A recap of December’s full moon.
Every teaching job in Thailand has the potential to differ immensely from one another. My students are young and require nap time prep and milk break( my knowledge of UHT milk brands here is insane and I won’t even go into the number of straws I’ve punched into milk boxes this semester). Why do I bring this up? I’m guessing that because of it’s daycare-like qualities, my school is doing a full home plate run to mid-March. Meanwhile, the majority of my Phatthalung friends, who teach older kids and talk of impromptu class cancellations and exam weeks, are already relishing in the summer break vibes with a kick-off at Full Moon Party. I love my kids, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just a bit bitter that I won’t be attending this time around. It’s a good time to stay positive and reflect:
Saturday, December 6th was a perfect premier full moon party because all the stars basically aligned. Not only was it a Saturday night full moon, but it fell the day after a very important holiday thus enhancing the party atmosphere and making everyone more capable of traveling to the islands.
December 5th marked Father’s Day or the 87th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej(aka King Rama IX). Quick fact: did you know he was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts?? To show their love, loyalty, and respect to His Majesty, Thai’s wear yellow and celebrate. Consequently, there was no school to be had and Leah and I spent our Father’s Day morning on the first 5am van out of Phatthalung and headed towards the East coast. By noon we had strolled off the ferry on Koh Samui, bargained with a motorbike taxi and were wading along the shore of a beautiful quite beach with backpacks still in tow. The rest of the day consisted of adequate beach time, a mojito and a visit to an incredible waterfall further inland. We quickly found that transportation here is a bit difficult, seeing as we were on the west side of the island and our hostel was on the opposite side on Chawang beach. A Thai family insisted on having us hop in their truck so they could take us from the waterfall to the main road and even after that it was a good half hour before a tuk tuk came along and we flagged it down.
First impression of the touristy towns dotting the east coast of Samui:
1. Everything is written in English!
2. So many farangs everywhere ughh.
3. I’ve never seen so many western/Italian/German/Irish/Indian(insert genre of restaurant) food places. Overwhelming.
4. Am I even in Thailand??
5. Sightly trashy beach town that feel quite familiar to ones back home.
I’m not trying to deter anyone from going to Koh Samui, it just doesn’t feel like Thailand especially in comparison to my town of residence. Cons: the beaches are picturesque and the nightlife has potential. I’m not about the resort life but I’ve heard from my mom and sister that it’s a good place for that type of vacation.
When Leah and I arrived on Chawang, we walked along the water close to sunset and choose one of the many resort restaurants huddled along the beach. A chill night before the chaos of the following evening ensued. The bars seemed eerily quite but we settled into some lounge chairs at a reggae bar on the beach. After a flash flood, we made our way through the overflowing streets to our hostel-a cozy little place run by a German man and Thai women(relationship status unclear but assumed).
Early the next morning after another tandem trip via motorbike taxi, a coffee(mochaaa is all I really order) and bowl of muesli, we were laying on the top deck of the Ferry to Koh Phangan. There was an unspoken understanding that just about every person on board had the same intention: Full moon party Dec. 2014. Needles to say the number of farangs in jorts, tank tops, backwards hats and neon wayfarers was ridiculous yet unsurprising. We dropped our backpacks at our overcrowded hostel and crossed the street to find a nice resort beach with hammocks. Leah and I posted up with a tall boy Chang beer each to gear up for the evening.
Mistake number 1:
We were overly excited. So when we rolled up to sunset beach in Haad Rin around 6:30pm. When we sat down to admire the full moon over the water and crack open our Hong Tong, red bull(the real Asian kind) and soda, we decided to check what time sunrise would be. Answer: in a full 12 hours. Okay, okay so we showed up a little early. The party didn’t really get into full gear until midnight(recommended arrival) but we did decide to put the alcohol on hold and jump a little fire rope which would have been impossible to get a turn at later in the night.
We met up with Greg, a friend of mine from Rollins, and his grad school buddies who were seasoned full moon partygoers(when you have been once before, you just know). The north end of the beach had a bar up on the rocks called mushroom mountain. After getting the cliche full moon party neon body paint, we started there with a shake and made our way south down the beach stopping at each DJ stand along the way, choosing our favorite. The beach was one big mass of neon clad farangs dancing around. What was fun to watch were the people on the outskirts of all of this. We posted up on the rock pile at the south end and people-watched the drunk people wobbling aimlessly to the point where I started to feel bad and it wasn’t funny anymore. At one point Greg got down to help one guy who was repeatedly loosing his flip flops in the surf and a French man pranced up and hung with us for a little while to test his English skills.
More Hong Tong and dancing ensued as well as some failed fire limbo attempts and Leah loosing her shoes in the crowd. When Leah cut her foot, we made our way up to Greg’s hotel balcony to wait for sunrise. We spotted a Thai man passed out on a boulder below. When we expressed concern, his friend saw and came over to assure us that he “does this every full moon”. Casual. Leah was “just closing her eyes” while sprawled out precariously on the railing and I feel asleep just an hour shy of sunrise. Fail.
When Leah woke me up shortly after sunrise, there was a neon haze over the beach and smaller groups of dancers still lingering while dazed partiers loaded onto long tail boats or tuk tuks to return whence they came. I have to include myself in the dazed tuk tuk group because all I really remember from the ride back was how everyone was quiet/half asleep/still drunk? and that my stomach was eating my insides I was so hungry. Leah and I were the lone customers at a restaurant by our hostel(we were to early for our hostel breakfast) so we ate and bypassed our hostel beds that we never slept in to go collapse in hammocks on the beach. It was the same beach we cracked open our first full moon beverage on the day before but this time, the beach was eerily quiet and serene. Great nap.
At the pier, we explained our destination to a Thai man and had stickers stuck onto us like luggage before boarding a ferry. The ferry, bus and van back were uneventful, exhausting and full of sun burnt farangs passed out in the aisles. It was good to get back to Phatthalung just in time for Sunday night market Pad Thai and mango stickey, to be shortly followed by bed.
Maybe I’m not too terribly upset that I missed this full moon party, just wishing I could be on a beach and experience it with my group of friends who are there now! Good luck guys and pace yourselves!