TRACING A ROYAL PATH, virtues of visiting Ko Pha-ngan

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TRACING A ROYAL PATH, virtues of visiting Ko Pha-ngan

  1. 1. Contents• Ko Pha-ngan: From Past to Present 4 • Timeless Natural Beauty of the 80• Ko Pha-ngan and Virtues and Meaning of Royal Visits 8 Old Ban Tai - Ban Khai Community • Ko Pha-ngan: Heaven of Lature Lovers 16 • Exquisite Sand Beach, Clear Water and Alluring Sea View: 87• Geography of Ko Pha-ngan: Gem of the Gulf of Thailand 21 Hat Thong Nai Pan • Seasons and Traveling to Ko Pha-ngan 24 • Stunning Lunar Light, Full Moon Party of Your Life 90• Sites of Visit at Thong Sala Beach 29 • Interesting, Up-to-the-standard Lodgings on Ko Pha-ngan Beaches 97• Thong Sala Beach 30 • Examples of Hotels on the Beaches of Nai Wok, Thong Sala, 98• Walking Street: Colorful Ways of Life at Weekends 32 Bang Charu, Ban Tai, Bang Nam Khem, Ban Khai, and Hin Lo• Western Beaches and Their Evening Charms 38 • Examples of Hotels on the Beaches of Bang Son, 109• Beautiful Ways of Life, Thinking of the Inclined 41 Rin Nai, Sali Kan Tang, Lee-la, Hua Laem, Rin Nok, Coconut Tree at Wok Tum Bay Khon Thi, Yuan, Eastern Thian, Eastern Yao, and Wai Nam• Spectacular Sunset at Hat Si Thanu, Hat Chao Phao, and Hat Son 44 • Examples of Hotels on the Beaches of Thong Nai Pan Noi, 119• Magnificent Beaches of Hat Yao and Hat Salat 49 Thong Nai Pan Yai, Than Sadet, and Thong Reng• Amazing Emerging Sandbar at Mae Hat and Ko Ma 52 • Examples of Hotels on the Beaches of Salat, Mae Hat, 132• The Unique Lifestyle of Local Community at 57 Thong Lang, Hin Ngam, Chalok Lam, Khom, and Khuat Hat Chalok Lam and Fine Stones at Hat Hin Ngam • Examples of Hotels on the Beaches of Plai Laem, 142• Back to the Past on the Community Path at 66 Wok Tum, Hin Kong, Si Thanu, Chao Phao, Son, Ban Maduea Wan, Ban Nai Suan Dao Duek, Yao, Thian, and Kraut• Khao Ra and Phaeng Waterfall, the Green Heart of Pure Beauty 74 • Accommodations in Ko Pha-ngan 160-168
  2. 2. Ko Pha-ngan: From Past to Present Ko Pha-ngan is a large island near Samui Island, located in Ang Thong Channel, off Surat Thani’s coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Dominating 122 square kilometers, it is the country’s fifth largest island after Phuket, Samui, Chang and Tarutao. Based on historical and archaeological evidences, Ko Pha-ngan was believed to be first settled by men over 1,300- 2,000 years ago. The first group of people arriving in this island was believed to be Chola explorers, better known as Tamils, who were natives of southern India and whose realm prospered during the 14th-18th Buddhist centuries. During the reign of King Rajaraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I, their influence expanded to Malay Peninsula, coinciding with the Thai kingdom of Srivichai. The Chola people often navigated to the peninsula for trade and finally settled on several islands in the area including Ko Pha-ngan.4 5
  3. 3. However, permanent settlements on Ko Pha-ngan were believed to begin in late Ayutthaya period. During early Rattanakosin period, Ko Pha-ngan was affiliated to Chaiya Town while Ko Samui was subordinate to Nakhon Si Thammarat. In the reign of King Rama IV, Ko Samui and Ko Pha-ngan were merged into one district called Amphoe Ko Samui, on 10 May B.E. 1897. The new district was under the jurisdiction of Kanchanadit Town, which later became Surat Thani Province. Ko Samui and Ko Pha-ngan had been made one district for 63 years, before Ko Pha-ngan was reorganized as a sub-district (king-amphoe) in 1970. Ko Pha-ngan was upgraded to Amphoe Ko Pha-ngan in 1977. The word ‘Pha Ngan’ is said to have many origins. Some said it was an inconsistent form of an Indian or Malay word ‘Rahan’ used for sand bars. Rahan means indistinct shadow. Others believed this island was originally called Ko Ngan, a native word meaning sand bars which emerge around the island when tides are low. The phenomenon was specific to this island, resulting in locals to call the island ‘Lang Ngan’ (after tide), which was later shortened to Ph-ngan. When Ko Ph-ngan Sub-district was established as a district, vowel ‘A’ was added after ‘Ph’. The name ‘Ko Pha-ngan’ has been used since then.6 7
  4. 4. Ko Pha-ngan and Virtues and Meaning Malay Peninsula or during his visits to southern provinces such as of Royal Visits Nakhon Si Thammarat and Songkhla. His first visit to Ko Pha-ngan was made on 31 August, 1888 on his way back from Songkhla. On this visit, King Chulalongkorn went to a waterfall. He later named it “Than Sadet Waterfall”, where he came back several times. And as a record In the history of royal visits to various places by Thai kings, of his visit and a gesture to declare his possession of the land against King Chulalongkorn or King Rama V loved to constantly visit his people the effort of colonization by western people, King Chulalongkorn in the provinces. He sometimes travelled incognito to create inscribed his initials ‘จปร’ [read: jo po ro] on a rock at the waterfall. familiarity with his subjects, to find out their hardships and happiness Than Sadet Waterfall in 1888 was said to be splendidly beautiful on different occasions. with unspoiled nature. Today, after 124 years, forest conditions at Ko Pha-ngan was one of King Chulalongkorn’s favorite places Than Sadet are still pristine and considered the most beautiful on of visit. He stopped by the island 14 times during 1888-1909, more Ko Pha-ngan, although water is not as plentiful in the dry season as it often than any other places he had visited, sometimes on his way to was in the old days. Its natural charms always remain.8 9
  5. 5. In his later visits to Ko Pha-ngan, King Chulalongkorn often went to swim at the waterfall. The royal retinue also used water at the waterfall for consumption as freshwater was scarce. As a keen traveler and man of great vision, King Chulalongkorn also explored another two waterfalls in nearby areas which he later named as ‘Than Praphat’ and ‘Than Prawet’. At present, traveling to Than Sadet Waterfall is much easier than in the old days because the road being built across Ko Pha-ngan to Thong Nai Pan Bay on the northeastern side of the island is nearly finished, leaving only a short distance of laterite path that also joins with the entrance to Than Sadet Waterfall and leads to the office of Than Sadet National Park. In the dry season, the road is easily accessible by pick-up trucks, but in the rainy season, only four-wheel drive vehicles can be used while sedans are not recommended. From this junction, the land is truly historical as Than Sadet Waterfall was visited by not only King Rama V but also by King Rama VI, King Rama VII and Queen Rambhai Bhanni, as well as King Bhumibol Adulyadej or Rama IX. Those kings had inscribed their initials on rocks, numbering a total of 10, lying one after another along the stream, for the younger generation to study.10 11
