As you head up the east coast of Koh Phangan from the Haad Rin Peninsula the first beach you come across is Haad Khontee. It is a small picturesque beach that is usually deserted. It is a rare beach in Koh Phangan as it is empty. Theoretically you could camp out for free at Haad Khontee.
The beach is only about 500 meters from the north end of Haad Rin Nai. However, it is not straight forward to get to. The most direct route is over the rocks, following the coast. It is also the most dangerous route.
Another option is to follow the path to Haad Yuan. After about 40 minutes you come across a river running south-east to the sea. Find the path that follows the river and it will lead you down to Haad Khontee.
The final option is to hire a longtail taxi to get you there. You might want him to stick around as your chances of just flagging a longtail boat down that is passing by are small.
Haad Khontee Beach
The beach is small; about 100 meters long. At both ends the curved beach is flanked by boulders. Since this is an empty beach you will find a full tree line. If you explore you will find the remains of Haad Khontee Resort; long ago abandoned.
The beach has slightly coarse sand mixed in with fine coral. This is because there is a small coral reef just off the coast. It is a nice spot to do some snorkelling as you are unlikely to be disturbed.
Haad Khontee might not be the best beach on the island but it is remarkably quiet and peaceful, and yet so close to the mayhem of Haad Rin. When I see Haad Khontee I wistfully imagine spending a month or so on the beach with my wife and daughter just fishing, swimming and exploring far (but not really) from the madding crowd.
For more about the small and remote beaches of the east coast check out http://kohphanganeastcoast.blogspot.com/
Here is a YouTube video clip that shows a Muay Thai fight between a Westerner and a Thai. While the fight might not be a classic, the video does give you an idea about what the stadium looks like from the inside.
It is not a massive space, but it is covered. As you can see there are plastic garden chairs around the ring to watch the fight. This is probably not the headline fight so the crowd is sparse and the cheering subdued. The final bout usually pulls in a bigger crowd who get to their feet and cheer as the fight reaches its climax.
This fight features a ‘farang’ up against a Thai. He is handy as we can see in the warm up in the gym. The fight lasts less than 2 rounds. The hipster bearded foreigner never looks under pressure. He eventually gets off a flurry of telling punches to floor the Thai.
Haad Rin Stadium has fight nights in the two consecutive nights before the FMP. If you are in Haad Rin you can’t help but know the details as cars go around with odd recorded announcements promoting the fight nights. Prices to enter the fight nights start at 150 Thai Baht.
The gym is also open during the day. It is a big gym with weights, Muay Thai training and Yoga.
If you fancy working out or learning Thai boxing just pop your head around the door. The stadium is opposite Coral Bungalows.
Reggae House in Haad Rin is a cool bar to hang out and get a few drinks and a bite to eat. It is also one of the leading places in Koh Phangan to get a traditional Thai tattoo. They give free consultations and will draw designs to any specifications. I don’t recommend getting a tattoo but if you are determined to add more ink to your skin or need to hide a truly awful tat then this might be the place for you.
The bamboo tattoo technique is thought to have originated from the Khmer period 3,000 years ago. In Thailand the practice of getting tattoos began with monks getting inked with religious texts under the behest of senior monks. Over time these tattoos became regarded as giving magical powers of protection. Soldiers started going to temples to get tattoos to give them strength, invincibility and even invisibility on the battle field.
Thailand is a traditionally conservative culture and so the majority of Thais didn’t adopt tattoo art into main stream culture. As in Japan, tattoos were regarded as the preserve of gangsters. With the rise of tourism in Thailand and the contact with Westerners obsessed with body art and piercing tattooing became popular especially with young Thai men. However, tattoos using a machine were easier to do, and as a result bamboo freehand tattoo artists are thin on the ground. Recently, celebrities such as Angelina Jolie have had bamboo tattoos. This has done a lot to revitalize the ancient practice.
Reggae House has a resident tattoo artist who uses the traditional method. In essence needles are welded together and put in a long piece of bamboo. This is dipped in ink and the tattoo is made up of many holes. It is painful but not very bloody.
So after getting wasted on buckets and special shakes and dancing all night to techno, trance and house why not do the sensible thing and head down to Reggae House near Haad Rin Nai and get a mystic design tat or the name of your current amour tat or get an old tat covered with something else? It will remind you of your mad times in Haad Rin, be a conversation piece and you will look alternative like all the other souls with tats.