Koh Phangan is at its busiest during the Full Moon Party on the 28th December and the New Years Party. Thousands of tourists flock to Haad Rin Beach and surrounding beaches for the wild party lifestyle. This means prices go up and accommodation is extremely hard to find. My Mum would have warned against. So I went. Living the extremes of Asia is me all over and a Full Moon Party is definitely extreme. I knew it would be mental. Haad Rin is where the devil dances. And we danced his naughty little dance.
Young and up for it Ben took us to a reasonably cheap place right on Haad Rin Beach. It resembled a cell block. Basic and only one fan between the three of us, Ben, Siobhan and myself. The only problem was the beach music didn’t stop until 7am every morning. Big mistake on the accommodation side if you’re a 30 year old who enjoys a little bit of sleep at night. Sleep was going to be difficult. Mr Hind Sight soon told us about accommodation outside of town that was cheaper and quieter, however, we’d booked up a week so we made do.
On a positive, our digs soon transformed into the place to be. The pre-drinking session always commenced at the Anan Hostel in our room or on the balcony over looking the beach. Friends joined us. We squeezed as many day glow covered ravers into our room as possible. Other back packers we’d met in India seemed to be flocking to the island for the full moon party season too. Legendary drinkers and big time performers decended upon the island. Rob, Tim, Nordes and Guy. You know who you are. This was a blast back to the lads holidays I used to do in Ibiza, Majorca and Tenerife and I enjoyed every minute of it. We are all pushing on 29 years and 18 months young and still having it.
Again, we jumped on scooters and zoomed off around the island. Siobhan graced the driving seat of a scooter for the very first time. A scary prospect for her, she soon perfected the art of driving 20km an hour. We stopped at several beautiful beaches, harbours and forests. Some roads were unusable, dirt tracks ruined by the tropical rains that needed to be rebuilt again so some beaches had to be located by boat. The island was lush and tropical, soft on the eyes, with all the amenities a tourist needs. Driving around made me realise that not every beach was a raging, drunken haven of sin.
Let’s get down to the reality of life on Haad Rin Beach. We partied hard. Real hard. I graced the Coral Bungalow pool party, the Jungle Experience and the Full Moon Party, twice. Drunken highlights include midnight drives on top of a taxi, magic mountain, drum and bass football on a huge screen, dancing on a table at 8am with hundreds of head strong Full Moon ravers and Tim’s drunken tattoo and shopping spree. Let me explain the drum and bass football. After a trip to ‘the’ mountain we descended back down onto the beach in a fit of giggles and found a bar playing the Arsenal game on a huge screen. In the background, the bar was playing some filthy drum and bass, extremely loudly. The rest is legend and will live long in our memories forever. Viva la D’n’B football.
Hangovers were nursed better and sleep were mainly taken during the day, if at all, on sun loungers or in the sauna room of our hostel. Friends were made, bromance moments were regular and hugs were everywhere. There was a lot a love. Our large group of party people continued to grow. Rob, Tim, Christian, Ben, Guy, Laura, Siobhan, Niamh, Nordes, the Canadian girlies, the Australians girls, Americans, French, Dutch…it was an eclectic mix, one that provided many intoxicated memories. Admittedly, our group were the coolest in Haad Rin. A lot of Full Moon ravers are dick heads. Fact. Steroids and alcohol don’t make for the most intelligent of conversation. The group that amassed had mostly met in India so we all classed ourselves as righteous travelers who were cultured and done the hard bit. We deserved our dirty drunken moment in the sun with fellow tourists. I think I’ve justified my reasons enough to relieve the guilt of my prolonged binge drinking antics. Conscience clear.
One dark moment was the night that a group of four of us were drugged and robbed. Drinking buckets is a common practice on Koh Phangan. For those of you that don’t know, here is the chemical formula of a bucket.
Some type of 40% strength spirit + Red Bull + Coke + Ice = Bucket.
The beach and streets are lined with bucket sellers. They hold signs with their names on it, some write obscene words to shock punters in the hope they will buy alcohol from their shack rather than the other 200 right next to them. There are an unfortunate few who open the bottles of alcohol, pour in cheaper brands, lace it with tranquillisers of some sort, reseal the cap so it looks new and sell it to punters who they later rob when they pass out. Many stories have been told and many friends had warned me. As careful as I always am when purchasing drinks, this purchase proved to be a bad one. We all blanked out and lost our memory at the same time. Two of us were lucky. When we woke up, we were told of our inability to walk properly, extreme vomiting and the way we drifted in and out of consciousness. I was extremely embarrassed but glad I had made it back to my room and had good people around to help me. The other two were not so lucky. Both had their money and cards taken, with no memory of how they ended up waking up in the morning in a corridor of the hotel and a taxi down the road. Pow, the manager of the hotel, said it is common place. There are teams of local Thai’s who work with the bucket sales people and wait for the drugged tourists to flop, quickly pouncing and clearing out their wallets and disappearing. Past cases have included rape on both men and women. We were targeted by this ruthless team. It took me two days to fully recover and rejoin the party. Shook up and disturbed I was determined not to let this experience get me down, lesson learned the hard way.
The Full Moon Party takes over the entire beach and surrounding bars. Cheesy pop house pounds out of sound systems that line the beach. To my delight, I found a bar playing some dirty drum and bass, the rest of the sound systems seemed to be playing the same CD on loop. Drunk ravers covered in neon paint dance all night long. Smiles are easy to come by. Fun is on full volume. Everyone seems to be off their faces. Battle scars become evident in the morning after. With almost 50 doctors surgeries packed into this tiny beach town, you know that they have witnesses and are prepared for the worst. The Full Moon Party on the 28th was mental. I found myself with the usual suspects dancing on tables on the beach, raving hands fully erected.
The New Years Eve beach party was affected by some severe storms, the rainfall and wind managing to cancel boat services from neighbouring islands Koh Samui and Koh Tao. But the party continued. New Years was spent with back packer friends, beautiful women and happy randoms.
By 1st January I was dead emotionally, mentally and physically. The human body can only party for so long and my new found party lifestyle had wrecked me. Full power for too long. It’s been too much, I needed to get out of there. Koh Tao promises a more relaxed time. The scuba diving certificate capital of the world. Anyone that wants to learn to scuba dive or snorkel head to this tiny and quite beautiful island three hours north of Koh Phangan. Detox needed but there’s also a good party scene. We’ll see. I’ll give snorkeling a go. I might even learn to love fish or something. Good bye Haad Rin. I’m happy as well as disgusted with myself for experiencing you and will never ever come back.