Waking up on the beach is quite a wonderful experience – as long as it’s not literally on the beach (well, even that would have been great when we were younger). But today, stepping out of the bungalow onto the sand path and then wandering down to the beach was pretty fantastic. And the beach looked better in the morning light than it did last night. In fact, on the WSM scale it rates a ’20’. WSM scale? Well, that’s Caroline’s inadvertent invention. As a child of Weston-Super-Mare, every bit of coastline is compared to the beach there. We twigged early on, when Caroline exclaimed “Well, that’s a bit better than W-S-M” at the sight of Mae Nam beach. And then Nathon “The sea goes out a long way – a bit like W-S-M”. And so we’ve invented the WSM scale, to bring to beaches the same kind of star rating you get at hotels. And Ao Thang Nai Pan Noi beach qualifies as a 20 (the baseline point is W-S-M, worth 10 points). It scored highly on every category except “Easy to pronounce name”. (We’re rapidly going through our memories to rate every beach we’re ever visited on the W-S-M scale – soon to be a blockbusting website/book/movie/calendar)
As the afternoon arrived, so came the time to leave the beach, and as the ferry was only once a day from the beach, it meant a trip across the island to the main port of Tong Sala. Koh Pha-Ngan isn’t well-endowed with roads, so we all had to pile in the back of a pickup (called a ‘private taxi’ on the advertising board) and endured a 30 minute trip on dirt tracks across the hills. Samui calls itself ‘the Green Island’, but its not a patch on Pha-Ngan, which still has tall native trees in the middle, rather than Samui’s omni-present coconut plantations. Then it was fast catamaran across the bay to Samui, continuing our story of returning from somewhere in half the time it took to get there in the first place. It’s not been a holiday of all sunbeds and cocktails for our friends – they’ve suffered their fair share of rough alongside the smooth and travelled off the well-beaten track during this holiday (and even managed to smile their way through it!). In return we’ve all enjoyed a great time, and seen a fair few sights in the ten days.