I have survived another ten nights on Koh Pha Ngan. Somehow.
Claudia and I took a bus and an evening ferry over to the island where we met two other English girls, Claire and Laura, on their way to Koh Tao via Koh Pha Ngan for one night.
Since the full moon was on the same night as last month, Claudia and I assumed that the half moon party – basically the same as full moon except in the jungle.. would also be the same day, giving us one night to rest before starting the party. However once we got to the island we quickly found out that in fact the half moon party was that night, so there would be no rest for us. Skipping the half moon party was not an option since we had yet to make it to one.
So we booked into the same place we stayed last month – Rin Beach Resort and got a cheaper deal since we’re getting further into low season now which was a nice surprise. After some dinner at the Lucky Crab where Claudia and I shared our favourite green curry we headed back to our balconies via the liquor store where we bought ingredients for our own buckets.
The only way to drink alcohol on Koh Pha Ngan is in bucket form. It’s a rare sight to see a glass of gin & tonic, because why get a glass when you can get a whole bucket for about 4 pounds?! A bucket consists of one of those half size bottles of the alcohol of your choice (ours was vodka) and then whatever mixers you like (our choice was M-150 or Red Bull and a bottle of Sprite). If you’re drinking these buckets on your own and you have a normal capacity for alcohol you can very easily get through two or three of these, or four or five if you’re a man perhaps. If you’re sharing, you can start to lose count, or if you’re Claudia and you have an amazing capacity for vodka and M-150 you can go through six all by yourself. Claudia’s a real trooper.
After sharing a bucket between the three of us we hopped on the back of some taxi motorbikes and headed off to the jungle where we came across a party almost exclusively lit by UV lights going strong. I’m not sure how long we lasted, but long enough anyway before we realized it was time for us to get home. On the way out I ran into Chris – the bartender of Outback bar who I met last month when I was here and whose job I considered taking at one point. The drive to and from half moon is pretty hair raising – Koh Pha Ngan hills are not something to be taken lightly, so I sat in the taxi and held on to Chris while he held on to the back bars, and Claudia found room on the roof since the inside was full. I have no idea how she survived, but I’m so glad she did.
After that night you’d think we’d have a night or two off, but the thing about Koh Pha Ngan is that it possesses this weird kind of energy that somehow makes going out every single night surprisingly easy. We often described it to people as this Bermuda Triangle, or Twilight Zone, where every night was a Friday night, and everyday was a Saturday spent recovering from the night before and getting ready for that nights festivities.
We spent most of our days in Lazyhouse watching films, or occasionally in Utopia watching Friends which they play all day long. Lazyhouse and Utopia are owned by the same guy who has great taste in good British food, so despite how expensive it was I had some delicious home comforts including a Sunday roast the day after full moon. It even had a Yorkshire pudding. Amazing.
Then each evening we headed down to Cactus Bar where Woody the Scot worked. We met Woody last month as well and since we quickly became his regulars again we got a nice discount on our vodka & Red Bull buckets. What a nice guy.
One day just to mix it up, Claudia and I rented a motorbike and drove to the other side of the island, up the coast and cutting across the middle over a mountain to visit Sara and Caroline. Sara is Claudia’s friend from school and both of them joined us down at Rin Beach for the last few days around full moon. The ride was pretty terrifying but I’m pretty proud of myself for making it and for not completely having a break down since the paved hills average a 20% incline and the unpaved roads have huge ravines in them caused by the water running down. But we made it there and back, then headed straight to Woody’s for a drink.
The good thing about being friends with the bartender (other than the cheap drinks) was that we could sit at the bar facing the beach for hours without being bothered and we got to watch all the Cactus fireboys do their thing each night. The Cactus fireboys are all young Thai guys who make a living by playing with fire, and doing it very well. After they started recognizing us they tried to get us involved and I once had to hold a stick of fire while another guy blew alcohol/kerosene at it to create an enormous fireball. I gave it back after one blow because I value my eyebrows and my unscarred skin.
A few days before full moon we were also joined by Will and Will, two English boys that Claudia had met in Chang Mai while I was in Koh Phi Phi with Emily. They were two guys traveling on their gap year before uni and were a great addition to the group. We also reunited with Bella and Lucy who we last saw on Koh Lanta, along with Lucy’s sister and friend who were over on holiday.
By the time full moon finally rolled around we had a pretty big group, with a few additional characters that we met on the island along with a few more faces from the past, mostly from Koh Phi Phi.
The actual night was a great time as expected. My favourite part might have been when me and some of the girls climbed up to Drop In bar’s balcony and entertained outselves by throwing ice cubes at unsuspecting people below. I know, I know, immature, but don’t pretend that you’re not laughing too.
The next day we had our Sunday roast at Lazyhouse and I went around to Woody, Chris. Ay (the bartender at Reggae bar who I talked to about being a teacher) and the Thai guy who ran the art gallery (I still feel bad for forgetting his name since he remembered my name after I’d been gone for a month…terrible) to say my goodbyes.
It was pretty difficult to leave this time, and I actually made one of the Wills walk back down to the beach with me to see it one more time because I couldn’t get to bed at about 1am. This was my last big party in Thailand and I don’t know when I’ll be back.
I’ve been in SE Asia for almost exactly seven months now, six of which have been in Thailand and while I don’t want to stay here forever, it still feels strange to leave and go back to a world I feel like I haven’t lived in for so long.
But the big unexpected surprise is that about four hours after I’ve written this blog I’ll be getting on a plane to….Sydney!!!
I’m a pretty lucky girl and I have some amazing people for godparents who have made it possible for me to go to Oz for about three weeks! It’s not a huge amount of time and I won’t get to see everything, but it’ll be an amazing chance to see a new country and a place I’ve always wanted to go. I’ll be arriving in Sydney on Wednesday morning and have no plans from there except to hopefully meet up with Will and Will again, plus Lisa, who you may remember from my teaching days. Lisa now works as an au pair in Sydney and is going to be a tourist with me this coming weekend. Thanks to all the people I’ve met traveling and to the connections I have through friends and family, I actually know quite a few people in Oz and I can’t wait to see some of them while seeing as much of the country as I can.
So there it is! My final post about Thailand. For now. 🙂
Next time I write here I’ll be in the Southern hemisphere for the first time, and will have landed on my fifth continent!