*Disclaimer* Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, I’m back and blogging about my trip to Thailand again…if this is boring you, in a few posts time my Thailand memoirs will be over and I’ll be talking about other stuff.
So, after the bar-crawling, sunbathing, snorkelling adventures in Koh Tao, the island of Koh Phangan – best known for its “infamous” Full Moon Party – was where our travelling group would spend our final week together. After three weeks of guided travel, we were now free to do whatever we liked; with no specific itinerary planned. I’m not gonna lie, this was a weird week; I think some of us felt a bit lost not having anything specific to do, we’d lost 2 members of the group who were only on the three week trip, and the group seemed to be dropping like flies – we had people in and out of hospital for various reasons. Also, with monsoon season upon us it rained A LOT, meaning I spent stupid amounts of time scrolling down Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in my room. But ya know what, deep down I am a lazy person, and when the sun peaked through I really enjoyed laying by the pool or on the beach, smoothie in hand, headphones in, music up, or reading a book. When you’re travelling with a big group of people you’ve got to remember to spend some time with yourself.
Our accommodation this week was a beach front resort named Sarana Bungalows, and as the name suggests, the rooms were bungalows shared between 2/3 people. Yes, the accommodation was basic, but I didn’t come travelling expecting 5* hotels. Granted, the rooms in this hotel were a little bit of a step down from previous accommodations we’d stayed in, but they were a head and shoulders above what I’d expected. The infinity pool, palm trees and being a footstep away from the beach sure as hell made up for that!
In addition to this, there was also a cute little restaurant area with cushions on the ground, where we all made the most of the food and drink tab system in place; spending many evenings eating Pad Thai, drinking beer and having deep emotional chats. My tab actually came up to ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED BAHT by the end of the week…which is the equivalent of 32 British pounds. It sounds like so much in Thai currency, I was absolutely horrified I’d spent so much money stuffing my face; but in reality £32 for a week’s worth of food and drink isn’t bad at all.
As I said before, I spent a lot of time in the pool, chilling on the beach, befriending dogs (see pictures below) and hiding in my room when it was raining. As well as this, lots of fun and random times were had with the gang; playing volleyball on the beach (FYI I am absolutely terrible at all sports), doing handstand competitions like 5 year olds, and playing a game in the pool where me and one of the other girls were on the lads’ shoulders, trying to push each other off – and whoever got pushed in first was the loser (maybe you had to be there for it to sound fun).
One night we had quite a sentimental moment watching the sunset together on the beach. I can’t think of any other time in my life where I’ve actually sat and watched the sun go down; it was truly spectacular, no filter needed. Actually, iPhone cameras don’t even do it justice. It was a pure Louis Armstrong moment, thinking what a wonderful world we live in. One of the girls said something so sweet and true, that has stuck with me ever since and I’ll always remember it when I’m feeling a bit sad, or missing people: “watching the sunset is comforting because you remember that at some point in the day, everyone in the world has looked at that same sun.”
Cute, right? Here are some of my other Koh Phangan highlights;
You’ve all seen Total Wipeout, right? The TV game show where contestants would attempt to complete a series of obstacles over water to win money? Always thought “I would soooo love to have a go at that”? – well on Koh Phangan in Thailand, you actually can! and I did! (of course I didn’t fully complete the circuit, but it’s the taking part that counts)
The course was complete with inflatable paths, spinning spokes, inflatable rock climbing, monkey bars (the only thing I could actually do, and not gonna lie, I was a fucking pro), and the three big red balls at the end which you have to somehow find your way to walk/crawl along without falling into the water. This attraction gets thousands of visitors per month, and in the two or three years it has been open, only 88 people had made it onto the wall of fame, as of November 2014!
Despite not actually managing to complete the majority of obstacles in the circuit, I had so much fun just messing around, egging my mates on, and watching other people fall down and such. The absolute highlight of the day came in the form of a giant inflatable cushion by the side of the lake. One person lies down on it, and two people jump down onto it from a high platform above, causing the person laying down to launch into the air! I watched many people do it, go flying ridiculous heights into the air and lad with a massive (and painful) thud into the water…initially my brain said “fuck that for a laugh”, but of course I ended up doing it, and I’m SO glad I did.
Laying down on the inflatable waiting for my pals to make the big jump felt more like a thousand hours, than the 30 seconds that it actually was. “Are you ready Natalie?” they said, “YEAAAHHH!” I yelled back. Was I ready? Was I fuck! I was absolutely shitting it. Next thing I knew, I went flying into the air, turned upside down, could hear my friends saying “SHIIIIT”, as I landed in the water face first. It was SO FLIPPING COOL! It was probably the most exhilarating and frightening experience of my life, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat (even though I lost my nose ring and had to wear a stud for the rest of the trip; which I now realise don’t suit me at all.)
Random night out
On our first night on Phangan, after enjoying a group dinner at a restaurant high up in the hills, one of the girls asked me if I was gonna go out that night. Me being me, I never say no to a night out, especially in Thailand; so of course I said yes. I was stunned to realise it was just me and one other girl from the group going; along with 3 girls we’d met earlier on in the day at the hotel. Was it really true, the usual party-goers of the group were actually STAYING IN? Crazy times. Anyway, it was actually a pretty damn good night. We ended up at a bar called Ringside – that was also a hostel – playing beer pong and raving the night away to old school R&B and hip-hop music. It was the perfect choice of music for me, Kisstory all’day err’day for me! By this point of the trip, I’d come to realise that nights out in Thailand always ended with weird things happening to me, and that night was no different.
