Tag - world

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang was formerly the capital of Laos and is situated at the meeting point of the Mekong and Mae Kok rivers in northern Laos. Most travellers in Laos make it to this large and inviting city at some point during their journey and this is a great place to spend a few days.

Luang Prabang Province is considered by many to be Laos’ cultural and heritage centre and here you will find a large collection of Buddhist monasteries, temples and monuments. The town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers some stunning examples of French architecture and traditional temple art.

Surrounded by dense jungle and sparkling rivers, Luang Prabang Province is extremely beautiful. The earth is a rich brown colour and to the north rocky mountains make an impressive backdrop. Trekking is popular here and there are a good range of activities available such as rock climbing and boat trips.

Among the largest and most impressive of Luang Prabang’s temples are Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Visoun and Wat Ou Tay, while the 24-metre high stupa of That Chomsi is an impressive sight. For spectacular views over the city climb to the top of Phu Si, which is also one of the best places to watch the sun set over the city.

There are plenty to see and do around the province. 30 miles north of Luang Prabang city is the cave of Tham Ting, which is filled with large Buddha images and is a prominent place of worship for the local people. The cave is situated right on the river and combined with the two hour boat trip to get there this is a great way to spend a day.

Another good day trip destination pretty the Tad Sae waterfall and Kuang Si waterfall, while the National Museum is a good place to learn more about the local culture and history. Topped by an impressive golden-spired stupa, Luang Prabang’s former royal palace has been transformed into the Palace Museum, and here you will find an impressive collection of regal artefacts and royal portraits

There are a large number of cheap guesthouses available in Luang Prabang and plenty of restaurants serving international food. A great time to visit is during one of the country’s festivals, when the streets are filled with colourful and noisy processions.   

Getting around Luang Prabang is easy and this is a great place to take it easy before venturing into the more remote areas of Laos.

Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Kanchanaburi is the largest of Thailand’s central provinces. Just two hours from Bangkok by bus or train, Kanchanaburi makes a great place for a day trip, although the stunning natural beauty of the area, combined with its intriguing turbulent history often entices people to stay for several days or even a few weeks.

There are two main towns in Kanchanaburi Province that are popular with visitors; Kanchanaburi city, which is the capital of Kanchanaburi Province, and the picturesque border town of Sangkhlaburi.

Located on the banks of the Kwae Noi, or River Kwai as it is popularly know to travelers, Kanchanaburi city is the home of the famous Bridge on the River Kwai, which is visited each year by thousands of tourists from every country.

Surrounded by beautiful mountains, lush paddy fields and farms, there is no limit to what can be seen and done in this interesting region. A great way to view the countryside is to ride the Death Railway to Nam Tok. Once there, make sure you visit the Sai Yok National Park with its two Sai Yok waterfalls, the perfect way to cool down on a hot sunny day. Whilst in Sai Yok, check out the Mueang Sing historical park, where you will discover the ruins of a Khmer town and temple.

The spectacular seven-tiered Erawan waterfall, situated in the Erawan National Park must not be missed, and climbing the 1,500 feet to the very top offers incredible views out over the top of the jungle. It is easy to combine a visit to Erawan National Park with a trip to the nearby tiger temple of Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, where many tame tigers reside and roam freely under the watchful eye of the gentle monks who also live there.

Of course, Kanchanaburi is famous for its World War II POW camps, and visits to the JEATH War Museum and the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum are good places to find out the facts behind this sad period of history, whilst people can pay their respects at the Kanchanaburi War Cemeteries.

There is plenty for the adventurous to do and activities such as trekking, cave exploration, elephant riding and canoeing are all popular. Kanchanaburi’s roads are good and clearly sign posted, so a good way to spend a day or two is to hire a bicycle or a motorbike and drive off into the countryside.

It’s worth trying to time your trip to coincide with the River Khwae Bridge week, which is celebrated around November with sound and light shows at the Death Railway Bridge.

Ayutthaya, Thailand

Ayutthaya, Thailand
Ayutthaya, Thailand
Ayutthaya, Thailand
Ayutthaya, Thailand

Just one hour from Bangkok, the ancient city of Ayutthaya is a key destination for anyone interested in history, culture and architecture. This former capital of Thailand is steeped in history and is a great place to spend a couple of days.

Formerly known as Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, the city was founded by King U-Thong in 1350 and kept its status as the nation’s capital until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767. Ayutthaya was once one of the richest cities in Asia by the 1600s, as its vast array of temples still testifies.

