05
Mar
10

Feb 25-Mar 3: LEXI’S GUIDE TO THE FULL MOON PARTY

Since I am being harassed on a daily basis to blog about the experience of the infamous Full Moon Party on Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand, I figured I would skip the three days (Feb. 22-24) we spent in Khao Sok National Park between Bangkok and Koh Pha Ngan, and get straight to the goods. I apologize for the lack of photos, but they are on my camera and refusing to come out right now (for some reason the computer won’t upload direct from the camera).

Even though the decision to attend the Full Moon Party was made by me about halfway through the tour, I feel like it was the apex of the entire trip (ground zero, if you will), and everything else should be referred to in terms of BFM and AFM (before Full Moon and After Full Moon, respectively).

A BRIEF HISTORY

For those who don’t know, the Full Moon Party originated at Paradise Bungalows on Haad Rin (Hat Rin) beach on Koh Pha Ngan some years ago, although no one really knows how many. Since then it has become one of the largest organized parties in the world, and is celebrated each month on the day of the full moon (unless there is a Buddhist holiday on the day). The party itself is more of a rave, with anywhere from 10 to 30 thousand people attending each month. This year the full moon actually landed on February 28th, but as there was a Buddhist holiday, the celebration was on March 1st.

PREPARATIONS

Actually attending a full moon party can be quite complicated for the Full Moon Virgin (like us). The first challenge in attending the full moon party was finding accommodation. To do this it is good to have some knowledge of finance, logistics, and urban planning (luckily I have been in school for so long I have experience in each of these areas, tee hee):

  • The island of Koh Pha Ngan has many beaches, but most of them are unconnected by roads and therefore you must travel to and from by boat. The beach of Hat Rin is in the south corner, and connects to beaches on the west side of the island. Therefore, it is advisable to have accommodation as close to Hat Rin as possible (but not actually on Hat Rin if you want ANY sleep at all!) and prefereably someplace accessible by truck-taxi, the main mode of transportation to Hat Rin.
  • Since Thai people aren’t stupid, and they have realized that foreigners will do anything for a drunken party, the rates for resorts close to Hat Rin during the Full Moon week skyrocket, sometimes by more than 1000 Baht per night ($35).
  • Although the further you stay from Hat Rin the cheaper it will be, the more you will also pay to travel to and from Hat Rin on a nightly basis. Therefore, the Lonely Planet advises that you should figure out if you want to sleep like a baby or party like a rock star, and then decide where on the island you want to stay.

Court and I booked five nights at Mac Bay Resort, on Baan Tai beach, the closest beach to Hat Rin without actually being on Hat Rin, at the suggestion of my Lonely Planet. We got a decent rate ($50 per night) for a twin air conditioned bungalow ten steps from the beach, and three steps from the pool. The food was great, the staff was warm and welcoming, and the beach was gorgeous! We loved it so much that we ended up staying one extra night (either that we loved it so much or we were too hung over to leave on March 2nd – you decide 🙂

BEFORE THE FULL MOON

We arrived on Koh Pha Ngan on February 25, well in advance of the party on March 1st, and were pretty excited that we got to spend a full week in one place. I won’t bore you with our daily activities, because mostly we hung around the resort during the day, sleeping, relaxing on the beach, swimming in the pool and the Gulf of Thailand, and catching up with email. During the day I can imagine that Hat Rin was pretty quiet, with all the partyers resting up from the night before and revving up for the night ahead, but at night the beach came alive! Out of the six nights we spent on Koh Pha Ngan, we spent four on Hat Rin beach, and only two in other parts of the island.

Although the full moon party wasn’t until March 1st, there were parties on the beach every single night we were there, and we wanted to take full advantage of the young crowd and cheap booze buckets ($8 gets a mickey of vodka, redbull, and mixer). Each of the bars along the beach plays trance, techno, house, pop, or some sort of psych-hip hop mash up, and many of the bars feature young Thai men twirling blazing batons, poi (a flaming ball on the end of a rope that they swing around and make cool designs), and glow sticks. One of the bars even had a foam pit, and a flaming jump-rope, where drunk foreigners could try their best not to get their feet singed by twenty metres of flaming rope.

Because we stayed outside Hat Rin, we had to pay 100 Baht ($3.30) each way to take a taxi into town every night, but it was a small price to pay for a few hours of sleep each night. Trust me, when I heard the beats going on until the sun came up the next morning I was happy to have a bed in a quiet part of the island.

THE FULL MOON EXPERIENCE

On the day of the party, we wanted to take it easy and rest ourselves for the night ahead. Our friends John and Neil, whom we met on the hilltribe trek in Chiang Mai, showed up at our resort a couple days before the party, and we were pumped that they would be there during the celebrations. Our friends J.Y. and Dan from our tour, as well as our tour leader through Laos, Ae, showed up at different times the day of the party, and because none of them had accommodation booked on the island, we offered the floor of our bungalow as a crash pad. So there were seven of us who had a pre-party on our porch before heading to Hat Rin.

I will do my best to give approximate times of where I was at what point during the night, but most of them I only know because of the times the photos were taken. Around midnight I stopped taking photos, and lost my frame of reference, so bear with me!

Around 10PM he owner of our resort gave us all a ride to town, where we paid our cover charge (!) of 100 Baht ($3.30), got our flashy wristbands, and headed toward the beach.

Attire for the party is pretty open, except for one important rule: do not wear anything that you don’t want to get ruined! There are many ways for clothing to get trashed at the Full Moon Party – fire, vomit, tearing – and paint. I wore a bikini, a long top, and nothing else. Some of the guys from our resort had brought blacklight paint down to the beach, and we took some time painting each other’s faces, arms, and legs with designs. Then the mayhem began.

