Full Moon Potty
Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
58Trip End Jun 20, 2011
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Where I stayed
We arrived onto Koh Pha-Ngan after about an hour and a half and found the place we had reserved – the Sun Cliff Bungalows in Hat Rin. Was a really cool spot – a bungalow up on a hill with a veranda (complete with hammock) facing the ocean (Our room was built into the hill as well, using the rock face as one part of the back wall – loved it!). Perfect….close enough to get to the Full Moon Party easily but far enough away to not have to hear it once we were done. Travel days always seem to be quite tiring, so after chillin by the pool and hanging out on our veranda, we grabbed some dinner at a nearby resto that was showing a soccer game and headed back for an early night. That’s right, we’re party animals!
Monday was overcast and drizzling and we were both disappointed beyond words when we scrapped our planned run as a result…Jill not feeling very well also added to our excuse. We took a walk in the afternoon to check out both beaches on Hat Rin – the small, quiet one on our side of the peninsula and the big, busy one on the other side, where the full moon festivities take place
We booked an island tour on Tuesday so, tragically, we actually had to get up early…i.e. the time we’d have to wake up every day if we were actually working! We were accompanied in our taxi-van by 5 Australians – 3 sleep-deprived girls and 2 huge guys who were drinking vodka as they hopped on….at about 7:30 in the morning. They didn’t wanna lose their buzz from the previous night of partying. Awesome. Well at least we’re being driven to go have some breakfast somewhere, as I’m starving. We get seated at a table and our tour guide lays out the gargantuan, lumberjack breakfast-feast….2 slices of white toast each and a stick of butter
We start off the day with an elephant ride. We felt better about this one, as we were just walking through a dirt trail in the middle of a bunch of trees and brush. Our "driver" was in front riding bareback and Jill and I were sitting on this bench on top of the elephant’s back. It was pretty weird…being so high, swaying back and forth to the gait of the elephant, and just feeling like absolutely nothing on the back of this immense creature. We were both giggling throughout the 10-minute ride, especially when learning the common bond that I shared with our elephant…we’re both 40 years old! Must say, he looked pretty good for 40.
Next part of the tour is the snake show. We’re ushered into a little arena and are shown a short video on the tradition and art of snake fighting in Thailand. There are cages in the back where we see all the snakes…king cobras, pythons, and more. A lady begins the show with a bit of snake dancing. She has the snake draped around her neck and body, which is freaky enough but then to add in the “ewwww” factor, she inserts the entire head of the snake into her mouth and continues dancing around for at least a minute
We jumped back into the van after the snake show and were taken to see a Chinese Buddhist temple, which was cool but not too dissimilar from ones we’ve seen already. We then went on a short hike up to see a waterfall…some much-needed exercise, though nothing too heroic. We’ve seen so many waterfalls at this point that there’s a risk of being blasť about it, but this one was actually quite nice and worth the hike
After a stop-off for a Thai lunch (we were absolutely famished after that pitiful breakfast), we headed to a beach on the northwestern coast of the island to do some snorkeling. The snorkeling itself was average but as soon as we stepped foot on the sandy, chilled-out beach, we looked at each other and decided: “We gotta come out here to stay for a while”. It was such a dramatic difference to the overrun, loud, and party-crazed area of Hat Rin that we’re currently staying in. Yes….not complaining, as we fully intended on coming here for the Full Moon Party, but we don’t need to be around that scene 24/7. This scene at Mae Hat….a beautiful stretch of quiet beach with $7 massages on offer along the water….yes, this will do just fine, thank you…
A long day and after returning to our bungalow, we chilled out for a while before heading out to the local Indian restaurant – excellent, as is the norm at most places we’ve been to in Thailand. We decided to check out some Thai kickboxing (muay Thai) after dinner, though Jill was quite nervous about it. She’s the peaceful type and didn’t wanna see any bloodshed or anyone seriously hurt….how cute! Turned out that she was thoroughly entertained by the fights and I’m proud to report that no Thai fighters were seriously injured during the recording of this event
Feeling a bit spry after watching the fights, we decided to walk down to the main beach to scout out the scene in advance of the full moon shenanigans tomorrow night. We expect it to be a madhouse tomorrow night and want to get an idea beforehand of the cool places to hang out, who’s playing the best music, where our “let’s meet at this spot in case of an emergency” will be, and just generally to check out the scene. They’re expecting over 20,000 people on the beach tomorrow night and a good chunk of them seemed to partying pretty hard tonight as well! We wondered for a while whether we’re just old but then realized….if we were here on vacation for only a week, we’d probably be going all-out for that week as well. But when you’re travelling on a 9-month trip, you sorta have to pace yourself
