I Escaped the Jungle and Ended Up on the Moon
165 kilometers per hour. That was the speed at which my hired minivan hurled me from Koh Lanta to the ferry terminal for Koh Phangan. For my American friends, that is a little over 100 mph. We didn’t just hit this speed once, we averaged this speed for nearly three hours. Of course, it wouldn’t have been Thailand unless the van was overloaded, and I was sitting in the front seat. Needless to say I made it to Koh Phangan a little shaken but okay.
Koh Phangan is island off the east side of Southern Thailand. It has become famous for its Full Moon Party. Each and every full moon some twenty thousand or so backpackers descend on the beach of Haad Rind for an alcohol and drug infested three to five day binger. The actual Full Moon party is only one night but the proceeding and following two days are big party nights as well.
The full moon fell on the 12th, and in anticipation, I arrived on the 11th of June – the night of the jungle party. Upon checking into my private bungalow on the beach, I reached out to my cousin Ashley’s friend, Tony. Like me, Tony has been traveling for three or so months. We have been communicating via Facebook, wondering if our paths would ever cross. Finally they did; the night of the Jungle Party.
Luckily for me, Tony was staying at the Ringside hostel, the predominant party hostel in Koh Phangan. I went there to meet him and join in on the festivities. The pre-game at Ringside was a blast, but getting there was even more interesting.
It is frustrating but cab drivers really try to rip you off during the Full Moon. Being that I am cheap, I refused to pay the ridiculous prices they were asking so I decided to walk the distance to the hostel. Halfway to the hostel some random German guy on the motorbike pulled up beside me and asked me where I was going and if I wanted a ride. I told him Ringside and in a moment of carelessness, I got on the back of his motorbike (not a scooter). What entailed was a wild ride through the island. Since I had just arrived to the island, I really didn’t really know where I was going and ended up just more lost. But the ride was fun so I guess it was worth it. In the end, I ended up taking a cab to Ringside where I finally meant Tony.
After two hours or so pre-gaming, Tony and I made our way to the Jungle Party. Fittingly, the Jungle Party is in the middle of the jungle. Out of what seemed a row of endless forest emerged a makeshift dance club complete with beautiful lights and a complete spectrum of colors.
The jungle party was okay. The setup and atmosphere were great, but the music was dreadful. Deep House is good but only in moderation; not for hours on hand. The highlight of the night was meeting two Danish girls at the hostel that joined me to watch Thai boxing. Thai boxing is a sport similar to US boxing, but they can kick. After the boxing match, I decided to take a walk around the perimeter of the party. What I saw was an endless barrage of people falling down too drunk to walk, people vomiting, people passed out, people crying, and people fighting. It amazes me what some people will do to themselves with alcohol. Is it immoral to take photos – too bad I did.
The next day was spent mostly recovering, laying by the beach, and eating all in preparation of the night’s Full Moon Party. While at my bungalow, I meant two cute Canadians staying in the bungalow next me. The only reason I meant them is because they were blasting country music. Hearing it while sitting on my porch, I had no choice but to introduce myself. Turns out we got along well, and they decided to join me for another pre-game at Ringside. But first we each had two buckets at Becks Bar; a bar halfway to Ringside.
The festivities at Ringside were a blast mostly because of the American DJ who dropped some good old 1990’s hits infused with some electronic dance here and there. Ringside also offered us body paint. Apparently it is a big deal to paint yourself prior to the Full Moon party. This is where I meant these two Irish girls. Make sure you look at the pictures below. They were true freaks and for simplicity let’s call them thing one and thing two. Thing one and thing two were covered in the most ridiculous painting out of anyone in the hostel. Because they were so intriguing, I had them paint me. Now there was a thing three, me.
Parts of their artwork were just too much, and I had to go to the restroom to dilute their artistic affects. Afterwards, I had the two Danish girls (who were also staying at Ringside) do some touchups. Soon I was ready to go!
Me, Tony, the Canadians, and the Danish girls took a taxi to Haad Rind; the infamous Full Moon beach. I need to take a step back. When I say taxi, I actually mean a pickup truck with the bed covered. Typically they are overloaded, and the only place to hold on is a small bar that runs along the roof. Alternatively you can ride on the bumper or the roof. I rode on the bumper on the way back from the Jungle Party while Tony took to the roof.
Once I landed on the beach, I immediately lost Tony and the Canadians and spent the entire evening dancing with Ellie, one of the Danish girls. Throughout the night I was offered to buy several types of drugs. I didn’t, but the funny thing is that while traveling I have realized that I have mostly lived a pretty sheltered life. Had I purchased MDMA or Ecstasy, I don’t think I would have even know how to consume them. Plus I didn’t even know what MDMA was, I had to look it up.
After dancing, Ellie and I walked around the beach. Similar to the Jungle Party I witnessed a whole consortium of individuals doing questionable acts to mostly themselves. I also noticed that along the edges of the beach they had areas roped off for sleeping areas. They were staffed by security so people could safety take a nap if they felt too tired to go all night. That’s nice…. I also took this opportunity to purchase and subsequently drink a red bull bucket with vodka. It was an RBV on steroids.
Despite my RBV from hell, I was too tried to make it all night. Old man Bret left at 4:30 am. The goal was to make it to sunrise, in fact many people did. Below is a picture my friend took at probably at 6 am. Looks like I missed out….
The Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan was unlike any party I have experienced in my life. Cancun and Mexico has nothing on Thailand. Cancun is over priced and entry to the clubs cost hundreds of dollars. The Full Moon cost me me $3 USD, plus my $4 USD bucket. I will be back. For certain.