If you travel to Thailand, you’ll undoubtedly be asked the following two questions again and again from others who have either read about the country, or traveled there themselves: Did you ride an elephant? and Did you go to a Full Moon Party?
Because I was spending an extended amount of time in the country, I thought I better do both. If you’ve been following this blog, you know I rode the largest elephant I could find. And now, here is proof of my attendance, among thousands of others, at the April 2012 Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, just south of Koh Tao (Turtle Island).
Dayn, Nicole and I weren’t sure what to expect. We had heard plenty of horror stories, including the fact that people die at Full Moon Parties every year. But we also heard it was a must do – at least once.
We took a taxi to the party on Haad Rin, a crescent-shaped beach on the southern tip of the island, and decided we better start with some glow-in-the-dark body paint.
Before we even entered the official party, tables with buckets of booze lined the pathway – any liquor, any mixer – with a $6 price tag.
Once inside, we went to a bar on the hill, overlooking the crowded beach, and noticed “special” shakes for sale, with an array of ingredients to choose from. Mushrooms? Sure. Weed? Why not? We stayed clear of everything besides whiskey.
When darkness hit, the fire shows began all along the beach. People who had presumably drank a few too many shakes sat staring in amusement. The others were shaking to one of the five bands staged all along the long beach.
The crowd seemingly appeared out of nowhere. We heard an estimated 10,000 people attend this party on any given month, and April’s full moon happened to be the weekend preceding Songkran, Thailand’s New Year and their biggest holiday, which means traveler numbers were at their highest.
We befriended Johnny, of Johnny’s buckets, because he offered Dayn a deal – buy four, get one free. He made a tally marks with highlighters on Dayn’s hand, and he certainly delivered his end of the bargain not so long later when we were ready for lucky number five. I think Johnny took it upon himself to ensure everyone in attendance was drunk.
It was somewhere after bucket number three that we found a large sand slide, and had to try it out. Nicole and I climbed to the top, flew down, and then landed, hard, on top of each other at the bottom. We didn’t notice beforehand the two foot drop from the bottom of the slide to the ground. It’s a good thing whiskey makes you stronger.
And, in all of this madness, we still managed to meet up with some teacher friends of mine and spend the rest of the night dancing to the beat of our own drums.
All in all I would say the lack of any serious mishaps or deaths made this party a success. But, as many veterans will say, once is definitely enough.