When Diarmo, Ella and I told others we were going back to Thailand, there were of course several jealous friends. However, we managed to inspire others to come along because after all, Thailand isn’t just a place you go on holidays, no no it’s much more magnificent than that. And so the Dream Team was created. Charlie had been in Perth since we had left in July, staying after securing a good job and sponsorship. The poor guy had barely taken a week off since starting, he had experienced Vang Vieng on his way to Australia but not Thailand and he deserved this.
Diarmo and I met Byron and Andy way back in Halong Bay, Vietnam at the beginning of our travels. We had some great times together in Vietnam and Laos and conviently enough, they lived in Melbourne. In our final days there they decided ‘We’re going to Thailand’, ‘but what about college? money?’, we asked. ‘No biggie’ they replied. And that was that. That was the beauty of these lads, they thought little of things, they just ‘did’ things; a brilliant way to live life. The boys had a score to settle with the islands also. Byron had had an accident in his first journey to Kho Tao and their trip was cut short. They returned home before getting to Kho Phangan, never having seen the Full Moon.
Our night began in Khao San Central and we welcomed our boys with open arms. Charlie hadn’t met Byron and Andy before, it took them a good 25 minutes to become best friends. Diarmo and I had developed a familiar ‘night out route’ on Khao San road, this being our 7th time here. Beer towers in Khao San Central; followed by cocktails in the ‘Acoustic’ bar; Changs and Pad Thais on the street accompanied by some general comedy involving street sellers and randomers. And then off to hit the Bangkok dance floors.
This night was similar to others but with more props and characters and the most laughter we’d ever had in Bangkok. After the Acoustic bar cocktails, we hit the streets and I searched for a street seller who sold fine cuban cigars. I found them eventually and we all pretended we were Fidel Castro for an hour. Byron decided to splash out too, spending 30 dollars on a rack of bracelets with dirty words on them. This type of carry on is what we call ‘The Magic of Khao San Road’.
The night was still so young and Diarmo put his finger in the air and said ‘to a ping pong show!’. This wasn’t a night for saying no. We found a tuk-tuk driver who made the clicky sound with his mouth indicating he could take us to a ping-pong show, I can’t describe it any better in writing, anyone who’s been to Bangkok will know! Two tuk tuks sped through quiet streets of Bangkok and the 6 of us laughed and took pictures of each other (which turned out completely blurry) from opposite tuk tuks.I remember Andy putting his head out the side and shouting ‘I’m free as a bird!’.
We arrived at the ping-pong show and having had a few beers we hadn’t even thought about how much it would cost to get there and get in. But I remember arguing with the bouncers and tuk tuk drivers about some extortionate price they had decided on. We bargained them down and entered the strangest show we had ever seen.
A ping-pong show is on the list of things you have to do in Bangkok but the one we saw was very strange and a little eerie to say the least. There was no real format or structure to it, girls just came on and off stage and did their thing with tennis balls, cigarettes, fruit, etc. The place was pretty quiet too and you almost felt you had to be quiet and watch rather than laugh and enjoy.
We left the place after getting a good sense of what it it’s about and ticked it off the list. Back at Khao San road, we tried out one of the new clubs in Khao San Road and we danced like maniacs til 5 am, taking pictures with every random person we could find. Charlie and I stopped for a chat on the walk home and had one those incredible alcohol-induced discussions where everything you talk about is more significant than ever, it went on until 8 am I believe.
The next day we should have all been completely shattered, tired, miserable, dreading the evening journey south to the islands. We were the opposite. I awoke pretty late to find By, Andy and Cha already enjoying some afternoon beers with smiles across their faces. Diarmo however was not well at all. He hadn’t been since several days before hand in Vang Vieng. But the previous night he did what he always told me to do when I’m under the weather – ‘power through’.
Unfortunately powering through sickness can lead to a whole other level of sickness and Diarmo lay on the couch drinking water for hours on end. By the time we had to get our bus at 6, Andy and Cha were on top form, ready for a big night out. Unfortunately they were getting on a 15 hour bus. Cha bought a hat for the occasion and I felt bad for them that they would inevitably be let down a few hours later realising there were no more beers on offer.
The night bus was one of the best we’d ever gotten, everyone in it together helped I guess, that and Happy Gilmore. The boat was pretty horrific though, it took about 5 hours and it was about as comfortable as I imagine a famine ship in the 1800s was. The arrival at the Amaresa resort on Kho Phangan cancelled out the pain instantly. Kylo, Diarmo and I had stayed here the previous year and it had been a nice rustic place. But this year renovations had transformed it from nice and rustic to luxurious and blissful.
I would advise anyone returning to Thailand to return to the same accommodation if possible and email ahead and tell them about your return. They gave us a huge discount and welcomed us warmly on arrival. But when we saw our seaview cabins our jaws dropped. I don’t feel cabins are even the right word. The reception, common room and Sky Bar is at the top of a hill and overlooks both Sunset and Sunrise beach. A walk down the hill towards the sea leads you to the cabins amidst the trees, shaded enough that it’s cool and fresh, but still with a view of the sea beyond.
Ella laughed when I showed her the one we had stayed in last year, it looked like a hut beside our palace. We had two huge beds, a flatscreen TV on the wall, towels and complimentary bath oils and a lovely balcony to sit out on. I rushed to check that both Cha and Diarmo and By and Andy had not gotten the raw deal and ended up in one of the tree houses, they hadn’t. We all celebrated our arrival with a long nap followed by several beers in the evening.
