The 7.30am alarm call by some Thai guy knocking on my door wasn`t some bizarre Thai tradition but a wake up call for my minibus to get to my next destination; Koh Pha-Ngan (KP). It woke me from one of the deepest sleeps i have had so far this trip which must have been a combination of travel fatigue and excellent food. To get a good sleep in Thailand is hard and as about as hard as there beds. The trip itself should have only taken around 6 hrs in total (4 1/2hr bus ride and 11/2 hour boat ride) so I was excpeting my mini bus to arrive around 8am and I was hoping to be having a dip in the sea and lazing on the beach by around 3pm all being well. I wanted to get to KP in plenty of time as the Full Moon Party was on the 10th of March and the island was expecting around 15,000 party goers and the island only has around 5,000 rooms.
I was sadly mistaken about my arrival time, one thing in Thailand is that they take their time about things and any opportunity they can get you to part with some cash is beneficial to them so there were frequent stops along the way! The bus arrived about an hour late was only the start of the traveling woes! Our little bus journey as it turns out turned into an epic journey and we eventually arrived in KP around 8.30pm. We had more stops and change overs than a F1 team over a whole weekend and the endless times we hung around to wait for another bus was just boring and from what i could see impractical. We must have visited around 4 different road side cafes on the way and at one point i didn`t even think we were going to make the last ferry. Eventually we did and at last we were on the high seas on our way to the island.
KP is a one of a group of around 80 islands, of which the main ones are KP, Ko Samui (Thailand`s` 3rd largest island) and Koh Tao (a big diving center) of the east coast of Thailands’ southern peninsular. To get to the islands the boat generally takes around 1 – 11/2 hours and many of these islands were only discovered properly around 40 years ago. Since thee discovery commercialism has taken rife on certain islands (mainly Ko Samui) but a number of the other islands have been left untouched and offer beautiful white beaches lined palm trees, beautiful postcard moments. KP is more famous for the legendary full moon party`s that started around 30 years ago as a celebration of someones birthday as well as a celebration of the full moon and grew from a cult party of around 40 – 100 people to an estimated 10 – 20,000 people each month. On the boat over I met up with a fellow Brit (Ozzie – a Turkish Londoner) and when we finally arrived on the island we decided to share a room in the main town of Had Rin, close to where all the action would take place. We found something OK for the first night as it was getting late and we decided that we would look for something cheaper and out of the main strip the next day.
Had rin itself is on the end of KP and is a narrow stretch of land that has the two main beaches on either side, sunrise beach and sunset beach. In between these beaches is mainly filled with bars, clubs and tourist shops. That night I had my first major trauma of the travels so far. Foolishly as the cash point machine was a way away from our accommodation I took my wallet out with me, only to find out later that night that someone had pickpocket me whilst I was standing at the bar. Luckily Ozzie helped me out in the short term. A lesson learned the hard way.
Anyway trauma over the night before the full moon party was spent watching DVD`s in bars (they play all the latest films in the cinema on DVD in every bar) and watched Slum dog Millionaire which lived up to the hype around it. The day of the full moon party you could feel the anticipation around the island, the beach was very crowded, the bars were getting full and there were lots of people around. I met up with Mark and Adam and their two brothers were also over on holiday also with another friend Marc. Unfortunately Marc missed the party as he had come a cropper on a moped a couple of days before hand and was sin hospital receiving treatment on his leg.
At night fall we all meet with some more friends at their apartment and started the festivities by getting the drinking going and applying body paint to each other. Apparently is was the done thing as there were lots of UV lights on t he beach and you could easily recognize each other!! As we wandered down the beach at around midnight we got onto the beach and there was a beach party like no other. A huge throng of people filled the entire beach around 80 to the shoreline to 4 or 500m to the end of the beach. Sound systems blasted out different types of music all around you, fire dancers showing off their tricks and over 10,000 people all sprawled bobbing up and down which made the batch look like the ocean itself. At this point there were people even dancing in the sea, so we knew we were in for a long night!
It was hard to keep track of of our group all night as there were so many people on the beach but we maneged to keep together somehow and made it through to the sunrise before falling into bed and sleeping till the early afternoon! The next day was a write off as we generally lazed around, complained about sore heads and filled up on comfort food whilst reminiscing on the previous nights fun. Later that night we made it to our first Mauy Thai Boxing fight. The fight was 6 fights, men, women and teenagers and all in all a bit timid to what I thought I was going to see, but all in all a good display and some good action if not a little staged for us westerners. The following day all 6 of us headed back (another epic 12 hour journey) to Patong (next to Phuket town) to look for a boat to get us to our next island Phi Phi. Patong has got much to offer apart from a large long beach and a good nightlife, its is not too dissimilar to a tacky seaside town you`d find dotted around the southern coast of Spain so not much to report there and somewhere I defiantly would not spend too much time at. The next stop however was going to be awesome as I have heard so much about Phi Phi as this was one of Thailand most famous islands…