At 9:55pm there's a knock at my door.
"Taxi is here! You must go."
It's 5 minutes early. We quickly get our things together and dash out the door.
The taxi is a pickup truck that has been converted to accommodate large groups of people. Bench seating had been installed that runs parallel to the direction of travel, with a metal frame and roof to protect from the elements. It reminds me of the way army trucks transport troops.
The taxi will take us from Thong Nai Pan, where we are staying, to Haad Rin, where the Full Moon Party is every month. The trip should take about half an hour, most of which is on a bumpy dirt road. We pass the spot where I encountered a dog twitching and foaming at the mouth the night before. I decide if he appears and starts to chase us, I'll lift myself up on to the roof (I'm sitting at the back, which is open, and it should be fairly easy to quickly get up there). I didn't get a rabies shot before we left.
Suddenly the Taxi pulls over somewhere in the middle of Thong Nai Pan village.
"Fi' Minute" The driver tells us as he hops on a motorbike and drives off.
"Did he just get on a scooter?" Someone asks.
"Yep." Someone else replies. "He must have forgotten something?"
A few minutes pass and our driver comes back. We're back on the move.
As we get off the pavement and onto the hard packed dirt road, the jungle gets thicker and the street lights stop. It's dark except for the reflection of the brake lights, sporatically lighting up the ground behind us and the dark smoke coming out of the exhaust. Everyone is very quiet, just holding on to avoid sliding around too much as the car bumps and sways. They seem to be concentrating real hard. I think about how it's like we're in the back of an army truck heading to war, the troops all quietly thinking about their loved ones back home. A loud boom echoes in the distance. Most likely fireworks or a car backfiring.
I don't know what to expect from the full moon party. If I combined all the things I'd heard about it into one opinion, it would be the most awesome, disgusting, amazing, dangerous, fun and filthy thing anyone has ever done. I'd read stories warning of broken bones, cuts from broken bottles, burns from playing with fire, fights, pick-pockets, date rape, alcohol poisoning, and overdoeses. In my mind, I had started to develop a picture of a beach scattered with bodies too drunk or high to stand up, lecherous date-rapists lurking about, pick-pockets stealing the shirts of people's backs, and drunk hooligans madly punching each other in the face without reason. Those that weren't fighting, raping or unconcious would be staggering about, bandaged and slobbering, searching for their lost flip flops.
As we get into Haad Rin we pass other taxis full of loud, excited party goers hooting at everything they see. Everyone is covered in neon, whether it be a "Full Moon Party" tank top or glow-in-the-dark paint or both. On the side of the road, every 10 meters, stands are set up selling beer and buckets of alcohol. Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Scotch, Jack Daniels, or Sang Som Thai Rum. Whatever your poison is, you can find it here. The taxi stops and after a short discussion on when the best time to be picked up again is (we decide to go with 4:00 am), we're left on our own.
As we approach the beach, I notice something strange. People were walking. Left and right people were high fiving and hooting into the night sky. The arrival on the beach was even more perplexing. People were actually dancing and having a good time. I felt like I had been grossly misinformed.
We went left, towards the end of the beach to find the place Laura had heard had a good view. We find it. The view is good. I take a picture. There's less people than I imagined on the beach, but maybe it's just from where we are, which was somewhat far away.
We walk to the other end of the beach to check out the stages and scope the music selection. Douche House, Psy Trance, Douchy Pop remixes, Drum 'n Bass, Douchy Latin Reggaetron Techno, More Douche House, More Douchy Pop remixes. The Drum 'n Bass stage is the winner by default. It would be great if it weren't for the handicapped MC they have slobbering and "rapping" into the microphone. At first I think it is just some idiot that stole the mic and expect security to jump on him at any minute (but it wasn't- He was there all night).
A thai girl compliments me on my "moves". She must be drunk, or planning on robbing me because I'm pretty sure I was doing the "Carlton". We get sick of the MC and go for a walk.
All of a sudden I notice how silly everyone looks carrying these little kid pales full of alcohol around. There's just no way to look cool when your hand is above your head, holding on the the handle of the bucket as you sip the sweet nectar, usually cross-eyed, through multiple straws. I realize I'm holding one. Damn. I take a sip anyway.
1:30 am. I'm feeling good. More dancing. More terrible MCing. A flaming stick almost lands on my head. Everybody cheers.
2:30 am. Okay, I'm done drinking. Beer tastes weird now. We get spring rolls from one of the vendors. Will I regret this later? It's cold and unsatisfying. To my left a beached whale lets out a mighty bellow. No, wait... Fat drunk guy.
3:30 am. Someone busts out the flaming jump rope. This isn't even a good idea when you're sober. We watch as a drunk guy concentrates hard on the rhythm of the rope, only to have the ropes handlers change-up the speed as soon as he gets under it. It hits him in the back and he runs for safety. He tries again.
4:00 am. Done. We find the taxi. He makes us wait for 30 minutes while he tries to get more people. It sucks.
5:00 am. Home. Shower. Sleep.
The next day in the restaurant at our place, we hear people regailing in their tales of the night before. The guy who was concentrating so hard on the flaming jump rope is there discussing his bewildered walk home. Another guy is sipping tea, still covered in glow-in-the-dark paint. I ponder that the best part of a good party is usually re-living it the next day with your friends.
As I listen to the stories, I can't help but feel a little disappointed. I was ready for carnage and expected no less. Instead, I got what was not much different than any outdoor party. It was almost tame. No one even tried to fight, rob or rape me. I don't know, maybe that's a good thing.
...And now, a random assortment of pictures!
Of the whole beach. It's pretty big... I guess... =P
This was at the point that the crowd was the biggest. Notice the clinic in the distance. There are over 40 clinics in Haad Rin alone. One of them, I'm pretty sure, was selling buckets outside their front door.
Endless sea of Buckets. Thailand is awesome, even at the nicer restaurants / lounges, they'll ahve buckets on the menu.
Not that I ever look cool, but if I did, it wouldn't be while drinking from one of these.
This guy was so bad. At one point I'm pretty sure he was just moaning into the mic.
This guy was really happy that I took a picture of him.
If you drink too many buckets, you're gonna have a bad time.
Spring roll on a stick anyone? They weren't that good.
Bad Idea. Word on the street is, the jump rope guys get big kick-backs from the clinics for burning dumbasses like this guy.
This is my favorite picture of the night. People partying in their underwear (especially tighty whiteys) are always awesome.