After just two short but eventful days, it was time to move onto the third and final island on our Contiki East Thai Island Hopper tour. The ferry from Koh Tao to Koh Phangan was running a bit late, but that didn’t mean much to us considering we have learned that things operate here on “Southeast Asia” time, meaning a tad bit off schedule. When the boat finally arrived it seemed like ages before we were allowed to board and one woman disembarking shouted, “Its rough out there, better take your Dramamine.” Not music to my ears, but I laughed thinking been there, done that, we’ll be fine.
I have never been more wrong in my life. In fact, that lady’s words were a gross understatement. We filed aboard and immediately got evacuated back up on deck because the ship was too heavy to leave the port in the shallow water. When we finally made it to sea, I wished we had never left. I passed out my few remaining motion sickness pills and we all held tight as our boat attempted to push against waves, current and wind to get us to Koh Phangan. Sprays of water soaked the sides of the ferry and luggage began to wiggle lose, sliding across the deck. Barf bags were passed out for all. I just kept reminding myself that puking would only make the experience worse.
When we finally made it to land, most of us couldn’t kick the rocking feeling. It was tough to even climb into a cab an hour later, but we soon found our treacherous journey to be worth it when we arrived at our new place, Shiralea Backpacker’s Resort. Basically a little oasis run by a group of boisterous and fun-loving expats and travelers.
The grounds are dotted with little bungalows stretching out between lines of palm trees and little stone paths. The main bungalow is front and center, housing a bar, kitchen and lounge. Everything at this little haven is put on a tab to your room so you can blissfully indulge in way too many drinks and delicious meals while becoming none the wiser. A little dangerous, but also extremely convenient. Below the main bungalow is a pool and poolside bar. There’s also a movie lounge and spa within a few footsteps. The beach is about a two minute walk, which is almost too much when you have all of this right in front of you.
We were greeted with a welcome BBQ and I immediately asked what I had to do to join the staff and stay there forever. Unfortunately, really liking vodka sodas and a good party doesn’t count as bartender qualifications.
Following the BBQ we were invited to a battle of the sexes trivia game, which the girls killed at, I am glad to report. I may have had to donate an undergarment to push us to the win but it was all in the name of free shots. I’m not confirming or denying anything except that I’m a team player.
We continued for the next few days lounging in the sun by the pool or the beach during the day and swarming the bungalow bar at night. There were tons of fun activities planned by the staff because they will always make sure Shiralea is a good time. The only rule they really had was no skinny dipping in the pool at breakfast, which we barely were able to keep depending on what time you eat your breakfast.
On the second night we were shuttled off to the floating bar which was the best idea ever in theory, but not so great for me in practice. They sold Dramamine at the bar, but I couldn’t even handle that so Brittany and I left to grab a cab back.
Unfortunately they weren’t being so friendly so I asked the bouncer for a motorbike that could take two girls and a stately Thai gentleman rose to the task. Few words were exchanged since his English wasn’t the best but he got us close to home and the resident Shiralea dogs led us the rest of the way back. Yes, this resort does have a pack of dogs living on it in addition to a load of wild chicken.
I’m going to have to leave you off there because what Shiralea had in mind for the last night is definitely in need of its own post. If you are ever in Koh Phangan I cannot recommend this place enough.