Disclaimer: This may not be 100% truth. Names may have been changed. Events may have been forgotten or misremembered. 

Night One - The Pool Party

The high speed catamaran over to Koh Pha Ngan from Koh Tao was only an hour, and once off the boat we wasted to time in going on a very important mission: find the rum. We found our hotel, dropped off our stuff, walked to the sunrise side of Haad Rin (we decided to stay on the sunset side to avoid too much noise if we actually did desire sleep at some point), and found a longtail to take us to Eden.

We were looking for a very special rum, brewed beneath the full moon and thus perfect on such nights and Eden was our place. Some poking about in Koh Tao had led us to this revelation. Eden was on a private beach only accessible from boat. It was dark and threatening to rain when we found our longtail and negotiated a price. Our captain pushed us out into the water, revved up an engine that could have powered the high speed catamaran, and off we went in the dead of night over ever growing waves at rocket speeds. I swear we were airborne for at least half of the trip. It was like riding a roller coaster, a very wet thrilling roller coaster. The ride alone was well worth every baht. That moment was the most sober we were the entire trip, and yet may have offered the greatest thrills.

Eventually we reached our beach. Even once the boat dropped us off on the beach, there was a rickety wooden pathway leading up the side of the mountain. We followed this pathway to the end to find a restaurant, and not the kind of music that would have told us that this was Eden. The man at the entry way guessed our quest right away. All he had to say was ‘Eden?’ We nodded, he pointed back down the path and to the left. Halfway back down the path, walk across a particular large rock, and pick up the pathway again on the other side, up and up and up, be carful of every step because one misstep and you’re in for a nasty fall between the cracks. Across a bridge, a little further, and that’s the music we were looking for. Eden.

Ladies and gentlemen, Eden is everything you ever wanted it to be. It is a bar straight out of a flower child’s wet dreams. Anything you ever desired is available from the bartender. We walked in, high off the anticipation and adventure getting there, found a corner with a table and some cushions on the floor, and looked over to see a girl ever so lovingly petting the dog who lived there. Yep, we were in the right place. A talk with the bartender and a couple of drinks later and we left with what we had come for.

The longtail ride back with “Captain Jack Sparrow” (as he liked to call himself) was even better then the ride getting there. The storm was growing, the waves were threatening to collapse us, and halfway there the heavens broke open and started drenching us in buckets of rain. All we could do was laugh, because life was brilliant at that moment.

And so the first night of debauchery began.

As I have said before, Koh Pha Ngan is an island dedicated to partying. There is a party for every phase of the moon, the biggest and most glorious of these parties being the Full Moon, for which people migrate from all over Asia to be a part of. The nights leading up to the full moon contain all the pre-parties. We were there for three nights, though I can’t really recall a break between one and the next, I just know we went to three parties. The Pool Party, the Jungle Party, and the climax of them all: the Full Moon Party. When I say party, I mean rave, not your drunken frat house party, but beats that penetrate your soul, neon lights galore, and millions of people high off of wanderlust.

So that first night we had ourselves some rum, and began the game of wandering around, finding convenience stores to stock up on three things we could never remember and always had to plan out strategically before hand. It went the same way every night, probably twenty times over the course of the night hours.
‘Guys we’re going to need water.’
‘Ok, let’s find a convenience store.’
‘Wait, let’s make a list of what we need.’
‘We’ll need water, electrolytes, and Chupa Chups.’
I couldn’t even tell you how many times we had that conversation. And then we’d start going on scavenger hunts for kitties and puppies. The Thai people are crazy about their pets. Everyone has at least one pet, and that pet wanders around freely as it likes, so the island, all the islands are full of kitties and puppies wandering around everywhere. The zig zags we made all across Haad Rin chasing after fluffy animals must have been impressive.

At some point we found ourselves down one particularly creepy dark alley, I forget if we were convenience store hunting, or puppy chasing at that point, but we witnessed five separate prostitute deals go down, all in just a couple minutes. It was not something you wanted to witness in the state of mind we were in. It was terrifying to say the least. I guess Thailand is pretty notorious for their prostitutes, but Koh Tao was fantastic in that you never, ever saw any of that. I forgot it was a thing until we were standing there in that dark alley, watching scantily clad girls lead away disgusting perverts. It was distressing to say the least. One minute you’re petting a fluffy pomeranian puppy, and the next you’re witnessing the sex trade first hand. There were some dark places in Koh Pha Ngan under the cover of night.

