The build up to the Full Moon Party turned from a burning camp fire of anticipation into an uncontrollable wildfire that would take collaborative efforts of both city and state officials to contain. Evacuations were necessary. . .
We had managed to find a comfortable spot on the giant wood balcony of Mushroom Mountain (or was it Mellow Mountain)? For the purposes of this story, both names are suitable and may be interchanged. The weathered wood platform stretched out over the ocean at what felt like skyscraper heights. The tables reduced to mere inches from the floor with worn rugs and old cushions provided to absorb your tired body. The only light that was provided derived from the almost full moon and countless black lights that were strategically placed throughout the bar. With mind-blowing, time absorbing, black light enhanced painted pictures placed directly below them. The thumping techno music was loud enough to reverberate throughout your entire body and excuse any complications that might arise from language barriers.
Chips? . . . . . Chips? Oh. . . . you mean fries! Fuck yeah I want some fries!
But quiet enough to ensure the illustrated commentary about the significance of life could reach your melting brain cells. Giving you the opportunity to smile and shake your head in agreement. While wondering just how in the fuck people like this survived in regular society.
We had been on the island for only five hours before we decided to make the journey through the thick, black, night, to the mystical structure that overlooked Haad Rin Bay. The journey alone was enough to detour most party-goers. As you left the main strip of the bay, the silence of the night gave a sobering realization to the madness that you left behind. The competing music from the string of bars that lined the beach fades into a quite and singular dull thumping sound, before subsiding all together. The journey is was only further complicated when you reach the base of the cliff that serves as the foundation for the memorizing lighted structure above. Various sets of unorganized rock steps lead you up to one of two bars (of the same establishment). The lower bar being left for the faint of heart. While the rewards of completing the trek to the upper bar was enough to ensure our return each of the following nights.
The full moon gods must have been shinning down on us as we situated ourselves onto an empty space on the floor. It was only a matter of a few Jack and Cokes before we were officially welcomed with the burning smell of road kill. Small talk was exchanged and I quickly directed the conversation toward the correct individual to speak with about scoring my own welcoming incense. Coincidentally the middle-aged women that had befriended us happened to be the girlfriend of one of the Thai bar constitutes. She ducked away behind the bar and returned moments later with more than enough supplies to sustain the average traveler a week of recreational use.
It was gone that night.
Once my generosity was known, we quickly became the center of attention. Several other backpackers gathered around our table and the constant smoke arising from our location was enough to induce an introduction from the provider himself. Who clearly knew how to identify a cash cow investment.
Two Australian travelers that were close to our age returned from the bar with milkshake type concoctions and received several taunting remarks from my friend and I. The sarcastic comments about ordering a “bitch drink” quickly subsided when it was announced that these “bitch drinks” contained high levels of mushrooms and only cost around $4 each. Moments later an icy cream drink was in the hands of everyone on the deck. The party carried on well through the night and into the next morning.
We quickly discovered that the days were meant for sleep, the evenings for food and planning (flyers passed out to travelers about the evenings happenings: waterfall party, jungle party, etc) and the nights were meant to get completely fucked out of your head. Thankfully I had a matured childhood and was already well acquainted with this goal and rarely caught off my game. I wouldn’t rank myself as an elite (Ozzy osbourne), but I definitely have more than just participation medals hanging from my wall.
Thus, the nights continued much in the same manner as the first occurred. To the mountain, the jungle, the waterfall, and ultimately back to the mountain. The fruits of our luck not squandered, but rather shared with virtually everyone who crossed our path. A simple request for a lighter or some papers, followed up with an inquiry.
“You know how to roll?”
“I got weed, if you can roll it, you can smoke it.”
The fact is my rolling abilities at the time were about average (much improved since) but my laziness and enjoyment of sharing have been constant variables in my life. It was also entertaining to see the pros do it with one hand, in less than two minutes, while maintaining conversation. Even more entertaining to watch was the desperate amateur. Who stumbled through three papers and half of the weed I provided them. While fighting back beads of frustrated induced sweat. All the while ensuring me that they knew what they were doing, but clearly just desperate to smoke some free weed. It was this generosity that I firmly believe kept me from spending time in a Thai prison for possession.
Four days of constant smoking and four nights of multiple mushroom shakes was enough to cause confusion when forced to look at that stranger in the mirror.
This rare occurrence would find me staring into the eyes of the very same weirdo I so easily dismissed before the 96 hour mushroom binge. The one who told me about dropping out of the grind, the evil of government, and the importance of keeping your mind free (fucked beyond belief).
My eyes widened as a smile began to form at the corners of my mouth. I reached out and placed all of my finger tips to the finger tips of the stranger and I knew that together we would get through this insane attempt to escape reality. Or was this an attempt to survive it? (That’s deep man)
We had watched as the crowds grew from 100’s of people to 1000’s. Two boats a day brought the new energy of unfamiliar and overexcited (over-intoxicated) tourists. The long-haired hippies that lived the simplistic and nomadic life of a true traveler slipped into the shadows of the island and the expression of the local Thai become obviously more tense. It was apparent that a long standing tradition had become more of a over-marketed tourist trap then the celebration of traveler and Thai union it once was.
Acoustic guitars replaced by thumping techno.
The spirituality driven with their worn out cloths and dreads are now alcohol crazed college kids sporting their frat and sorority attire, wooooing (there is nothing worse then a fucking woo-girl. . . . ).