Most visitors come to explore The Ayutthaya historical park, which contains most of the magnificent ruins of the ancient city and was declared a UNESCO World heritage site in 1981. Over 400 hundred temples were originally built in Ayutthaya, and the fact that they were built by various rules means that they comprise an interesting range of designs and styles.

Many of the temples from Ayutthaya’s glory period still exist today, although in various states of preservation. Wat Mahathat is by far Ayutthaya’s most photographed temple, made famous by the head of a large Buddha statue which has become entangled in the roots of a giant banyan tree.

Other temples of note include Wat Lokayasutharam (also known as the temple of the Reclining Buddha), Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Mongkhon Bophit and Wat Naphrameru.

Ayutthaya’s temples cover an area of several kilometres, and many people choose to explore the area by hiring a bicycle or a tuk-tuk for the day. You can learn more about Ayutthaya’s rich and interesting history at the Chantharakasem National Museum.

But there is much more to Ayutthaya than simply temples. The Ayutthaya Elephant Camp provides visitors with the perfect opportunity to find out more about these mighty beasts and rides can be arranged around the scenic area.

The nearby town of Bang Pa In, with its glorious Summer Palace provides an excellent site for a day trip. Another great day trip is the Bang Sai Royal Arts and Crafts Center, which aims is to train people with poor backgrounds and to try provide them with the skills to earn a descent income. The arts and crafts here are of a very high quality and make excellent souvenirs.

Pattaya, Thailand

Pattaya, Thailand
Pattaya, Thailand
Pattaya, Thailand
Pattaya, Thailand

Located about 170 kilometres southeast of Bangkok, Pattaya makes a good destination for a weekend break, although with so many entertainment options to choose from, many people tend to stay in the small seaside city for several days. Pattaya means the ‘south-west monsoon wind’ in the Thai language and ranks as one of the most successful beach resorts in the world, with more than 5 million visitors each year.

Pattaya is probably best known for its night life. For the curious, this is a good place to see a “Tiffany Show”, where stunningly attractive transsexuals dress in incredibly elaborate costumes and perform gracefully choreographed song and dance numbers on stage. There are also a wide range of go-go bars and discotheques to explore on Walking Street, which is the center of Pattaya’s nightlife.

By day, Pattaya offers a large number of intriguing diversions that are hard to find in most other parts of Thailand. A great entertainment option is the Million Years Stone Park and Pattaya Crocodile Farm, whilst visitors can ride the mighty beasts at the Elephant Village. The world class aquarium at Underwater World Pattaya has beautiful displays of local sea life and you can see scale replicas of Thailand’s key attractions in Mini Siam. Also popular with visitors to Pattaya is Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and the sign for this can clearly be seen for the beach front.

Pattaya is a great place to let off some steam, and the go cart course and shooting range and good places to do just that, whilst the many spas and massage parlours offer a different way to unwind.

But Pattaya isn’t all neon lights and lipstick, there are also some very beautiful nature spots waiting to be discovered. Pattaya Beach is situated alongside the city centre and is a popular spot for jet-skis and speed boats. Just south of the city is the pretty stretch of sand known as Jomtien Beach, which is much quieter than Pattaya Beach and a good place to chill out for a few hours.

Another great day trip is the large and interesting Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, which features several hundred tigers and thousands of alligators. The tiger zoo offers the opportunity to view and interact with animals in exciting new ways, such as cuddling tiger cubs and helping hatch baby crocodiles from their eggs.

If you need a break from the beach, pay a visit to the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, which is located 15 kilometers east of Pattaya and has lively cultural shows.

It is absolutely impossible to be bored in Pattaya, and no matter what you are looking for you are sure to find it here.

World War 2 – Thailand

world_war_2_thailand_1World War Two came to Thailand by agreement between the Japanese and the Thai’s – otherwise it was coming by force, but the Thai government in 1942 agreed to allow the Japanese passage and signed an agreement effectively saving it (Thailand) an invasion. This was opposed by many Thai’s including the Thai Attache to the US (Khun Seni Promoj) who refused to deliver his declaration of war to the US. Due to America gaining supremacy in the Pacific with the Battle of Midway etc, Japan was struggling to send supplies back home via sea and to supply it’s forces in it’s ever expanding empire; this included essential supplies to Burma and any future foray into India. The Pacific was increasingly risky for shipping, so there had to be another way.