Approaching our bungalow and looking forward to crashing out for the night, we hear lots of loud Russian singing, hoots, hollers, drum-playing, and general mayhem. As we get closer, to our utter dismay, we realize that yes indeed, it’s coming from the bungalow directly over our heads. We tried to ignore it for a while….after all, we’ve heard lots of partying over the past few days…but whatever these guys were drumming on, it may as well have been our heads. Not even earplugs are gonna drown out this noise. We debate what to do and then decide, well…..we have to go knock on their door and politely ask if they can lower the volume a bit…particularly the very talented and persistent drumming. So we’re standing outside at about 2AM knocking on their door and of course, with all of the noise in their bungalow, nobody hears our polite knocking. And then I think to myself…seriously….now I DO feel old. I may as well have been wearing slippers, a night robe, and a sleeping cap and told the vodka-fuelled whippersnappers that I’d call the cops if they didn’t pipe down. So I clumsily express these feelings to Jill (or maybe I just barked something that didn’t explain my feelings at all) and we both turned on our heels and went back to our place
Wednesday was the main event….full moon day. We took it easy all day…lounging by the pool, sitting on our balcony, listening to music and having some pre-game drinks. We remembered the name of the hotel with the beautiful beach on the north of the island, so Jill called them and booked us in for Friday and staying for a week….sweet! We’re pretty excited about it. I had a pizza craving that night so we went to an Italian place for dinner, which was excellent. One of the owners kept trying to gently nudge away a 3-legged dog that wanted to sit beside us, but we’re used to stray cats and dogs all around us in southeast Asia, so no biggie. After dinner, we went to the appropriately-named “Warm-Up Bar”, which had piqued my interest due to their “no trance music” policy. We just hung out on some cushy seats and had some drinks as a cat was taking a nap beside us, despite the beats pounding out of the speakers. (I found the cat thoroughly entertaining. As the beats from the music are rumbling the seats, people yelling and walking all around,this cat is just sprawled out with its head shoved up against a pillow not stirring at all… gotta love the ambivalence of a cat!)
Around midnight, we decided to hit the main beach
After a while, we walked down to the end of the beach and went up to a bar called “Mellow Mountain”. Up on the top level, we found a little chill-out area with cushions on the floor and overlooking the entire beach below. The people up here seemed to be much more laid-back and there was a noticeable lack of neon body paint, so we settled in and took in the scene. The only problem with the place was the bathrooms, which were basically unusable if you weren’t a man
We finally make it back home and although tempted to head back out after Jill has taken care of business, we decide in the end that it was a good time to end our night of full moon partying – while we were still having fun, and not on a bad note
Thursday was a big-sleep-in and pretty much a write-off day. We spent the whole time either poolside or on our balcony – reading, blogging, and just relaxing. Friday was check-out day and we jumped into a taxi-van to drive us to Wang Sai beach bungalows on the northern tip of the island. We smile as soon as we see the amazing and quiet beach that we remembered from a few days ago and we sit down under the gazebo to have some lunch while they prepare our room. We’re shortly shown to our bungalow up a few flights of stairs on the side of a hill. The place is amazing…set on a hill with a view right over the beach from the balcony, yet far enough away that it’s quiet and private. The only real issue with the room? There’s no hot water…..I mean, not even warm water. The shower is downright cold and my heart was beating so fast whenever I was using it that I felt like I’d be hyperventilating! That was NOT enjoyable. (The gasps that came from the shower were the only way I knew that Joe hadn’t had a heart attack!)
So after getting ourselves unpacked and settled, we decide that we wanna achieve 2 objectives today: exercise and go to an ATM for some cash
Over the next 6 days of our stay, despite staying in front of a beautiful beach, we only got 2 sunny days! The day after we arrived (Saturday) was one of those days and the day before we left (Thursday) was the other. The rest of our time was mainly spent reading, journaling, blogging, getting massages, surfing the net, and playing Jill’s new favorite card game…Nertz.
I had my first Thai massage and I ignorantly elected to have it the day after the first run I’ve been on for a while
Sunday morning was Saturday night back home, so I skyped my niece Emma to wish her a happy birthday. My family were all there and they were shaking their heads looking at me swinging on the hammock, computer in my lap, with the beach in the background. It was a busy scene as usual with lots of great food and smiles all around. Jill also had a huge smile Sunday night after her first ever win against me in Nertz
The next few days, overcast and rainy, were very chilled-out. We managed to sneak in a bit more exercise, got a couple more massages, and took a walk around the beach area to see what else was happening – not much! Finally, on Thursday, the day before we were checking out, the sun came out and we took advantage by spending the day on the beach sunbathing and snorkeling. We both got a nice burn on to make up for the past few days of rain. We tried a different beachfront resto for dinner, which was decidedly average, and then came back to our place for a banana fritter dessert…yum!
And so ends our 12 days on the island of Koh Pha-Ngan. We’re glad we checked out the Full Moon Party, though we concluded that it’s probably well past the point of being cool. The island itself is pretty stunning with high cliffs rising from the sandy beaches. The past week of R&R was a nice break from what could sometimes be a rush from place to place in the course of travelling. We head back to Bangkok tomorrow for a few days before we head up to northern Thailand and Chiang Mai. We have a few things on our Bangkok to-do list that we hope to cover on this stop. We’ll let you know on the next post how that all went. Bye for now…