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Day One

At the last minute Fletch and I decided to join Summer and her three friends who are visiting from the US for the Full Moon Party, October 2014! As we were walking out the door we also convinced Kyle to come with us, so our group ended up being seven total. On the day of the full moon we took the afternoon Lomprayah south to Koh Pha Ngan, land of debauchery.

I love seeing the look on local's faces when you tell them you're going to the Full Moon Party. It's the same look they would give you if you told them you were going to eat nothing but jellied fish for the rest of your life. Why? Why would you do that? For some reason being a local here suddenly means that you are too good for hedonistic tourist crap like the Full Moon Party. We watched the movie The Beach last night and it was the first time I'd seen it since living here. I was struck by just how similar the cult that lives on the beach is to the community of expats who lives here on Koh Tao. They think they've found the best version of paradise and everyone else's versions are inferior. Koh Tao is the Beach. Our trip to Koh Pha Ngan was met with the same reaction of disgust as Leonardo DiCaprio's was when he left with Sal to get supplies.

Ok so perhaps the Full Moon Party has evolved from what used to be groups of backpacking hippies gathering on a paradise beach once a month to smoke some green and celebrate the full moon into an out of control beach rave, but it's still good fun. If you are a traveler and have never been to the Full Moon Party then I would highly recommend it. It may not be the magical ritual that it once was, but it is still a right of passage for any backpacker.

We arrived the day of the main event and rented a couple of bikes which proceeded to sit at our hotel for the next couple of days. Luckily the cost of renting a bike per day is about the same as a taxi ride. We stayed in the room that Summer's friends had booked, which had one full sized bed and a little twin. Three of us slept in each bed and Kyle claimed a corner on the floor, although we hardly slept. You don't go to the Full Moon to sleep.

It took a while to get everyone organized and ready to head out for the night, but by the time we were ready to hit the beach and find Eden it was already pitch black. We didn't even have to walk as far as the beach before we were approached with yells of Taxi boat! and herded by a little Thai guy to the longtail that would transport us to Eden. If you have never been to a full Moon Party, then know that it must begin with a trip to Eden. The taxi boat drivers all know why you want to go there too. They ask how long they should wait for you. Sometimes they even ask what you are looking for and take you directly to it.

And so started our night of partying under the full moon, and this time we actually made it to the Full Moon Party. If you remember from last year, we partied ourselves out at the pre-parties the two nights leading up to the full moon and then spent the majority of the night of the full moon chilling at our favorite massage parlor and at Rasta Bar. This time we made it to the beach and boy was it a spectacle.

Every bar along the way is thumping beats, fire dancers pull out their best tricks, the entire beach is lit up like a Christmas tree, masses of people dressed in neon sway in trance to the music.

You wander and drink and dance and rave. If you overheat you take a stroll through the water. If you reach your limit you pass out on the sand. Time ceases to exist.

The streets are lined with vendors selling buckets full of alcohol for next to nothing. Laughing gas and hookah are as easy to find as beer. Everyone is happy and turning left and right to make new friends that they won't remember the next day.

You dance along the beach in this strange, mystical paradise so far away from home. Nothing matters except for right here, and right now, because everything that could be calling you back to reality is hundreds of miles away. (Or at least back on Koh Tao). Finally the sky begins to turn purple and the sun sends everyone home to bed, everyone who isn't already passed out in the sand. Haad Rin under the light of the full moon is a nuclear explosion of music and partying. Haad Rin during the day becomes a ghost town.

Day Two

We woke up around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, groggy and disheveled, having merely collapsed onto whatever space of bed was empty a few hours ago. Summer decided we should eat at a place call The Sanctuary, a restaurant she had visited during her yoga retreat which was one bay over from Eden. We hardly had to walk down the street from our hotel before a lady yelling Taxi boat! herded us back to the beach and to onto a longtail. The longtail dropped us off on the beach and we walked a few meters to the only restaurant, or business for that matter, that was visible in the little bay.

At that point I was pretty much brain dead from the previous night's activities. I ordered a tom yum soup thinking the spice would wake me up. It felt like hours before our food actually arrived, time we passed digging our toes in the cool sand and staring at a topless chic on the opposite end of the beach posing for photos. We also watched as a very old and grizzly bear-resembling dog slowly waddled the beach and pooped on different rocks. He later made his way over to our table. Turned out he had a very soft head. By the time our food arrived it was already dusk. The restaurant was obviously catering to all the westerners over at the yoga retreat as my tom yum soup was very bland.

After dinner we hiked a trail through the jungle and the darkness over to Eden to get milkshakes. Eden is a wonderful place. It is the sort of place that comes to mind when you would imagine the perfect place to sit and smoke hookah. One large wooden deck sits atop a cliff overlooking the ocean. The bar sits at one end, and along the perimeter of the other three edges, the deck raises up a step where low coffee tables are scattered around, surrounded by cushions and hammocks. The cushions have a triangular pillow at one end to form a back rest. The ceiling is covered with dozens of tapestries. Chill reggae music plays at the perfect level, just loud enough to get lost in but quiet enough to have a conversation over. It doesn't matter if every table is full or if you have the place to yourself, the second everyone splatters across the floor around their table, the rest of the bar disappears and you are in your own little bubble. If you seem in too much of a hurry, the servers who are happy and accommodating remind you to relax and settle in. We all got lost in our little bubble and before we knew it several happy, whimsical hours had passed.

