The Full Moon Party

The Full Moon Party on Koh Pha Ngan: thirty thousand drunk and reckless tourists cram themselves onto a sliver of beach for a night of depraved debauchery that rolls on until the sun rises. Color me excited.

It’s something that I’ve been hearing about from fellow travelers throughout the trip. In fevered whispers on crowded trains, they recall nights of fire dancing and drunken elephant tattoos.

A quick aside about my thoughts on elephant tattoos – don’t do it. Everybody in Thailand gets that little elephant on their foot and while a few are alright, the majority look like they were drawn by a toddler with Parkinsons.

If you’re considering a tattoo, I recommend what my friend did while in Thailand. He got a tiny heart tattooed on his balls. It’s unique and a lovely conversation starter. I’ve been trying to get a picture for evidence, but his condition is that, “you can have a picture, you just have to take it”… so I have yet to get that picture.

But enough about ball tattoos, let’s get back to the story. I arrive at Koh Phangan a few days early. Every night leading up to the full moon is a different themed party. The most popular is the Jungle Party, which some people say is even better than the Full Moon Party because it’s not as crazily crowded.

For the Jungle Party, everyone puts on neon body paint and then heads to the jungle. There’s a big group of us putting paint  on at the hostel when this middle aged Russian guy comes up and starts talking to us. He’s got a real thick accent and is pretty difficult to understand.

As we’re talking, a dog walks up with a bloody gash on its back. The Russian guy looks at the dog, then back to me and says, “careful. That dog is gonna rape you”. I’m not really sure what to say so I just kinda laugh and shrug my shoulders. Then he looks at me seriously again and says, “no, that dog is going to rape everyone”.

Me: “I uh…I have no response to that. What are you talking about?”

Eventually, we work out that he is telling me to be careful because the dog could have rabies. He has decided to make rabies a verb, and is saying that the dog may “rabe” me. What a difference one letter makes. I thank him and head off.

The Jungle Party itself is fun but uneventful. It is now the morning of the Full Moon Party and time for preparations. A couple of us go shopping for attire. Most people wear some collection of neon clothes to match their body paint. I purchase neon green short shorts and a spiky neon green necklace that really send off the “S&M raver” vibe that I’m going for.


I eat dinner at 7, begin drinking at 8, and arrive at the beach by 10. It’s a dense mass of roughly 30,000 partygoers with various hostels dotting the beach. Each hostel is blasting it’s own music, so you hang out at one that you like the sounds of for a bit then move along when you feel the need to switch things up.

It’s all a drunken mess and I end up at a hostel that has a slide coming from its second story onto the beach. There’s no cushion at the bottom, so belligerent tourists are continually being fired out on the sand and sprawling all over the place. It’s hilarious to watch and I decide to get in on the action.

I become friends with a group of people at the bottom of the slide and bet them that I can land standing up. I go for it, and stick the landing like god damn Kerri Strug (look her up). I look back to the group and flip them off – reveling for a moment in the victory of my drunken athleticism – when suddenly things go black. I come to and am laying on my back with a crowd of people standing over me. A guy helps me up who is apologizing profusely -”holy shit man, are you alright? I didn’t know you were there”.

Being the fool that I am, I stand right at the bottom of the slide flipping them off. There isn’t exactly anyone regulating the slide so another guy goes down and slams into me. Fortunately, I walk away with nothing more than hurt pride and a bruised leg.

Before I know it the sun is up. Where has the night gone? At this point it’s around 8 a.m., and I’ve been drinking steadily since 8 p.m. the previous night. Rational thought processes are rapidly deteriorating. I run into friends and we take some morning shots to welcome in the new day. Jon, as per usual, throws up.


A group of us then head up on the roof of a hostel overlooking the beach and attempt to “reel in” other party goers with fake rods. Our success rate is low but we do finally manage to entice a dating couple up.


At about 9 a.m., the couple we reel in, two other girls, and I decide that a trip to Mushroom Kingdom will be the best way to set off this fine day. If you weren’t able to guess it from the name, Mushroom Kingdom is known for selling smoothies with mushrooms in them. Nothing like some psychedelics to beat back a hangover.

By the time we arrive, I’ve entered into a bit of a delirious state. I haven’t eaten in 15 hours, I’ve been drinking for 14 of those hours(my thought process at the time being that the calories from alcohol would make up for the lack of food), and I haven’t slept a wink.

We sit next to another group and start chatting to them. The shakes arrive after what I think is around 30 minutes. It could have been an hour. I don’t really know. I think I fell asleep mid conversation with someone else.

