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Koh Phangan Part 2

Excerpts taken from Naked Farang: Four Weddings and a Coup

The day after the full moon party, Stan and I moved in to Ban Kai Bay where Johnny and Sarah were working. Their “working” constituted telling the Thai chef what the farangs wanted to eat or deciding which pirated movies to play in the evenings, but it was enough to earn them free board and lodge.

After a few days, both Stan and I caught dengue fever, which also goes by the more descriptive name of break-bone fever and is caused by the bite of a mosquito that is active during the day rather than the night. It led to a couple of days of feverish sweating, chills and intense aching. We went to be diagnosed and medicated at a clinic in Thong Sala, where we were joined in the waiting room by Thai cowboys waiting to be treated for gunshot wounds.

Staying at Ban Kai Bay meant that it was feasible to walk along the beach to Had Rin for the parties rather than taking a songthaew, and we did just that when we returned for the Christmas and New Year parties. There was always a degree of paranoia pervading the Had Rin revellers with constant rumours of police raids, although we never saw anything to justify the rumours, at least not at the parties.

Things were different back at Bang Kai, however. One day somewhere around Christmas, after we’d drunk most of the festive spirits, Stan, Graham and I retired to our hut to smoke a yuletide bong. Just as we finished puffing the magic dragon, a face appeared at the window. It was a plain clothes policeman. Ban Kai Bay was being busted. Quick as a flash, Stan hid the bamboo bong behind his back, but the cop had already spotted it. He looked at the three not so wise monkeys sitting on the bed and staring back at him.

“What’s that behind your back?” he asked Stan.
“Nothing,” he lied.
“Show me your hands,” the policeman said in what I assume was his most authoritative tone.

What happened next was straight out of a Laurel and Hardy movie. Stan showed the cop his left hand, still holding the bong behind his back in his right hand.

“The other hand,” ordered the cop, failing to specify his intention. He’d left Stan a loophole just big enough to keep the game going a little longer and Stan wasn’t going to give in just yet. He switched hands and showed the cop his right hand now. I knew we were in trouble, but this was hilarious. The cop was getting frustrated and probably wished he’d gone to a different bungalow.

“Now show me both hands.”

He doubtless thought he’d cracked the code this time, but he was wrong. I was sitting next to Stan, so I quickly grabbed the bong and put it behind my back while Stan triumphantly showed the cop both his hands. There were three of us sitting on the bed, so this could have gone on for some time. However, I didn’t get to go through the left hand / right hand routine, because just at that moment we heard a girl scream and some shouts, and the cop was off. It turned out that a farang girl had been deemed a more important (or probably easier) bust than us three stooges and the whole police contingent, which had been spread out around the resort, now swarmed her bungalow. As soon as the cop left, Stan grabbed the bong and weed and ran off to stash everything in some bushes. I felt sorry for the girl, but it was a lucky if somewhat comical escape for us.

An English guy staying in our resort wasn’t so fortunate. After the New Year party at Had Rin, he walked back to Ban Kai Bay, sat in a deck chair (possibly the only one on the island), smoked a spliff and fell asleep. He was woken later by more cops who had found his small bag of weed on the sand next to him. He offered them cash, but they said they were Bangkok police and didn’t take bribes. (Yeah, I don’t get that, either) He was treated to free transportation to Bangkok, which was followed by free board and lodge before he was fined and deported back to England.

Paradise was losing its charm. Soon after New Year, Stan and I moved on. Johnny and Sarah had been to Koh Tao before they came to Koh Phangan, and they gave it a glowing recommendation, so that was where we headed. As with many of the best places I have visited around the world, I find out about them not from guidebooks, but from other travellers. Koh Tao was to be everything they said it was, and so much more.

Excerpts taken from Naked Farang: Four Weddings and a Coup

Related article – Fly Me to the Moon: Koh Phangan Part 1

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