Haad Rin was bustling with taxi and tuk tuk drivers advertising for the Pool Party. We kept turning them down, not wanting to commit to the drive and the cab fare, but at some point we found a - I don’t know what you call them but it’s like a flat bed truck with benches running along the sides and sometimes a cover - that said ‘Free Taxi to Poo Party.’ Ecstatic, we jumped aboard and off we went, wondering if this was actually the pool party of if there was really a separate ‘poo party.’ Surely that wasn’t a thing. Around a few twists and turns we rode until we were dropped off. We walked through the entrance gate to find a massive pool, crowded person to person with hundreds, maybe thousands of people. It was 2am at this point. It rained on and off the entire time we partied there but when you’re already in the pool and soaking wet, what’s a little rain? In fact it felt amazing. We finally got kicked out at 5am. Upon jumping out of the pool we instantly froze, and so all four of us sought shelter in the bathroom. It’s always warm in there, and at that point we weren’t thinking clearly to question that decision. After several minutes, or maybe it was a long while, we finally decided to brave the trek home, stumbled out of the bathroom to the amusement of several girls watching, and shivered and bounced our way home, probably making some convenience store stops and loving some puppies along the way.

The party didn’t stop once we got back until well after sunrise. At some point we all crashed and slept restlessly for a few hours before getting up and starting round two.

Night Two - The Jungle Experience

The second night went pretty much the exact same way, in fact in the beginning, when we started the convenience store runs and the puppy visits it felt just like deja vu, except instead of a pool party, we were transported way up the mountains and through the jungles on a road that would make you sick even if you were sober, to the Jungle Party. At first look it was like stumbling into… damn I don’t even know what. Imagine a rave in the jungle though. Imagine being dropped off someplace dark, with the tremors of a beat in the distance, and then walking a ways down a pathway, all the while the jungle is getting thicker and thicker, until you emerge into a clearing vibrating with music and dancing with lights, and thousands of happy people jumping about to that penetrating beat, all in the dead of the night. That was the Jungle Party. Pure eye candy. Unfortunately though we got rained out after a couple hours. The rain started and everyone ran for shelter, which was very limited; several covered benches and that was all. The second it started lightening up everyone made a mad dash for the taxis (which were really those truck things with benches). It was a stressful hassle getting out of there, with taxi drivers trying to collect fare from people who were out of their right minds. Fights nearly broke out a couple times, one guy got slapped and kicked out of our vehicle, and then the ride down was a nightmare, watching everyone’s faces turn green as they tried not to spew over the people packed like sardines all around them.

That second night ended much like the first, moving the party back to our room until we all passed out sometime a while after sunrise. A few fitful hours of sleep, and then wake up in time to see an hour of sunlight before the full moon revealed herself in all her glory.

Night Three - The Full Moon Party

I’d love to end this story here with “And then there was an epic full moon party, the most epic party of my life, which I sadly don’t remember anything from.” That is the truth. But that is also the easy way out. So I will scour my brain for anything that remains…

The view from our hotel room was a perfect shot of Koh Samui an hour boat ride away. All day, boats of every kind taxied in endless numbers of people. I’m pretty sure no one was left in the rest of Thailand.

The hour left of daylight after we woke up gave us just enough time to grab food (we were living on one meal a day for the past four days straight at this point) and shop for some neon attire and body paint, head back to the room to suit up, and get the party started. Get the party started!!! Time for debouchery under the light of the full moon. The anticipation was almost better than the real deal. But not by a long shot. Three time’s the charm.