  6. 6. From the junction to the right of the road heading towards Than Sadet Waterfall stands a group of ancient buildings where a statue of King Chulalongkorn is located. Nearby is a rock with the inscription of royal initials in Thai alphabets and numerals ‘จปร 108’. Adjacent are some plantations. Opposite the stream stands a rock inscribed with royal initials and years in Rattankosin era ‘ปปร 2469, 2471’. Walking further down the path, visitors will find the second group of ancient buildings on the right-hand side. Here, more royal initials ‘วปร 130’ and another ‘จปร’ with the year of visit are found, followed by ‘ปปร, รพ 2469’. Walking past the national park office will lead to the third group of ancient buildings where royal initials are found on both sides of the stream including ‘รพ’ and ‘ภปร’ 23 April 1962, as well as the name ‘Than Sadet’ in Thai which he had it inscribed when coming here in 1889. Close to the mouth of the stream stands the last group of ancient buildings. Royal initials of the three mentioned kings and an old pavilion where they used to stay appear on the left-hand side.12 13
  7. 7. The pavilion has been renovated as a memorial of the royal visits. Near the stream find royal initials in Chinese of King Chulalongkorn and numerals 119. The inscriptions are the last set found along this historical stream. As for the four ‘Jankapho’ (Vatica diospyroides) trees recorded to have been planted by King Chulalongkorn at the pavilion, they no longer exist. The best time to visit Than Sadet Waterfall is at the end of the rainy season or in January when there is more water seen than in the other months. In the dry season, the amount of water in the falls is quite low, but the waterfall is still worth a visit for those who are interested in history or long for a rest in pristine forest. As for ‘Than Praphat’ Waterfall, the 4-km access road is reachable only by 4-wheel drive vehicles with several hills to cross, and road conditions are not good. To access Than Prawet Waterfall, visitors have to take the road branching out from a bend that goes to Thong Nai Pan Beach. The road heads to Hat Khuat Beach and the waterfall is only 300 meters away from the bend. Recommended vehicles are pick-up trucks only due to laterite road surface. At present, the two waterfalls have water only in the rainy season and are not attractive.14 15
  8. 8. Ko Pha-ngan: Heaven of Nature Lovers Many people recognize Ko Pha-ngan as a site of world-famous full-moon party, which was initiated by a group of foreign tourists who arrived in Ko Pha-ngan on a full- moon night and were impressed by the sand on Hat Rin Beach. They later put their impression in a book by mentioning Ko Pha-ngan as one of the best beaches to watch a full moon. The book has inspired many other tourists to visit Ko Pha-ngan on full-moon nights, leading to a full-moon party on the beach held under the most wonderful atmosphere. A trend was finally set among foreign tourists that a full-moon party on Ko Pha-ngan is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed. Today, of tens of thousands people come to the party on every full-moon night on the island.16 17
  9. 9. As a result, many look at Ko Pha-ngan as an island full of drunkards and parties, and this gives the island a negative image. As a matter of fact, Ko Pha-ngan’s full-moon party is fun-filled, lively and has its own charms identical to nowhere. Many other places tried to imitate Ko Pha-ngan but nowhere can surpass the original site. In all, a full-moon party is a gathering of fun-loving people who want to unleash their freedom within manageable limits. Such a party, if carried out within limits, free from negative aspects, can be an additional magnet that no other islands all over the world have. However, the full-moon party is not the only attraction at Ko Pha-ngan. If strolling around the island to witness the unspoiled nature, visitors will find that all beaches circling the island, have a unique charm and identity, like Wok Tum and Nai Wok bays, Thong Sala, Si Thanu, Yao, Salat, Mae Hat beaches in the West, Chalok Lam, Khom and Khuat beaches in the North, Ban Tai, Ban Khai, Rin Nai, Si Kantang, Rin Nok, Yuan and Thian beaches in the East and even Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai beaches on the northeastern-most spot of the island, which drivers have to venture across the mountainous terrain in the middle of the island to reach. People on Ko Pha-ngan have culture and traditions that are tied to nature which still doesn’t change much compared to other islands which have mostly turned into full-scale tourist spots. There are still many corners of Ko Pha-ngan to explore, especially in terms of nature and friendliness of people.18 19
  10. 10. Geography of Ko Pha-ngan: Gem of the Gulf of Thailand Located in Ang Thong Channel north of Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan covers an area of 122 square kilometers, making it the fifth biggest island of Thailand after Phuket, Samui, Chang and Tarutao. Geographically, Ko Pha-ngan is abundant in natural resources, surrounded by many beaches. The western side of the island consists of coral reefs idealistic for diving, and numerous sand bars or Lang Ngan, from which the island takes its name. Beyond those beaches are hill-foot plains planted with coconut and other fruits, as well as rubber trees. These plantations stretch up to the mountain range standing20 21
  11. 11. vertically to the middle of the island. The mountains have been covered with rich forest since the old days and are watersheds of many streams that feed people on Ko Pha-ngan. Waterfalls and streams here are so famous in their beauty that they had attracted several royal visits, including 14 by King Chulalongkorn. The forests have at the same time provided habitats to a lot of wildlife, especially deer. Early evidence said a number of deer was prepared to be released by King Rama VI during his planned second visit to the island. Although the visit was later cancelled, the deer were released into the wild and later produced offspring that were often spotted by tourists at Phaeng and Than Sadet waterfalls and even in the open field. They also leave their traces along jungle treks, showing that their number is quite substantial, but no official record has been made. Rare plants are also found here such as grammatophyllum, which is the world’s largest orchid growing 2-3 meters tall, bearing yellowish more beautiful than others named flowers with brown or dark red spots, coming out Hat Thong Nai Pan Noi and Hat during July to October. In the rainy season, heavy Thong Nai Pan Yai. clouds often lie around mountain tops challenging These are the reasons why mountaineers to win the height for a great view up Ko Pha-ngan is still today an island there. The tallest mountain is Khao Ra, with a height with much of the nature remaining of 627 meters above sea level. On the northeastern the same, making it an ideal place side of the island lies a clean white sand beach for eco-tourism.22 23
