I have to break the chronological order of my blog to tell the story of what was definitely one of the most fun nights of my life. I have not written about it and I don’t really know why. Maybe because I couldn’t make sense of it just yet. Nothing has changed, but the least I can do is put the story on paper so I don’t forget about the Koh Phangan half moon Songkran party on April 12th.
Koh Phangan is a small island off the east coast of Thailand. It is not very touristy and does not have many notable sites, but backpackers go there for one reason. Every two weeks, Koh Phangan is host to the notorious half and full moon parties. These electric dance music parties entertain thousands of people all night long. Neon paint, funky outfits, and suspicious liquor buckets are commonplace.
This particular half moon party also fell on the first night of Songkran, the Thai new year water celebration. Such a volatile combination certainly had plenty of best-night-ever potential. I prepared for the half moon Songkran party feeling both nervous and excited.
After drinking with everyone at our hostel for a few hours, we hopped in the back of a truck and rode deep into the jungle to the party site. The grounds had two elaborate stages full of LED screens, lasers, fog machines, and fire. DJs blasted house music on the main stage, while live funky bongo and saxophone-infused music played on the other. After a few red bull vodka buckets (side note-they put a little extra something in the red bull here), I was fueled and ready to dance the rest of the night. Remember that it was the first night of Songkran, so everyone was strapped with water guns and buckets of water. I was soaked from the second I walked into the party. There is no evidence of that part of my night because no one had phones to take any pictures. It was something that can only be experienced; impossible to describe in words or capture in photos. I bonded with new and old friends over this shared adventure.
The Thai police shut down the party around 4 am, maybe because of the bodies of passed out kids scattered around the party grounds. We went back to our hostel to hang out and nosh on some fried grasshoppers. Most people went to sleep, but David, Andy, and I stayed up for sunrise. We walked over to a very secluded beach and went for a swim. The water was like glass and our surrounding landscape was stunning as usual. Once again, another special moment that only exists in our memories.
I wish the story could end here. I really wish it could. But after getting a couple hours of sleep, I woke up to absolute madness. It was the first of three days of Songkran. The streets were flooded with locals embracing a rare opportunity to soak tourists with water. You couldn’t walk two feet out of the hostel without getting drenched. I felt like I was in a war zone and couldn’t go anywhere without a weapon. Traveling in Asia is different in that you really can’t communicate with locals to learn about their culture. On this day, I saw Thai children who looked like the happiest kids on earth. It was amazing to finally connect with the people, even it meant getting a bucket of water dumped on my head.
I feel good about finally writing this down, but it certainly does not do the night justice. Blank spaces in the story exist here and in my head. It was a perfect 24 hours to live in the moment and slip into the surrounding chaos.