world_war_2_thailand_2Only several months before on 15 February 1942 – the impregnable fortress Singapore fell – enslaving thousands of allied troops – who began their 3.5 years of occupation. Having secured the Thai tenure, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) compiled the bold plan to use that labour to build a rail link from Ban Pong (near Bangkok) through some of the worst jungle in the world to Burma joining rail services to Moulmein and Ye – giving the IJA the ability to supply their depleted forces. A railway that would end up taking over 100,000 lives – as one author penned, ‘A Life For Every Sleeper’. Over 6,000 British perished, 2,710 Australians, 2,600 Dutch, 400 Americans, and a combination of coolie labourers (Malay, Tamil, Burmese and Chinese etc) who lost great numbers of people. Deaths came to the prisoners from malnutrition, malaria, tropical ulcers, cholera, dysentery and murder.

world_war_2_thailand_3There are two allied war cemeteries in Thailand – Chungkai and Kanchanaburi War Cemeteries (about 80kms NW from Bangkok). Chungkai War Cemetery holds British and Dutch servicemen and Kanchanaburi War Cemetery holds Australian, British and Dutch men. Kanchanaburi has over 7,000 boys buried in it’s war cemeteries across many nations including men who were unable to be identified – and they have plaques referring to them as ‘Known Unto God’, it is the burial ground for the southern aspect of the railway. Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is managed by an Australian – Mr Rod Beattie and recently I interviewed Rod for my new travel guide to WW2 Thailand on his life, the cemetery and other interesting odds and ends. Rod is a busy character who not only manages the largest Allied War Cemetery in Thailand, but is the Director of Research of the Thai-Burma Railway Centre (museum) next door to the war cemetery.

World War 2 ThailandAn Interview with the Curator – Rod Beattie (Curator of the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and
Director of Research of the TBRC among other things…)

Q. How did you first hear of the Thai/Burma Railway? In Australia or abroad?

A. Whilst in Australia I knew no more or less than anyone else. I got my first book about the railway as a school prize in 1966. My real knowledge started after moving to Kanchanaburi to work for a Thai company mining sapphires at Bo Phloi.

Q. Have you served in the military? 

A. Yes, six years in the Army Reserve (1969-76).

Q. What is your profession? (OK Jack of All Trades – but what does your CV say?)

A. Jack of all Trades. Three tertiary qualifications. Two in Civil Engineering. One in Gemmology. Trade qualifications as Heavy Plant Operator and Truck Driver. Master gem cutter. I am multi qualified.

Q. Why your passion for the TBR?

A. I don’t know other than a desire to learn more and to help other people.

Q. What year did you get to Kanchanaburi?

A. 1989.

Q. Was it the same year you started as Curator of Kanburi Cemetery?

A. No. It was not until 1994 that I got involved in the railway. 1995 appointed Manager of the War Cemeteries.

Q. How did you get the job?

A. The British Embassy contacted me to ask for help in finding a new Manager. I gave them local advice which they passed on to CWGC. CWGC came back and asked if I was interested in the job. I said ‘Yes’.

Q. What is your relationship with OAWG like? Is it very bureaucratic?

A. Since my contract as Project Manager of the Hellfire Pass Museum Project finished in 1998 I have had no formal relationship with OAWG. Unofficially I work closely with the Manager of the Hellfire Pass Museum.

Q. Do you think political correctness is a thing that has little place in the TBRC or the HFP Museum etc?

A. Absolutely. The truth would be better and more appropriate.

Q. I know you cleared a lot of railway with your wife, how much did you clear and how long did it take?

A. A total of 8 kilometres. Two years. Only 4 and a bit kilometres are now maintained by OAWG as the walking trail.

Q. Were you ever concerned about the tropical diseases etc, that our predecessors suffered, occurring to you whilst working there?

A. Not at all. I was brought up in the Australian bush so felt completely at home in the jungle. The
diseases are still here but in our present state of health we will not be affected provided we use normal health precautions. The son of one of my labourers had a tropical ulcer which was only cured after I put him in Kanchanaburi’s best private hospital.

Q. How is your relationship with exPOWs that visit – there must have been many over the years – who sticks in your mind as the typical bloke you connected with most?

A. Excellent, with those who know me personally. I really can’t pick out any one individual of the very large number. They are almost universally wonderful men. A tiny number use their status as former POWs to their own advantage. The one who I owe the deepest debt is Tom Morris. He was the one person who had the courtesy to discuss with me what was going on in Kanchanaburi three years ago, when I and my plans for the TBRC were the subject of so much bad press. He believed in what I was doing and stood by me – unlike many others who have not met me and simply believed what they read or heard.