We had been warned about this transition. But our concerns were focused else where. The boats were bringing more than just thousands of over-intoxicated travelers. The police force of two, who rarely make appearances and from what I understand are quite good at looking the other way. Are bolstered to a staggering 17 cops, to include several undercover agents. This should have been a clear warning sign that the fun was about to come to a screeching halt.
The day of the full moon party had the island pumping with excitement (literally). The beach was filling up with firework platforms, black light paint artists, fire jugglers, and of course the endless rows of booze buckets sprawled across folding tables and bar stands. Five dollars provided you with a bottle of your choice and a mixer, dumped into a child’s sand bucket. “Meant for a group”, but often absorbed by a single party-goer. I wasn’t sure if it was the weed, four consecutive days of mushrooms, or the combination of the two? But I was feeling quite overwhelmed and even startled at the drunken mess that the island had become. I made my way to the Mountain to conduct my usual transaction and hopefully find ‘a peaceful place to loose my mind’. But I was informed by the bar owner that he could do nothing for me today.
“To much trouble, to much police. You come back tomorrow”
“Tomorrow? Tomorrow does me no fucking good man!”
More than a little discouraged, I ordered a mushroom shake and sat on the edge of the balcony. I quickly sucked it back as I observed the madness developing below.
Then I waited.
The usual 45 minutes it took for the shake to kick in had turned into an hour and a half. I ordered another one and again waited out the expected delivery time. I finally asked the bar tender if I was given the “correct” shake and he informed me they had to cut the dose to a fraction of the usual amount. In past full moon parties the hordes of drunk college kids would try to drink their way through several buckets and then add a few special shakes to top off the night. They ended up with large scale freak outs and health problems (kids passing out in the water and almost dying). Thus they have been required to tone it down.
No weed, no mushrooms, and a head that is quickly fading from a dreamworld daze into a withdrawal nightmare.
Forced to stick to the booze buckets, I did a frustrated shuffle to the closest vendor I could find. I made my way through one in less time then it took for the ice to melt and began my drunken stumble of self-pity.
As the night weaned on my frustration turned to determination. I made a second trip the Mountain and again asked to be hooked up. This time being as discreet as possible to detour any other regulars and employees from noticing. It might also have helped that I was holding up some extra cash. By extra, I mean four times the regular cost.
The bartender must have taken pity on my “desperation’. He slide me a bag and told me I had to leave the bar immediately in case any cops came in. More than happy to oblige, I skipped my way back to the beach-side bars. A big happy “I just scored some fucking weed” smile on my face!
It didn’t take me long to find one of my fellow Mountain regulars and we headed to the treeline to roll one up, or two, or three. By the time we reached what I deemed a safe location, our group, had grown five strong. We collectively worked feverishly to roll several pain relievers.
We coughed, passed, and laughed for the next twenty minutes.
Just as the last joint was reaching roach status a flashlight pierced through the night and exposed our deer like expressions. The older French man who was laying on the sand at the time, quickly shoved the last joint deep into the sand.
The cop started yelling at us. Stating that he knew we had drugs. He kicked the sand but failed to expose anything.
“I smell your drugs. You give me drugs now!”
We all denied this accusation and insisted we had no idea what he was talking about.
With an obvious stale mate being reached with verbal instructions, the cop called his partner over to conduct a search. One by one the group was searched. My heart began to beat as I had visions of being stuck in a Thai prison. I slowly slide my hands into my short pockets as I stood quietly and observed the pat downs. The Thai cop had clearly conducted more than one of these in his time and was not showing any weaknesses in his method.
I debated making a run for it. I gauged the speed of the cops, factored in my flip flops, and my high blood alcohol level (not to mention cotton mouth).
I thought to myself, “I just might have the upper hand. At least I have the element of surprise.”
Just as I was digging my right foot into the sand to prepare for my dash to the left. The cops radio buzzed with another Thai cop from somewhere else on the island who was headed our way. It was clear that I was surrounded and I assumed they knew the island far better then I did. Considering my knowledge was limited to Mushroom Mountain, my hotel room, and the flyer guy that hooked up the tuk tuks to various other party locations (in which I had no fucking clue as to their whereabouts)
What to do? What to do? What to do? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
I made eye contact with my fellow Mountain man and he nodded with a look of confidence. Just as the man finished searching the third member of our group, my partner in crime jumped up in front of the cops face and threw his hands out to his side. Jolting the silent air with forced laugh and making a mockery of the searching process. It greatly decompressed the situation and he even got a few chuckles from the cop.
He also obstructed the cops view with his theatrics.
I lifted my right foot and dropped the bag. I stood on it and slipped out of my flip-flops. When the cop finished his search I continued the joke and approached the cop in a laughing manner. Leaving my flip flops in the sand where I had standing, hidden by the shadows. My search was complete and the cops were satisfied with their results. They warned us that drugs are bad and very serious in Thai land. (You don’t fucking say)
“You just drink alcohol and you not have trouble.”
We all agreed with the advice and walked toward the party with the cops. I returned to the “safe location” 30 minutes later to find my flops still sitting there with my bag underneath them. I grabbed my weed and rushed to my hotel room to stash it. I marveled at my luck and scoffed at what a miserable event the full moon party turned out to be.
Fucking tourists ruin everything. . .