We're Never Coming Back

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Day 324 - The Full Moon Party

thailand So, we left off with me stuck in bed, sweating out my tonsilitus-induced fever and wishing I was partying with the routy 18-30s crowd that are inhabiting my hotel. Its not looking good. Truth is - i'd kinda lost faith in the whole thing anyway. This full moon party looks more and more likely to be the worst thing we've done all year. If the people we're staying with are anything to go by, i reckon the whole crowd will be offensively laddish and uninteresting.

But its out of my hands. I'm not well enough, and sweating so much that within seconds of being out of my air-conditioned room I have sweat dripping down my chest and back. Wearing clothes is not an option. But the sun's setting. And I haven't eaten in 2 and a half days, so I wander out to meet the guys who are sat drinking vodka red bulls at the overcrowding bar area. I'm shirtless because of the sweat - I certainly don't have the body to be flashing my pecs after dark - but I have to do it. And a soda water later, my energy levels have miraculously altered. I'm laughing for the first time in days. I'm trotting to the toilet when before it would have been a near crawl. My splitting headache has been replaced with a gentle wave of nausea every 20 minutes - not ideal, but not painful.

And soon enough the hotel drags out a huge buffet which the rotten 20-somethings claw over embarassingly. And then comes the dance music, some dancing from the more drunk members of the hotel occupants, some splashing from the re-opened (although somewhat cloudier) pool. And then the body paints.

The full moon party - a legend in Thailand and around the world - is inextricably linked with fluo body paints. At the actual party you can buy the most ornate and amazing fluo paint tattoos for just a few quid, which look amazing (providing you don't sweat them off). Within minutes, I'm covered in fluo stripes down my arms and legs. Some routy girl from newcastle paints something rude on my back which I then have to try and wash off before I get caught on camera. And Eve's so wasted she's throwing paint on herself and rubbing bodies with other party-goers to spread paint over each other. All this and we've not even left the hotel yet.

But midnight comes, and the night is short, so we decide to leave. The atmosphere in our little quintet is odd. Tom's a bit wired (he took Ping Pong up on his offer and bought something suspicious) and has Tick (his new girlfriend) hanging onto his arm as excited as I am; Eve's wasted and talking non-stop; Sam's drunk but already decided that she hates tonight so isn't in the mood; and I'm smiling from ear to ear because the antibiotics have finally kicked in and I feel alive enough to go for a dance. We walk through the heaving town - past haords of revellers decked in the fluo paints and dressed up to the max. The crowd seem to all be looking for something - this far from the beach seems to be too far for the party vibe to stretch. But we as get closer, the party picks up. Before long we're just meters from the beach and it all becomes apparent.

So, I know what to expect. Its a big beach - maybe a kilometre or so long and quite wide. Bars line the top of the beach, all suitably equipped for a good party. But what we see before us is insane. The beach, from shoreline to barline, is rammed. There's barely room to move. The roar of the beach bars is deafening. Broken beer bottles poke out of the sand. Wasted teenagers lying on the the sand get trodden on and apoligised to by other drunken teens. Everyone clutches the tiny buckets that are so familiar in these parts. And the crowds go on and on and on for as far as you can see - constantly thick and throbbing and sweaty. I'm still sweating out my fever, but the electric atmophere grabs us all and propels us into the crowd.

And within seconds we realise why the beach party has such an infamous reputation. Just metres from each other, we lose sight of tom and tick and its a few minutes before we find them. Eve's dragging behind and sam has to rescue her from becoming lost. Tom's flipping out too - the overpriced chalky pill he bought has made him go a bit mental and after lashing out at some dude he's holding his head in his hands and I suggest Tick takes him somewhere quiet to calm down. 2 recruits down. 3 left.

I'm not drinking, but Eve and Sam are sinking vodka buckets (a small bottle of vodka, 2 small bottles of red bull and a CocaCola), getting more wasted by the second. Those things are lethal. Eve's suddenly talking to some welsh dude and seconds later she's got her legs wrapped around him and they're kissing in the middle of the throng of people. Sam and I spend 20 minutes trying to get the 100m down the beach to the toilet - bumbling over sand-covered plastic chairs, passed-out rudeboys and techno worshippers. I buy a bottle of water from some dude I find unable to stand up, talking to a tree (that was me in Peru, remember). When we get back, Eve's still at it, so we leave her and go for a wander.

Sam's trashed at this point, and I just wat to dance. So I tactically escort her through the crowds to a hardcore bar. Its great - every bar is blaring their choice of music out across the sands. If you don't stand directly in front of the bar, you get this nasty mix of two genres singing into each ear. But we make it about 10 bars down, and Sam's too wasted to dance to this mental squall of sound, so before long she's ready to head home (mission acomplished). I wander her back - its carnage across this part of the island. We pass people passed out on the sand, drunkenly fighting in the streets. Even a girl brazenly giving a boy a blowjob on the beach - Sam mistakenly thinks they're hugging. And within 30 minutes I'm heading back towards to the party - alone this time. I've ditched all the troops now - its just me and I can finally come and dance and space myself out (high on antibiotics and one red bull).

