Days 87-90 in Southeast Asia (April 21-24, 2016)
Preparing For The Full Moon Party
“Today is the day,” I thought to myself, rolling out of bed, sweaty as ever and wishing that air con wasn’t so expensive around here. In less than 12 hours, Segev, David, Maddie and myself would find ourselves a part of one of the biggest and most famous parties on earth… The Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan. The party happens every month (during the full moon), and tens of thousands of travellers flood the beach, listen to the DJ’s, drink buckets of cheap Thai booze, dress themselves in brightly coloured clothing accompanied by neon paint… and dance.
I was both excited and also terrified. I’ve seen the photos. I’ve heard the stories… “Wear closed shoes, half of the people there end up with broken toes or stomped on feet…” “Watch the bartenders make your buckets so they don’t spike it with drugs.” “Stick with a buddy, and even then, make a meeting point because you WILL get separated…” “Don’t bring anything other than a bit of cash shoved in your shoe/bra/underwear, half of the people there will have things stolen. Don’t even bring your phone…” “If you take your eyes off of your drink even for a second, get a new one, there are probably drugs in it…” WHAT THE HELL DID I SIGN UP FOR!?…
I’m not typically someone who goes to raves or crazy clubs other than the occasional birthday celebration of a friend, and generally speaking I’m the kind of drunk who just really wants pizza and drinking games with friends. Tonight would be the exception, but I was actually pretty excited. I was slightly worried that Maddie and I would get separated if it was just the two of us, and was so glad that we had the guys to double our odds of not being alone in the crowd. Plus, I’d trust both Seg and David in a heartbeat with my life, my firstborn or my secrets, and I knew that they wouldn’t be they types to lose us or each other and just say “oh well”… They’d want to know I made it home okay, and I think they know I would do the same for them.
We spent the day preparing ourselves, mentally and physically, for the night that would follow. We slept in, had naps, ate, played cards, and made plans to meet up with Preston (who we met in Siem Reap), who said he’d love to come drink with us before the party for a bit, but that he was going with a few of his other friends to the beach, so it wasn’t realistic to try to go as a group of 8-10 people in total, which is totally fair.
By the time Preston met us at our bungalow, the only thing left to do was eat some dinner and grab some glow paint and bright coloured clothes. We ran to the store near our bungalow, suited up, painted ourselves in the lobby while drinking a bunch of cheap booze we grabbed from the 7 Eleven next door, and played some games to get things started.
Full Moon Party!
At close to 11, we walked up the beach a bit towards the hostel Preston was staying at, and met up with his other friends. We continued drinking for a bit, chatted and eventually decided it was time to go. Lucky for us, the hostel was giving out taxi vouchers to the party, and we each grabbed one.
We hopped in the taxi with about 8 other people heading to the party and sang and talked the whole 20 minute ride there through the winding roads and checkpoints leading up to Haad Rin beach, just one taxi in a lineup of hundreds headed the same way. We paid 100B entry, chose a meeting point for 3am for if and when we got separated, grabbed some buckets… and went into the crowd.
It took 5 minutes for me to realize I was the first Full Moon Party scam victim… the bucket I got with sang som whiskey, diet coke and redbull (the ingredients are all sealed in the bucket and the bartenders just mix them together with ice), was actually just redbull and regular coke… you can always trust a diabetic to know when their drink isn’t diet, plus my blood sugar felt high and I wasn’t getting at all drunk which is absurd with a bucket… it doesn’t take long to get you there (they have about 12 ounces of hard liquor in each… I rarely get through one in a night and usually share with someone or ditch it). I was kinda pissed, but it was early and the drinks are cheap enough its hard to be TOO mad.
Seg and I grabbed a new bucket, watched them mix it this time, and started drinking. By the time we got back to the stage we had been dancing on with Maddie and David, they were gone. We didn’t mind though, and knew we had a plan to meet them at 3 by the entrance. We walked along the beach to Kangaroo Bar, where we got a view from above of the whole party… it was like nothing I’ve ever seen, people and lights and colours as far as I could see… I wish I could tell you exactly how the night went from there, but the sang som caught up with me and I’ll have to admit that a lot of the night is a blur for me, and most of the following story is known thanks to Segev’s less foggy memory.