I drink the shake and it isn’t that bad. If you’ve ever had shrooms, they taste like absolute shit. Whatever else was in the shake did a decent job of masking the taste.

I decide that a guy in the other group looks remarkably like Daniel Radcliffe. I begin calling him Harry Potter which fortunately he finds amusing.

We hang out at Mushroom Kingdom for a bit until the shrooms begin to make their presence known. There are multicolored pennants hanging from the ceiling whose colors become shockingly vibrant and they are shifting around a bit.

I then glance over at a poster of Bob Marley. I start to get a bit weirded out by the poster and decide that I don’t much care for the way that Bob is looking at me. I make this known to the group and say that we should head to the beach. Harry finds my Bob paranoia funny and says that he’ll guide us to the beach. I tell Harry that he’s my rock and to not leave my side.

Now in Thailand, Bob Marley pops up about as frequently as he does in freshman dorms. He’s everywhere. Since I’m fairly fucked up at this point, I forget that it’s normal for him to be everywhere. So I start pointing him out,“Jesus! Harry there’s another one”. It feels like I’m in 1984 and Bob Marley is Big Brother – constantly watching, judging my every move. A particularly odd mindset, considering that Bob Marley was one of the least judgmental people on the planet.

One place has a giant gold statue of Bob in the front and I nearly shit myself. The couple has had enough of my paranoia and decides to branch off, leaving me, the two girls, and Harry.

Eventually we reach the beach. After a bit of a rocky start with Bob Marley, the shrooms end up being a blast. The beach already looks incredible, but on shrooms it’s striking. I end up getting a serious fit of the giggles and just roll around in the sand, laughing hysterically to myself. We are the absolute last people still on the beach. Over 30,000 people came to party here, and out of everyone, I am the last one on the beach. I find that hilarious.

At a certain point I think about Castaway, and run into the water screaming “WILSONNN. WILLSOOON”. Harry and the girls are cracking up and I come crawling back on the sand, laughing my ass off. It’s a great time.

The girls leave to head back to their hostel, so it’s only me and Harry. I think its around 12 o’clock which means that I have not eaten in 17 hours, I have been drinking for 14, and have topped that off with mushrooms. My thinking is a little addled to say the least.

I can’t remember the name of my hostel, so Harry says I can come back to his. I’m still very much on shrooms at this point and begin to enter into a bit of an anxiety stage. A few months before my arrival on the island, a couple was killed. I think of this and begin to question my relationship with Harry.

We hop into a taxi, which is just a pickup truck with two benches in the back. The taxi stops to pick up a family that looks like they’re  getting ready for a day of wholesome  fun at the beach. I briefly consider asking them for help.

Harry has also been drinking this whole time, so he’s a bit off his rocker as well. I’m covered head to toe in sand and Harry looks at me and starts laughing hysterically. While shrooms can sometimes make things look beautiful, it can also make things look really scary.

Harry’s maniac laughter is absolutely terrifying. A little bit of drool falls out of his mouth. Good god. Harry Potter is going to murder me. This next thought actually goes through my head, “ no Nick. He only ever uses Expelliarmus. You’ll be fine.” I am losing all brain faculties.

We arrive at his hostel and it’s incredible – right on the beach. There’s a nice pool as well that we hang out in. Turns out Harry isn’t trying to murder me. He’s just a nice guy who was probably afraid to let a guy on shrooms wander off on his own.

He tries introducing me to people, but I’ve lost the ability to form sentences. Every time I try to speak, the wrong words fall out or no words at all. I start to get really anxious again, and eventually give up trying to talk to people and go lay down.

I wake up from the nap and have started returning to normal. I’ve got no money so Harry lends me a few galleons to help me get a cab back to my place.

I believe the time is 2 p.m. when I finally return to my hostel. I go to my friends’ room and nearly burst into tears when I see them. I am a bizarre combination of exhausted, starving, hungover/ slightly on shrooms and am teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

Still very out of it, I lay down on the ground and crawl under the bed where it feels safe. My friend has also taken shrooms so he and I were on the same page.


We start to feel better and go get food. I’m still incredibly out of it and order fried rice. When the waitress sets it down in front of me, I get the idea that it will be hilarious to do a faceplant into the rice and weird the waitress out. I do just that and start cracking up with my face buried in rice. I pop up and my friends are losing it, while the waitress is looking at me like I’m a lunatic.

All in all, I’d say the Full Moon Party was a resounding success.

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About the author

Hi my name is Nick Holke

I’m 25 years old and am currently living in California.

If you wanna know a bit more about me and the website, click here.

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