Full Moon on Koh Pha Ngan

by Andrew Stein

In an attempt to set the mood for these Thai Islands, I read “The Beach”, which in 2000 was adapted into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Although I do not plan to sneak to out-of-bounds islands with people I just met and join a self-sufficient community after dodging several obstacles including Thai guards surrounding a secret Marijuana field, I will go to the infamous Full Moon Party that takes places on Koh Pha Ngan every full moon. And in the meantime, “The Beach” spoke of Bangkok, Khaosan Road, Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan–all places that I have been or am going to visit.

Full Moon Designs

After taking a short boat ride hopping from Koh Samui to Kho Pha Ngan, Nithya, Sangita and I find some dinner all the while feeling like outsiders looking in on something about to happen. After a couple drinks, some bright clothing purchases, and some body paint, we feel more confident and ready to find the main attraction. The Full Moon Party is no longer a Thai party, and instead, on this island, it is an international party with people coming from all over the world mostly between 20 and 30 years old, all prepared to have an epic evening. The USA was underrepresented in all areas except for the music selection blasting out of speakers from competing waterfront clubs.

Getting ready for full moon party

With water on one side, clubs on another, and everywhere else a dense population of people probably numbering around 10,000, the three of us made our way up and down the beach absorbing the scene before picking a spot. On our way, we see buckets being sold everywhere, we see fire stunts ranging from a flaming jump ropes to to fire juggling, and we see platforms, on which this international crowd can groove. We eventually find a place with a little less trance and a little more hip hop, and we choose to split another bucket and practice some of our moves.

Full Moon Party dancers

Full Moon Party is a wild scene happening once a month attracting people from all over the world; therefore, although it may not have been an authentic Thai experience, it was an incredible traveler’s experience watching these different cultures and people interact and celebrate something as simple as the moon. Throughout the night I continue to remember that most years, I would’ve celebrated this full moon around the dinner table with extended family telling the Passover story. This evening was spent slightly differently, but the message of cultures coexisting, of peace, and of freedom, even if not in a traditional sense, was still on display.