The beach was jam-packed with people, and the beat of music could be heard even as we drove into town. Most people were covered in glowing paint, wearing headbands, necklaces, bracelets, and the like, and carrying colourful buckets of booze. The beach was bordered on one side by the sea (which was really just a wall of guys peeing into the ocean), and on the other by a line of “bucket booths” which display a myriad of alcoholic combinations to choose from. When you walk by, the Thais manning the stands call out to you, and offer free shots, free necklaces, and discounts on already-dirt-cheap beverages (from 150 Baht to 300 Baht, depending on what you order. For example, Thai whisky with red bull and mix would be 150. If you want Smirnoff Vodka, expect to pay 300) . There were platforms with people dancing to trance, house, pop, drum’nbass, and fire twirlers all over the place, and all you could see were just people dancing, drinking, and yelling to be heard over the music. The beach was also littered with all manner of trash – everything from straws, broken buckets, beer bottles, and flip flops. If you can imagine a more dangerous scene than 10,000 drunk revellers dancing on a trash-covered beach with fire being thrown every 50 metres, please tell me, because I’d like to know!

It’s notoriously easy to lose people (among other things) during the full moon party. When we left the resort around 10PM, we had ten people with us: myself, Courtney, Ae, J.Y., Dan, Neil, John, plus three German guys from our resort. By the time the sun rose, each of us had come home separately, and had largely spent the night without the other members of our little commune.

Courtney was the first to go, just after we (finally) headed down to the beach around 11PM. She slipped away to grab a bucket, and couldn’t find us on the way back. Don’t worry though, she found some friends and had a crazy night of her own (I’ll let her post it later, if she wants to). Neil and John were the next to go, I don’t even know when or where they disappeared to, all I know is that I turned around and they were gone. Dan and I were dancing for a while on one of the platforms, and when we jumped down to go back to J.Y. and Ae, we got lost and couldn’t find them, so we were left on our own. The details of the next little while are a bit hazy, but I’ll give you the drift: since Dan and I were on our own, and neither of us wanted to lose the other, we went over to where one of the guys was putting on a fire show. Lost in a trance of the music and the fire, I barely noticed when the people in front of me turned around. They turned out to be a guy and a girl, Marco and Anette, from Switzerland, whom I had met at the beach earlier on in the week! This turned out to be the luckiest thing that happened to me all night, because just after I introduced them to Dan, he left to go puke in the sea! He came back minutes later and told me he was going home, leaving me at the beach.

Had it not been for running into Marco and Anette, I would have been left alone all night, but somehow these two are masters of finding each other after being separated, and I managed to stick with one or the other all night. I don’t really remember many details, but all I know is that we danced and drank buckets and tottered around the beach until about 5am, when we finally left the beach. I managed to avoid paying a ridiculous fee to get a taxi to take me back to our resort, by crashing at Anette and Marco’s place for the night, which was at a resort close to Hat Rin.

When I woke up around 8am, I instantly wished I had gone home to my own bungalow: the thumping beat of the afterparty (which was still raging down on the beach) could still be heard, even on the other side of the hill, the room felt like a friggin sauna with the sun shining in the open windows (and four people crammed in one room, which was no bigger than the size of two double beds), and my mouth tasted and felt like what I imagine wet cardboard must taste and feel like. I was also half resting in a pile of dried paint, which had flaked off during my nap, my hair looked like a birds nest, and I’m sure I’ve never been so sweaty in my life. Top it all off with the fact that I probably smelled like a vodka-pineapple factory exploded with me in the middle, and I’m sure I’ve never been so happy to see a shower in my entire life.

The ride home was strangely pleasant, I had the incredibly smug and triumphant feeling like I had survived a tornado or earthquake or some other disaster. I certainly looked like I had! Luckily, most of the other people I encountered on my way to find a taxi looked either worse or just as bad as me.

SURVIVED THE FULL MOON

On March 2nd we had planned to head off to Koh Tao, but as we were too hung over to move, we opted to stay another day. J.Y., Dan, and Ae headed west toward the Similan Islands, while the rest of us stayed in bed until dinnertime.

Hat Rin was a disaster zone: everywhere you looked there were bottles, straws, buckets, clothing strewn on the beach. Many people were walking around town with bandages around their feet, ankles, legs, arms, and faces. Many people still had blood on them, or open wounds, and a lot hadn’t even washed the paint off them yet. Nevertheless, it was the calmest day I saw in Hat Rin, as most people were taking it easy or still sleeping off the effects of the night before.

March 2nd was a sad day, as we said goodbye to Dan and J.Y., whom we had been with since Day 1, Ae, who had stayed with us for two nights and who was like a third roommate to us, Neil and John, who are two of the coolest people I have met in Asia, Thomas and Mark, whom we hung out with almost every night, and Marco and Anette, who always have a special place in my heart for saving me from spending the Full Moon Party by myself in a sea full of people.

As crazy as the week was, we were sad to leave, and boarding the ferry to go back to the mainland was painful. We were both tired from the partying and having to be uprooted after spending a week in paradise, and sad from having to say goodbye to all the friends we met and met again on the beaches of Koh Pha Ngan.

Now we are in Krabi, bored out of our minds, and trying to rehydrate our bodies with non-alcoholic beverages. On March 7 we will be moving on to Koh Phi Phi, and hopefully to a better beach and airconditioning (otherwise I think Court might not make it).

I promise to post photos as soon as I humanly can, for fear of my life. All I have to say now is

I SURVIVED!

Lex

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1 Response to “Feb 25-Mar 3: LEXI’S GUIDE TO THE FULL MOON PARTY”


  1. 1 kimberly beale
    March 9, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    congrats on surviving!!!! I don’t know if I could say the same thing if I were in the same situation….tee hee 🙂


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