aka: Fool Moon Party

The Full Moon Party occurs every month on Koh Phangan, Thailand. This tropical island is located in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast from Surat Thani. It can only be reached by ferry from the mainland or it's two neighboring islands, Koh Samui and Koh Tao. It is the closest of these three islands to Angthong National Marine Park, on which the 1997 not-so-bad book and 2000 not-so-good movie, The Beach was based. The movie was actually shot on the other coast of Thailand, on Koh Phi Phi.

The Full Moon Party is popular among backpackers to the area. Some would argue that attendance of at least one of these events is a requirement when traveling through the region, and one of the many "badges" one might add to the now pre-packaged South-East Asian experience. (See also firing AK-47’s in Cambodia and smoking opium in Laos)

Participants to these events usually come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but share in the desire to get down and boogie. The musical selection varies from club to club but is generally of the electronic genre. Many famous DJ's from around the world have spun here and tape recordings of these events are available.

As one would expect from an event that is basically a rave on the beach, there is a prolific use of illicit substances, some of which can be bought openly at local restaurants. Mushroom (psyilopsybin) shakes and happy (marijuana) pizzas are among the favorites and cost about 3-5 US $ depending on size and potency. Other rave drugs are also readily available and, quite obviously, readily consumed. Prices for these vary based on supply/demand.

There is no dress code for these events and comfortable clothing is encouraged. There, is however, a prevalent style. To fit in, one should invest in a pair of Thai fisherman's pants. These come in one size, a variety of colors and are the pant of choice by a sizable portion of Full Moon Party goers and backpackers in general. It is also popular to wear flip-flops and a T-shirt with a fake designer label. All these items can be purchased on location and an entire outfit can be put together for under 10 US $.

The Full Moon Parties began on the island in 1987 with only a small group of revelers. With the incredible increase of tourismto Thailand over the past decade, visitors have long ago began to outnumber residents. During the high tourist season (November-March), the area sees an influx of about 8 000-10 000 people each month. It was reported that on December 31st, 1999, there were close to 30 000 people in attendance for the celebration. A vast majority of these people reported headaches or nausea the following day.

Proprietors and guest house owners on the island have been so pleased with the increased revenue from these events, that they recently decided that once a month was certainly not often enough. Visitors to the island, and the neighboring Koh Tao and Koh Samui islands, now have the option of attending the monthly New Moon party, and the bi-monthly, Half Moon Parties. Plans have not been made to celebrate other fractional phases of the moon, although the 34/89th moon party would surely be a hit.

For those interested in a more subdued beach atmosphere the neighboring island, Koh Tao, is a much better option.

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