Every month, on the weekend the moon is at its fullest, the island of Koh Phangan comes to life with neon paint, buckets of alcohol and people from all over the world. Full Moon Parties are a bit of a Thai legend and so realising there was one happening the last weekend of the school holidays; well, it’d be rude not to right?
With Canadians leaving and boyfriends on rugby tours the weekend promised to be a girlie one. Kaley, Kati and I headed to Khao San road for our 6pm bus which would begin our 18 hour journey. An hour and a half later we were still assembled on the side of the road waiting to leave. That’s Thai time for you! Just as we were all beginning to lose our patience a little, as well as worry about connecting ferries and other things the bus finally showed up, and Kaley being a pro managed to secure the front row with all the extra leg room and sleeping space, good effort!
One American chick flick, two games of cards, a very hyper Kaley and a quick rest stop later the lights went out on the bus indicating it was time to quiet down. Kaley curled herself up in the luggage area (/temple) at the front of the bus leaving Kati with two seats to spread out on, while I bedded down in the aisle and actually managed to get a good 5 hours sleep! Impressed! The previous night bus I took offered acres of leg room for all passengers whereas this one was very much built for tiny Thai people so we were lucky to be able to spread out. The bus arrived at Surat Thani at around 6am where we then got on a public bus (which (if possible) had even less leg room) to the port to catch the 9am ferry across to the islands.
I swear I don’t remember it being this much hassle last time! 3 hours later we had arrived, the journey really wasn’t as bad as it sounds, managed to sleep for most of it so that was good. Always amazed by my ability to sleep through things. Sometimes though I wish I could go bear style and just hibernate through the really crap stuff though, wouldn’t that be a good skill? Aaaaaanyway, bear skills aside, after a quick visit to 711 we were in a cab to Cookies bungalows, one of my favourite places in the world!
Cookies offers quite basic accommodation, just huts by the beach with a bed, fan and mosquito net, but the family which run it are lovely! Especially Tom who runs around checking everyone is ok and throwing out quotes like ‘don’t worry be happy’. It’s like a home away from home, which is what they offer. We signed the guest book and after a quick search I found the page showing the last time I had visited in 2009! We stayed in a beach front hut back then, with a hammock and a swing outside and 20 ft from the sea. This time we had a sea view bungalow, slightly cheaper and all of 30 seconds walk from the beach. Tough life!
The full moon was that evening so really we only had time to eat and soak up the island atmosphere before it was time to get ready! The plan was to buy neon full moon party tops beforehand but with the ferry being late we’d not been in the mood for traipsing round Thongsala so instead donned bikinis and jumped in the back of a songteaw meaning to buy them there. There are hundreds of shops offering t shirts, dresses, hats and all sorts of other random things so, two tops, three buckets and some neon paint later… Full moon a go go!
It’s hard to describe this party to those who have never experienced it. The entire stretch of beach comes alive with make shift bars, long standing clubs, wobbly wooden dance stages and people offering to paint all sorts of designs on you. The sea is packed with long tailed taxi boats and the sand with people ready to party. There are burning skipping ropes and limbo sticks, rope ladders and water slides and every different type of music you can imagine. There’s even ‘mellow mountain’ for those who are fans of fungus! Yeulch!
I only had the one bucket, (just like last time) am not a huge drinker so that was enough for me. I think this often surprises people who assume that when you go to this type of rave you have to be off your face on something. We walked up the beach for a bit, danced on a stage, had a seat on a mat and chatted to randoms as they walked past. There was a group of guys with new ‘chang’ tattoos, and another where one of the guys got down on one knee to me, can’t for the life of me remember how we got to that! Hilarious full moon party antics.
My favourite bit though was the slide! Rope ladders have never really been my friend but after a few months of trekking round different continents and a drink in me I felt up to the challenge! And it was easy!! Was at the top in no time. The slide down had water on it which I wasn’t expecting, and you went through fire at the end which worried the girls watching, but it was awesome!! I went up again, this time taking Kati with me and then waited at the bottom for Kaley to go. Alas though all this fun comes with a price, and for me it was a much beloved denim skirt! I’ve had this skirt since I was about 14 I think, it’s been through thick and thin, travelled all round the world, been boosted with denim from old jeans etc to keep it going. My mother hates it as it’s a tatty rag, haha, but for me it’s a fail safe wardrobe item aaaaaaaand, well, see for yourself…
One hell of a tear! RIP skirt, it was fun while it lasted!!
Soon after this, and a bit more dancing (pretty much assume dancing happened between every bit of the story!) our party got split up, first we lost Kati, then Kaley decided that after a bad nights sleep on the night bus and partying it up with free gin the night before it was time for bed. We sat in a roof top bar for a bit people watching, but she was obviously knackered so time to call it a night!
I was so awake though so made friends with Steve, Tom, Alana and co and proceeded to mellow mountain to watch the sunrise. I’d been told this place was a sight to see, a mountainside filled with bars offering shakes, bean bags and people just basically tripping out. Not quite. It was just one bar, with less than mellow music, and hardly anyone there at all! Maybe I went at the wrong time. We settled down on some Thai cushions to watch the sky turn pink.
Despite being on sunrise beach the sun was actually rising just round the corner! You could see people over there though so I set off across the rocks to try and get a better photo. Sadly I fell at the last hurdle, there was a huge rock that I had seen people just about scrambling up but in my flip flops, with my track record it just wasn’t worth the risk! Especially as there was noone around at that point had I fallen.
There was a great view of the beach from up there though and it amazed me to see people still raving even though the sun was up! It seems a little wrong to hear clubbing songs and see people really going for it in neon tops and splattered paint at 7am!
So that was it, full moon over for another month! It’s amazing how many people this party attracts, there were people pushing prams with sleeping kids in, grandparents, hippies and in my transport back I met two lawyers from Milan! Old people, young people, rich and poor, there’s something for everyone, which is kind of cool.
Post full moon party day is one to spend relaxing. I slept in the room for an hour or two before it got too hot and then went to meet Kaley in the restaurant, where I slept some more! Mid afternoon Kati turned up and we went for a swim and a swing. It was a very stressful day 😛
That evening, in full full moon party tradition, held a visit to the Masons Arms, a British pub down the road from Cookies! It sells roast dinners, all day breakfasts, pies, chips and all sorts of other unhealthy stuff you want after an all-nighter.
All in all a blooming marvellous way to end the trip. Now it’s time to stop holidaying here and start living here…but that’s another blog post!