  12. 12. October to December, Lom Wao, or kite wind, blows to the island bringing in more rain. The heaviest rain is seen in November, and the beaches most affected by the wind are Rin Nok, Than Sadet, Thong Nai Pan Yai, Thong Nai Pan Noi, and Khuat. Seasons are therefore the key factors of tour activities on the island. However, Ko Pha-ngan is considered convenient for tourism for most of the year, unlike those islands on the Andaman coast which are dominated by rain for up to 6 months a year Taking a sightseeing trip to because of the monsoon. Pha-ngan can be made in several ways. Traveling to Ko Pha-ngan is not difficult, especially You may drive your own car and take from Don Sak Pier where Raja Ferry provides boat services it on a ferry to Ko Pha-ngan. In this way, five times daily both to and fro. From Don Sak Pier, the you can plan your own journey using first boat leaves at 8.00 am. and the last one at 6.00 pm. maps provided free of charge on the Seasons and Traveling to Ko Pha-ngan Return trip starts at 5.00 am and the last boat leaves island and enjoy driving around. If you at 5.00 pm. Each trip takes two and a half hours. don’t have a car, you may rent a car or Tourists taking a tour bus to Pha-ngan can easily catch an a motorcycle available at many shops Seasons in Ko Pha-ngan are influenced by monsoons. The best early boat at Don Sak Pier while those taking their own in Thong Sala which is the largest and period to visit the island is during January to May because of the cars can also do the same. For visitors flying to Surat Thani, most modern community where the bright and warm weather. During June to September, the Phattaya wind there are air-conditioned shuttle buses taking them from island’s pier for ferry service is located. usually brings some rain, making traveling a bit more difficult. During the provincial airport to Don Sak Pier at the same frequency However, you must be very careful, the day, the tide is out, allowing ‘Lang Ngan’ or coral reefs surrounding as the planes stop. For those who have visited Ko Samui avoiding accidents which often happen offshore to emerge. The tide is in again in the evening and at night. and Ko Tao and wish to continue their trip to Ko Pha-ngan, on the island. You may also buy tour Beaches affected by such phenomenon are Rin Nai, Ban Tai, they can take high speed catamaran provided by service from local agents in Thong Sala. Ban Khai, Thong Sala and Hin Kong. However, the Phattaya wind Lomprayah Company every day to connect their trips. Ask for more information at various is favorable to fishing as fish and crabs during this period are more Detailed information about the service and maps are shops or study related brochures abundant than in other seasons. During the monsoon time from distributed free at all stations. available in plenty on the island.24 25
  13. 13. ชุมพร Chumphon จากส จากสนา นามบ Bangkok Airways 0 7742 2512-8 www.bangkokairways.com ินสุวร Thai Airways 0 7760 1331-2 www.thaiairways.com มบินสุว L ทาเรือทุงมะขาม ighompr Firefly Airlines 0 7760 1400 www.fireflyz.com รณภ Thung Makham Pier H Sp ayah รรณภ ูมิและ SilkAir 0 7760 1172-73 www.silkair.com 6 7 ed e k m Cata Raja Ferry 0 7741 5230-3 www.rajaferryport.com ูมิ Fr สน s . (1 ma Seatran Ferry 0 7742 6000-1 www.seatranferry.com ามบิน .30 ra เกาะเตา hrs n om S .) Ko Tao Lomprayah High Speed Ferries 0 7742 7765-6 www.lomprayah.com ดอน uvar Songserm Express Boat 0 7742 0157 www.songserm-expressboat.com เมือง F nabh Seatran Discovery 0 7724 6086-8 www.seatrandiscovery.com Haad Rin Queen Ferry 0 7742 7650 - umi rom 41 Petcherat Marina 0 7742 5514, 0 7742 5262 www.samuispeedboat.com Airp 65 Suvarna ort km s . (1 เกาะพะงัน Cycling, a Leisurely Safety Way bhumi Air .30 rs Ko Pha-ngan to Get You through Ko Pha-ngan h .) ทาเรือทองศาลา Thong Sala Pier Due to the size, geographical features, the utility port and Dอ.ละแม ทาเรือหาดริ้นAmphoe Lamae Hat Rin Pier areas which are zoned cleverly by the nature and Pha-ngan 1 hr . 30 m life style, cycling is a strongly recommended option that is 45 mins. on Muang Airp อุทยานแหงชาติทางทะเล . ins หมูเกาะอางทอง Mu Ko Ang Thong also certified to be suitable. On Ko Pha-ngan, the roads go National Park ทาเรือลมพระยา ทาเรือบอผุด straight, cross cut, converge and spread out like a spider web Lomprayah Pier Bo Phut Pier for the total length of 74.72 km. The longest connected road 2.30 hrs. อ.ทาชนะ สนามบินเกาะสมุย ort Amphoe Ko Samui Airport Tha Chana ทาเรือซีทรานเฟอรรี่ Seatran Ferry Pier เกาะสมุย is Thong Sala - Ao Thong Nai Pan, 17.0 km. The roads are the Ko Samui combination of cement and dirt. Even there is not a specific s. 41 ทาเรือราชาเฟอรรี่ 2 hr s.  Raja Ferry Pier bike lane, but there are very few vehicles on the roads and both morning and afternoon, . . hrs hr hrs there are a lot to see on both sides of the roads. This island just beware of fierce dogs that 3 0 1.30 2.3 will bark when they see strangers. has rice field, Melaleuca cajuputi field. The architectures อ.ดอนสัก ทาเรือดอนสัก that are in line with the climate, small organic fields, Keep calm and carry on is the best Amphoe Don Sak Pier อ.ทาฉาง Amphoe Don Sak sufficient economy, clean, nature loving and the traditional way to silent them.  The bicycles Tha Chang 4142 4142 homey life style are the local Pha-ngan life style that leads can be rented at shops in Thong 41 ทาเรือทาทอง Tha Thong Pier 401 the way to the green island. The best time for cycling are Sala Pier area. สนามบินสุราษฎรธานี สุราษฎรธานี Surat Thani Airport อ.พุนพิน Surat Thani ไปนครศรีธรรมราช Amphoe Phunphin To Nakhon Si Thammarat 27
  14. 14. Sites of Visit at Thong Sala Beach Thong Sala Beach takes its name from a pavilion, locally called sala, built in 1884 near the pier’s bridge. At that time, the governor of Chaiya sat in this sala to administer the town. The beach surrounding the pavilion was later called Thong Sala Beach and became the center of growth of the island, encompassing a ferry pier, speed boat and tour bus services, restaurants selling international food, souvenir shops, internet cafes, lovely coffee shops, hostels, banks, tour-guide business, car rentals, etc. The beach has become the center equipped with more modern facilities than any other places. During Songkran Festival, Thong Sala Beach is the place where Thai and foreign tourists gather for the fun-filled water-splashing activity. Another important tradition is the age-old Chak Phra ceremony (towing a Buddha image) at the end of the Buddhist Lent. The ceremony was originated in Ko Pha-ngan.28 29
  15. 15. Thong Sala Beach Thong Sala Beach provides the most idealistic site to watch the sunset. From here, visitors will be able to see Ko Tae Nai Island which is not afar. The beach is the meeting point where tour guides take tourists in kayak to nearby Ko Tae Nai for sightseeing and leisure. At the front of the beach lies the decommissioned HTMS Pha-ngan, placed as a memorial to remind the public of its history. HTMS Pha-ngan was a landing ship originally named USS Stark County LST 1134 procured by the Royal Thai Navy under the US military assistance program. Its commissioning ceremony took place on 16 January 1966. The ship was decommissioned on 5 June 2008, after serving in the Royal Thai Navy for over 40 years. The ship used to take part in the Vietnam War as an amphibious transport and coastal patrol boat to prevent marine infiltration. It also served as amphibious cargo and replenishment ship sending arms and food to various cities in Vietnam. It had been ambushed several times but received little damage. At present the RTN has agreed to give the ship and its equipment to Surat Thani Province in a project to establish a museum of the ship located at Thong Sala pier in Ko Pha-ngan District, Surat Thani Province. The museum serves as a learning center with historical value for the younger generation and a pride for the RTN and the Surat Thani people as well.30 31
