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We wanted to celebrate our 10 year anniversary with a holiday we'd never forget - we reckon 6 months of travelling the world (from trekking on the Inca Trail and through the Amazon to riding an elephant in Thailand) should just about cover it!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Koh Phangan and the Full Moon Party

The next morning was New Year's Eve and to our horror we awoke to grey skies and torrential rain.
The first thing we did was find an internet cafe and book our onward flights from Koh Samui back to Bangkok, such was our desire to avoid another journey like the one we'd endured the previous day.
The weather failed to improve as the day went on and our image of New Years Eve spent partying on the beach under the stars was replaced with images of us stomping about in the rain with mascara-streaked faces, frizzy hair and flip-flops sinking into wet sand.
As we were getting ready we applied industrial-strength make-up and even put our shower caps in our pockets in an attempt to ward off the inevitable bad hair moments later on.
We piled into the back of a pick-up truck and set off for Haad Rin beach in the south of the island, over a series of treacherous hills and pot-holes in the badly-maintained roads. We knew by the buzz that we'd arrived, as hundreds of revellers thronged the streets clutching their "buckets". Buckets are plastic buckets (duh) filled with a whole bottle of Samsung whisky, vodka and redbull. Two of these and you can forget the rest of the night.Literally. Wisely, we declined the offer of buckets from all angles on the stalls in the street and headed to a restaurant for some dinner.
Having lined our stomachs with suitably stodgy fodder, we headed down to the beach for the main event, the Full Moon Party. These parties have been running since the Eighties when a party was thrown on the beach to celebrate someone's birthday. It was so successful that they have continued regularly ever since, and have now been accompanied by the Half Moon Party and the Black Moon Party. Basically, any excuse for a party.
As we approached the beach along with several thousand other holidaymakers and travellers, most of whom were either English or Australian, the pumping bass of the music got louder and louder, and the average age of the partygoers got younger and younger.
Down on the beach the party was in full swing, with buckets being sloshed about, people dancing maniacally on every available surface.Several beats from various different soundsystems clashed as the many beach bars vyed for people's attention.
We stocked up on vodka redbulls from one of the many bars on the beach and wandered up and down the beach checking out the music and the crowd.
We found a bar at the end of the beach called Magic Mountain which suited our musical tastes the best and started partying in earnest. When the clock struck midnight fireworks were set off all along ther beach, fire dancers gyrated and skipped over a flame-covered rope and everyone kissed each other Happy New Year. House and techno music blasted from the sound sytems and people danced or sat around chatting on mats scattered around on the balconies in the bar.
Already some people were worse for wear, bodies littered the beach and people were jumping around fully-clothed in the sea. A couple of civilian caners were slogging it out in the unattended Thai Boxing ring, much to the amusement of the onlookers.They weren't so much punch drunk, as just drunk.The atmosphere was fun, laced with an edge of danger. With 30,000+ people on the beach, most of whom had had a skinful, it was inevitable that there would be a few casualties and we heard that already this year there had been several fatal motorcycle accidents, drownings and falls from balconies as a result of the Full Moon parties. Early-ish into the party, one guy fell from the balcony at the bar where we were dancing and seriously hurt himself, the bone sticking awkwardly out of his leg and his big toe missing. There were 2 such accidents that night, which was hardly surprising given the rate at which people were knocking back the buckets.
Liam, Louise and I stayed until 6.30am, leaving Kirsten and Hannah (who we'd met on the train from Bangkok, along with her friend James) to carry on at the afterparty.
As we made our way down the beach to get a taxi home we had to climb over the many bodies strewn along the beach in various states - most of them were still clutching a half-drunk bucket and several were being sniffed by the many curious stray dogs roaming the beach. Surveying the fallout, it looked like a scene of devastation one might expect following a major natural disaster, not a New Year' Eve party.
Obviously we couldn't resist taking a few snaps of the many corpses, Louise spooning one young lad who was covered in drink and sand. Sounds sick? Wait till you see the pics...hilarious. Unfortunately the flash going off woke up some of our victims - they opened one eye sleepily and looked more than a little shocked to see 3 30-somethings standing over them, cracking up and taking pics of their sorry state.
The sun was now up and we looked around at the carnage surrounding us...people sat looking misty-eyed out to sea, where battered blokes stood relieving themselves. Some of the hardcore posse were still raving as if their lives depended on it, some people were asleep on the huge speakers of the soundsystem, vibrating as they snored away in a drunken stupor. Some were stumbling down the beach desperately trying to remember what the name of their guesthouse was..or maybe what their name was, for that matter. It looked like a scene from the video to Michael Jackson's Thriller, when all the ghouls are lurching about in that graveyard.
It had been a funny night, we agreed - enjoyable on the one hand, but also a bit sad - how Westerners have come to these stunning shores and turned them into..what? Well, it was all a bit tacky. A bit like Southend or Blackpool, only with a much better view. They'll be selling "Kiss me quick" hats next.Maybe we're just getting old - we had been amongst the oldest at the party after all.
Back at the haven of the villa we slept like babies, grateful that we'd stayed off those buckets and had all made it back safely...

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