Ko Pha-Ngan Yang, Thailand

It feels wrong skipping from near-death to a Full Moon Party but on a slightly lighter note…

The Full Moon Party is an all-night beach party that originated in Haad Rin on the island of Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand on the night before or after every full moon.

The first Full Moon Party was improvised at a wooden disco not far from the beach in 1985 for giving thanks to about 20-30 travelers. They quickly gained fame through word of mouth, and the event now draws a crowd of about 20,000-30,000 every full moon evening. The party carries on until the sun rises the next day. (Wiki-travel)

Add to this; a fire skipping rope, a waterslide, body paint, some podium dancing. We gave it our best shot but by 3am Mark and I were feeling the toll of moped-gate that morning, and had a looooong night roughing it on the beach ahead of us. We curled up on whisker mats and people-watched as the sun came up, dozing in and out of sleep to the soothing sounds of ear-bleeding drum and base. We had fun but it is exactly like the scene in The Beach were Leo comes back to civilisation on the rice run and see’s the carnage of society.

Actually by 9am, when we got our boat back to Samui, the scene at dawn was more like the opening of Saving Private Ryan. Litter, clothes, bodies everywhere. Notably and amusingly however the flaked out teeny bopper youth of today were overwhelmed with too much red bull and alcohopop buckets. The real professionals were the handful of hippies still standing strong on their podiums, rave music blazing like it was 1992. The average age was probably 40. We suspect this was all with the aid of Ecstasy and Acid, but they were at least showing the kids how it’s done.

Ko Samui, Thailand

It’s been four days. I’m ready to talk about it. This one is to be filed under: Not remotely funny/clever and possibly one of the dumbest/luckiest incidents of my entire life. You’ll see where it’s going in about 2 seconds.

On Wednesday Matt, Mark and I decided to rent mopeds.

Yes. The ONE thing every guidebook & responsible adult warns you not to. However in our defence, it’s Thailand, they drive on the proper side and everything, and it was only 150B (£3) for the whole day.

Day one. We had a grand old time. There’s only one straightforward road around the whole island. You can basically hug the curb and be like driving Miss Daisy if you like, the traffic is extra cautious to tourists (they can spot you from the helmets – which none of the locals bother with.) We visit Nu Muang waterfall and generally ride around like Le Dolce Vita. Things get a bit scary when the weather turns on us 20k from home. We shelter from a storm but it lasts until dusk so we have to brave it in a pitch black downpour. We thought this was the worsed of it.

Day 2 and the bikes aren’t due back until 1pm. It’s sunny and we want to visit a giant Buddha at Wat Phra Yai.  Last time I was in Koh Samui Paul, Danielle, Liam and I paid to engrave our names in a brick as it was being built at the time. I want to see if it’s still here six years later. It’s only 15 mins from the Beach where we are staying.

10 mins in and i’m in the biggest nightmare of my life. I crash doing a U-turn on the road just outside Cheweng.  Which, admittedly was my fault, but in a genuine fluke accident way rather than recklessness.

Now apart from the obvious danger of flying off a bike mid-air into gravel and scampering desperately  out of the way of incoming traffic (which apparently I did like stunt women,) there’s the real problem of watching someone you hit skid 20 meters across tarmac and come to a terrifying stop where your first thought is: Oh my god. I’ve killed a man. Then thankfully the relief that floods you when you realise that’s not true, followed quickly with the horror again of realising i’ve crashed in a country with no legal protection or insurance. (FYI – Moped hire is soooo not covered on your average travel insurance.)

Despite the fact that i’m sat huddled on an embankment in a state of shock, the guy i’ve hit (Marcell) screams a mixture of the following phrases at me: “you’re going to prison, my girlfriend is Thai he dad’s a lawyer, the police are coming, you are going to pay for this….”

I honestly spend the next immediate few minutes scenario planning in my head. It’s plays like an episode of Banged up Abroad, except it’s not funny it’s very very real, and for at least 5 mins I seriously contemplate how plausible a Bonny and Clyde dash away from the scene of this crime is. My bike is battered though, the front brake is smashed up. Also to be honest, a Thai police chase might only add to the trouble i’m in.

I can only thank my lucky stars, and be eternally thankful to the following people who all got involved over the next two hours. 1) Marcell’s girlfriend. She is Thai, but doesn’t actually mention her father being a lawyer (recon he said that to scare me.) She is however the calmest most reasonable girl i’ve ever met. 2) A random Swiss guy whose name I will never know to thank, but who saw it happen and stopped to help. He took Mark to fetch the tourist police (a move none of us would even have thought of.) They are there to protect against the regular police and corruption. Despite the fact that ironically they can’t speak English, their presence is comforting as it at least feels like someone is on your side. 3) The women in the bike rental place – who comes much later, but who gave me a much needed motherly hug. 4) Finally Mark. Who not only ran straight into the road to drag me off it – which we all admit is above and beyond the call of duty for a kind-of-girlfriend type, and was generally all round awesome in a crisis. Unlike Matt whose only concern was for himself and whether he’d be at the Full Moon Party on time.

It’s all a bit blurry but over the space of the next hour an ambulance is called. Marcell is healthy enough to scream at me and pace around, but to be fair does have nasty scrapes/broken fingers. I too have a couple of tiny cuts, a sore knee, but nothing major by some miracle. The police turn up. Crashes like this happen a lot. You have two option. Haul ass to the cells, spend the day filling paperwork, setting court dates and other scary things. Or you come to some gentleman’s agreement between yourselves. i.e throw money at it. We have a 12pm boat to catch and I just want to make it all go away.

To cut a very long story short here is what it costs to fix something this bad in Thailand:

1)      Marcell wants his bike fixing. Not just anywhere, at the proper Honda garage. Even the police all laugh at his demands and agree his bike is a piece of s*it (and was before the accident.) But i’m in no position to bargain. $2500 baht.

2)      Marcell’s medical bills. An ambulance, some ex rays, and hour in A & E. $3500 baht.

3)      My bike. Despite mine and Swiss guy’s attempts to cover up my bike damage with a new brake and spray job done at the side of the road for $300b (£6) in 20 mins by some dodgy mechanic, I overlook a huge crack in the bodywork so the rental company knows somethings up. They go to town and charge me $2000 baht (which is extortionate baring in mind Marcell’s entire bike was fixed at Honda for $2.5b) but they have my passport as random so I admit defeat and pay up. 

Two hours later and this mess can be fixed for $8,000 baht.

That’s £160.

I am more than aware i’m the luckiest girl alive to come from a country where that is such a small price to pay.

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

October 2011

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