  16. 16. The atmosphere of good old days adds increasing charms to the street, particularly in the twilight with the help of light from electric lamps whereas tourists and locals have gone off on a shopping spree, attracted by cheap clothes and tasty confectionery like ‘Khi-ma-tuang or Khao Tu’, both fresh and dried, etc. Beautiful postcards are offered in numerous choices. Music lovers are suggested to stop by an Irish restaurant where former-singer expats from faraway countries entertain visitors with old country songs. Those happenings have become the identity of this walking street. Walking Street: Colorful Ways of Life at Weekends Every Saturday, people in Thong Sala jointly hold a walking street at the old market. During 4 - 9 pm. the street was closed to vehicular traffic, allowing locals to put their products for sale freely. On both sides of the street, some old wooden houses have been maintained to good conditions. Some used to belong to rich merchants such as a liquor shop owner. “Ko Yi” who was famous for his tasty ‘Phat Thai’ used to own his shop here. Although those businesses no longer exist with owners changed, all shop houses have been maintained and sell some other products. These old houses line up the street until the post office, adjacent to the Siam City Bank which was the first bank established on the island.32 33
  17. 17. Along the beach road are a number of cafes for visitors to enjoy coffee in a memorable atmosphere. Some offer open-air tables like Jungle Yellow Café’, Sweet Café , and Café Footprints while others are in air-conditioned coffee houses and bakeries like Nira’s Home Bakery. Shopping lovers can easily find clothes and souvenirs along the beach road, Mi Phian Road, and Talat Mai Road. Those looking for a good place to have unparalleled ‘Khao Khluk Kapi’(cooked rice mixed with shrimp paste) are advised to visit Kapi Hut located around the Krung Thai Bank Lane. Apart from the Saturday walking street, those who are interested in ways of life of Thong Sala people should visit the ferry pier where local traders sell snacks and drinks in push-carts. Even the famous dried ‘Kulao’ salted fish is sometimes found in the cart. Regular food center is Phan Thip Market located on the bend of Talat Mai Road. In the evening, it is the center where travelers gather to observe the lively market. Here, Thai food, confectionery, and fruits, as well as Japanese and other foreign foods are available in a wide variety at reasonable prices.34 35
  18. 18. Thong Sala is not only interesting in its ways of creating food, it is also a center of interesting artistic works such as tattoos. There are many tattoo shops and clubs. One best- known club is in the Krung Thai Bank Lane and offers the service in all patterns and styles, be they Thai or western, religious or spiritual. Both Thai and foreign clients are welcome equally. Although tattooing is not my style, after I had a chance to observe the technique, I have to admit that it requires an interesting artistic skill not inferior to any work is most respected by Ko Pha-ngan people who are of Chinese descent. Inside the shrine stand the 200-year-old statues of God Kuan-Ou and Goddess Tabtim. The shrine holds an annual celebration during the Chinese New Year festival. Another respected figure is Venerable Phra Khru Suphatthara Dhammaphirom, known as Luang Pu Lob. of art. Furthermore, Thong Sala is the site of annual gathering of motorcycle lovers with He is respected by Buddhists, both local and foreign. In the visit of a Big Bike caravan from Asian neighbors. Organized by Ride to the Moon Club, the main temple of Luang Pu Lob monastery, there are the caravan comes here every year with motorcycles in elaborated patterns driven in statues of two deceased senior monks, Luang Pho Phrink unfamiliar style and powerful noise, but not disturbing anybody. Riders help raise money and Luang Pho Phrom. Because of the two monks’ undying for charity through auctions of goods. The activity is found only at Thong Sala, Ko Pha-ngan. charisma, people keep stopping by the monastery to pay For those wishing to pay homage to holy places, Thong Sala has some shrines respect to the statues. More information can be obtained such as the Kuan-Ou Shrine in San Jao Lane, not far from the Old Market Road. The shrine from Uncle Lo. (Tel. 08 7387 5654)36 37
  19. 19. Western Beaches and Their Evening Charms The western part of Ko Pha-ngan is an important tourist spot comprising beautiful bays and pristine white sand beaches holding characteristics different from beaches on other parts of the island. Western beaches begin with Nai Wok, Plai Laem, Wok Tum, Hin Kong, Si Thanu, Chao Phao, Son, running up to Yao, Thian (west), Salat and Mae Hat. These beaches are outstanding in that all of them provide impressive and different views of sunset. The best time to visit these beaches is from January to May when the sky is bright and clear with the summer-holiday atmosphere. From June to September, some rains are expected with the coming of the Phattaya wind and a westerly wind. The sea level is low during the day and rises again in the evening. This might be inconvenient for swimming. Though not the best time for swimming, it’s still worth a visit and it is the best season of abundant seafood.38 39
  20. 20. Beautiful Ways of Life, Thinking of the Inclined Coconut Tree at Wok Tum Bay A tour of the western beaches starts from Thong Sala, from where there is a little road running around Nai Wok Bay and Plai Laem Bay to Wok Tum Bay. Seabed along this area is muddy and shallow, not suitable for swimming. Besides, it is covered with mangrove forests, alternate with a few small beaches with bungalows and few large resorts. However, as villagers in the area earn their living from coastal fisheries, visitors can observe their ways of life and their dockyards of small boats. In another aspect of life here, villagers often spend time during the day when the tide is out, finding Hoi Klom or rounded clam, and spear prawns during the night. In picking Hoi Klom, they use a technique handed down from their ancestors, by pouring a drop of used vegetable oil on the sea surface which will make water clearer, allowing them to see rounded clams lying on seabed and easily to be picked. Hoi Klom is sweet tasting and good for frying with basil leaf or oyster sauce, or to be cooked in coconut milk. The Hoi Klom festival is held once a year during June to July when the Phattaya wind blows in with the arrival of more clams. In the festival jointly organized by the Provincial Administrative Organization and the municipality, tourists and villagers compete in picking as many Hoi Klom as possible and together enjoy a variety of clam dishes. The festival is a well-known activity of Wok Tum Bay. There is also an ecological conservation activity in which dead corals are dropped into a specific40 41