What better way to start the night out than with a massage? We had though the same thing the previous night at some point and had found this place with the funniest girls you ever met. Forget the relaxing element, this massage was for the entertainment. Thailand is a magical place in that you can get a superb hour long oil massage for less than the equivalent of ten dollars. As such, massage parlors are extremely popular and more common than coffee shops in the US. So we started walking around, trying to figure out where our place was where we’d made friends the previous night, probably stopping at a convenience store along the way, and finally stumbled into the right place. Tonight they were super busy and made us wait on the bench outside while they finished up with their current customers, and thus, this picture, the picture that sums up an entire island experience, was born:

They knew we were anything but sober, and used our inebriation to their entertainment. The Thai lady on the left was the mother of the girl on the right and liked to growl, a frightening amount.

Our next stop after that hour of bliss and fun was the Rasta Bar. The Rasta Bar, was a bar we had discovered one of the previous nights, and just had an overall good vibe, with upbeat rasta music, and cushions surrounding low tables while you smoked shisha, maybe even something else that was available on the down low. No crazy drunk people wanting to get into fights, just loving, friendly hippies. Over the course of those three nights we spent a lot of time there; it was a perfect spot to chill in between partying and making convenience store runs. The other perk was that they had a bunny out front. This bunny was pure white with blood red eyes and was the softest thing you’ve ever laid a finger on. By this point, we knew all the bartenders fairly well, and asked if we could please bring the bunny inside, out of his cage to play with. They just laughed and said no since it was the full moon. Apparently we had a werebunny on our hands.

At some point we decided to go back to Eden. They were having a Full Moon party of their own and we though it would be a good warm up to the actual full moon party. Plus we had a craving for some of their famous milkshakes. The beach we would have to catch the longtail from was the beach that the Full Moon party was on. That was the first we saw of it, tens of thousand of people, pulsing to the beat, decked out it glowing body paint, partying, dancing, being entertained by jugglers and fire dancers, in the distance fireworks going off, it’s a sight you’d have to see to believe. We made our way through the throngs of people, to the shoreline where everyone was trying to use the ocean as a toilet, only to get knocked over by waves. We found a longtail advertising for Eden and hopped aboard. After our driver was content with the number of people aboard his vessel, we were off. This ride was much like the first, only not nearly as fast, and shared with a group of happy strangers. At some point in the middle of the bay someone reminded us all to look up at the full moon, which we did, and there she was, glowing yellow, smiling down on the frenzy caused by her presence. There is no sight more beautiful or mysterious then the full moon shining down on a completely foreign world.

Eden was the party we were looking for. Everyone was happy. People were dancing. The atmosphere wasn’t overwhelming. We stayed there a good long while just soaking in the vibes before making our way back. We landed back on the beach where the Full Moon Party was in full swing but decided a trip back to our room to collect ourselves was in order before succumbing to the main event. It was there that we lost half our group. Shawna wasn’t feeling well, (and who’s to blame her after three nights of partying, four meals, and only a few hours of sleep. It’s amazing that no one crashed sooner), so Kyle stayed to take care of her. Down to two, Fletch and I decided to go back to the Rasta Bar to chill for a while. The four of us agreed that we would all meet up for massages at 5am if Shawna started feeling better.

Back at the Rasta Bar we mostly just laid on the cushions and felt the bass vibrate up through the floorboards until 5am rolled around. At that point we made our way back to our favorite massage ladies, to watch the greatest assortment of drunk people stumble in for massages. One guy was obviously way too far gone, asked for a Thai massage, laid down on an empty bed to wait, and was passed out not even a minute later. He was there for probably two hours before our new friends who ran the place asked Fletch to please wake him up and kick him out. Another bloke, and Irishman, stumbled in, slightly more aware, and also asked for a Thai massage. Seeing as he was still comprehending his surroundings, Fletch warned him that a massage was the last thing he wanted after that amount of alcohol. He decided not to listen to the advice and an hour later we heard him crying out from his room, ‘Why am I bein’ punished?!’ Moments later he stumbled out, looking to burst into tears at any moment and muttered ‘I just want to go home.’

The sun rose as it was finally our turn for massages, and we watched, nearly in tears we were laughing so hard, at the crowds of people out front stumbling their way home. We finally made our own way home and passed out for a couple of hours before it was time to catch our ferry back.

They say the Full Moon Party is a rite of passage for every backpacker, traveler, adventurer.