Rin Beach and anyone who has witnessed it knows the reputation is well deserved.
Young backpacker types paint their bodies with fluorescent designs, slurp buckets of whatever that stuff is, smoke whatever it is they smoke, and gyrate to the worst music my old ears have ever heard.
But, just like Pattaya’s Walking Street is only about 300 meters long, Haad Rin is the smallest and least attractive beach on Koh Phangan. Those who have ventured out to the rest of the island find an idyllic tropical paradise. It’s like Koh Samui 20 years ago.
Rustic yoga retreats, coconut farms and longtail boats bobbing in the bay come to mind when I think of Koh Phangan. This is the story that this week’s picture tells. It was taken on the north side at a beach called Chaloklum.
No mushrooms, no glowing paint, no DJs spinning electronica. Just Thailand the way it was meant to be enjoyed.