  21. 21. sea zone to create habitats for Hoi Klom. Planting of mangroves are also encouraged among villagers and tourists in order to incite their awareness of natural conservation and co-existence with nature. In Wok Tum Bay also stands a century-old reclining coconut tree which has become the highlight of tourism on the island as it was mentioned in many guidebooks and told from mouth-to-mouth among foreigners. Some villagers quoted their parents as saying the tree stood in the reclining position long time ago and must have been nearly 100 years old. It is amazing how the tree, which bends down nearly to the water, has managed religious studies at many monastic centers including those in to resist the wind and monsoons until today. The tree is said to have been photographed Samui, Chaiya and Chetuphon Monastery in Bangkok. As part more than one million times. It forms a stunning photo if pictured with a setting sun of his practices of austerities, he traveled to the jungles in the and has become a best-known symbol of Ko Pha-ngan. Besides, there is a monument North, the Northeast, India and Sri Lanka. In 1887, he returned of Hoi Klom at Hin Kong Beach, built to symbolize the long co-existence of the to Wok Tum village and had Amphawan and Phu Khao Noi crustacean and the people of Pha-ngan. monasteries built respectively for meditation purpose. At Phu Inland landscape behind Wok Tum Bay is coconut plantations and villages. Khao Noi Monastery today, a square spired pavilion has been In this area stand three old monasteries, namely Amphawan, Phu Khao Noi and Samai built and named after Luang Pho Phet. One of the rocks in the Khong Kha. Amphawan Monastery was the first to be built by Luang Pho Phet Wachiro, monastery also has a footprint believed to belong to Luang or Venerable Phra Khru Wibun Thammasan, the most revered Buddhist monk of Pho Phet and highly respected by worshippers. Besides, a vihara Ko Pha-ngan. The monk later built Phu Khao Noi Monastery. He was well-known for has been built to house the statue of the former abbot. his strict observance of Buddhist teachings. He was ordained at 17 and had stayed He also ordered the construction of an Ubosot or the main in monkhood since then. He always adhered to ascetic life, ate no meat and took temple of the monastery and built Phra Khwan Muang as its main Buddha image. There is also an old pagoda decorated with ancient dishware which the Fine Arts Department has registered as important historic spot. Samai Khong Kha Monastery was the third ‘wat’ to be built on the island by Luang Pho Phet. Ko Pha-ngan also owns a sacred pond with water said to be able to cure illnesses and bring good luck if sprinkled on anyone. A tower of ancient bells is another attraction at this monastery.42 43
  22. 22. Spectacular Sunset at Hat Si Thanu, is clearly visible. Next to Laem Si Thanu is Hat Si Thanu Hat Chao Phao, and Hat Son stretching 800 meters towards Laem Niat. Since this area boasts fine beaches and rows of pine trees, it is also called Laem Son (Pine Cape). Many bungalows are available, as beaches in this site are of good quality for swimming, Among all beaches on the west coast of Ko Pha-ngan, Hat Si Thanu, Hat Chao sunbathing, and sunset watching. Back to 40 years ago, local Phao, and Hat Son have the best spots to view a spectacular sunset. On this western residents in this area were mainly engaged in tin mining, side, the Ang Thong group of islands can be seen clearly, and all spots offer varying which stopped operations around 20 years ago. A tin mine scenic views, depending on which angle the view is seen. Hat Si Thanu stretches that was turned into a large lagoon still exists here for from the end of Laem Si Thanu to the northern part. Its headland is a slope, which people to remember the legend of miners on Ko Pha-ngan. is also the location of several beautiful resorts. On the top of the slope, the sunset It is generally referred to as Laem Son lagoon.44 45
  23. 23. Buffalo fighting, like that on Ko Samui, is the route after them begins to slope down along the hills. Beautiful an activity carried out by Si Thanu local villagers. resorts are found on this slope, as well, which provides a good spot But no fixed schedule is set for the show. It is for amazing views of sunset and for relaxation. After this spot is the probably arranged on special occasions, such as Hat Son area, comprising a small secluded beach. Since there are only major festivals here. Interested persons should few resorts nearby, beaches here are pleasantly quiet and calm. seek more information about this activity. As for Wat Visitors may walk down from a resort directly to the beach Si Thanu, it is regarded as a significant religious without passing through any other resorts. The best spot for structure on Ko Pha-ngan, as this temple provides picturesque scenery is found on this steep route where a panoramic training and examinations on Buddhist teachings view of the group of Ang Thong islands is seen far away to the sea. each year. It is also the best site to watch the sunset and is also attractive to Moving on to Hat Chao Phao, it is situated next tourists who stop here for relaxation and fantastic views, at both to Laem Niat to the North and is 700 meters long. daytime and in the evening when a spectacular sunset is visible on There are several small bungalow resorts, where the group of Ang Thong islands.46 47
  24. 24. Magnificent Beaches of Hat Yao and Hat Salat Hat Yao and Hat Salat are the two beaches where the sand is more beautiful and softer than other beaches on the west coast of Ko Pha-ngan. Hat Yao, in particular, is 1.5 kilometers long, lined up with large resorts and small bungalows along the beach where visitors can jog, play beach sports, and even lie in the sun. Outside the beaches, from Hat Chao Phao to Hat Son, Hat Yao, Hat Salat, and Mae Hat, coral reefs spread over a vast area. There are several good spots for scuba diving to view coral reefs. This area is also a center for diving outfits and diving services for tourists wishing to snorkel along coral reefs. Hat Yao is also one of the best spots to watch the sunset. Every evening when the sky is clear, a number of tourists usually gather here to watch the sun gradually disappear.48 49
  25. 25. Hat Salat is a beach next to Hat Yao to the North, lined up with Western Hat Thian and Hat Kruat, with Laem Ta Thong In between the end of Hat Kruat and Hat Salat. It is believed that, in the past, this area was a haven for pirates. Hat Salat (Pirate Beach) lies from north to south and its curve meets with the headland of Laem Chua. The one-kilometer-long beach looks like a semicircle, and it houses many good resorts. The resort business in this area began 15 years ago and was better known among the Swedish, since a Swedish couple was the owner of bungalows here launched marketing campaigns among Swedish tourists. The booming period of Hat Salat was in 2004, when the devastating tsunami took place in the Andaman Sea. As a result, a large number of tourists turned to the Gulf of Thailand, and many new resorts have been built on Ko Pha-ngan. To this date Hat Salat has become one of the popular beaches among tourists visiting Ko Pha-ngan.50 51
  26. 26. Amazing Emerging Sandbar at Mae Hat and Ko Ma Krabi province is famous for a sandbar emerging from the waters, and the phenomenon is recognized as “Unseen Thailand.” The emerging sandbar is locally referred to as thale waek, literally meaning divided sea. How many people know that Ko Pha-ngan is another place in Thailand where an emerging sandbar is discovered? The sandbar here is located at Mae Hat linking to Ko Ma, about 350 meters far away. The sandbar in this area emerges almost all year round, unlike that of Krabi, where the sandbar emerges at low tide, especially when the moon is waxing or waning.52 53