Q. What was Weary Dunlop like when he was in town?

A. I never met Weary.

Q. What about Japanese? Have you had many dealings with them visiting over the years?

A. Yes, many visit Kanchanaburi. Most know nothing of the true story. As an historian I put aside my personal feelings in an attempt to get the Japanese side of the story. It is important that a balanced story be recorded for historical purposes. I have a close relationship with a senior Japanese Engineer and other Japanese interested in the story being told accurately.

Q. A little birdie tells me that you may have had an altercation with some ‘characters’ in the cemetery playing up and being disrespectful? What happened – who were they and why did they make it out alive?

A. Only a minor one, two or three. I am very mindful of the position I hold and only extremely distasteful behaviour will provoke me. Like people running around climbing trees. Like a bus load of tourists using the hedge as a toilet. Like some ignorant people sitting on headstones.

Q. How long are you going to stay in Thailand? Will you ever leave?

A. Totally dependent on the future education of my three little girls. Secondary education in Kanchanaburi is not good so I may move back to Australia for this.

Q. The TBRC has been a long time coming. Has other museums like JEATH even Hellfire Pass (HFP) Museum been annoyed at this new one or have they been supportive.

A. Terrified would probably be a better description. I have a close relationship with the Manager of the HFP Museum so we actively promote each other. I offered a space in my TBRC to OWAG for a HFP display and this offer was accepted.

Q. What is your project at Chungkai doing? What have you unearthed?

A. A huge ‘dig’. Hundreds of items. Personal possessions, camp items, tools, numerous medicine bottles, the actual fireplaces etc.

Q. What do you miss about Australia? (Rugby, AFL, Fish’n’Chips, Meat Pies?)

A. The ease of travelling and going on holidays. Packing up the car, trailer and boat and heading off in any direction. Camping by a western stream and fishing for yellow belly. Pulling into a caravan park anywhere on the coast and putting the tinnie in the water. Cleanliness and order of daily life. But there are also many things I don’t miss.

Q. Have royalty shown interest before in the Thai-Burma Railway and its history etc?

A. Very little interest shown by any Thais. Khun Kanit is an exception. No Thai royal visit in the offering. We have just had a visit by the Queen of the Netherlands.
Kanchanaburi is about a two-three hour trip by bus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal, cost 79 baht one way. The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is located on Sangchuto Road about 15 minutes walk from the bus terminal. The Thai-Burma Railway Centre is located in a street that overlooks the cemetery – a two storey building with the upper storey overlooking parts of the war cemetery, it costs 60 baht to enter.

The title of my travel guide is ‘A Different Brand Of English’ and is available at www.poseidonbooks.com/a_different_brand_of_english.htm (ISBN: 1-9208-8490-4) An A5 Paperback with 367 pages including over 150 photographs of Singapore and Thailand. This comprehensive travel guide has an emphasis on WW2 Singapore and Thailand. It guides the traveler around Kranji, Chungkai and Kanchanaburi War Cemeteries and includes many graves of war time luminaries to visit with next of kin permission and in some cases includes photographs of the deceased all with information on how and where they died etc. It guides the traveler to cuttings, Bridge Over the River Kwai, Hellfire Pass, POW Camps, Changi Prison etc.

The travel guidebook also consists of Ex Prisoner of War (POW) interviews of men who toiled on the Thai-Burma Railway & includes an interview with the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and Museum Director/Curator. Along with never published before prison camp reports marked SECRET and released before the end of the war for Australian Prison Camp Investigators. The Australian Prime Minister provided comments exclusively for the book about his travel in and around Hellfire Pass. Has over 150 photographs from many and varied luminaries including many of George Aspinall’s war time collection, exclusive pictures of the Queen of Holland in the Thai War Museum, contemporary shots of Singapore and Thailand’s memorials, plaques and places of interest, including Australian War Memorial photographs and maps etc.

The guidebook also discusses the main touristy attractions in both countries including Raffles Hotel, Singapore Cricket Club, Merlion, Bangkok Palace, Bangkok Prison, Patpong Market to Phuket etc. It has a recommended restaurant guide, a hotel stay guide and tips and travel advice down to scams to avoid with up to date foreign office warnings.

