Be left in no doubt that the way of life here lives up to its reputation – work hard (ish), play hard! For large crowds, dance anthems and free flowing alcohol, you belong in Cancun rather than here. However, that doesn’t mean that Isla Mujeres doesn’t have enough of a nightlife of its own. It’s easy to find Mariachi bands, salsa nights and street performers along the main beach and high street, but if you’re looking to really party, the general consensus is that Pocna hostel is the place to go.
After teaching in Thailand for a couple of months, I’d heard a lot about the infamous ‘Songkran’ from my students. They explained to me that Songkran was the Thai New Year, and that it was in fact a water festival, whereby everyone across the country (and some other parts of SE Asia) would participate in a huge water fight. Songkran takes place in the hottest, driest month of the year (April) and the water actually represents the washing away of anything negative that occurred in the previous year. Whilst I was intrigued and could tell that Songkran was something to be very excited about, the sheer extremities of the occasion hadn’t fully dawned on me – until I witnessed it.
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.
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.
Charlotte’s birthday fell whilst we were staying on the beautiful island of Koh Lanta. We’d made friends with a fun-loving American in our previous hostel and he arranged a surprise party that evening, bringing over some friends from Koh Phi Phi for the celebrations. In spite of the fact that we got lost in the Thai wilderness in our party finery, we eventually made it and had a spectacular night. Cocktails and chilled out music whilst lying in the sand was a great way to mark the occasion!
There are definitely worse places in the world to turn 24…
Happy Birthday, Charlotte!
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…
Charlotte & Sarah x