  27. 27. The emerging sandbar comes from the influence of sweeping wind from Phattaya to the southwest of Ko Pha-ngan during June-October each year. The wind has brought about the amazing accumulation of sand stretching from Mae Hat to Ko Ma. The sandbar would be fantastic or not depends on the strength of winds and waves. For instance, northerly wind will bring down the sandbar, and if the monsoon wave is not so strong, the sandbar will retain its beauty as usual. However, during the northerly wind season, some sections of the sandbar may disappear because of the effect of sea level rise. When waters come down, the sandbar will emerge again, and it will remain throughout the year until the arrival of the new northerly wind season. After 1992, the sandbar in this area is likely to remain permanently, as the strength of winds in the monsoon season is on the decline. The situation is a result of the accumulation of corals outside the northern coast of Ko Ma, thus slowing down the movement of waves from northerly wind during the monsoon season. Ko Ma is a perfect spot for snorkeling to view coral reefs offshore where many kinds of corals are found, as well as fish of diverse colors, such as parrotfish, angelfish, pink anemonefish, rabbitfish, sergeant major, and Christmas tree worm. As for Mae Hat, it is a white sandy beach on the northwest of Ko Loei, next to Hat Salat. The peaceful 1.1-kilometer-long beach comprises rows of pine trees and beach morning glory. It is suitable for recreation, sunbathing, and swimming. The beach is also one of the best spots on Ko Pha-ngan to watch the sunset. From here, Ko Ma is visible, and during low tide, you can walk to Ko Ma through the sandbar.54 55
  28. 28. The Unique Lifestyle of Local Community at Hat Chalok Lam and Fine Stones at Hat Hin Ngam The north end of Ko Pha-ngan is the location of Hat Chalok Lam, which has the shape of a semicircle, like a half-moon. This 3.5-kilometer-long beach is the settlement of an old fishing village. It is said that “Chalok Lam” comes from “Dola Talam,” the name of the first Malaysian resident living on this cape. Later, the name was wrongly pronounced as Chalok Lam. Another explanation is that Chalok might partly come from the name of the position of the governor of the old Chaiya city, Khun Yok Krabat. Ko Pha-ngan was once under the supervision of this city. In addition, a number of Chinese immigrants lived on Ko Pha-ngan, and they called members of their community Loban, while old members were called Loban Kao. The word might later be pronounced as “Lo” in short and then became Loklam. Finally it might be turned into Chalok Lam. This can be another assumption for the birth of Chalok Lam, the name of the beach which houses this little fishing village.56 57
  29. 29. The community was founded when a group of Chinese from the island of Hainan began to settle on Ko Pha-ngan 250 years ago, during the late Ayutthaya period towards the Thon Buri period. They first came to settle at the old areas of Ban Tai and Ban Hin Kong, Ban Si Thanu and Wat Bon. Local residents called their areas old Chalok villages, which might refer to Loban Kao, or old village members in the assumption mentioned earlier. This is an example of how a group of villages is called by the names that do not appear on the map of Ko Pha-ngan. The Hainanese people are expert fishermen and Ao Chalok Lam is If you travel to Hat Chalok during daytime and stay at the end of the jetty also a good location with water deep enough to build a sea port. This area to appreciate scenic views, what you will see are tens of fishing boats anchored abounds with fish resources, especially sharks that were caught in those at the jetty where fishermen fill up their boats, or repair fishing nets. The fishermen days for making dried fish, while their fins were sent for sale in China to will wait until nighttime in order to go out for fishing and squid jigging. fetch better prices. Later, more Chinese immigrants came to settle at Ban The green light glittering in the sea is attached to squid fishing boats in an Chalok Lam, which was later developed into a permanent fishing community. attempt to lure squid into playing with the light, so that the fishermen will be The fishing occupation has been passed on to the present generation. able to catch them easily. Some boats anchored there are for crab catching, as Around 25-30 years ago, squid-jigging, a way to catch squid, has become seen from their crab nets. Every morning, this jetty is busy with fishermen bringing a major occupation in this village. As time has passed by, the lifestyle of in marine resources for sale to traders. So it is not surprising at all to see many Chalok Lam fishermen still leaves a lasting impression to all visitors. seafood restaurants offering fresh food to tourists here.58 59
  30. 30. From the jetty, if you look at the left and right-hand sides, you will see There is a beachfront road inside the village, with preserved old houses along white soft sand lying prominently in the shape of a semicircle. Several resorts are the two sides of the road. The backyards of all beachfront houses are easily located on this pine-fringed beach. On the right-hand side, mountains are seen accessible to the beach. So this is considered a golden location for the from north to south. At the middle of Ko Pha-ngan, there are several high operations of restaurants and other shops. Even so, almost all houses in this mountaintops, such as Kinnon mountaintop, which is locally known as Khao Nom area still retain the status of an old fishing village by trying not to introduce Sao, and Khao Ra mountaintop, which is the highest of all on Ko Pha-ngan. Khao Ra, many changes. A popular occupation here involves making dry squid as which is 635 meters high, stands prominently waiting to be conquered by adventurers. a unique product of the village. Like other Buddhist communities, several60 61
  31. 31. temples are found in Ban Chalok Lam. In the middle of the community is the location of Wat Chalok Lam, an old temple in this village. Called Phra Buddha Mongkhon Pathip, the presiding Buddha image at Wat Chalok Lam is in the posture of subduing Mara. A wall inside the ubosot (main chapel) features a mural illustrating the life of the Buddha. Another wall features the history of Ko Pha-ngan written for next generations to study and learn further. Moreover, paintings of several masters on Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Samui are also shown on the wall opposite the presiding Buddha image. Moreover, images of well-known monks in Surat Thani, as well as those of other respected monks, are installed at the Khantikonuson pavilion. These respected monks include Venerable Luang Pho Chan Khantiko, Venerable Luang Pho Rob Ongsutharo, Venerable Luang Pho Bun Khantiko, Venerable Luang Pu Thuat, and the Most Venerable Phra Phutthachan To Phromrangsi.62 63
  32. 32. About 12 kilometers from the pavilion, Wat Chalok Lam is located at Mu 7, Ko Pha-ngan subdistrict, Pha-ngan district, Surat thani province. The current abbot is Phra Maha Sonthaya Paphaso. There are also small beaches next to Hat Chalom Lam. On the right-hand side of Hat Chalom is a pine-fringed small beach, called Hat Khom. This 300-meter-long beach has a peaceful atmosphere and is the location of several bungalow resorts. It is a perfect spot for recreation, sunbathing, and swimming, as well. Almost every day, many tourists travel on board hired boats for snorkeling here to view corals. On the left-hand side of Hat Chalok Lam is a small beach, called Hat Hin Ngam. Unlike other beaches on Ko Pha-ngan, Hat Hin Ngam has a special feature, as the whole beach consists of stones, taking birth from strong waves, especially during the northerly wind season. The main attraction is the 20-meter-long beach, making up of a pile of big and small round stones. This is a natural wonder, indeed. There is a signboard showing the direction to a small road leading to Hat Hin Ngam. It is not a convenient walkway, but pick-up trucks can run on this road. The way down to the beach and up from it is rather steep.64 65
