Dark Side of the Moon

Koh Phangan Travel Blog

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Alcohol and I have a love-hate relationship. I love it, it hates me. I can be what is commonly known as “a mean drunk” and my friends have, in the past, been on the receiving end of numerous profanity-packed tirades against anything and everything or, more pertinently, anyone and everyone. I refer to it as a Jekyll and Hyde complex and it's something that, as I move closer to my 30s, I've tried to rein in as much as possible.

When you are travelling and drinking with people who barely know you - going Hyde is a disconcerting prospect. Your new friends' image of you is puddle shallow and easily splashed all over the place by a bout of Hyde stomping.

Why Nam Bay shot from the balcony of the bungalow.
It can be mortifying hence, in the last ten months on the road, I've kept my drinking at a deliberately low level and can count my serious indiscretions on the fingers of one hand.

So I thought I would be fine to take on Koh Phangan's famous Full Moon Party. I'd go easy on the booze, ascend to a good time ratio of blood-alcohol, and dance the night away at South East Asia's most famous beach party. But you know what they say about good intentions and which road they pave...

Louise, an English girl I had befriended and drunk a night away with in Bangkok, arrives late afternoon on the day of the Full Moon, suitably drained after diving and drinking on Koh Tao for the previous 4 days.

Er, Hat Rin beach by night taken from the boat on the way. It was a bit of a rough ride...
I tote her hefty oblong wheelie backpack over the beach to the Why Nam Huts resort and we sit and chat on the balcony, her with a beer and me with a Coke. I had already been at Why Nam for three days by this point, having wanted to ensure a decent and cheap place to stay over the manic full moon period.

By 11.00pm, after time for Louise to get some kip and for both of us to eat, we're on the main party beach at Hat Rin. The party is slowly building in numbers, not everyone is here yet. The beach is lined with stalls advertising a dubious range of plastic cocktail-filled buckets, coloured lights and neon signs advertise various bars and sound systems compete in belting out bass heavy dance music. Even at this stage, people are already beginning to piss in the sea, Christ knows what it'll be like by morning.

Me (bucket in hand) and Louise at the FMP before everything went just a bit haywire...

My attempt at attaining an alcoholic equilibrium tips quickly into overindulgence. This I blame squarely on two things: my inability to drink slowly and the fact that Louise and I are sharing buckets filled with a sickly mixture of Thai Sangsom Whiskey, Coke and Thai Red Bull. This is rocket fuel - especially augmented by the ingredient similar to amphetamine that is used in Thai Red Bull (it's illegal in Europe). Whilst Louise is drinking at a sensible pace, I stride swiftly across the line between happy drunk and plain weird drunk.

I fall into a state of manic paranoid loopiness. I tell Louise that I'm not the slightest bit religious but I'm sure someone just spoke to me in my head, demanding that I leave my flip flops on the beach and walk away from them.

The bungalow (with the towel hanging up) that I was convinced had been raided by The Russians. Oh dear.
Louise wants to retrieve them but I won't let her; I'm absolutely convinced that this is really, really important and something terrible will happen if I go back for those flip flops.

A little later I have to go to the toilet: “Stay here, promise me you'll stay here,” I say to Louise. The poor girl duly promises and with that I'm off. The next thing I remember is a snapshot of being in a longtail boat, buzzing back through the night to Why Nam. Louise is not with me. Then I'm back in my bungalow and collapsing onto the bed.

I wake at 5amish, and immediately begin scrabbling around, looking under the mattress for the things I stowed there before setting off for Hat Rin. I can't find my money belt where I left it. I begin to swear loudly, waking up one of the neighbours, a Canadian guy named Geoff. He later told me that he thought I was off my face on mushrooms and pills.

I'm convinced that my money belt, along with my passport, cash cards and a few thousand Baht has been stolen. I am also, for no good reason whatsoever, convinced that it was The Russians that did the deed. No matter that there are no Russians staying at Why Nam, it was them: The Russians. In my own head, I have returned to the Cold War years and am plagued by thoughts of Reds Under the Bed.

Thankfully I do not include this little revelation when I go to see the owner of the resort to tell him I have been robbed. He and Geoff come back to the bungalow and the owner is very apologetic, telling me that he has never had anyone robbed in over ten years of running this place. Eventually they leave and I go back to bed for a few more hours of alcoholic sleep, no sign of Louise yet and no sign of guilt on my part.

7am comes round and I'm awake again: my head is starting to pound. I'm finally coming down off the rabid cocktail of sugar and alcohol; logical reality is starting to re-assert itself in my troubled mind. I force myself to search the bungalow again for my money belt. It is beneath the mattress but on the opposite side to the place I had originally hidden it. Clearly I had moved it myself when I first returned, subsequently forgetting I had not lifted the whole mattress to check everywhere in my certainty that The Russians had raided my stuff.

Louise arrives back from Hat Rin at about 10am. She had been bemused at my disappearance but nonetheless determined, as is her way, to be the last woman standing - good on her. She tells me tales of dancing through the night, men bearing lizards, and meetings with bizarre skin-painted randoms from around the globe. I'm disgusted with myself for overdoing it on the buckets and abandoning her, not to mention disappointed that I've missed out on most of the party.

Before she gets some sleep, Louise suggests in all seriousness I might want to get some counseling. I laugh my head off, forgetting the guilt for a second, and think that it could have been worse: after all, people do go to Full Moon to get off their heads. I achieved that in record time; not necessarily something to be proud of, but I did learn something new: Salad and Sangsom don't mix.

So mind how you go at Full Moon, and keep an eye out for those Russians eh...

jhob says:
Ah, the ol sangsom buckets - I remember them so well! It is a ludicrously lethal combination, and very addictive. I had some sangsom sans red bull and coke on my stag do. I can confirm that it is improved with the mixers.
Posted on: Nov 14, 2008
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Why Nam Bay shot from the balcony …
Why Nam Bay shot from the balcony…
Er, Hat Rin beach by night taken f…
Er, Hat Rin beach by night taken …
Me (bucket in hand) and Louise at …
Me (bucket in hand) and Louise at…
The bungalow (with the towel hangi…
The bungalow (with the towel hang…
Koh Phangan
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