This type of book on this combined issue has never been written before and it goes where no guidebook has gone before on this subject. The journey the book takes is one of wonder, excitement, sadness and reflection.

Andrew Mason

Australia

Leuk Krueng

Tata YoungFor those of you who don’t know, a “Leuk Krueng” is someone of mixed heritage. Famous Leuk Kruengs include Tiger Woods, Tata Young (American/Thai), and David Usher.

(American/Thai), (Canadian/Thai). My mother is Thai and my father is American, so I seem to fit the bill. I was born in the States and grew up in various countries around the world, and although we spent many holidays in Thailand, I never really lived here. I was brought up going to American schools and speaking English with everyone except my mother. After having lived in many countries, including the US, and nearing my 30th birthday, I decided to embrace my inner Thai-ness and move to Thailand for a while. I’ve been here a year now and it’s taken me that long to really feel at home, although I loved it here pretty much from the first day.

When I was a child, I actually hated Thailand, and for a short time as a teenager I even hated being half Thai. It probably began with not being allowed to go out with my young cousins to the market, since my mother was afraid of me getting kidnapped since I was so white. I wasn’t allowed to eat the same foods as the other kids either, since my Western stomach couldn’t handle it. The joy of being so pale though, was that I was my grandmother’s favourite grandchild. Of course, the downside to this was intense jealousy from my cousins, who liked to call me “farang kee-nok”  (farang bird poop because of my skin colour).

Fortunately, some of the other kids living nearby didn’t seem to care, so I had playmates anyway. But, as we grew up, I was no longer allowed to play with them on my holidays because we were all settling into our class roles and they were not of my class. This was all back in the day when there were no bilingual schools and I felt like I was the only leuk krueng in the world.
 
On holidays to Thailand I spent a lot of time digging in the yard for chik-goong (crickets) to eat, picking the ticks off the six guard dogs, and tying strings to dead scorpions and throwing them at the maids. It was always fun to go out to eat and have my mother try to force me to suck the eyeballs out of the fish to improve my brain. My father was often mediator in these situations, and I think every mixed-heritage kid needs that kind of balance.
 
Growing up in an American society, although not always living in the US, it was at times strange having an Asian mother. Looking back though, I can see that I was incredibly fortunate. Thais are very concerned about their families and it’s a beautiful trait that you don’t find so much in America. My mother was at every single school event I ever had and baked treats for me to take to class often. I was the envy of my classmates for her dedication and my birthday parties were especially fun and clever events. Even though she wasn’t that great at English herself, she taught me to read in English before I even went to school. 
 
It was really wonderful to grow up bilingual. My mother tells me that I kept speaking a mix of Thai and English in kindergarten and really frightened the teacher until she found out I was bilingual. Many Thais who marry foreigners stop speaking Thai and I think it really puts kids at a disadvantage. I am so happy I can speak Thai now that I live here, and only wish that I had learned to read and write as well.
 
Growing up, there were small arguments about how a nice Thai girl should act and how I acted too American. Since I’m very fair-skinned I fit into the Western world better. Even now, in Thailand, people speak English to me before they speak Thai. Sometimes I get the Thai price and sometimes I end up paying the farang price but that’s okay. It’s interesting how in Thailand I’ve had people ask to have their photo taken with me, while in America I’ve been called a “gook” more times than I can count.
 
I recently went to our family reunion and there were 300 people I had never seen in my life there. Everyone was really nice and the oldest members of the family sat in a line and sprinkled water on everyone else for blessings. You can see that Thai people really care about their families. Since I’ve been here, my family has taken care of every need I’ve had, from taking me to get my drivers license to sending bowls of food over to the house that they gave me to live in. I know people in America whose families won’t even let them stay over when they visit!
 
My father loves the Thai family structure. He comes from a typical American family where no one speaks to each other anymore except when they want to borrow money from him. Here my mother’s family treats him like one of their own, even though he still doesn’t speak Thai after 35 years. I think he’s happy to know that he doesn’t have a typical American kid that’s going to leave him in a nursing home when he gets old.
 
Being a leuk krueng is really great. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. Although I am still learning about Thailand, I grow to love it more each day and to feel genuinely patriotic about the country. I’m not ashamed to admit, Thailand makes a great national anthem, and at the movies it makes me cry with pride every time. I actually feel closer to Thailand after one year of living here than in the ten or so years combined that I lived in America. I am annoyed when America bullies my new home and sometimes I am even embarrassed to be half American – my how things change.
 