After such a carefree couple of hours, it only seemed appropriate to go get massages. It took going to a couple places to find one that had enough room for seven people. We all agreed afterwards that it was the worst massage any of us had ever had. Granted it was still a massage, so that is like saying I just ate the worst ice cream I've ever had, but it was pretty bad. My lady seemed like she was in a huge hurry, rubbing her hands up and down across my body as fast as she could, never mind isolating any muscles. It was as if the faster her hands moved, the more quickly she'd be finished. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think that's the way time works.

Day Three

Summer and Kyle had to leave to get back to work but I hadn't gotten any calls for jobs so Fletch and I decided to stay one more day with the three girls. We spent the morning at the pool, soaking in the sun and replenishing our dose of vitamin D after turning into night animals.

Everyone else had woken up early and eaten already so Fletch and I went down the street to find something for breakfast. We stopped at the first place that was open and ordered what we thought would be a good variety: yogurt with muesli, mango shakes, one cheese omelet, and one Spanish omelet. I don't know what a real Spanish omelette is supposed to be like, or even if there is such a thing, or why they make such a thing in Thailand, but there is a little cafe on Koh Tao that we go to sometimes that has really good Spanish omelets. It is essentially a slice of pie made out of potatoes. The Spanish omelette we got on Koh Pha Ngan came out looking exactly like the cheese omelet, only with some sliced potatoes and onions instead of cheese. Oh well, it was still hitting the spot.

We had to hurry to be back at the room at a certain time because we were swapping out rooms. The room that the girls had booked had somehow gotten canceled the day we were supposed to check in, and so the hotel had thrown us in their only room they had available. Now that the Full Moon party crowd was trickling away we could finally have the room they were originally supposed to get . It had about the same amount of bed space, but was much nicer inside and had a kick-ass view of both sides of Haad Rin.

The girls wanted to exchange money and do some shopping, neither of which Fletch or I had much interest in, so we parted ways for a few hours and the two of us walked to the very end of Sunrise Beach to a little shack called Mellow Mountain and got ourselves some milkshakes. While we were sitting there we met a British guy and and watched a very fat Thai man wearing nothing but a speedo pacing back and forth across the place.

We went to meet back up with the girls but their phones were turned off, so we went back to the room until they called us and told us to meet them at a bar back on Sunrise Beach called Moon Bar. By the time we caught up with them they were just finishing eating, so searching for something to do, we went into the bar to order some balloons. Sadly they were all 'finished' though. Thai people always say sorry, finished when something is out of stock. We tried to order some fresh coconuts but those were also finished.

The girls wanted to watch the sun set over the beach so we raced back to the room where we would have a good view. About halfway back to the room though, we realized it would probably be quicker to go to the beach and ended up hiking up a random trail where we were just able to make out a stunning sunset through the trees. By the time we made it back to the room the sky was still painted in pinks and purples and from the staircase leading up to our floor we had a perfect view of the sunset to the west, and a thunderstorm brewing with incredible lightning shows to the south. We sat there ogling for quite some time.

Everyone ended up being pretty exhausted so two of the girls promptly passed out. The remaining three of us decided to go out for dinner and made our way to the restaurant where Lazy Boy lives. Lazy Boy is a big orange tabby cat who lives at a restaurant with bamboo chairs. We had stopped to pet him at some point during our earlier party wanderings and the guy who was working at the restaurant had told us his name and excitedly pulled out his phone to show us all of his pictures of Lazy Boy. We had remembered eating there the previous year too and they had had really good food. So we sat down and proceeded to get happily tipsy on coconut shakes with Malibu. At some point I got up to up to go find Lazy Boy and one of the Thai guys working there ran over to see what I needed, which is really quite odd for here. Servers don't work for tips and so really don't do a whole lot besides take your order and deliver your food. But this guy was eager to see what he could do to help and tried giving me an ash tray. I told him I was looking for the cat and he gave me a confused look. I tried saying meow and he looked at the floor trying to remember if meow meant anything in English. I finally laughed and said never mind. Several minutes later he returned to our table, happily presenting us with Lazy Boy. Thailand has to be the only place in the world where you can play with cats and dogs at a dinner table in a public restaurant and no one gives you a second glance. 

After dinner, the outrageous colors and patterns bursting from the windows of the clothing store across the street managed to lure us in. I'm not big on shopping but it was a little hard to ignore the gaudy cowboy meets neon vibe exuding from this place. I ended up finding an awesome tshirt with a walrus on in.

We ended the night with a massage, and went back to the old place where we had made such good friends a year go. We keep up with them on Facebook, and so knew that they had moved on to other areas of Thailand, but we still wanted to return to the spot where we had enjoyed so much time.

When you walk into a massage parlor in Thailand, you usually walk into a large room with thick bed-sized cushions spaced evenly across a raised wooden floor along one wall. The curtains that separate each bed are usually drawn back, leaving the room open but they are there incase you want the privacy. Soft relaxing music plays in the background, relaxing unless it's flute music. My mom always made fun of the flute growing up so the sound of it always makes me laugh. A Thai lady with a soft smile leads you to a cushion and politely holds up a sorong as a curtain while you remove your clothes. Then you lie stomach down, head to one side and relax into heavenly bliss for an hour.

My lady led me to the end of the row of cushions which were all occupied and to a little cot at the end of the row. The massage was lovely except that every time my lady moved I had to listen to the groans of the springs in the cot under my ear. About ten minutes in I was wondering if I should ask her to stop and wait until another bed was open when she asked my to sit up please and led me to one of the springless cushions. 

About halfway through the massage the flute music got stuck playing the same minute on repeat over and over and over again. 

And yet the massage was so amazing that it is probably one of the best I've had here. It was a perfect way to end our second trip to Koh Pha Ngan.