And excitedly I approach the beach - still heaving at 3am - ready to go and find some music to rave to - when I hear "DUNCAN!!!!! DUNCAN!!!!!!!" from the crowds. I look - horrified - its a completely wasted and slumped Eve sitting on the same deckchair we left her in with the welsh boy 2 hours ago. She's so so trashed and in her stumbling talk accuses us of promising to come back for her and never coming back. Some truth in the statement - perhaps. But she caught me out. My precious alone time destroyed - i take her under my wing and escort (again, tactically) to the Hardcore bar where the music blips at over 180 beats per minute - where only the bravest survive. She's offended by the music, slumps on the sand and leaves me to dance - keeping a watchful eye on her all the time.

And within 20 minutes some lone dude aproaches her, starts talking to her, and before long they're kissing. Nice work eve - but its all further reinforcement of how debauched this place is. He leaves shortly after, and I pick Eve up and take her for some food, after which she decided to wander home. Its a good 25-minute walk with a drunk girl, but its pretty safe so I tell I'm going to stay and minutes later I'm back on my own. I find myself a spot outside a house bar, sink another red bull and dance with the rest of the beach for 2 hours. Until the sun starts to rise.

And its here I realise that the two red bulls I've downed have had a somewhat suspicious effect on me. Its rumoured that the red bull here is of such supreme strength and mixed in such a way that it actually acts on the brain in the same way as amphetamines. The much lauded myth that they actually add amphetamines to the buckets is rubbish - its the chemicals in the red bull. And I experienced this first hand; one side effect of taking pills is gurning - the hugely unattractive practise of unconsciously grinding your teeth and jaw for a few hours after taking the drug - and by 6am the (now three) red bulls I've drunk (neat) have had the same effect. I find myself a spot on the beach to watch the sunrise and quietly gurn to myself, shading my mouth with my hand to hide how rank it looks.

And with that, the sun rises slowly. In 10 and a half months travelling the world, I've only seen 1 other sunrise. How bad is that. Yeah, I've seen some from my sleeply daze on nightbuses, and i've been awake when its got light outside. But this was only the second (after one on the Bolivian Salt Flats) that I've actually sat and watched. And this time I'm alone, and conscious, and alert and observant. At first its hard to tell what's different about a sunrise and a sunset. Its the same familar pinks and oranges, catching on the underside of clouds and beaming down towards me. But soon you realise why its so novel - the colours from the sun are the same, maybe a little more pink, but mostly the same. But the backdrop is different. Its not a dark blue sky, darkening with the dropping of the sun. This is a crystal blue sky, almost white in its purity, washed with just a hint of blue. Its stunning. And every minute the sky's changing as the sun, still lurking below the horizon, gradually rises up. I sit and wait for 40 minutes. Every second, like waiting for that bus around the corner, thinking it will break the horizon any second, but it doesn't. Eventually I bore and wander the beach until it finally rises. And with that people flock to the waters front, some dancing, some praying, some couples contemplating the new day hand-in-hand. I suddenly feel oppresively alone, and i'm still sweating out my fever and gurning. The day has arrived, and its time for me to head home.

And so start to I wander slowly back - past a fenced off section of the beach for party casualities (a commendable practise) and past literally HUNDREDS of lost flip-flops. I've never seen anything like that before, and pass a tramp collecting the ones in best condition - i assume to try and match up and sell? I wander through the streets home, now soaked in daylight and crowded with homebound revellers. I'm in a daze - the caffeine has truly gone to my head and I can barely concentrate on the raucous sights and sounds of post-party Haad Rin. And soon I'm in bed - wide awake and alert, still sweating, using a curtain as a cover because mine is nowhere to be seen. Eve's just got back - she ended up wandering the island with some boy and being lost for hours. My jaw's still crushing. My eyes are sore. And sometime in the next hour I fall asleep.

And with the morning comes the most horrendous of Sam and Eve's hangovers. Tom's happy - he finally did the deed with Tick last night - but we've got to check out in less than an hour and are booked on a nightbus to Bangkok later today. Sam's been sick. Eve's miserable. I'm packing my stuff, feeling much better although in need of some proper sleep, and soon enough we're wishing farewell to Tom (see you in London mate) and jumping on a taxi across the island to the ferry terminal.

What did I think of the party? Well - it was pretty awesome. In terms of scale, its amazing. Its a huge beach, rivalling the first Fat Boy Slim party in Brighton, but on a monthly basis. The people are routs, but that's a huge generalisation since I managed to meet (when on my own) some nice people. Its got a little something for everyone, and whilst the anticipation was a bit more exciting than the real thing, I had a wicked time, despite the sweats and unexpected gurning. I wish I'd felt better. But it was great. Perhaps. My ambivalence stretches as far and wide as that crammed beach. Would I go back - probably not. Will I remember it fondly - I think so. Its back to Bangkok for me now, and then India. Farewell Thailand. Its been fun.

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