Full Moon Madness

Koh Phangan Travel Blog

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The view from our bungalow balcony

People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Toby (England), Janne and Krista (Finland), Chay (Israel), Lisa (Denmark), Jill (Sweden)

Koh Phangan has become famous for one thing - its parties! Once a month when the moon is full, the island becomes packed with people, all in search of what is rumoured to be one the best parties going. I had been to the New Years party of 2003/4 and Julia had heard me talking about this place for the last 15 months with other backpackers, who had headed this way at some stage of their travels through South East Asia. If you love or hate to party, it seems to be one of those places that everyone has to see at least once, to know whether it really is for them or not!

My previous time on the island had been a noisy affair, as i had stayed on the beach at Haad Rin, where the party takes place.

Sunset at the beach between Ban Tai and Ban Khai
Music shaking the wooden bungalows seems a novel thing at first, but after several nights of head pounding beats until well after sunrise, this can soon become a drag! Instead, the area between Ban Tai and Ban Khai beaches, around 4km north west of Haad Rin was selected as a base from where we could get some quiet time and which also had transport running to and from Haad Rin all night long. For only 200 baht an en-suite double room was scored, bang on the beach with fantastic views and not a sound speaker in sight!

Friday was our first excursion around the island as Jill, Julia and I walked to the port town of Thong Sala, where Jill was getting money wired to her. It took about 2 hours to get there by the main road, passing en-route a loud speaker advertising a Muay Thai Boxing event happening that evening as 'Great Violent Entertainment for all the family'! Fantastic! On the way back home, the much more desirable beach route was taken and we were treated with a lovely sunset and a huge stretch of pretty, deserted beach.

Fire show on Haad Rin beach

The evening was to provide us with our first taste of the action down in Haad Rin and in the sawngthaew on the way to party, we bumped into Toby and Ches, who we had shared a truck to the hotel with the previous day. They invited us for Dinner with them and it was wierd that they were meeting Shay and Lisa, who we met at the port in Surat Thani the previous day and they had met that day at the beach. Conincidences like this never fail to astound me. The 6 of us had Dinner in Mr K restaurant, one of the better deals in town and then headed down to the beach with some beers, to watch the fire show. I was surprised at how many people were out, saying that this was only the 'pre party' and i think it impressed everyone and added to the excitement and anticipation for the following evening! Not wanting to burn out, it was decided to head home around 2am.

Fire show on Haad Rin beach

Saturday was spent doing as little as possible as we awaited the prospect of a very long evening. The guesthouses DVD player was taken advantage of and Julia also cut Jill's hair on the beach, ready for the big night out! At 7pm we met up with all the guys and headed out for Dinner. Toby decided to start the evening in style with a lobster, but this would sadly be his final participation in the nights proceedings, as he went home to get changed and get some cash and was never able to find us again. Chas and Chay went and got their faces painted whilst Jill and Lisa went and bought new dresses and this completed the transformation of the company that we had come out with!

Down on the beach everything was already well under way, with between 5,000 and 10,000 people all getting into the spirit of proceedings, with the aid of beers and buckets.

Ches, Jill, Toby, Julia and Me on Haad Rin beach
Buckets consist of any range of drinks, with one of the favourites been a 330ml vodka, mixed with coke and red bull. Esentially the more you pay, the more liquor you can add and clearly some people were parting with a fair bit by the strange angles that they walked in! I ventured off to find a toilet, which for most people at some point during the evening would be the sea or the beach. One guy obviously off his head on god knows what went to the waters edge, forgot to stop walking, had the sense to take his wallet out of his pocket as he waded further, then fell over and submerged himself in water. Amusingly he managed to keep hold of both his soaking wallet and topped up beer, which must have had a hell of a taste, chang mixed with salt water - but why should that matter to him.
Cute dog from our guesthouse
... glug glug glug...

Coming back from my toilet break, i was horrified to see Julia had taken my bag off and put it on the floor where they were all dancing. Koh Phangan is famous for theft at these parties and we had discussed this before and agreed to keep a close watch on everything. After she said that no-one could steal it whilst it was so close, i also pointed out that with so many drunk people stumbling around, it could get stood on, which would also end in tragedy for all our valuables inside. Point taken and backpack safely on the back again, the dancing and craziness continued. Lisa chose to leave her bag on the floor...

