As soon as travel plans started to take shape for Sarah’s brother and cousin coming to Thailand, we circled the legendary New Year’s Eve Full Moon Party on Koh Phangnan as a must do. The monthly Full Moon party is something that people come from around the world to experience, and rumor had it that the New year’s eve version, was even bigger and crazier. Ten of thousands of young people would converge on the Thai Island for the biggest beach party you can find. I usually think that New Year’s eve parties can be somewhat anticlimactic.. but not this one!
One big advantage of staying on Koh Samui is that we could travel to the party and then back to the our resort all in the same day. The travel companies on Samui were used to shipping people back and forth, albeit incredibly dangerously, via speedboats. The trip between the islands takes only about 30 minutes and there are endless tour companies that offer the service. So, our plan was to buy speedboat tickets, leave mid afternoon, party all night, and then catch a speedboat back to Samui after the party.
The big unknown in the plan was that Sarah’s brother Sean and girlfriend Katie would be hopefully arriving in Thailand on December 30th. However, as is so often the case, plans didn’t go as expected and they ended up running into an endless number of issues. Four missed connections and 50+ hours of travel later, they didn’t make it to Samui until the afternoon of the 31st. Rightfully so, they were exhausted by the time they got to the resort and I wasn’t sure how they were going to make it. However, after a quick power nap and shower, we packed up for the night and caught a ride to the speedboat.
After waiting for a our boat to get fixed for an hour we finally hopped on board and took off. The speedboats are packed to the brim with people, and are unbelievably unsafe. Instead of adjusting or compensating for the huge waves, the driver just decided to go as fast as possible and bust over the top of them. We all held on as the boat bounced, seemingly out of control, all the way to Phangnan.
Once we arrived, we paid a small fee and then were squeezed into the islands back alleys and side-streets. Everyone we had talked to had said that the main rule of the party was to pace yourself. No one wants to be the guy that passes out on the beach at 10pm on a New Years Eve. It was still early, so we walked the streets for a while but then found a quiet restaurant/cafe to get food and relax.
Once we were recharged and the sun had gone down, we went back into the streets to witness the crazy pile of humans getting off the boats and taking the island by storm. Already by 9pm there were thousands of people milling around in crazy costumes and glow in the dark paint. In classic Thai style, there were food stands everywhere selling cased meat, fried rice, and pizza. Sean and Katie were absolutely exhausted so we sent them back to the cafe to see if they could sneak a few hours of sleep before the real party started. The rest of us found some sidewalk space and body paint and decided to get creative like everyone else.
Our good friend Kate from Chiang Mai was also down in the holidays with her boyfriend from back home and we were able to meet up with them before the party. We all bought our first buckets of the night and peopel watched. The buckets are all over Thailand, but the Full Moon Party is what they are known for. All along the streets are stands selling a bucket with everything you need to make a dink inside. You chose your drink, and they mix it all up for you. After a few drinks we went back to check on Sean and Katie and found them like this:
After some encouragement we got them up and headed to the streets to get a few more buckets and go to the beach. When we first hit the sand, the sight was ridiculous. As far as you looked, people were packed between the beach-side bars and the ocean. Music blasted from everywhere and lights were flashing. We walked through the crowd for a while until we carved out some space to drink and dance. Everyone we came across was in great spirits and having a good time.
At midnight, some of the music stopped and suddenly huge fireworks went off just inland. The fireworks were incredible and went on for at least 15 minutes. Everyone cheered and yelled Happy New Years and then music came back up and everyone went back to partying.
We decided to scope out the rest of the party and witnessed all the things make it so infamous and maligned. Some of the Thai locals held huge burning ropes for drunk kids to jump over while other lit rings on fire with gasoline for people to jump through. Of course some people got burnt but we didn’t see anything too serious. You can’t have a party with Sarah’s family without some competition so the metal bar we found quickly became a pull-up contest.
After hours of partying and dancing, we were spent and at about 4am we decided to walk back to the pier to catch a boat to Samui. We stood in line for a while and ate terrible drunk food from a few vendors. Of course, drunk kids and lines never make for a good combo so naturally there were the line budgers and of course people calling them out on it. The boat ride back was a blur and we were all happy to make it back ok. We hopped in a Songthew back to our resort and Austin and I hung out the back loving the fresh air.
I will talk at length about my overall opinion of the party in my next post, but in general, we all had the time of our life and it was definitely a New Year’s to remember.