  33. 33. Back to the Past on the Community Path at Ban Maduea Wan, Ban Nai Suan From Ao Chalok Lam, there is a road passing through a narrow hill between Khao Ra and Khao Ta Luang and leading to the pavilion. Throughout the 15-kilometer-long road are alternate green-belt areas, rubber plantations, farmland, and communities. This beautiful road boasts several tourist attractions. Visitors who are able to go along the western beach to Chalok Lam may go back in a circular manner to the pavilion, without wasting their time to return to the original way.They will have an opportunity to experience the green world of Ko Pha-ngan, as well. The first spot at which visitors should stop here is the Guanyin shrine and Wat Pa Saengdham, situated about six kilometers from the Chalok Lam community. The shrine of Guanyin, or the Goddess of Mercy, stands on a slope of Khao Ta Luang, the top of which is 478 meters above sea level, and it is opposite Khao Ra. The shrine area is on a hill, which is one of the best spots for scenic views. Here Ao Chalok Lam on the northern part can be seen clearly. It is said that a woman, named Malawan, had great faith in Bodhisattva Guanyin. She traveled to Ko Pha-ngan for Thot Pha Pa, a merit-making ceremony, and on this occasion, she visited Ban Chalok Lam, a Hainanese community where local residents were engaged mainly in fishing. Because of her strong faith, she was determined to build a shrine of Guanyin for people to worship and also as a lighthouse for fishermen during nighttime. When she returned to Bangkok, she managed to collect money to build the shrine, and the construction was completed in 1993.66 67
  34. 34. Within the shrine area, there is a pavilion with Chinese-style a healthy mind. The worshippers apparently opt to the two postures most. roofs. Inside the pavilion are a bell and a drum for visitors to ring Visitors may come to pay homage to Bodhisattva Guanyin at this shrine, and hit, as it is believed that the action will bring about luck and located in the fishing village of Ban Chalok Lam. prosperity in life. Visitors usually ring the bell and hit the drum three Near the Guanyin shrine is the location of Wat Pa Saengdham, which times each. The baton for hitting the drum is carved in the form of a is peaceful with big and small shady trees. This forest temple was founded creature in the Chinese mythology. The creature looks like a combination less than 20 years ago. In July 1984, a monk and a novice, in their pilgrimage, of fish and dragon pained in a gold color, which represents prosperity. came to put up long-handled umbrellas at an old cemetery in Ban Chalok The figures of dragon are found on the roofs on the left and the right Lam. Later, they had to move out of the cemetery. While they were of the pavilion. In a clear sky during daytime, the two dragons are seen heading to the pier in order to return to the mainland, a group of villagers in a manner like they are moving actively towards the sky. who had faith in them asked them to continue to stay at Ban Chalok Lam. Opposite the pavilion is the place where the image of Bodhisattva The monk and the novice considered that the deserted cemetery in Guanyin is installed. It is believed that the Goddess of Mercy Guanyin Wat Pa Saengdham was tranquil and far from busy areas. They then decided once came down from heaven to be born on Earth in order to help to stay there as a pilgrimage place. Local villagers joined hands in ease human suffering. Legend has it that she was the daughter of a king and was interested in Dhamma since her childhood. Her father would like her to marry, so that she would have an heir to the throne. As she refused to marry, her father ordered her to be executed. Thanks to her merit, she was saved from all dangers. Finally, she entered the monkhood and attained enlightenment. A large number of Buddhists have great respect for Guanyin, and many worship her by not consuming meat throughout their life. It is said that there are altogether 84 postures of the Guanyin image for people to worship. For instance, the posture of thousand eyes and thousand arms means that it was a miracle that the Goddess of Mercy was born to free all human beings on Earth from suffering. The posture of giving blessing represents longevity, good health, and68 69
  35. 35. developing the area as a religious center, which today has become Wat Pa Saengdham, which is a Dhammayut temple focusing on strict Dharma practices. This forest temple is, therefore, suitable for those seeking tourism for peace or for Dharma study. Leaving Wat Pa Saengtham temple, we journey into the village of Ban Maduea Wan, one of the three indigenous communities in Ko Pha-ngan. The other two are Ban Tai and Ban Luk Ban Kao villages, situated deep into the land near Samai Khongkha Temple, locally known as Wat Bon. It is interesting that these communities are in a distance from the strand. Assumably, it is because people in the past led a reclusive life, eking out a living on crop-farming and growing coconuts. Indeed, there are a number of coconut plantations existing in the area, and related Over and above that, in Ban Maduea Wan village domestic industrial products, such as dried coconuts, lives an attractive ninety-three year old house. House have been supplied to factories to make coconut oil. number 45, 3, Ban Maduea Wan village, Ko Pha-ngan The manufacturing process uses traditional wisdom. sub-district, belongs to Mr. Prapas Maduea-wan, a local Visitors can stop by neighborhood that runs dried savant in Pha-ngan traditional knowledge. coconut production behind Maduea Wan school. Mathura Wararam Temple, widely known as Wat Maduea Wan, a respectable monastery, has enshrined a stunning white jade Buddha image, called in Thai language “Phra Sila Yuang” sheltered in a mondop at the hilltop. The image was made in Mandalay, Myanmar, of crystalline white jade. It portrays a sitting position of the Lord Buddha with left hand turned up,70 71
  36. 36. rested gently on the knee, right hand on the ankle. Phra Sila Yuang of this attitude can be found in only four temples in Thailand, namely, Wat Don Kaeo (Mae Ramat district) in Tak province, Wat Samret (Ko Samui district), Wat Amphawan and Wat Maduea Wan (Ko Pha-ngan district) in Surat Thani province. The hilltop stupa where this image resides also houses a replica of Lord Buddha’s footprint, worshiped by Pha-ngan people. A nearby village to Ban Maduea Wan that has nurtured an intriguing lifestyle is Ban Nai Suan village. The village is a center for natural tie dyes, supplying to souvenir shops within the island and across the southern region. A handmade natural product, very popular among foreign tourists, has a wide selection of sizes and designs including hammocks and t-shirts. For more information, please contact Mr. Kirati Diewwanit. (Tel. 08 1979 6451) Not far off from the tie dye center, lies a hundred-year old classic-style house. House number 9, Ban Nai Suan village, Ko Pha-ngan sub-district, Ko Pha-ngan district, is owned by Mr. Kunton Thongnuan. The house bears relatively complete evidence of traditional architectural techniques, -- chiseled columns, wedging, regal tile roofing --, and has become a place where we can explore the livings of Pha-ngan predecessors.72 73
