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.
We’d been told about couchsurfing by some fellow backpackers who couldn’t speak highly enough about it, couchsurfing being their favourite way to travel. For those of you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a concept whereby people let travellers stay for free in their home. These people are the hosts, and the person visiting is the surfer. It’s an amazing way to meet local people and experience a place beyond the travel guide – and of course it’s a great way to save money.
The couchsurfing community is full of like-minded travellers and generally those who surf will also offer to host people when back in their home country. It’s a way for people with limited funds to travel and experience the world. In some areas where people have little money and cannot travel out of their home country, they can host someone from another country and still have the experience of meeting people from different cultures, practise their language skills and learn about other places. Many hosts take part, however, to meet lifelong friends and to offer support to travellers.
We were pretty excited about our first couchsurfing experience and were unsure what to expect. We set up our profiles on couchsurfing.com and started searching for people in Koh Samui. We saw a host with loads of brilliant reviews and the most beautiful, glamorous home. As first-time couch surfers we had no reviews, and as there were two of us we were slightly more awkward to host. We also acknowledged that this couple were likely to get loads of requests from surfers on a daily basis, so when we sent our request we didn’t hold out much hope.
We could not believe it when we received a response asking if we were available the following weekend, as they’d be able to host us, and if the weather held up ‘we could go out on the boat’. Our only reservation was that it seemed too good to be true…