Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Last Minute Bookings for Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2015

There are those who book their rooms in Thong Nai Pan well in advance, and there are those who for one reason or another wait until November or later to try and get a coveted accommodation in Thong Nai Pan Noi or Yai for the Christmas holidays.

Of the two key days – Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve – the hardest to book is New Year’s Eve. This is no doubt due to the popularity of the New Year’s Eve Party at Haad Rin.

If you are still looking for a room for either of these dates, time is running out. In Thong Nai Pan Noi all the cheaper rooms have gone for New Year’s Eve. Phuwadee and Thong Tapan Resort still have rooms for Christmas. The best you can do for New Year’s Eve in Thong Nai Pan Noi is Buri Rasa. If money is no object (most of us wish) there are still pool villas available at Santhiya and Rasananda.

The situation is a little better on Thong Nai Pan Yai. Both the Four Resort and Starlight Resort have rooms for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Paan Banburi, Nice Resort, Dreamland Resort and Havana Beach Resort have rooms available for Christmas. These will go soon as they are in the mid-range category.

So if you aren’t a millionaire I should book soon to stay in Thong Nai Pan during Christmas and New Year.

For the latest updates on room availability during the Christmas holidays 2015/16 visit Thong Nai Pan Magazine. They have an available rooms update on their front page.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Thong Nai Pan Today

Thong Nai Pan Noi

The weather has not been that good in Thong Nai Pan for a weeks now, and it has been disappointing for visitors who normally expect perfect weather end of July early August. The South West monsoon which affects the West Coast of Thailand June through to September doesn't normally affect Koh Phangan. However, so far this year things have been a bit different with frequent rain, strong winds and big waves on the sea.

It is not all doom and gloom, the weather today on the 10th August 2015 is as good as it gets here in Thong Nai Pan with bright cloudless skies, no rain, and brilliant blue water - perfect for swimming and laying on the beach. That is exactly what everyone is doing today and the beach is packed, particularly Thong Nai Pan Noi which is growing in popularity every year.

More good news is that the forecast for the next couple of weeks is more of the same. So if you are pondering where to go in Thailand over next couple of weeks then come to Thong Nai Pan, the weather is hot, the sea is calm and the beer is ice cold. Be sure though to book a room before you come as nearly everywhere is running at 100% capacity and you may have a long search if you try to find an available room when you arrive - there are still rooms but you need to hunt around a bit to find one.

Thong Nai Pan Yai

Friday, 19 June 2015

More Road Works

The section of the Thong Nai Pan Road from the 7-11 to past Wat Pho is being pulled up and is being replaced. You can see the biggest Yang in the centre of the picture.

At a guess they are going to replace the crumbling road all the way up the hill to Bird and Monkey Trekking/Jungle Flight where the new road finished. Work has been nicely timed to coincide with the peak summer tourist season. A bit of rain and the top piece will become unpassable.

In other road news the Bottle Beach Road improvement has started. This will make a concrete road all the way from the ferry to Sunrise Villa. It will also open up the north of the island to more tourism by day trippers. Those staying in Thong Nai Pan will have the option of sunning themselves on the stunning beach of Bottle Beach.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Goodbye Bamboo

Bamboo Restaurant opened its doors circa 2006. Ever since its inception Pi Gan stood at the helm of a popular establishment that served up great Thai food and that became one of the meeting places of beach folk in Thong Nai Pan Noi. Sadly ‘Bamboo’, as it became affectionately known, closed in early 2015. Gan has left to pursue a new catering project in Koh Chang.

There was a time when I ate dinner at Bamboo 5 times a week. Pi Gan always ready to extend special hospitality to long stay visitors, offered us a small discount on all food. At that time in 2008, there was still a hippy and fun vibe to the beach. Lots of people came every year to hang out on the beach. There were cheap bungalows at Sandee Bungalow, Star Huts and Tapan Noi; the Jungle Bar and Hideaway had big party nights once a week; Rasta Baby was keeping it old skool; and Rasananda was yet to be built.

Pi Gan set up a typical Thai style restaurant - concrete floor, bamboo furniture, raised area with seating on cushions, lots of potted plants, lanterns on the tables, open front and pictures of the King. The restaurant was on the main village road just opposite Again and Again. Both these cheap eating places stood sentinel at the entrance to the beach road. Here people gathered to eat cheap Thai food as well as to have a few drinks.

Bamboo hosted birthday parties, leaving parties, a Thai reggae band as well other performances. Gan was always up for a party. It was never too late for another tasty Penang curry or cold Chang. No group too big.

She specialised in Thai food. She hailed from near the Laos border and bought this north east influence into the kitchen. She made a decent glass noodle salad, spicy laab and Penang curry. I loved her massaman curry. I also liked her burger and fries.

