An American in Thailand: The Full Moon Party
I've been hearing about this Full Moon Party thing for ages, some kind of beach rave that draws an estimated monthly attendance of at least 8, hedonistic wrecks. And that's 8, in the low season. It's mid-August now, high season here on Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand, which means we might be looking at 30, party-goers tonight, all out in i to match their neon shirts, drinking their buckets of alcohol and gleefully allowing the club music to damage their hearing.
The "bathrooms" will be overflowing by midnight and the sand will be soaked with vomit patches, scattered like land mines, before dawn. The Full Moon Party has been rising in popularity among the foreign backpacker circuit for over 30 years now. I've never been involved in backpacker culture, but tonight I find myself hook up in koh phangan the road to the party with pbangan couple Muay Thai fighters from Isaan, whom I met at the nearby Kosin Gym earlier this week.
The idea of attending this sordid event with local Thai friends makes the whole experience slightly more palatable. We hook up in koh phangan a large communal taxi up and down the winding hills to Haad Rin beach at the southern tip of Phangan Island. Much to my surprise, there's a ticket area set up to intercept party-goers. I contest that my friends got in free, so why do I have to pay? A banner behind him helpfully explains that the ticket booth proceeds are used for worthwhile things like extra security personnel and post-party beach clean-up.
In light of this, I quit my protests and dutifully hand over my share. Hook up in koh phangan snake our hiok single-file through the sweaty masses, past all the bars, s, and hp stands, until we reach the sand. It's 10pm and the entire stretch of beach is already saturated with drunk tourists frolicking in the dark surf, flirting with young Thais selling buckets of alcohol, and crowding around the sexily mesmerizing fire-dancers. As I stand on the precarious edge between paved town and sandy beach, I start to regret the whole thing.
I am way too sober to be dealing with this many people. Baobiao and Giang, however, drag me around the beach, seemingly on a mission to take as iin selfies as their phones can hold. Surprisingly, Baobiao, whose creepily flirtatious attitude over the past few days just screams "big irresponsible drinker," says he'll be abstaining tonight. And again last night, twice? First at Haad Rin Arena and then at Jungle Experience? This can't be healthy.
I saw Baobiao fight on both Friday and Saturday. Real fights, not exhibitions. His second fight on Saturday, in fact, resulted in him losing by KO, head kick. They had to hook up in koh phangan him out of the ring, and he didn't regain full consciousness for about 15 minutes afterwards. Outside a club, yook Thai kid right in front of me waves and makes eye contact as if he thinks I actually know him.
I figure he's waving at someone behind me until I realize that I do know him. It's Jae Jae, one of Giang's and Baobiao's fellow fighters from Kosin Gym. I watched him fight the last two nights on the same cards as Baobiao. Earlier today, I saw him working at Makro Supermarket, collecting shopping carts in the parking lot. Jae Jae, looking starkly different without his Makro cap or his Muay Thai shorts, takes a sip of his bucket and offers me some.
You working there tomorrow too? And then fighting afterwards? I hook up in koh phangan go out, I can party at Full Moon, I can work full-time, hook up in koh phangan I can train and fight full-time! I can do it all! Jae Jae vanishes into the crowd at the club as quickly as hook up in koh phangan appeared, and for nadelen online dating moment I feel a certain nostalgia for my own teenage years, when partying seemed like a great idea instead of an inconvenience.
Baobiao, sitting on a random motorbike parked outside the beachfront club, looks up from his phone and declares it's nearly midnight, about time for him to head home. I follow along as Giang escorts him across the beach town to the taxi area. We get sidetracked when they run into friends outside the Haad Rin Arena, a local gym and fight venue.
Directly adjacent to the arena is another entrance station. As if on cue, a young Loh man starts arguing with a Thai ticket-taker as we walk past. Look in my wallet! I have baht! Not enough to get home if I give you this money for the entrance ticket! The ticket man doesn't budge. It helps the beach and keeps you safer. Baobiao and Giang push by and make themselves comfortable in front of the vacant arena, while I'm approached by white woman in a long skirt and studded belt.
She introduces herself as Melia, also from southern California, and shows me around the mostly empty arena. I was supposed to have my first fight here recently but it got canceled at the last minute. You know how it goes in Thailand…" she laments. How are you liking it? But it can be fun--sometimes groups of us hool from Diamond and I tell the teenage Thai fighters I'm going to help them find foreign girlfriends. It's pretty funny to see these tough fighters get all giggly when I mention girls.
During our conversation, the occasional party-goer wanders into the open arena hook up in koh phangan plays with the weights and other exercise gear in back. A few women start hula hooping while others don gloves and awkwardly hit punching bags. An attractive young couple is having a lover's quarrel over on a weight bench joh a corner, while a charming young Indian woman kicks a long bag with surprisingly decent form, then later joins our conversation and waxes lyrical about how much she misses her recent month training up north at Charn Chai.
Suddenly a Thai man stumbles up and grabs Melia in a sloppy bear hug. She embraces him back and gives him a peck on the cheek. He doesn't stay to chat, but rather kisses Melia goodbye and drunkenly staggers off. He used to be hook up in koh phangan pretty respected fighter in Bangkok hook up in koh phangan he was younger. Now he's hhook trainer at Diamond, and he does the announcing here during fight nights.
And of course, he also works with the local business association on Full Moon, selling entrance wristbands to the tourists. Is that why he's stumbling around now? Are these verbal frays with lhangan tourists driving him to drink?