I saw the bad moon rising.

It belongs to Thailand like massages, Tuk-Tuks and Pad Thai: The legendary Full Moon Party on Koh Pha Ngan. However, on the eve of this bad moon rising I ended up not going. Instead, I took a night boat to another island, Pha Ngans relaxed sister Tao. But bits and pieces of the biggest beach party in the world still washed on my shores…


“Koh Pha Ngan! Koh Pha Ngan! Koh Pha Ngaaaaaaaaan!!!!”


… shouts a frat-looking boy running down the balk of the night boat, panic in his eyes. There are two ferries leaving the pier of Surat Thani tonight: One to Koh Pha Ngan, home of the famous Full Moon Party that is tomorrow and one to Koh Tao, home of 51 diving schools. And counting.


Looking at the passengers on both ferries,

it feels like being back in High School:


The cool kids sit in the back of the bus, the nerds gather in the front. I am in the front, on the ferry to Koh Tao. So is “fratboy”, although – for the life of him! – he really doesn’t want to be here right now! In fact, now he jumps off the moving boat, almost falling into the dirty waters, then running up and down the pier, completely freaked-out and screaming again: “Koh Pha Ngan! Koh Pha Ngan! Where is the f***ing boat to Koh Pha Ngan?!” But it’s too late. The boat to Koh Pha Ngan is already gone – as is fratboys prospect of joining one hell of a party.



And yet, he had so much time to find his boat!

All of us passengers were waiting for hours and hours at the pier for departure; both boats leaving at around 11.00 pm. I made the most of the time that was given to me: I spend it with three Turks from Istanbul, drinking Raki and eating shrimps  in a fish-restaurant. This wasn’t the best idea though, because being tipsy didn’t help me at all to get through what this night had in store for me…



…The worst boat ride in the history of boat rides.

No, I mean it. I thought I could handle it without the blink of an eye, but I swear: I remember at some point during the night I was actually scared for my life. It started rather beautiful though. Picture this: An old wooden boat floating through a calm canal, waves gently kissing the bow where I’m sitting, warm wind in my hair and a relaxed tune in my ear – the perfect start of an adventurous journey to an exotic island in the Gulf of Thailand…


But two hours later I woke up in a rollercoaster, my head hitting hard against the wood, my legs flying through the air, my stomach twisting into a knot. The boat had left behind the sweet waters of the canal; we were now in the open sea where my romantic boat was nothing more than a tiny nutshell… or maybe a can of sardines if you look at the accomodation aboard: A hundred people lying next to each other, cramped, spooning on a giant mattress, everybody desperately focused on keeping their eyes closed,  because everything else would result in a dirty mess on the floor.


The wooden frame groans and creaks. While the (almost) full moon shines a light on the Gulf of Thailand, I begin to understand that this boat probably has been sailing the seven seas before my birth was even planned and that it is only a matter of time before the time arrives when it breaks in half…


I just hope tonight is not that night…


… and it is not. After what feels like an eternity I wake up with a loud BANG! (I must have fallen asleep after all – bless the Raki!) At sunrise the boat bumps against the pier of Koh Tao, time to unload the freighter – first the eggs, then the passengers.

I grab my backpack and jump off the “Hoppetosse”, relieved to be on terra firma again, only to find myself being yelled at seconds later. Touts, taxi drivers and Thai kids stand in front of me shouting like market-criers…


“Koh Pha Ngan!!! Koh Pha Ngan!!!
Boat to Koh Pha Ngan!
Full Moon Party!”


…What is wrong with you people? Why on earth would I hop on yet another boat to yet another island? I just got here! Give me a break! All  I want is to sleep and to eat breakfast and to not feel sick anymore. So, could you please just help me find my hostel?





Minutes later, I find myself on the back of a pick-up-truck that is a taxi on Tao, and finally I end up in my hostel on Sairee Beach and, exhausted, I sleep until sunset.


But oh! – What a beautiful sunset it is!

And what a beautiful night that follows.

I run into a couple I met in Krabi a week earlier and we have dinner on the beach, listening to guitar music, drinking and watching the Full Moon from “the other island.” Ferries, longtail boats and water taxis left Koh Tao until the last minute to bring party crowds over to Pha Ngan. Whoever is left now just likes to take it easy, listen to music, rise sky lanterns in the air and watch the stars and the full moon reflecting on the silky water surface.



Whoever wants to stay on Kho Pha Ngan during Full Moon on the other hand has no other choice than to make at least a 3-day-trip out of it.What started as an improvised beach party in a wooden disco for no more than 30 travelers has nowerdays turned into a massive event known all over the world, and the guesthouses are in the position to charge pretty much whatever they want, forcing tourists to stay at least three days on the island…. which is why even the day after the party, Koh Tao still remains fairly quiet.

People have massages or go snorkeling, finish their diving course or hang out at the beach, rolling the three meters into the shallow waters every now and again. As for me, I end up drinking a lot of iced lattés in a cute little café, shopping for second hand books, snorkeling through corals, chatting to some lovely people and drinking some lovely strawberry daiquiris – not forcing anything, but still having the time of my life.

And as the party people wash on Tao shores at the dawn of day three – hungover, tired and happy – I wonder if I missed out on something. Truth be told: I don’t know.

I saw the bad moon rising.


But I don’t know how it feels like to party under it.

And I guess I don’t have to.
What I’m dying to know, however, is if  “fratboy” made it in the end or if he’s still running up and down the pier in Surat Thani, desperately yelling “Koh Pha Ngan! Koh Pha Ngan! Koh Pha Ngan!”, missing out on what was supposed to be the best night of his young life…








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Gesa Neitzel

Hallo! Schön, dass du da bist. Ich bin Gesa aus Berlin und mir gehört der Laden. Hier erzähle ich von meinen Reisen um die Welt und immer auch ein Stück mehr zu mir selbst.

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