Monday, December 30, 2013

Thailand (pt. 1/3 Full Moon Party): An Excursion Through South East Asia

In planning this trip to Southeast Asia we had made attending the world famous, Full Moon Party, a priority. We even organized activities throughout Vietnam specifically so that we could make it to the party in Thailand on time. 

The Full Moon Party was set for the 19th of October on the Thai island of Koh Phangan. We'd arrived in Thailand the day before but we had no idea how much farther we'd have to go to get there. 

We landed in hot, humid, Phuket late and we were exhausted. As we stepped out of the airport we were immediately bombarded by taxi drivers all interested in our fare. We haggled for a decent price for the ride but soon learned all of the hostels and hotels in our price range were booked out that night. We spent about an hour tracking down affordable accommodation and another hour driving there. We checked in to the hotel ready to drop and stumbled up to our room. 

Very visible mold dripped down the walls. There was no air conditioning but instead a ceiling fan with one wobbly blade. The bathroom was putrid and there was only one queen sized bed for the three of us. We dropped our stuff to look at a map and found the distance between where we were in Phuket and the party on Koh Phangan was significant. 

Thailand was already turning into a nightmare and at this stage, making it to the party looked impossible. Before bed the guys we talked options and eventually yet regretfully decided there was no way we could make it. We had come all this way and now we were going to miss the full moon party. We crammed onto the bed and went to sleep frustrated and defeated.

5am came quick that next morning and we all woke up with refreshed attitudes. We agreed that SINCE we'd come all this way, there was no way we weren't going to at least TRY to make it. We grabbed our packs and were out of there. 

We walked around for an hour or more looking for the bus depot with no luck. None of the people we'd talked to spoke any English which was our first real problem with the language barrier. Soon and seemingly out of nowhere a tuk tuk rolled up beside us asking if we needed a lift. Luckily they knew enough English to understand "bus depot" and took us straight there. We boarded the bus with no problems and began our 9 hour stretch closer to the pier. 

Upon boarding we were under the impression that the end of the line for the bus ride would drop us right at the pier where we could take a ferry out to the island. We were wrong. The bus dropped us off 70km shy of where we wanted to be. There were two German girls we had met on the bus who were also trying to get to the party. We talked it over with them and all agreed it would be cheaper if we all split the cost of a tuk tuk so that's what we did. We traded travel stories as an hour passed before we finally made it to the pier.

Purchasing our ferry tickets we arrived just in time to catch the last boat from that port out to the island. We boarded the ferry with an enormous sigh of relief. 

We had made it. 

After a 3 hour ferry ride we made landfall on Koh Phangan just as the sun had gone down. Since it was the off season we were able to find a really nice hotel on the island with relative ease. At the hotel we set our packs down and looked back on our journey so far with a laugh. The journey to Koh Panyang with all the obstacles we faced to get to there was a defining moment of the trip. We were ready to celebrate. 

Later that night we caught a taxi to the side of the island the party was on. We donned glow-in-the-dark body paint and hit the beach. There were around 40,000 people in attendance that night making it the largest party the three of us had ever been to. 

DJs and stages were set up playing different styles of music all along this stretch of beach. Scattered down the beach were silhouettes of inebriated people standing shin deep in the water peeing into the sea. Fire limbo and a flaming jump rope were set up as the brave but belligerent few took their chances and played with fire.

Taking my chances...

In all the chaos it didn't take long for John, Bango, and I to get seperated. We were well aware of the risk going out there so we'd agreed earlier that day we would just find our own ways back to the hotel that morning. 

It was a wild night and we were grateful we had the opportunity to be apart of it. Being able to say I've attended the world famous Thai Full Moon Party was totally worth the struggle to get there. We spent the next afternoon recovering before we had to say goodbye to Bango. He was only able to get a few weeks off from work so he returned to Melbourne solo as John and I checked out of the hotel headed to the Thai island of Koh Samui. 

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