My own little paradise

I arrived in Ko Pha-Ngan 2 days ago fully expecting to stay for a few days before heading off. Yes, I was keen to stay longer than the 2-3 day limits I have allowed myself for most other places in Asia, so keen have I been to see as much of these wonderful countries as I can. I thought maybe 5 days would be nice, then to Koh Tao for more diving, then a secluded beach, before my live aboard off the Similan and Surin islands that sets sail on 8 March.

However, I have found my own slice of paradise right here and can think of nothing better than staying here for a couple of weeks before moving on for the live aboard. I am staying in a tiny fishing village called Chalok Lam on the quiet north side of the island. Here, evidence of its fishy credentials – squid and fish drying in the midday sun, thankfully out of noseshot of where I am staying:

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I have everything I need right here: a beautiful luxury bungalow right on the beach, at the quiet end of what is a very quiet beach. When I say luxury, I mean it – solid walls, tiled floors, air conditioning, hot shower, and a fridge. What a treat. The view from my balcony is to die for:

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And my bedroom has windows overlooking the sea on 3 out of 4 sides. I draw the curtains back when I go to sleep so I can wake to not just the sound but the sight of the lapping sea each morning.

Right on my doorstep, I have Sail Rock, one of the best diving spots in Thailand, if not SE Asia. Yesterday, I went out on a boat and did a couple of dives. Even though the visibility was only around 6-8 metres (poor for here – it’s usually 20-30 metres, but there’s a storm a-brewing), I saw some amazing sights. Huge schools of fish swimming around me, a massive moray eel at least 3 metres long, curled around a rock. Trigger fish, sulking and looking for someone or something to bite (yes, they have teeth and they are not afraid to use them). Colourful shrimps, both large and small. I even swam up through a vertical tunnel (underwater they call those things chimneys). Here we are on the boat, coming in to shore after a morning’s diving:

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And, thanks to my wonderful mum and dad, I now have a functioning and fully loaded kindle so have all the reading material I could need. And with 2 weeks of nothing to do, that could amount to rather a lot. I am currently embroiled in Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – really good read and an interesting insight into the perilous lives of those with the fortune/misfortune to live in and around the court of Henry VIII.

So, as long as I continue to feel the same about this place, it will be home for the next 2 weeks until I make my way to the Indian ocean coast for a few days on a boat. It’s the perfect way to see out the last few weeks of the wonderful quartergapyear. Yes, 3 weeks today I will be at home again in London. And I certainly need to reserve my energy as my amazing friend, Mel, has planned one hell of a homecoming weekend for me. All my best friends are on standby for 48 hours of fun.

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