Getting Split Up…
We danced and sang a lot, drank, poked a few bodies we found on the beach to check that they were okay and didn’t need help and eventually, after realizing we were already 15 minutes late, headed to our 3am meeting spot. By then, Maddie had already been sick and David and her were looking for Segev and I. Either we all missed each other somehow, or David and Maddie had left just seconds before we got there. We never met up at our meeting point.
Our backup plan if that happened was to meet back at the same spot at 5am, or just go back to the rooms. Seg and I grabbed food (which I don’t remember at all, but apparently I was the happiest person with a kebab Seg had ever seen), and danced a bit more apparently before hopping in a taxi home, where I fell asleep on Seg and kept waking up and smacking my head on the back of the taxi, giving a few kiwi’s who were sharing our taxi a good laugh. Seg was laughing a lot telling me about it the next day and about my drunk commentary throughout the night.
When we got back, Maddie and David were in the room, both a little annoyed that we missed our meeting time, and very drunk. Things escalated pretty quickly and Maddie went from annoyed to angry real quick. I don’t remember the fight in its entirety, but the guys left to sit in the restaurant, and Maddie lost it on me. A lot of things were said, and hopefully few were truly meant. Eventually, I left the room and Maddie went to sleep. I met the guys in the restaurant, slept in a chair until sunrise when Seg woke me up and put me to bed in the room, and woke up several hours later feeling like I’d been hit by a bus, and extremely hurt by the fight between Maddie and I the night before.
We’ve had our differences throughout the trip, which is fine and even expected when you’re travelling for this long with someone. We’ve even had a few fights that ended in tears, but always decided to stay together in the end. This time I wasn’t so sure what was going to happen. Once Maddie was up though, David told her what had happened, and that she needed to have a talk with me. She did.
Not remembering the things that were said, Maddie apologized, and I cried (which shouldn’t come as a shocker to anyone who knows how I handle confrontation of any sort). We talked for a long time, and it was made clear to me that Maddie is ready to be on her own, which I’ve already known for some time, but now it was said out loud.
Making up & Moving on
We both apologized for the times we had butted heads, and agreed that we still cared about each other, but that it was probably for the best that we’d be parting ways in 12 days, when I’d be leaving her and heading back to Canada, we were getting to that point of travelling with someone else (that happens more often that not), where you grow apart. After talking it through, we decided we both still wanted to spend the last couple weeks together and make it count, putting aside any old arguments or annoyances and just enjoying ourselves. We are still friends and we still care about each other of course, all things aside. We also decided that this probably just meant that we had done the Full Moon Party properly, since our night ended a mess, pretty typical to the stories we had heard leading up to it.
We hugged and made up, joined the guys back at the restaurant, and played cards all day by the beach, relaxing and recovering from the night before, enjoying each other’s company, all agreeing that while the party was crazy and fun to start, it was honestly very overrated, and most of the people there were puking before 1am or passed out on the beach alone, which is more sad/scary than fun.
For dinner, we all went out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate Passover with Segev (who is a Jew from Israel if you didn’t know). It was the last night that the 4 of us would have together before Segev and David left for Koh Phi Phi the next morning at 6:30am, and Maddie and I would leave shortly after to Bangkok (en route to Bali). Seg taught us a bit about Passover, Israel and Judaism, and we chatted for hours before leaving the restaurant.
Finally we went back to the bungalow, packed our bags, and played cards by the beach for hours despite our exhaustion from the night before. Eventually Maddie went off to bed, followed by David, and finally Segev and myself, after staying up a bit longer and talking until we couldn’t keep ourselves awake anymore.
Saying Goodbye To David & Segev
Saying goodbye for the second time was no easier than the first, and after only 15 collective days together, I had a best friend who I would love always, from wherever we both were in the world. Seg made me promise that I’d get married asap, and invite him to the wedding so that he’d have to come to Canada, and I also promised that I’d come visit him in Israel when I could, a country that I loved the first time I went and would undoubtedly love the second time even more, especially with Segev as my local guide.
Seg had taught me several words in Hebrew over the past week together, including how to say “I’m sweating,” (pronounced Ani Mezia), which I used most frequently of all. He also taught me how to say hello, mother, thank you, backpack, small bag, sorry, party, farewell, princess and love (Ahava). Whether he knows it or not (though I’m sure he does) he left quite an impression on me, and taught me a lot more than a few Hebrew phrases, which he continues to teach me daily over WhatsApp.
