There’s a bar in Koh Phi Phi with a boxing ring (why not?!), where tourists are encouraged to give Thai boxing a go. If they challenge each other, they’re automatically eligible for a free bucket of alcohol each, and on an island where buckets are practically the currency, you can imagine how popular this is! It was highly entertaining to witness the uncoordinated swinging of fists (the men) along with the competitive cut-throat kicking and scratching (the women). However, when we were treated to a real Thai boxing match with professionals, the drama, and obviously the skill, took on a whole new level. It was impossible to look away at this enthralling and artistically brutal sport, whilst you could feel the audience clench with each devastating kick. Though no matter what kind of a bloody, pulpy state they left each other in, we still caught them embracing and sharing a beer together afterwards…
Think of the first party you went to as a teenager, when the host’s parents were on holiday. Everyone’s a bit giddy because there’s absolutely no one in charge or being responsible and within an hour everything’s got a bit out of hand. There’s red wine on the cream carpets, the antique vase is smashed, there’s sick in the bin, someone’s just been dumped and is crying into their first bottle of vodka and the usually sensible person is dancing on the table, steadying themselves with the chandelier whilst re-enacting The Full Monty.
The 30,000 strong crowd
Now times it by 1000, again and again and again. That’s an indication of where The Full Moon features on the party (and chaos) scale. The sheer volume of people, personalities, cultures, languages, music, UV paint and alcohol creates an utterly mad but acutely exciting atmosphere. There’s the constant awareness that it’s all got a bit out hand, but of course it has, there’s 30,000 tourists here to party! There’s buckets of miscellaneous alcohol all along the beach, but they’re so commonly spiked that many of the vendors have actually taken to putting up signs declaring that they’re trustworthy! We opted for several beers instead. Drugs are everywhere too, as are undercover police, and we couldn’t really imagine a less safe environment to not be in control.
After the tranquility of Rantee Beach, we headed to Ton Sai, Koh Phi Phi village. If you like to party, this is the place to be. It’s a stunning setting for relatively peaceful days and hedonistic nights. The tide comes so close to the bars and hostels that at points you may find yourself wading through the water in your finest party attire, then later dancing on a small sandy island as the tide retreats in the early hours.
Fire shows are the main source of entertainment at beach parties. Watching the professionals is an impressive sight to behold, but far more anxiety-inducing is watching drunken backpackers try their hand at it for a free bucket of whiskey.
If there’s one thing we learned on Phi Phi, if you play with fire…