  37. 37. The start of the journey to Khao Ra peak is clearly marked with a sign at Ban Maduea Wan. The road passes through a local orchard until the foot of the hill. From there, it is a trekking path all the way to the top. A small reservoir and sparse wood are the first views on the path before reaching the steeper trail that leads the trekker to a dense forest of many large trees like Yang, Ironwood, Boonoot and a refreshing little creek surrounded by tiger orchid-covered tree branches. Don’t be surprised to see plenty of birds in this area, and if you’re lucky, monkeys, wild deer and wild boar too. Leaving the forest, the trail leads to an even steeper path through smaller trees, alongside a spring, before conquering Khao Ra. The spring is the source of Khao Nop that runs through Ban Maduea Wan to Nai Wok bay. On the other side of the small Khao Ra and Phaeng Waterfall, the Green Heart of Pure Beauty The thirst for adventure makes the peak of Khao Ra, the highest peak on Ko Pha-ngan, a regular visit by explorers. At 627 meters, this mountaintop sits right in the middle of the island like a well-hidden green heart waiting to be found by the determined trekker.74 75
  38. 38. diverse on the island, covered by extensive forest, and home to wildlife. It is also the main source of freshwater for Ko Pha-ngan. Yet there is still a problem of encroachment and deforestation from local people living in the nearby community. Around 1967 Venerable Phra Khru Suphatthara Dhammaphirom of Wat Rat Charoen, Ko Pha-ngan, realized how important it was to conserve the forest for future generations. As a result, Phra Khru Suphatthara Dhammaphirom led the monks, novices, and area of forest is a clearing with space for about 10 tents. This is the best viewpoint on locals to construct a one kilometer road toward Ko Pha-ngan. If you reach this point you have earned the right to claim yourself as Phaeng Waterfall and asked for the cooperation the conqueror of the highest peak on Ko Pha-ngan. of villagers to conserve the forest for the future instead of destroying it. Historically, the waterfall For the peak there is a fabulous view of Chalok Lam bay and Khom beach. The sunset was called Wana Utthayan Karun Met Nam Tok view and Khao Ta Luang are equally if not more rewarding. Pha-ngan Airport is part of Phaeng. At that time there was no national the view to the East and at night the lights from Ban Chalok Lam provide a different park, however, Phra Khru Suphatthara beauty to the sight. To the South, the eye-catching range of Khao Mai Ngam and distant Dhammaphirom accompanied with the villagers Ko Samui is the main view. In the morning, the peak is covered by fog and the weather looked after this forest area until 1977, Phra Khru is cold as if you were in the northern part of Thailand. Hard to believe that the weather Suphatthara Dhammaphirom handed over like this can be found on the island in the middle of the Thai Gulf. responsibility to the then Royal Forest Department Khao Mai Ngam, situated in the southern of Khao Ra peak, is one of the most in order to raise the status of the area to be Wana important green areas of Ko Pha-ngan. At the foot of the hill, not so far from Ban Maduea Utthayan Nam Tok Phaeng (Phaeng Waterfall Wan, is Phaeng Waterfall the highest and most beautiful waterfall on the island. It is also Forest Park). Therefore the forest can be managed the site of Than Sadet - Ko Pha-ngan National Park Office. The area is one of the most properly by the appropriate government agency.76 77
  39. 39. In 1987, there was an official survey to integrate the national park area on Ko Pha-ngan with the existing Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National Park. However, the survey showed that the forest on Ko Pha-ngan has such high biodiversity, historical and archaeological value to be established as a separate national park. In 1989, a more detailed survey was done again, and this time the survey results led to Forest Reserve Area : Ko Pha-ngan Forest, Nam Tok Than Sadet Forest, Khao Lat Kaeo Forest, Khao Khai Forest, Khao Ta Luang Forest, Khao Hin Nok Forest, Laem Pho - Laem Katha Khwam Forest and Khao Fai Mai Forest, was prepared to announce as Than Sadet - Ko Pha-ngan National Park. Later on the area was expanded around Ko Pha-ngan to cover 62 square kilometers. The Than Sadet - Ko Pha-ngan National Park proposal was agreed by the national park committee on 10 February 1999 and now in the process with Council of Ministers to approve. Nowadays, Phaeng Waterfall is a hot spot especially for foreign tourists. The National Park has made the 2.5 km. trail for tourists wishing to spend the 1 hour walk through the forest to admire the fertile dense forest and interesting plants and animals such as tiger orchids, different variety of ferns, and wild mushrooms that bloom in rainy season; bulbuls, drongos, spider and butterflies, monkeys, samba deer, and wild boar can also be found on the trail for those luck to spot them. This trail goes along the stream to Phaeng Waterfall and up many levels, each level with a different name : Phaeng Noi, Than Nam Rak, Thang Song Phraeng, Than Kluai Mai for example. Phaeng Waterfall will be most beautiful in the rainy season. Beyond the waterfall, the trail climbs higher and grows steeper leading to Dom Sila View Point, a stunning viewpoint for both scenic and sunset views. From this point, there are splendid views view of the islands from Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National Park, Ko Tao and Ko Samui, as well as the south and west of Ko Pha-ngan.78 79
  40. 40. Timeless Natural Beauty of Wat Pho in Mu 3, Ban Tai sub-district, Ko Pha-ngan district. The site reveals the Old Ban Tai - Ban Khai archaeological evidences, in particular the three outworn pagodas, two of which have Community been ruined by time that only their pedestals remain visible: One is made of coral stone hugged by a Bodhi tree, the other is a small brick structure. The only one which is relatively complete is a square brick cement-bounded pagoda with rabbeted Ban Tai is one of the three earliest angles, decorated with Chinese ceramic crockeries. Its high pedestal has two door facades settlements on Pha-ngan island, presumably on each of the four sides. The excavation unveiled a horde of bluewares from Ming since late-Ayutthaya period. Chinese and Qing dynasties, leading to the hypothesis that this area was a residential emigrants, mostly Hainanese fishermen, area since Ayutthaya era up to the reigns of King Rama III and IV of Rattanakosin. came to settle and work in the area, blending Townspeople took part in building these monuments at the center of their community, with local people through marriage. Over manifesting the firm relationship among Thais and Chinese living together. several generations, the village has today become one of the largest in Ko Pha-ngan. Traces of ancient civilization still survive in temples, manifesting a strong Buddhist Chinese community. There are a lot of old temples, for instance Wat Nai, Wat Nok, Wat Pho, Wat KaoTham, and Chinese shrines situated across the village. It is supposed that these religous places were built at the very same time between late- Ayutthaya period to early-Rattanakosin period. Wat Nai is the oldest temple in Ban Tai community. Built in the late-Ayutthaya period, the now-uninhabited temple has been included in the monastic territory of80 81

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