Please turn on “I Had The Time Of My Life” before reading this post, so you can get into my headpsace while I was writing it.
I am not a festival girl. The one time I tried to go to one (EDC, 2011) I ended up in the ER before I even made it into the venue (Not a proud moment, TBH. Shoutout to my friend Brian for taking care of me, though! And lesson learned – shots of whiskey make me vomit). But the Full Moon Party in Thailand is a once in a lifetime experience (… Mostly because one time is definitely enough) and I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t at least give it a shot.
The event takes place every month on the night of the full moon the island of Koh Phagnan. It was started in the 80’s by a group of 25 travelers, and now attracts anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 partygoers looking to get their trance on. It lasts all night and into the morning with a lot of neon, drugs and techno, and is pretty much a Backpacker’s Paradise (including a lot of really, really attractive Australian ones that my friends were allll about, FYI).
On May 11, I had my once-in-a-lifetime experience on Haad Rin beach along with my boyfriend, James, and 30 of our Remote Year friends and lived to tell the story. As in, I didn’t end up in the hospital and actually had ONE OF THE BEST NIGHTS OF MY LIFE. Here’s the full, no holds barred account.
Side note: Anyone want to go to Burning Man next year?
Full disclosure: I really, really wanted to wear Disco Tits to the party, but my companions were not a huge fan of the idea so I went with a white bikini, instead, figuring I could still maximize the body paint situation. An annoying aunt of mine (hiya, Flo!) came to town the morning before Full Moon, so I bought myself a t-shirt to cut up and wear as a skirt because white bikini bottoms were no longer an option. As for the beauty, I got my hair braided with neon threads on the beach (after legit chasing two girls down to find out where they’d gotten theirs) and my makeup done in the back room of a Pad Thai restaurant for $6.
After snapping 238432749340 selfies, I. Was. Ready.
We rode to the Full Moon Party in the back of an open-air bus, and for the most part the roads were pitch black, silent, and terrifying. Needless to say, I was really, really glad not to have gotten on the back of one of my friend’s motorbikes for the ride. Hello, deathtrap.
BUT THEN WE PULLED UP TO THE BEACH, and it as like stepping into the most amazing trance dream ever.
The music was bumping and there was neon shit EVERYWHERE. There were a zillion drunk people, dozens of booths offering to paint them with whatever neon design heir hearts desire (including Bart Simpson and the 7/11 logo) and tables selling sand castle “buckets” full of liquor and Red Bull. There were also tables selling every sort of drunk food you could possibly imagine — from pizza to donuts to noodles. I was in heaven.
After spending $30 to get some sort of weird neon dragon painted on my arm, it was time to explore. The party spans the entire beach (which was probably about a mile long) and there are a bunch of “stages” with different kinds of musi; some that played EDM, others that played Justin Bieber-style hits (I’ll let you guess which ones I hung out at).
Monday morning hitting extra hard RN •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #solotraveler #femaletraveler #mytinyatlas #mytraveldiary #wanderluster #wanderlust #wanderlusting #travellersnotebook #kohphagnan #beach #findyourbeach #darlingescapes #darlingescape #tasteintravel #traveldeeper #lifewelltraveled #passionpassport #globelletravelers #sheisnotlost #travelfemme #sidewalkerdaily #wearertravelgirls #thailand #girlsborntotravel #fullmoon #glowinthedark #haadrin #haadrinbeach
I ran around grinning and taking selfies with all of the neon, then spent most of the night chugging Redbull buckets dancing on a picnic table with a bunch of random backpacker chicks, one of whom tried to make out with me. These peeps are my friends, not the randos who wanted to smooch:
There were a lot of drunk people who thought it would be a good idea to pay a game I named “FLAMING JUMP ROPE OF DEATH,” which involved jumping over a flaming jump rope. Pretty much all of them ended up falling on their face and burning the hell out of themselves. None of them seemed to be in any pain, though, which inspired a drunk me to attempt the flaming limbo. I ended up falling on my face, but at least I had all of my eyebrows intact. I also went down a soapy water slide over the DJ booth, because why not?
I feel like it’s worth mentioning (because of all of the texts I got from my friends asking “HOW MUCH MOLLY ARE YOU ON RIGHT NOW” after they watched my Instagram story) that I didn’t do any drugs at the party — I genuinely was just “high on life,” as the kids say.
…. That’s not to say there weren’t other people rolling their faces off, though, which was actually awesome because it meant complete strangers kept coming over to me to stroke my hair and tell me I was pretty. In case I wasn’t feeling myself already (which I definitely was — you saw that outfit) I was on Cloud 9 with so many people telling me how hot and awesome I was.
On a few separate occasions, some of these MDMA-happy people pulled James aside to tell him how awesome/beautiful/amazing I was, too:
“DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?!”
“LOOK AT THIS GIRL!!! SHE’S SO BEAUTIFUL DON’T YOU DARE TAKE HER FOR GRANTED”
“DON’T YOU LOVE HER SO MUCH?! BECAUSE I LOVE HER SO MUCH!!”
… At one point, he asked if I’d paid them.
There were dozens of couples having sex all over the beach, and one pair pulled us aside to tell us how lucky we were to be in love and that we shouldn’t “fuck it up by being douchebag hater ass holes.” Insightful.
Somewhere around 4am, I sat down on the beach answered work emails. That part was weird.
After seven straight hours of raging my face off (and not getting bored once, TBH) it was time to watch the sunrise. There were five of us still standing, and we all sat together and gloated about the fact that we had more stamina than all of the rest of our #lame friends (just kidding – love you guys!).
The sunrise was stunning, but seeing the aftermath of the Full Moon Party in the light of day was traumatizing. There were buckets, lost shoes, trash and passed out humans strewn all over the beach, and everything had a disgusting moldy odor because it had rained a few times during the night (I was having so much fun I didn’t even notice). The pizza/donuts/noodles that had looked so appealing at the beginning of the night now looked soggy and disgusting (I actually just gagged a little bit thinking about them). All of the “hot” backpackers looked like they hadn’t showered in a week, and the whole thing looked and smelled like a urine-covered scene out of my worst nightmare.
It was time to get the fuqqqq out of there.
Thankfully, James and I had the foresight to book a ferry at 8am, and hauled ass back to Koh Samui to wash off our body paint sleep off our bucket-induced hangovers.
And FYI? My entire outfit went straight into the garbage.
There are a ton of articles out there telling you how to survive the FMP, and I barely made it out alive, but here are some of my takeaways that I feel like are worth sharing for anyone who plans to find themselves blacked out on Haad Rin Beach some day (AND YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD!!!):
- Wear closed toe shoes, so you don’t destroy your feet on glass or whatever other weird stuff ends up on that beach by the end of the night
- Prepare to throw your clothes in the garbage the minute the party’s over
- If you aren’t planning on staying on the island (we stayed on Koh Samui, which is a nicer, quieter island and a 20-minute ferry away) make sure you BOOK THE 8AM FERRY AHEAD OF TIME. It sells out, and there is nothing worse than sitting on that beach and hanging out while your hangover kicks in because you have nowhere else to go.
- Watch your bucket get made. It’s not so much a drugs thing (though, per usual, those are pretty dangerous) but the bartenders will switch to cheap liquor when you’re not looking which will really, really destroy you the next day.
- BYO body paint. Or, rather, wait until you get onto the beach and you’ll be able to find DIY paint for a dollar. Don’t spend $15 at the entrance on a weird neon arm dragon like I did.
- Bring a buddy! Shoutout to @jrahj, my partner in crime and rave buddy 4lyfe.