Full Moon Dance

Backpacking & Trekking, Health & Safety, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Parties, Festivals & Events, Thailand — By on March 16, 2007 at 8:21 am

When it comes to certain famous cities around the world, most people tend to paint a romanticized picture in their heads about the specific type of experience they’ll have. You know, like dancing ‘til dawn in the streets of Rio with elaborately beaded and feathered revelers during Carnival or heroically rescuing a baby from a wild dingo in Australia’s Outback, or jetting off to Paris with a gorgeous man for an all-expense paid weekend of boutique shopping, wine tasting and romantic strolls down the Champs Elise (OK, OK, I’ve digressed to a specific Lost Girls’ fantasy, but you get the point).

On a much smaller (and more realistic) scale, the majority of backpackers making the popular pilgrimage down South to explore Thailand’s vast chain of islands have a very specific image of what each floating hotspot has to offer. And while some of the island’s reputations are based solely on urban travel legends or cliché descriptions handed down from one generation of Lonely Planet readers to the next, this much is true…whether you’re looking an uber chill hideout, a raging party scene or an unlimited offering of water sports, there’s a locale to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

As a general rule of thumb (and in case you haven’t caught up on all our recent entries – shame on you!), you should head to Ko Tao for world-class dive sites and cheap certification courses, to Phuket for a first hand encounter with lady boys and other ubiquitous street walkers (Readers: please refer to the multiple comments under Amanda’s “What the Phuket” blog before piping in on this one! :)) and to Ko Phi Phi to relive Leonardo DeCaprio’s “Beach” life. And, most importantly, if the timing works out and you don’t mind sharing the sand with thousands of overzealous ravers, it’s definitely worth a trip to the most notorious island of them all, Ko Pha-Ngan, to rage at the famous full moon party.

With a little less than two weeks to go before our reunion with Holly (yes, she was still freakin’ meditating in India – poor thing), Amanda and I planned our final days as a duo to coincide with Ko Pha-Ngan’s legendary lunar event. Joining hoards of other backpackers with the same idea, Amanda and I began the long and arduous bus – to another bus – to ferry boat- to yet another bus – to tuk tuk journey. For those of you out there who plan to follow in our footsteps at some point in the future, I have two critical pieces of advice. One: plan to arrive in Ko Pha-Ngan at least a week in advance and Two: the second you get to Hat Rin (ground zero for the big moon bash) …RUN! Run like hell, seriously! Any slow pokes in the bunch will end up sleeping with their backpacks on the beach as accommodations are notoriously difficult to find without a reservation. Although there are always exceptions to the rules, it’s up to you if you want to take the chance.

As the ever-resourceful Lost Girls that we are, Amanda and I hatched a grand scheme to guarantee our spot on the island. We stopped at the first hotel we saw, paid them a few baht to watch our bags for an hour or so and proceeded to sprint down the side streets inquiring about vacancies. With no weight to carry, we left many other hopefuls struggling to drag their packs across the sand. Oh well! It’s a cruel world, right? As luck would have it, we secured what we’re certain was one of the last available shacks for miles, which incidentally came with a huge mold covered bolder growing in the middle of the room at no extra charge (don’t ask!). We also had to share the space with a few gargantuan spiders and slimy slugs, but, hey, we’d arrived in one piece, had a place to dump our stuff and a semi-comfy cot-like structure to sleep on for a few hours a night. We couldn’t expect much more during full moon time anyway, especially on our measly daily budget. We were here, though, and that was what counted, right?

So, lux accommodations aside, was our experience in Ko Pha-Ngan all we hoped for and more, you ask? Does a Lost Girl look twice when a hot guy walks by? Absolutely! In terms of party points, the island scored high across the board. We quickly learned that Hat Rin provides visitors with many opportunities to practice their full moon party skills ahead of time. A few days after we arrived, Amanda and I, along with half the island, were escorted deep into the nearby forest via shuttle buses (a clever euphanism for rickety trucks driven by locals) to pay homage to the half moon with a requisite trance dance around neon painted trees.

Before barely having time to recover, New Year’s Eve was upon us. We rang in 2007 on a packed beach with an insane number of tourists that rivaled any seen in our hometown Times Square, not to mention tons of locals, including a colorful cast of fire twirlers, tattoo artists (think day glow paint, not needles), bucket peddlers (huge sand pales filled with your choice of liquor, mixer and bendy straws), the best DJs in Thailand and a hearty police presence. As cheers (and beers) erupted at the stroke of midnight, bonfires blew misty rings of smoke into the jet black sky and fireworks boomed overhead to the rhythm of the pumping base, Amanda and I couldn’t imagine how the actual party we’d come here for could be much better. Well, let’s just say we were proven wrong.

Without going into too much detail (we can’t be expected to remember (or tell) everything after all! :)), Ko Pha-Ngan’s full moon rave more than lived up to its infamous reputation. It offered all the craziness and fun of the half moon party and New Year’s Eve beach bash, but with an even greater presence of ravers (seriously, people come in by the boat load from nearby islands), trance and house spinners, pyrotechnic artists, beach bar specials and, of course, a much brighter sky.

Although a bit exhausted and sweaty (our room rock emits an odd heat wave) Amanda and I woke the next morning (well, it actually was the same morning, but whatever) feeling satisfied and happy. While we were more than ready to lead a normal life again on the mainland, we’d always look back at our nine day stint in Ko Pha-Ngan with fondness – and a newfound appreciation for full moons!

– – – Jen

TO BE CONTINUED…Think the story ends here? No way! Stay tuned for my next blog entry “Beyond the Full Moon” for other fun tales, quirky observations and random ruminations about our time in Ko Pha-Ngan.

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    5 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Saw your blog listed at blogsearch.sg really cool.

  • Jamie says:

    First time stop by. It won’t be the last. Loved the “Thriller” video … Bollywood does have some good dancers. 🙂

    Hope you all stay safe and continue to have an adventurous and pleasurable trip.

  • Dellie says:

    You girls look SO happy. (-:

  • the_cookie_maudester says:

    Congrats, Lostgirls! One Travvie won’t be the last for sure. What can I say, I am always on a vicarious vacation with you guys. Have fun and keep safe!

  • Have just turned back from a fantastic trip to Phuket, stayed at Sunset Paradise in the northeastern part which is less busy than southwest areas, great resort and wonderful bays. We rented a motorcycle for only 250 baht per day and would drive around the full region. So many marvelous localises to dine, our loved spot was Thai Food Heaven which had the most wonderful view over the beach, the staff was rather nice and the food so delicious, we went for sunset drinks. My boyfriend and I had a wonderful time in Phuket City and will be back for Easter.