Buckets, birthdays and brides

Blogged by Dave

Following a quick overnight stop in Singapore to see my cousin Ant and his family, we jetted off to Koh Phangan in Thailand (via Koh Samui) for 6 nights for our friends Andrew and Tammy’s wedding. Koh Phangan is famous for its Full Moon parties held in the very busy and touristy town of Haad Rin, but it is possible to get away from the crowds by heading to one of the smaller towns dotted around the coast. The whole wedding group of about 70 people (mainly from South Africa and Europe) stayed in Haad Yao, a beautiful quiet beach on the north eastern side of the island. Most people stayed at Sandy Bay Bungalows (https://sandybaybungalows.com/), a lovely little resort at the southern end of the beach. The restaurant at Sandy Bay was probably the pick of the places to eat on the beach, and the best Thai food we had in Haad Yao was Apache restaurant, a small restaurant on the road attached to some bungalows next door to Haad Yao Divers. Their food there had all the proper Thai flavours that were sometimes lacking from the beach restaurant food, but be warned – their ‘spicy’ is quite a bit hotter than what is normally given to tourists! All the food appears to be freshly prepared, with an open kitchen where you can watch your meal being made from scratch.

The beautiful uncrowded beach at Haad Yao
Chilling in the pool at Sandy Bay (Photo: Nick Longley)
We had a lovely week in Haad Yao – a great combination of some partying (including a bucket-fueled bachelor-type party on the Monday) and chilling with our mates in and around Haad Yao. Quite a few of our friends hired scooters which allowed them to explore a lot of the rest of the island. A nice place to walk to from Haad Yao beach is Secret Beach, which a great little snorkeling spot on a small peninsular. The restaurant at the snorkeling spot is great for a few drinks and a swim, but the food was overpriced and not very good. Our good friend Erol had his 40th birthday on the Tuesday, and we surprised him by getting all our friends to wear identical ‘Same same but forty’ vests for the occasion. To celebrate a large group of us headed to the nearby Challenge Phangan (https://www.facebook.com/thechallengephangan), a water-based obstacle course (a la Wipe Out) that was great fun although surprisingly tough. The wedding itself was fantastic, with the ceremony being held on the beach at sunset, followed by a long night of food, booze and dancing. For our final night a small group of us headed to the night food market at Tong Sala to try out some street food. 

Happy birthday Erol!! (Photo: Erol Zeki)
Erol (not looking a day older than 39) and Elke (Photo: Louise Ivie)
The obstacle course at The Challenge Phangan (Photo: Tracey Want)
The restaurant/bar on the peninsula at Secret Beach (Photo: Danny Want) 
Tor scoring a perfect 10 (Photo: Shelley Bredin)
The ladies looking stylish for the wedding
Everyone ready for the big event
The dinner tables for the wedding
The happy couple, Andrew and Tam (Photo: via Andrew Burdock)
The party is just about to get crazy….
Mackers enjoying some quality hammock time following the wedding
A som tum in the making at the night market
We also managed to get 2 dives in at Sail Rock, one of the top dive sites in this part of Thailand. We saw some great things on the dives, with a nice combination of large fish (normally quite rare in Asia) and the smaller macro stuff. We used Haad Yao Scuba (http://haadyaodivers.com), who were really good, with very nice (and cheap) rental equipment.

Chris and Tor heading up the chimney at Sail Rock
A white eye moray
A large grouper
A popcorn shrimp on an anemone
Biglips…
A passing queenfish
A batfish getting a clean
Tor looking good following her Advanced course
A hermit crab
A tiny baby boxfish
Two nudibranchs
Me cruising the oceans
Random fish looking pretty
The weird furry thing in the middle is some type of crab
A cool see-through shrimp 
After 6 days of lots of sun and fun we said goodbye to most of friends, with a group of 8 of us heading to Bali for a week of scuba diving – more about that in the next blog!

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