*Disclaimer* What I’m about to tell you is something that I 100% would not recommend for anyone’s safety, and mum, I’m sorry
It soon got late and Maria and I realised we didn’t actually have any idea where we were, or how to get back to the hotel. Fortunately, we’d met two French guys that night (one was an angel, one was an absolute dickhead) and used our womanly charms to get a lift back to the hotel on the back of the nice guy’s motorbike! Three people on one motorbike, when the driver is slightly pissed is not the best idea, but it was really funny! He was going so fast and I literally could not stop screaming, but we made it back in one piece and alive to tell the tale.
selfie as blurry as I felt!
FULL MOON PARTY
Okay, here it is; when you clicked on this Koh Phangan blog, I’m sure the Full Moon Party was what you wanted to hear about. In case you’re unaware The Full Moon party is an all night rave held on Haad Rin beach, once a month (when the full moon is out, of course). It has everything you could want from a Thailand party; alcohol buckets, fire skipping/limbo etc, lots of music, lots of people and some recreational drugs, obvz.
After a girlie day of shopping for Full Moon supplies, including being served by a very enthusiastic man when buying vodka (“Smirnoff Vodka – THREE HUNDRED FIFTY BAAAAAHHHHTTT”), we got ready and started pre-drinking at the hotel. Lots of banter was had in this time; we covered each other in neon paint, drunk lots, and sung happy birthday to one of the lovely girls, Brogan, whose birthday we were celebrating.
Amongst all the drunkness, we had a cute, sentimental, spiritual moment setting off chinese lanterns into the sky; bare cute.
And then, it was PARTY time! By the time we’d got into the taxi, I’d already drunk a small bottle of vodka to myself, as well as lots of Malibu. I’d done my research vis-à-vis Full Moon Party, I’d always read that you need to pace yourself in order to make it to sunrise, but did I listen? I was pretty smashed by the time we got to the party. I don’t remember much, but my pals told me that I was absolutely mental when we first got there, jumping and grinding on everybody, being one of the only ones who was drunk at that point (god’s sake Nat)…shortly after this, I bumped into someone I’d met in Koh Samui, stopped to talk to him for a few seconds, then all my pals were completely out of sight. Yep, I’d done what I read you should never do, be alone at this 80,000 strong party. I’d also read that you shouldn’t wear flip flops to Full Moon as you’d either break your foot or go home with one flip flop, and that you shouldn’t bring your phone or anything valuable with you. I did all these things and I’m here today, writing this blog, with no severe harm done.
So there I was, alone amongst 80,000 people, walking the length of the beach to find everybody, sitting down with a group of randomers; crying that I’d lost my friends. Eventually, I gave up, walked into a place I considered safe: a walk-in clinic, and slept on a bench for 4 hours. Yes, I’m an idiot. I drank too much, got myself into a situation which could have been very unsafe, and missed the majority of the party. Eventually I woke up, deciding I should probably get myself back to the hotel, when by MASSIVE fluke I bumped into 2 of my friends; some of the only people who were still at the party! I couldn’t have been more relieved (and neither could they, wondering where the hell I’d got to all night), and after my nana-nap I was ready to rave shit up! We danced some more, found two of the other pals asleep on the beach, and OMG I actually made it to watch the sunrise!!! Okay, so I cheated a little. But I was there, awake, sat on the beach watching a new day begin.
Overall, the Full Moon Party was quite an experience for me. Although I slept through most of it, it was an absolutely banging party; slightly overrated considering it is THE thing to do on Phangan, but I’d recommend trying it once. Again, I wouldn’t recommend being as stupid as me and losing your pals and sleeping in a clinic; but hey, I was safe, I was fine. If you plan on going to the Full Moon Party in the future, keep your wits about you, and just have fun!
Final Night; BBQ and reflections
Our Thailand Adventure was drawing to a close, so a beach BBQ in the evening was the perfect way to spend our final night on Phangan. Between munching on the yummy food and drinking Singha, our time was spent reflecting on the highs and lows of our trip, our incredible tour guide giving an emotional speech about how much he loves us, winding each other up, laughing at the memories, and chatting about random crap. A few nights before this, myself and two of the lads went to a place called Kangaroo Bar; it was a totally chilled out place (mainly because of the magic mushroom shakes), overlooking Haad Rin beach. It was rainy and windy, the waves were choppy, that “wave after wave” song by Mr Probz was playing and I was having a proper “moment”. Thinking about how lucky I was to have spent the best part of the month in a beautiful country with even more beautiful people.
Another night we went to a pub called The Mason Arms. Yes, a PUB! A real British pub where I ate gammon and chips and drank Magners. By that point it’s fair to say we were missing our home comforts a bit, so we had a whale of a time eating British food, playing pool/darts and generally being “homey” (is that a word?) It made me think of what it’d be like if all of us reunited in the UK someday.
I absolutely LOVE this group of people, and the tour guides too. How was I gonna leave them? What would I do without them? I had an epic time on Koh Phangan, but I think I was quite sad at some points too, as I was so aware our time together was coming to and end. How would I cope saying goodbye? But hey, after Koh Phangan we still had a 12 hour journey back to Bangkok followed by a final night out together to enjoy, forget the tears and hand me the beer!