Oh, brother: Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand

Sunday, 16 June: We left Bangkok early in the morning to fly to Koh Samui and get a ferry to Koh Pha Ngan for some time on the islands and Full Moon Party. Once all was said and done, we arrived at our quiet hostel on the north west side of the island in the early afternoon and relaxed for the remainder of the day in anticipation for the next few days ahead. We walked to the dive center to try on rental gear for our dive day trip the next day and relaxed at the hostel, getting Thai massages on the beach at sunset. Again, I’m still trying to learn to like them.

Monday, 17 June: Early in the morning, we took a diving day trip to Sail Rock, about an hour at sea from Haad Yao (the part of the island we were staying on). Unfortunately, due to the time of the month, the visibility wasn’t great (about 10 meters). The two dives were good, but not “wow.” They both lasted about 40 minutes at about 18 meters maximum, which was perfect for Ryan who only just got Open Water certified. The best parts of the dives were the warm water, cave chimney and having a close call with an aggressive trigger fish. Some species of trigger fish are known to be fiercely territorial and swim after divers who get too close. I was record a barracuda when I move my camera to a crowd of reef fishes and think, “Hey, that fish looks a little bit like a…” until I realize I have to get away! I turn to swim away and my dive guide was frantically waving me on to get away from it. I’m sure nothing would have happened, but it’s fun to think about. I will post the videos of the encounter when I’m back home!

We then moved hostels closer to Haad Rin, where the Full Moon Party was to take place that night. At our hostel in Thong Sala, we rested until the hour of reckoning came upon us.

We didn’t start festivities until late, constantly reminding ourselves that the Full Moon Party is a marathon, not a sprint, as an all night celebration. At our hostel, a few other party-goers were getting ready with drinks and glow paint (my favorite work was the Thanos infinity gauntlet I drew on Ryan and Ryan wrong “Chang [the local beer] pls” on someone’s shirt) before we shared a taxi to the beach that left at 11PM.

Tuesday, 18 June: When we arrived near the beach, we were bombarded with glow paint stalls, tacky accessories (naturally I got a flower crown) and alcohol served by the bucket.

Not long after we got our bearings, we ran into a very drunk Ben, one of the Americans we went out with in Bangkok. Both stone cold sober, Ryan and I thought it would be only decent to help Ben find his friends again. Even with the Find My Friends saying Noah was only a foot away, it was nearly impossible to tell who was who in the dark and if they were on the ground level or up in a rooftop bar. It was a long half hour of running around in circles trying to keep Ben from wandering and losing him ourselves. With him not being able to see straight, I took over his phone to try to see if I could have better luck finding his friends and open his phone to find a text from Noah that said something along the lines of, “Ditch Rachel, she’s hung [their word for anything good or bad for whatever reason, but I had a feeling he wasn’t paying me a compliment].” Hurt and upset, I wanted to be rid of Ben now more than ever. Luckily, Ben decided to take matters into his own hands, confident his mates were just around the corner, and we let him go.

Ryan and I danced our way through the various clubs and stages down the beach. A few hours later, much to my dismay, we run into the Americans again. I first recognize Bryan and excitedly shout his name, but when I see Noah I give him the finger. He asks me what that was for and I grab him by the collar and say, “I help your drunk mate and you have the bollocks to call me hung?” He denied knowing what I was talking about until I told him I saw the texts when I was helping Ben on his phone. He defended himself by saying, “We didn’t appreciate you following us around all night [the ping pong show and Soi Cowboy],” which I brushed off and told him to go fuck himself. Sure, maybe I might have overstepped by tagging along with the four of them being on the outside, but it was only for a few hours so I didn’t let myself feel bad about it. I’m sharing this because this is what happened and I think running into them was a sign that I should stick up for myself, and I did. I’m often quite a pushover, but no more.

The rest of the night was brilliant. At about 0200, Ryan wanted a sit down so I continued without him. I was mostly sober, having had one bucket at around 0100 and nursed it for an hour with plenty of water and it was one of the best choices I made all night. Staying sober made me feel so alive but actually in control and confident of taking care of myself. Unfortunately, it just made Ryan a bit drowsy and we separated for a while. I continued to dance, chat and even jumped rope with fire (all the blogs I read suggested against it, but it was exhilarating and I didn’t get burned!).

At around 0430, I came back to a club I visited a few times throughout the night and ran into Marley, the Londoner I met in Bangkok but hadn’t heard if he was coming to the Party or not. He was quite drunk, off the walls and childish. After a few minutes of trying to wrangle him, I suggested we sit on the beach, which he was reluctant to at first but once he got in the sand, he passed out. I summoned Ryan and we watched the sunrise together around 0600. We people watched as party-goers rinsed off in the water (probably no cleaner than their clothes filled with sweat, booze, sand and paint) and said farewell to their special friends. Soon after sunrise, Ryan left and Marley started to stir (thank God, my whole leg numb from the thigh down where he was resting his head).

When we left the beach around 0700, he realized he missed his last boat back to Koh Samui where he was staying. I told him there’s a ferry near my hostel where he can rinse off and rest. He was still a bit drunk so I had to sort everything (taxi back to my hostel for the both of us and his transport back to Samui) for him on top of making sure he doesn’t wander off, I couldn’t help feeling taken advantage of again. Finally at 1030, I was rid of him and free to nap for the rest of the day.

At first, I was on the fence about the Full Moon Party but I’m so glad I went. Yeah, it’s just some trashy fun, but fun nonetheless.

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