Blog – My favourite travel stories of the week
Maybe this is just me, but sometimes other people’s experiences of travel in a certain place put your own in the shade.
That was how I felt after reading Flavio Alagia‘s account of his time in Koh Phangan.
Although Flavio, writing on the Thinking Nomads website, claims his ‘little holiday’ was just about “beaches, parties, food and drinks” his experience still manages to make mine seem like an 18/30’s style trip to Magaluf.
Whizzing around the island on a scooter, party hopping, befriending the locals and dining on fresh sea food, Flavio’s story encapsulates the kind of escapism you naturally associate with Thailand.
My Full Moon Party experience would probably have more in common with the poor bloke standing outside the door of the 7/11 fridge.
It didn’t help that the whole sorry affair was rushed into little more than 24 hours of painful travel and accidental hedonism.
It all started when I realised the Full Moon Party was taking place the following night – trouble being I was sitting in a sweltering hot bar in Bangkok at the time.
Around 20 hours later, a rather more dishevelled version of myself was arriving on Koh Phangan.
In between I had ‘enjoyed’ a sleepless 15 hour bus trip, cramped at the back of the vehicle next to its festering toilet.
That was followed by several more hours exposed to the beating sun squashed up on the deck of a packed boat that could better be described as a raft, lurching from side to side with my fellow sardines.
But my arrival on Koh Phangan didn’t end the travel torture; and it was all my own fault.
My last minute decision to make a run for the Full Moon, had meant I hadn’t pre-booked any accommodation on the island. It took another couple of hours of motoring around in a somewhat rickety jeep before my new found friend, the suddenly much richer taxi driver, found me somewhere to stay.
But when he did it was ‘welcome to paradise’.
A beautiful hut for a room, hammocks to lie in and catch some sun, a two minute walk to pristine sandy beaches and a bar, as inviting a bar as you could ever see after hour upon hour of dehydrating, sweaty and soul-sapping travel.
And with only a few hours until the Full Moon Party would be in full swing, the beach and clear blue sea took a back seat in favour of several strong Singha beers.
Needless to say, the bar was soon packed and new friends made; some of whom I shared the roof of a jeep with during a nerve jangling, bumpy ride down to Ban Tai.
My next mistake was to partake in a giant bucket of red, alcoholic who-knows-what. It certainly had plenty of vodka in it, and lashings of Red Bull.
And it definitely had something a lot stronger too.
After some pretty crazy dancing, I vaguely remember spending a bizarre hour or two with some fairly mind-boggling hallucinations bouncing around my head for company.
I’m not a drug taker at all, but the night had suddenly become very trippy.
It was only later in my travels that I was told that these buckets are sometimes laced with LSD, and that Thai Red Bull contains a speed-like substance called ephedra.
Fortunately, a kindly local took pity on me and forced a couple of bottles of water down my neck.
That sobered me sufficiently to see in the dawn, though to paraphrase Jarvis Cocker: ‘I seemed to have left an important part of my brain somewhere, somewhere on a beach in Thailand.”
> Pictured: Sunrise at Koh Phangan. Picture by Mark Forster, under Wikimedia Commons