Thai people have a unique spirit that I am so proud to be a part of. I dont feel like I’m half of two things anymore, but instead, I am two wholes. It’s no wonder I ended up marrying another leuk krueng of sorts South African/British. We joke about how we unite four continents. It really would be great though, if the world kept on mixing.

Full Moon Party


Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan
Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan
Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan

Whether you’re sporting a new Koh Phangan t-shirt or concealing a new rash that needs 3 weeks of antibiotics, everyone leaves the famous/notorious Full Moon Party a little different than when they arrived. This event, after all, is the stuff of backpacker legend, with numbers averaging 10,000 and a fun-loving crowd from all corners of the world. Everyone arrives to Koh Phangan prepped with some expectations of the Full Moon Party, through travel guides or word of mouth. When I set forth to May’s Full Moon Party, my head full of other people’s stories and cautions, I still found a few surprises in this dance-til-dawn affair. So rather than outlining the importance of sunscreen, drug safety, and secure bungalows, below are some tips you may not hear, but which helped me enjoy the sweet debauchery of Hat Rin under a full moon.
Lessons Learned on a Full Moon

1) Don’t Pull Rank

We all know that travel takes many forms, and the Full Moon Party certainly draws a mixed crowd. Indeed, on the crowded beach, sweaty bars, or confusing ferry terminal, sooner or later you’ll get annoyed by fellow travellers. You might be on a gap-year trip and out of your parents home for the first time, or you might be an expat who went Buddhist long before Richard Gere made it trendy. Whatever your background, it may be tempting to roll your eyes at other SangSom-swilling beachgoers. In a group of ten thousand, you’re not going to like everyone. By the same token, in a group so big, you’re bound to get along with a lot of them. Don’t be dissuaded by disagreement, just move on.

2) Find a Guesthouse away from it All

Because Hat Rin beach is the centre of the party, a travel agent will hype the Hat Rin bungalows for their prime location, and indeed that’s true. However, while they may not be found on some Koh Phangan maps, there are some nicer, cheaper, neighbouring beaches an easy 10-minute walk (stumble….crawl….) away. Nearby Leela Beach and Sunset Beach boast cute, clean beach bungalows over beautiful turquoise beaches. Both have plenty of restaurant/bars and space galore to park your beach towel for the afternoon. If you fancy a rowdy place to party and a calmer place to recover, these beaches are a perfect fit.

3) Don’t Sweat a Solo Night

Nothing is worse than the one guy in the noisy bar yelling into his cellphone because he split up from his friends. If you’re with a group bigger than two, you’ll likely find yourself solo at some point during the evening. The crowd is so big, if you haven’t arranged a meeting point in advance, you can waste hours scanning the sea of faces in the dark, looking for your travelmates. My suggestion? The beach and the clubs are full or friendly, fun-loving peers who are delighted at the randomness of meeting new people. If you lose your friends, make new ones. It’s only for one night, and for better or worse, it will make for a more colourful evening.

4) Keep your Shoes On

Every morning, stray beach dogs take their pick of abandoned sandals to adopt as chew toys. Footwear is an easy thing to misplace when it’s dark, crowded, and everything is semi-covered in sand. As cheap as rubber flip-flops may be, they’re absolutely crucial when walking the concrete streets, using a public toilet, or sidestepping broken glass. Let my own cut-up soles be a lesson to you, while Hat Rin is lovely by day, a big party turns the soft white sand jagged and messy, fast.

5) Remember, you’re still in Thailand

You may be surrounded by goodlooking Westerners under 25, but gang, this ‘aint Daytona Beach. Yes, Koh Phangan tourism caters readily to rowdy, fun-loving, hard-partying travellers. Even so, some smaller gestures can avoid offense to Thai people and keep your travel experience peachy. Though the area is littered in stray dogs, this Buddhist country believes strongly in treating animals with decency. Also, while you won’t catch many Thai people correcting your behaviour, it’s best to practice some discretion on the beach. Bikinis and flirting are fine, though topless female sunbathers and VERY public displays of affection might cause discomfort. The women mixing your bucket cocktail or the men painting UV-light tattoos on your arm will be nothing but friendly, but remember that there are still Eastern/Western differences, even on a raucous beach.

Anne Merritt is Canadian and has an English Literature degree. She has worked as a journalist for a university newspaper. She is currently living in Ayutthaya as an ESL teacher and is sharing her experience of Thailand with KhaoSanRoad.com.