In 2008 Gan included a fruit bar onto the side of the restaurant. She added awesome shakes and smoothies to her repertoire of great food and drink. This was probably the peak of the restaurant. Rasananda opened in 2008, Santhiya and Panviman extended their room numbers in the next couple of years; and then, Buri Rasa opened its doors. At the same time Star Huts shut, Jungle Bar shut, Tapan Noi shut, Hideaway shut and Sandee Bungalow gave up the backpacker angle.

From 2008 Noi underwent gentrification of a sort. The number of backpackers on the beach went down, and the number of higher paying guests increased. These customers were more drawn to Luna and later Better Than Sex with their more ‘refined’ brand of cuisine. Old Skool style was out and ‘sophisticated’ was in. Bamboo was a victim of this change in demographic.

Many bars and restaurants not just in Thailand but elsewhere have a life span. Styles and trends change. Those places that re-invent themselves periodically keep going. For a while Bamboo represented the Zeitgeist of Thong Nai Pan Noi. That spirit has changed and Bamboo has been emptied.

It is not a sad goodbye as Pi Gan has already moved to a beach in Koh Chang and has set up a popular beachfront restaurant. It is sure to be a big success.

Respect goes out to Pi Gan for all those curries and to Sam for finding Pi Gan in Koh Chang.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Thong Nai Pan Trials and Tribulations

Life is a beach when you are living on a beach. However, there is no escaping your own flawed self. I can’t help having my smile dented by small irritations and minor gripes. Staying in Thong Nai Pan has produced 14 little bĂȘte noire that I could think name quickly.
  1. The ATM machine eating your card. It seems no matter how many times you tell your bank that you are travelling to Thailand they will take your card. You then have to phone the buggers at your own expense and somehow get another card.
  2. Having to go on a visa run. It takes you off the beach. It costs money; you have to get up early; and I always get car sick on the winding roads to Burma. Anyway what is the point of going to Burma for 5 minutes to get a visa renewed? A visa run often means the added expense of getting a hotel in Surat Thani.
  3. Eating a large piece of chili, and then going through a fiery torture much to the amusement of those you are eating with.
  4. Scratching a mosquito bite so much that it starts bleeding and then goes septic meaning a trip to the pharmacy or even the hospital.
  5. Having a power cut on a Saturday night when you are watching your team play.
  6. Being disappointed when you order Western food.
  7. Ordering a burger and not finding brown sauce on one of the tables.
  8. Paying more at a bar because there is some tour group going through.
  9. Writing a long email and then losing your internet connection before you can send it.
  10. Getting drunk and not being able to find your flip flops when you leave a bar.
  11. Getting another puncture.
  12. Getting a big bug hit your face when riding your bike.
  13. Waking up in a sandy bed with scratches on my body and no idea how I got back to my bungalow.
  14. Finding a snake in your bungalow.

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Great Escape Chalets

The Great Escape Chalets are the latest arrival to the Thong Nai Pan Yai accommodation scene. It is a group of larger bungalows or ‘chalets’ located back from the beach. It opened in late 2014 and offers good mid-range bungalows. It is not so much a resort as a small collection of bungalows.

The Great Escape Chalets are located 25 meters from Thong Nai Pan Yai beach between The Four Resort (formerly known as Central Cottage) and Pen’s Bungalows. It is a row of 10 large concrete bungalows that offer, as the official prose claims, ‘garden and mountain’ views. Naturally, previous occupants have already commented on the bad location. This seems unfair – the bungalows are close to the beach; they just lack sea views. This obsession with being beachfront never ceases to puzzle me. Is the extra cost really worth it? Most resorts tend to take up most of their beach frontage with a restaurant, as that can generate more revenue per square meter of sand than through accommodation.

There isn’t a restaurant or any other extra facilities at The Great Escape Chalets. No gym or swimming pool or spa. It is an accommodation option that has been created by separately branding a line bungalows that belongs to Pen’s.

The bungalows are concrete. Guests enter via glass folding doors. The rooms have tiled floors and windows. They are spacious. They have attached bathrooms with actual baths as well as hot water. The rooms also have small fridges, TVs and free wifi. There is a choice between a room with 2 single beds and a room with a double bed.

While prospective guests might get excited about the thought of an actual ‘bath’ in the bathroom, it should be remembered that the water that comes out of the taps is from the nearby waterfall. It is brown water. The colour is not noticeable when having a shower, but will no doubt be spotted in a white bath. Moreover, every summer sees water shortages in Thong Nai Pan. The use of baths hardly helps the effort to manage limited water supplies.

The ‘Superior Chalets’ cost about 1,500 Thai Baht a night. While they are more spacious than most of the bungalows in Yai they aren’t beach front and are more than twice the price to bungalows at The Four Resort, Dolphin Bungalows, Nice Beach Resort and Longtail Beach Resort.

Those brave enough in this age of internet booking to just turn up might well be able to get a discount as ‘walk in’ trade. In which case head for Flip Flop Bar on the beach and enquire in there.