In the morning, we all said our goodbyes still half asleep, and I hugged the guys for what felt like hours before finally letting them leave. Though I had personally spent the most time talking with Segev, I have grown just about as attached to David, who at 21 has seen twice as much of the world as I will have by 25. He is what we call a “social butterfly”, making friends wherever he goes with admirable ease, giving his full attention and affection to anyone he calls his friend, and there are many of us.
He is a hopeless romantic, much like myself, and wears his heart on his sleeve, unafraid to let those he cares about know how he’s feeling. A beautiful quality, though a dangerous one, leaving one open to hurt and rejection, which doesn’t seem to have phased him even after countless backpacker ties and goodbyes. He is like a little brother to me, one whom I admire fully, and who has taught me to continue to live openly and lovingly, without fear of hurt or heartbreak, knowing that the world always has been, and will continue to be a beautiful place, full of incredible people and places no matter what. I will miss them both until we meet again.
Leaving Koh Phangan for Bangkok & Bali
At 10:30am, Maddie and I hopped in a taxi and paid 100THB each to take us to the pier, where we’d catch a ferry for 300THB with Lomprayah at 12pm to Koh Samui (a half hour trip). We then stayed on the same ferry using a ticket we had bought ahead of time for around $70CAD (including a ferry, bus and flight) that continued to Don Sak Pier on the mainland, where we caught a bus from 2-3:30pm to Suratthani Airport, and a flight to Bangkok from 7:30-8:30pm with Thai Smile.
When we arrived in Bangkok, we took the skytrain from BKK to get to Viktoria’s place (Maddie’s friend in Bangkok who we had met up with at the beginning of our trip). The train cost us 87THB each including one transfer, and we arrived at Viktoria’s at around 11pm.
We chatted a bit and showered off before catching a few much needed hours of rest. We slept no more than 2 hours though, up and out the door before 3am in a taxi to take us to DMK airport where we’d catch our flight to Bali which we had booked quite a while back. The taxi was 100THB each, and took about an hour. At 4am, we arrived at the airport, got some breakfast, and checked our bags (which cost us each $41.50CAD… our ticket didn’t include a checked bag).
Finally, at 6:15am, we left DMK on our flight with Air Asia for Denpasar, Bali, (Indonesia). I tried to sleep, despite the couple beside me keeping the window open for the entire 4 hour and 15 minute flight, so I spent much of the flight awake and reading. At 11:30am local time (one hour ahead of Thailand, making us once again an even 12hrs ahead of Toronto time), we arrived at the airport, excited and exhausted for the final chapter of our trip together in Bali.
Getting to Ubud & Making Friends
At the airport, I ran into my boyfriend Alex’s friend from home, who up until now I had only spoken with online. Jess had been travelling the same areas as me for quite a while now, but we always seemed to be missing each other or heading in different directions. Not until I walked up to a “stranger” at the airport to ask if she and her friends wanted to share a cab with us to Ubud, did I get the response “Are you Krista? I’m Jess!”… Sadly, she was headed to Kuta, but is actually going to be in Ubud soon, so I’m hoping we’ll meet up then and finally have that drink we had planned on in Vietnam months ago. Small world.
The next strangers I approached, two Canadian girls from Halifax, agreed to share a taxi with us to Ubud for 100,000IDR (about $10) each for the 1.5hour ride, which took quite a bit of haggling after an initial quote of 300,000IDR (the standard rate for two to Ubud city center). We finally got to our hostel at around 2pm, In Da Lodge, which would cost us 110,000IDR (just over $10) per night for the next 3 nights at least.
The hostel is beautiful, with a pool, a bar and a restaurant, and gardens and trees everywhere. We spent most of the day napping and relaxing, absolutely exhausted from the journey, and went for a bit of a walk around town for some dinner and a beer to celebrate our first night of our long awaited travels in Bali. It is the last country I’ll be travelling through this trip, and I absolutely can’t wait to see more of it. Already I am finding that the people, landscape and food here are easy to fall in love with. Here’s hoping it only gets better.