Ko Pha Ngan: What happens when the Full Moon Party doesn’t happen

Sunset in Ko Pha Ngan

How to write a story when there is no story? This question has been on my mind for the last few days because of my next post. And if you are thinking, “then don’t write about it”, my answer/excuse is that I have a sort of tradition of writing about every single place we go, it just feels odd not to do it. Anyway, I came to the conclusion to sit down and write, hoping that a story will emerge. Here it goes…

We were super excited for our next destination. Everyone backpacking in Thailand knows about the famous “full moon parties” in Ko Pha Ngan. And even though we have grown out of the super crazy party scene, it was something I was looking forward to see. This is how it was in our minds (at least in mine): awesome beach with hundreds or even thousands of people dancing semi-naked, fire dancers, fire works, parties everywhere…woo woo, peace and love… drugs, sex and rock and roll, yeah baby! Okay, to be a little fair, we knew the full moon party wasn’t happening for another two weeks, but we thought there would still be something going on.

It was Friday morning when we got there. The weather, same same but different (Thai joke) as in Ko Samui; humid and hot. We arrived in the afternoon at the beach where the full moon party is hosted (Hadrin). There were a couple of people (2 literally) on the beach, not so much how I was picturing it, but then I thought ok, it’s early and hot so maybe everyone is hiding in their bungalows like we did in Ko Samui.

We got to our bungalows, Blue Lotus Resort, (very nice people!), and noticed that there was no real ocean front, just a long stretch of wet sand and small pools. The owner, Pong, told us later that six months out of the year the water of certain beaches gets very shallow. So much for my idea of lounging on an amazing beach. The next thing I noticed was that, outside of the dogs, we were the only ones there. So much for my idea of partying with fellow travelers. All of my ideas of Koh Pha Ngan were squashed within a few hours of arriving. Pong told us that they normally are completely booked for the weekend of the full moon party, but the other 25 days of the month it’s a ghost town.

Tiger and Sheba from Blue Lotus

Saturday evening we went to the number one reviewed restaurant (on TripAdvisor) to find a sign that said something like this: “Because of the low season, we can’t afford to pay our employees. We will open again Sunday”. With a frown on our face we turned and walked back to our bungalow. While we were walking we saw a little massage place open and decided to get our first Thai massage as consolation. It was painfully amazing! I had no idea how many parts of my body could be cracked.

Adam’s first Thai massage

It is quite difficult to go to the beaches around the island and some don’t even have roads. The best way to do it is by boat. This is how we found ourselves on the “Munchies Tour” boat. There were about 15 people in the tour (probably all the tourists on the island). Our guide was a complete character, wearing an afro wig and always smiling. The first thing he said was: “here are some waters and sodas, feel free to drink all you want and if you want some smoke go to the back”, we all turned to each other with eyebrows raised, “Did you hear what I think we heard?” Our welcoming song was du du du by a reggae Thai band named “Job to do”. We all laughed as the meaning of “Munchies Tour” was now making sense.Our group was very mellow. We were missing the typical entertainer that gets the group together and the party started.

Adam was the only one brave enough to climb the sketchy ladder and jump

So despite the lack of a full moon party and people, we can still say we had a good time. The best part was to be VIP everywhere, mostly because there was no one else. It is very noticeable how the whole town is hurting when there is no full moon party and then when those five days come, they can’t keep up with all the people (according to Pong). It is a difficult situation for the people living and working on the island.

Some other things to do when there is no Full Moon Party:

– Playing with the local kids at the beach.

– Practicing some photography during the amazing sunsets. The shallow waters can help create some cool effects.

– Watching the dogs hunting for lizards.

– Spending an afternoon talking with Pong about life on the island.

-Chilling in your a/c room reading Game of Thrones. :D

Related posts:

Searching for Dragons (Part 1)
Little Known Wild Adventure in Thailand
On the Mekong in Laos: Photo Essay
Celebrating the Full Moon - Local Style

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