We certainly weren’t planning on staying on Haad Salad Beach on an island we had never even heard of before arriving to Thailand – Koh Phangan. But things just happen that way. And we were in love with that beach the moment we laid eyes on it. We drove around Koh Phangan on a little moped looking for a spot for around 4 nights, and ended up staying 16 nights. Haad Salad was recommended to us by a random scuba instructor next to his truck when I asked for a beach with white sand on the island. And boy was he right! There was something so comfortable about it…I don’t know if it was the A/C bungalow only a few meters from the white sand beach, the friendly Thai staff, or the breathtaking view, but we made this place our second home.
Talk about Thai Beach Paradise! Soft white sand, patches of turquoise water admixed with darker blue areas, and bungalows with hammocks overlooking the ocean. No wonder we stayed 17 days and could have easily stayed longer! The water is completely clear and you could see to the ocean floor…In fact, that’s how we did dry snorkeling from a kayak. Since we had fallen off a moped and had open wounds, we couldn’t enter the salt water for quite a while.
We also found our favorite restaurant on the beach, Jang’s Kitchen. Jang is a skinny Thai women with grown children living in Australia. She and her British husband live in Koh Phangan now, and she runs the restaurant while he runs the bar outside. They moved here to live a more relaxed lifestyle now that the kids are grown, but Jang loves her kitchen and loves to cook. In fact, she runs the whole show herself with little assistance. She sometimes even delivers plates to the tables. Her food is delicious with large portions and very flavorful.
We loved the food so much that Giovanni and I took a 2-day cooking class with her! We could request 4 plates we wanted to learn to cook, so we picked fresh spring rolls with a sweet sauce, chicken pad thai (of course!), pad khing (sautéed mushrooms with squid), and fried whole fish with garlic and pepper. Delicious! We also learned how to make larb kai (sautéed chicken marinated in lime juice) and tom kah soup (coconut milk soup). We cooked enough to eat lunch and saved the fish for dinner the next day 🙂 I learned that you need a Wok, lots of fried garlic, and the sauces in Thai cooking are oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and a thick sweet soy sauce. So many sauces! We hope to make some of these recipes when we return home.
Something also happened that kind of prevented us from leaving. Giovanni and I fell off a moped in unison (thankfully I landed on him), but he scraped his knee pretty bad and both of us scraped both hands. These wounds are still healing over a month later. I’m pretty sure we’re going to have Koh Phangan tattoos as a result.
The reason we fell off the moped is less glamorous…the road was sandy and Giovanni used the front brake (right hand) instead of the rear brake (left hand). The brake system is opposite of other countries and quite confusing. We fell off in broad daylight, and thankfully there was no one behind us to run us over on the road. A nice couple helped us pull over our moped and we went to a local pharmacy to clean our wounds.
Somehow we survived, though in pain, and we knew we could not enter the ocean water unless we wanted an infection. We wanted to definitely avoid further complications since the closest hospital was on Koh Samui (Koh Phangan does not have a hospital). I think the accident forced us to slow down and we needed this time since there has been a lot of movement on this trip! After our wounds had healed enough to go into the ocean, we took a ferry to Koh Tao for scuba diving 🙂