5 minutes later, crunch, some drunk aussie came stumbling through us and stood on Lisa's bag. Julia and I looked at each other, smiled and were thankful that disaster had been avoided by a matter of minutes.

Julia on the rope swing outside of our guesthouse restaurant
Rather than put the bag onto her back, Lisa instead moved it under the table seats, which Chay, Ches and I were dancing on, and the girls were dancing in front of. A couple of minutes later the question arose 'where's my bag?'. Somebody had obviously walked past and swiped it from under the table, whilst everybody elses mind was on having fun and not looking under a seat constantly! I thanked my lucky stars that i had come back in time to prevent all our things from been trampled on and then going walkabouts. Sadly Lisa was also looking after Shays valuables and between them they lost both their passports, credit cards, room key and Shays camera with 900 photos of his trip so far - by far the most tragic thing of all that was stolen. As if the night couldn't get any worse, moments later Ches was robbed by a group of local girls, who surrounded him, bumped into him a few times and then swiped his wallet from his pocket and ran.
Chay with his face painted at the Full Moon party at Haad Rin Beach
Although the Full Moon Party may be an amazing experience for some, this kind of thing is common place to others. Sad but true.

Lisa stayed with us and after cancelling her cards, she took the attitude of 'whats done is done - lets have fun'. The rest of the evening went off really well and we met some crazy cool people. A Finnish couple called Krista and Janne and a gentle giant from Canada called Dean all provided us with laughs and conversation - although i'm not sure any of us truly remember what was said or done the next day :))) Several buckets later and as the sun was threatening to raise its head, Lisa, Julia and I decided enough was enough and as Lisa had no keys to get into her bungalow, she came and slept with us. Chay had ended up at Toby and Ches' house in the next set of bungalows, but was somehow locked out from them, so he ended up in our hammock.

Julia and Jill with the full moon
The night had been a complete contrast of happy and sad, but one that will certainly go down as unforgettable!

Understandably everyone felt pretty rotten on Sunday and every face that we saw looked like they were suffering in equal amounts! Once again the DVD player was taken advantage of and between the cushions in the bar area and the hammock, we rotated until it was finally time to go back to sleep... hurray :~)

By Monday everyone was feeling pretty good again and this was helped by a fantastic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with heinz ketchup - now thats what i call comfort food! Reunited together again, our little posse chilled out on the beach and played ball games in the water, before some bright sparks decided that it was time to drink again - thanks Toby and Ches.

Bucket sellers at the Full Moon party in Haad Rin Town
They taught us a card game called Dave, where the loser had to buy the winner a drink after every game and by the time it was dark, everyone was pretty set for going into Haad Rin.

The night sadly didn't go according to plan once again. After Toby and I had gone off to the mushroom bar, set on the hill overlooking the bay, i came back to find Julia with the bag off her back again. It was so frustrating that when it was her turn to look after it for a bit, she couldn't do this. I was so angry that she had paid no attention to what happened to the guys at the Full Moon Party and was basically offering all of my belongings to some snatch and grab thief. I'll leave the night there, as it deteriorated rather rapidly and ended with me drunk and paranoid and with a bag that i was now sure somebody was going to steal! Adding to my paranoia were the types of people that were at Haad Rin, including plenty of people looking for trouble and fights, all of whom i am delighted to say were British or Irish.

Full Moon party on Haad Rin Beach
Thankfully Toby was there to make sure nothing happened. Anyone that knows what a Saturday night out in England is like, will know the kind of bother boys i'm talking about - how the hell have these people started coming to Thailand instead of Greece and Spain? Poor Thailand. Right now as i sit here typing this, some English guy is going mad at a Thai guy because his computer isn't working... man i'm proud to be English sometimes...

Tuesday was a day of tension after the previous nights catastrophe and by Wednesday Julia and I decided to get off the island for good and headed to Koh Samui and what would hopefully be a change of fortunes and happier times!

