The Dark Side of the Moon
It was half-past eight and the sun was smouldering, as it was midday. I sat on a wooden bench and to avoid the public displays of drunken affection, I looked at men lined up at the shore urinating in the sea. They stood hand in hand, as if they were trying to prove their manhood by competing to see who can piss the furthest. While I couldn’t stop staring at the sword fight, Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” was playing for the fortieth time that night at the bar behind me, and the only trance song Thailand seemed to know was blasting from the speakers to my right. Smack dab in the middle of a horrible mash up, I took another sip of the deadly blend of cheap liquor in my bucket and shook my head with disbelief as I asked myself what the hell was I doing there.
I had no desire to attend the famed Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. In fact, I had initially planned to go straight to Koh Tao to avoid the popular party island altogether. The massive beach rave seemed to entirely epitomise what I was trying to escape from in New York – untamed madness and too much booze. Don’t get me wrong – if there is anyone who loves to party until the sunrise, it’s most certainly me. However, I wouldn’t call neon-coloured shirts or a beach crammed with 20 000 drunken fist-pumping bros my cup of tea.
As we all know though, we meet people along our travels and our plans often change. My plans tend to change on an hourly basis – having nowhere to be and everywhere to go is unbelievably liberating. So before I knew it, I was in a van, on my way to a bus, to a slow-boat, to another van, then another bus, and a ferry over to Koh Phangan. After all, there is no route a couple of over-the-counter Thai valiums can’t overcome.
Needless to say, I was delusional and broken once we finally got on that ferry. But there was no “Thai-time” left to waste. I began slinging Changs to ease all pain. Soon enough I was on the road to recovery, holding a bottle of the infamous Sang Som in my hand, eager to dance.
But let’s get something straight; the Full Moon Party is no Burning Man. Partygoers are not taking their clothes off and doing drugs on the beach for the “sake of enlightenment”. What they do is throw themselves headfirst into one the craziest parties on earth without the faintest idea of where the night will take them.
You arrive at Haad Rin Beach and there are men trying to talk to you in every accent you can imagine. It sounds like paradise for about 15 minutes, until you realise that underneath the seductive foreign accents they actually sound like drunken college frat boys.
I’m not sure whether it’s the lunar effect or the combination of Thai Red Bull and vodka, but all of a sudden the magical streets of Koh Phangan feel more like St. Louis, Missouri (which is apparently the most dangerous city in the US). If you look up “lunar effect”, the first three subcategories that show up are reproductive behaviour, birth rate and blood loss. Sounds about right. People are aggressive, and men feel that it’s totally appropriate to pull you towards them and onto their lap. Take only what you feel comfortable with losing by the end of the night, including your dignity.
If you don’t want to lose your freedom or 40 000 Baht, then don’t buy drugs from that really nice Thai guy who offered you a bargain price. You’re at the biggest party in Thailand: everyone, including the police, wants to cash in. If you’re looking to save some money, take a few steps back from the beach and into the alleys. You’ll be getting two “buckets full of fun” for the price of one.
If you don’t want to lose your life, then don’t go swimming. If you don’t want to lose a friend, then don’t let them go swimming either. You will find people being resuscitated along the shore throughout the night. It’s not a pretty sight. Not only does the sea turn into a massive urinal, the tides are a lot stronger than they seem to someone who’s been gulping cheap alcohol and taking mystery drugs for the past nine hours.
The Full Moon Party is like a game of Russian roulette – you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into once you step onto Haad Rin beach. The chances of having an unforgettable night are just as likely as drinking your sorrows away for the next two days wishing you were never there. The possibilities are endless under a blazing moonlight.
Some have described the Full Moon Party as a massive train wreck, others as one of the best nights of their lives. And then there are those who have called it a “hedonistic right of passage”. Chances are you are not going to walk in on Ireland’s version of Michael Bublé (who in the words of Salt-N-Pepa, from seven to seven had you open like a Seven Eleven) in bed with another girl because apparently she liked rugby more than you did. But whether you decide to fuck it or go along and chug that bucket, be smart and be safe.
NOTE: If you wish to see the madness but don’t necessarily want to take part in it, head to Eden’s Garden Party instead. The entry is free and it’s only a 15-minute boat ride from Haad Rin beach.
Coverby Roberto Trombetta