Australians, or By and Andy at least, know more drinking games that we knew even existed. One of the best things about our first encounter way back in Vietnam was laughing continuously at new drinking games in bars in Hoi An. In the Sky Bar, many a drinking game was had. On our first couple nights, we literally had the place to ourselves, 1 euro beers, a perfect group and Haad Rin beach waiting for us in the distance below.
One of the greatest things about traveling is meeting new people. We’ve met beautiful Swedish girls and crazy English girls, brilliant Israeli guys, loud Germans, fantastic French people and of course the enigmatic Aussies. We’ve met people we’ll always remember and tell stories about. But because we had Cha, By and Andy with us, we didn’t need anyone else this time. 3 of the best guys we’d met on our travels and they were here with Ella, Diarmo and I to make up an absolute dream team.
We were having such a great time, most nights we wouldn’t make it down to the beach until 12 o clock. One of the great dynamics of the group was that we were all taken except for Cha and it became common that we would all party away until 2 or 3, when we would all go home except for Cha would continue his night until the next day and often find some nice girl to party with. And I think he liked it that way!
Kylo, Diarmo and I were like nocturnal creatures our previous time in Kho Phangan. We would go out at 10 pm, stay out until 6/7 am and get up again around 6 or 7 pm. We barely saw the daylight and as fun as that sounds, we were miserable people until midnight. This year, we used to wander up to the Sky Bar around 10 or 11, have a nice breakfast and spend the day relaxing at the beach or watching movies in our little palaces.
Kho Phangan is actually a very nice place during the day. Sunset beach lies on the opposite side of the hill to Haad Rin, it’s quiet and peaceful, beautiful at sunset and a great place to chill our in the afternoons. The town has lots of little bars and restaurants which aren’t the best in Thailand by any means but during the day are nice and relaxing. There are plenty of shops in which to buy the most fluorescent clothes for the Full Moon party, singlets and tops sporting just about any celbrity you can think of and of course great deals on great fake designer clothes.
Poor Diarmo wasn’t well on Kho Phangan. He hadn’t been the same since the latter part of our week in Vang Vieng. Not a surprise, not everyone leaves Vang Vieng in one piece. He was tired, weak and clearly had to see a doctor. God bless him he tried his best to power through but he just couldn’t do it. One night while having beers in the Sky Bar, Diarmo in his mad sick state, decided to play a prank on By and Andy. Diarmo called them to their room and told them ‘somebody robbed your beds!!’, By went straight to the balcony and there they were, sitting out there. That’s how big our balconies were, big enough to move our beds out. We all had a good laugh and ended up lying out having beers there until the early hours of the morning.
The nights leading up to the Full Moon the previous year had been almost better than the night itself, I guessed we hyped up the big night too much and when it came to it, I think we expected the beach to lift up into the sky or something crazy like that. This year we treated it like any other night and it didn’t let us down one bit. The Amaresa had filled up for the occasion and our little 5 person drinking game that evening grew rapidly. We kept telling people, ‘ah of course you can play, the more the merrier!’.
There must have been about 25 of us playing when we started to leave the game one by one. The thing about a drinking game is; it’s impossible to control when there’s too many people, especially when there’s idiots involved and we had quite a few of them. There were 3 or 4 english girls who defined thick, but the main problem was the nazi blonde girl (she had a swastika tattoo). She started to try and take control of the game and made a couple of nazi salutes before By crept off.
Andy followed, then Ella and me. Poor Cha felt bad for leaving and at that point it had become obvious there was an exodus on and it took him a while to come down. We all agreed there were two reasons for leaving the game, the lack of organisation and therefore lack of any craic and the presence of Adolf Hitler. We played our own games on By an going d Andy’s beds and had a much better time without the weirdos above. Diarmo managed somehow to pull himself together and we ventured out to the best party in the world.
The previous year we hadn’t brought our camera out with us to the Full Moon, afraid of damaging it. Actually ‘damaging it’ is an understatement, it would have ended up the in the Gulf of Thailand. But not having memories of such a unique night was something we really regretted. So a more mature Damo and Diarmo took the camera out and the pictures and videos really told the story of our night.
Every single one shows us dancing, jumping, smiling, laughing, getting others to join in our fun, that’s what the Full Moon is all about. Care-free, buckets that make you want to party forever, 40 bars playing anything from David Guetta to Led Zeppelin; people aged 18 to 80 having the time of their lives. Late in the night, By and I fell to the ground in some kind of man hug and a guy accidentally kicked me in the eye. I got up and said ‘I’m grand!’. I wasn’t, there was quite a bit of blood, we had to go to the doctor and get it fixed up. If that was the only injury of the night, it was so worth it.
People who leave Kho Phangan the day after the Full Moon are really making a rookie mistake. Those boats are painful enough without having to take them after a night as big as the Full Moon. We had one more day of relaxing at the beautiful Amaresa, none of us really wanted to leave this place. While having crazy, loud nights out on the biggest party beach in the entire world, we were able to relax in this little paradise of ours each day in Kho Phangan.
While on the boat out of Kho Phangan, we looked back at the island in the distance and smiled. It was our second Full Moon in 14 months and it wouldn’t be our last. As I mentioned, there were people from 18-80 partying the night away on Kho Phangan. The Full Moon has no age limit and I could see us back there soon. Or maybe even in 30 years when the kids have gone off to college, something will call us back to Kho Phangan.