 

Deats says:
Thanks buddy. Make sure your valuables are on you at all times or in a secure safety box - although i have heard reports that even these are sometimes stolen from :( Anyway, enjoy! It is a mad experience!
Posted on: Jul 05, 2009
ambition12345 says:
Hi.. You're blog's a good read! Sorry to hear about your troubles you've had. I'll be making my way over there tomorrow so at least I know what i've to be on guard about. Cheers!
Posted on: Jul 05, 2009
Deats says:
Beware the pickpockets too! I think there are safes somewhere in Haad rin, but how secure these are i really dont know. Have fun, but stay safe!
Posted on: Oct 29, 2008
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The view from our bungalow balcony
The view from our bungalow balcony
Sunset at the beach between Ban Ta…
Sunset at the beach between Ban T…
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Ches, Jill, Toby, Julia and Me on …
Ches, Jill, Toby, Julia and Me on…
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Julia on the rope swing outside of…
Julia on the rope swing outside o…
Chay with his face painted at the …
Chay with his face painted at the…
Julia and Jill with the full moon
Julia and Jill with the full moon
Bucket sellers at the Full Moon pa…
Bucket sellers at the Full Moon p…
Full Moon party on Haad Rin Beach
Full Moon party on Haad Rin Beach
The view from our bungalow
The view from our bungalow
Julia cuts Jills hair infront of …
Julia cuts Jill's hair infront of…
Julia cuts Jills hair infront of …
Julia cuts Jill's hair infront of…
A view down the beach between Ban …
A view down the beach between Ban…
Sunset at the beach between Ban Ta…
Sunset at the beach between Ban T…
The bungalows at Green Peace
The bungalows at Green Peace
Sunset from out bungalow
Sunset from out bungalow
A view from our bungalow
A view from our bungalow
Julia chilling in our hammock
Julia chilling in our hammock
Lisa, Julia, Me, Shay and Ches out…
Lisa, Julia, Me, Shay and Ches ou…
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Fire show on Haad Rin beach
Full moon at Haad Rin beach
Full moon at Haad Rin beach
Julia showing off her strength, wi…
Julia showing off her strength, w…
Walking through fire!
Walking through fire!
My beloved guard dog
My beloved guard dog
Playing with my new best friend
Playing with my new best friend
Dog and me bonding!
Dog and me bonding!
Traditional flower arrangement mad…
Traditional flower arrangement ma…
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Julia on the rope swing outside of…
Julia on the rope swing outside o…
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Cute dog from our guesthouse
Toby gets ready to devour his lobs…
Toby gets ready to devour his lob…
Full Moon party at Haad Rin Beach
Full Moon party at Haad Rin Beach
Full Moon party at Haad Rin Beach
Full Moon party at Haad Rin Beach
Full Moon party at Haad Rin Beach …
Full Moon party at Haad Rin Beach…
Jill, Julia and Lisa at the Full M…
Jill, Julia and Lisa at the Full …
Jill, Lisa, Ches and Me at the Ful…
Jill, Lisa, Ches and Me at the Fu…
Crazy guy at the Full Moon party o…
Crazy guy at the Full Moon party …
Full Moon party on Haad Rin Beach
Full Moon party on Haad Rin Beach
Me and my best friends - Mr and Mr…
Me and my best friends - Mr and M…
Julia, Shay and Lisa at the Full M…
Julia, Shay and Lisa at the Full …
Julia and me taking time out for a…
Julia and me taking time out for …
Shay, Ches and Me with the full mo…
Shay, Ches and Me with the full m…
Me and big Deano with a couple of …
Me and big Deano with a couple of…
Krista, Janne and Me enjoying a qu…
Krista, Janne and Me enjoying a q…
Julia and Lisa hanging out with th…
Julia and Lisa hanging out with t…
Janne and Me in the party mood
Janne and Me in the party mood
Janne with a couple of crazy Finni…
Janne with a couple of crazy Finn…
Julia decides that she is through …
Julia decides that she is through…
Krista, Janne, Julia, Lisa and Dea…
Krista, Janne, Julia, Lisa and De…
Haad Rin Beach
Haad Rin Beach
Haad Rin Beach
Haad Rin Beach
Koh Phangan
photo by: alanmica