Fah Thai

Fah Thai – Return To Paradise

It is late October in 1999, and time is about to be called on the 20th century. In the real world, Pakistan’s government is in the process of being overthrown while the rest of the planet nervously awaits the consequences of the Y2K bug, with conspiracy theorists warning of imminent Armageddon. Pre-millennium tension, though, is in short supply here on Haad Rin Beach, home to Koh Pha Ngan’s infamous Full Moon party. I’d made my way to the island alone a day or two before. Now I’m holding court in a party of compadres – spinning yarns of travel in South-East Asia as colourful as the garish fake designer T-shirt I’m unself-consciously modelling. With bars and sound systems dotted around the beach, pumping out a throbbing, pounding soundtrack of Goa trance, I dance until daybreak. Exhausted, I make my way to the quieter, far end of the beach, find a spot in the sand, hitch up my sweat-drenched fisherman’s pants, and let the waves lap at my toes. The beats in the distance provide a comforting cocoon and I gently close my eyes….

Fah Thai – Welcome to the Jungle

The river appears without warning as we race through the jungle and emerge in a sandy meadow of swaying golden grass. Carving its way lazily through the foliage with the mid-afternoon sun sprinkling diamonds of light over its surface, the water would look seductive in any circumstance. The fact that I have spent the last six hours negotiating the network of bumpy tracks that penetrate the Cardamom Mountains on a bike makes the idea of a soothing dip seem even more alluring. My legs are bearing up, but my battered haunches are in dire need of some attention after a day on a saddle with the dimensions of a small garden trowel. As I prepare to envelop my aching muscles in the water’s cool embrace, my reverie is disturbed by my guide Lee: “You can’t swim there,” he shouts. “Too many crocodiles.” Sinister undercurrents are never far from the idyllic surface in this part of the world. Nestled next to the Thailand border, the region is one of the last remaining wilderness areas in mainland South-East Asia – the Cardamoms…