The first day on tropical Koh Phangan Island and our group decided to rent motorbikes (sorry Mom) for a day trip. They are the fastest way to get around without a taxi and we wanted to go north to Koh Ma, a small island. Just off the coast of Had Mae Had beach, Koh Ma sits, surrounded by a vibrant reef. The water is so shallow that even in terrible visibility you can see fish and coral. It has some of the best snorkeling in the area.
At low tide there is a sandbar that stretches connecting the two islands and at high tide you can wade through the knee-deep water. Even across the five hundred meters separating the island and me I could see something very interesting on the island. Visible through the coastal jungle were decrepit looking buildings and bungalows. Some of the roofs were collapsed inwards and the only sounds coming from the area were birds and monkeys. This made one of our friends nervous as a monkey had tried to become romantically attached to him the day before. We pressed on anyway, the rest of us were intrigued.
The check in desk was dusty and cracked and there was graffiti in several languages all over the walls. In the entrance was a makeshift fire pit and a sign that said Koh Ma Dive Resort. Clearly locals and tourists had been using the abandoned resort as a campsite. You had to be careful wearing sandals. There were broken bottles everywhere.
We carried our snorkeling equipment around and after exploring the abandoned resort four of us strapped on our fins and got into the water. Most of us were excited to swim around the reefs to look at fish, sea cucumbers and giant clams. The others waited on the beach to work on their tans.
For 45 minutes we swam around looking at the local wildlife before we got tired and sunburned and had to come back to shore. I took a walk into the trees to see the deserted huts that people used to stay in while the others looked for seashells on the beach. The neglected buildings were spooky. Some of them looked like people were still staying in them and had only just left. I went back to the sand where the others were waiting with the feeling of ants crawling down my spine.
There was excitement when I returned. My friends had found a crab crawling around on the beach. We took pictures of it until the small crustacean, probably camera shy, fled back to the water. At that point more people were coming from the mainland and the tide was coming back in. It was time to leave. As we walked back to our motorbikes we collected shells for souvenirs.