This day was spent cruising around the northern bits of the island… checking out a couple waterfalls and heading down a treacherous little path to Bottle Beach. It was however meant to be a day spent chillin’ on the beach, but as you can see in the photos, the weather wasn’t very much in our favor. Added to this treachery were of the storms that had passed the days before we arrived, the currents were treacherous and it was strongly advised not to head into the water (and when the nearest hospital is several hours away on another island, you tend to listen).
I had read about Bottle Beach prior coming to the island, and that it was only reachable via a 3hr hike… but I saw a sign pointing in its direction and went for it. Of course the ”road” was rather unpaved and filled with mean gullies up and down the steep slopes and even had to traverse some streams (hey, the motorbike was a rental after all!) into the tiny cove that protected the small and serene beach.
“Bottle Beach” got its name as prior to the path we took, the only way to find it was a rocky hike with bottles on sticks as markers that pointed the way down to its shore. On the last stretch coming near the beach I even had to blaze my own trail, as the road had been swept out by flooding… 2 other tourists left their bikes there, waddled across and walked the last stretch… not me! Where there is a will, there is a way… so I blazed my own path through the swampy land and luckily made it to the beach (the 2 others asked how the hell we had managed, haha!).
What an amazing little beach. I could easily spend 2 weeks here with a couple good books, a couple cases of beer and a tub of sun screen.
The first couple waterfalls weren’t all too spectacular, but the last one I thought was out of this world. Not the falls themselves (“Phu Dang”), but the vegetation and remoteness of it was amazing. I found that the tree in that last image was something straight out of a Hobbit novel.
Chaos. Mayhem. Craziness.
I’m slightly at a loss of words to describe the scenes of the full moon party on Haad Rin beach on the island of Koh Phangan. I will attempt to tell me story as short as possible, because I could easily write volumes.
First of all, we were staying on the north-east side of the island (“A” on the map below), and we, rather adventurously, decided to drive the +60min trip with a 125cc motorbike (!) to the south-west beach where the full moon party was being held (“B” on the map). I consider myself a pretty decent driver, even on 2 wheels… and this proved to be quite the test. There is only one “road” from the village we were spending our nights, to the southern, more inhabited area of the island. 25% of the road is not paved… mix that with up to 15% slopes, some rain earlier in the day and the fact that you are in the middle of the jungle… so it’s kinda dark. Then add in the fact that these motorbikes aren’t quite in the best shape (the headlight decided for itself when it wanted to work, while the back one didn’t work at all), also rather obviously is that because this island is so remote, there are no gas stations, so you have to fill up with fuel that is sold via plastic soda bottles and glass liquor bottles, which is surely watered down (so you’re not getting full power).
Did I also mention that in Thailand they drive on the left?
What actually proved more difficult were the roads that led up and down (up and down, up and down!) into Haad Rin, although all paved, these carried slopes of over 30%!!! The 125cc motorbike coudln’t even handle some of them full-throttle, just to give you an idea of how steep they were. Even going down, the brakes fully pressed-in, could not bring the bike to a halt… so yeah, it was a little scary. As we got closer the jeep taxis filled with party-goers also proved interesting, especially those driven by the goers themselves.
On the way back I dodged 3 bottles that were thrown out the sides and back of these jeeps (not aimed at us, but just discarded), and those were the only 3 I noticed because they landed right on the street. Well done, bastards.
Fun fact: the island of Koh Phangan has a population of around 14,000, and the average full-moon crowd is between 10,000-30,000!
The party itself was situated around several clubs spinning all kinds of music right on the beach…while behind the clubs countless back streets with more noise, liquor, and paraphernalia in every direction.
Applying body paint and wearing fluorescent colors were a must, which made for quite the [more] surreal experience. Also, drinks didn’t come in cups or bottles, but rather you bought a bucket that consisted of a half bottle of liquor accompanied with some mixers, ice and a garnish, and severed in a…… well, in that very bucket of course.
I opted for the vodka + sprite + red bull + lime.
So there ya go… what an experience! I’m not aware of any list of the top party places in the world, but I’ve definitely marked another one off the list. I’m also happy to report that we arrived back safely without any injuries or damages… well, besides my feet, which took a mean battering due to sandals + dancing + fine sand.
More information (schedules, tips, etc) about the full moon parties can be found here: http://fullmoonparty-thailand.com/, also keep in mind that in between these monthly parties the island hosts an array of other supposedly crazy party experiences… black moon parties, half moon, blue moon…. the list is endless, but the full moon party is the place to be.
I will most certainly be back… and this time I won’t be driving, or wearing sandals.