When Arianna jetted off to tour Asia, her photos & updates made me insanely jealous… & so very proud of her for going on such an amazing & life-changing adventure. I was thrilled when she agreed to share some of her adventure with all of you & I’m really excited to let you almost experience the transformative night she had in Thailand for yourself (of course, like she says, you need to go do it yourself to really understand). Last but not least, the beaches she’s sharing with us today & that photo of her cuddling with a tiger (amaze!) make me want to pack my backpack & head out the door, pronto! & with that, Arianna, take it away! xo
Although mentioning its name might result in a mildly convincing, “I have heard it is insane,” hearing about Thailand’s famous Full Moon Party does not come anywhere near experiencing it first hand. The party, along with the other days I spent on Koh Phangan Island, introduced me to a different kind of freedom & happiness that I had not yet experienced in my twenty two years. I left the beach & the country with a better understanding of who I want to be & a greater appreciation for the world around me.
The Full Moon Party is a celebration that occurs every month during the full moon. Although other islands have their own version, Haad Rin beach on Koh Phangan is infamous for the insane experience it offers. Thousands of travelers spread out across the sand, their bodies covered in glow paint & various neon accessories. The entire beach becomes a circus of DJs, fire breathers, & ambitious tourists who try their hand at jumping over a fire soaked jump rope. The party is truly an escape from reality in the truest sense of the meaning.
At the start of my one month adventure through Asia, I could never have predicted how great of an impact Thailand & Koh Phangan in particular would have on me. I hope this glimpse of my time there will inspire you to make the journey & experience it for yourself.
On June 23, 2013, as the highly anticipated Super Moon was getting ready to rise in the sky, my friends & I prepared to party like we had never partied before on the beach of Haad Rin.
Although we had booked our room at Palita Lodge merely one day before arriving, we were all in awe over the serenity of the bungalow & the perfect location where it sat. Palita Lodge became an additional oasis when we needed an escape from the chaos. Each part of the day brought us one step closer to the main event. While walking home, I made an impulse purchase: a braided flower wreath to fit perfectly with my ripped denim shorts & fringe bathing suit top. After a Thai local painted a string of fluorescent flowers down my arm, I felt ready to celebrate the full moon.
With the months of anticipation coming to a close, we headed out to begin a night we would never want to end. Within seconds we found ourselves waiting in line to buy pink plastic buckets filled with rum & coke from a loud Thai woman named Katie. She quickly grabbed our hand to stamp us while simultaneously trying to pour Thai vodka into our mouths. The drinks were strong & after a more than enough sips, we began to explore the beach. We stopped every few steps to meet another interesting person & were surprised at the amount of people we recognized from earlier in the trip including two very attractive British boys we had met on the ferry & a German consultant & Bay Area local we had met briefly at our Kyoto guesthouse. The entire crescent shaped beach, crowded with thousands of dancing bodies, moved like the ocean. The symphony of loud music from each individual bar encouraged us to let go & forget about reality.
Around five in the morning, my friends & I stepped away from the craziness of the main beach & took a water taxi around the side of the island to bar called Eden. Hidden on the rocks overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, Eden was only accessible by water. This little fact ensured its captivating seclusion. Full of hammocks, mellow music, & smiling faces, Eden welcomed us like an old friend returning home from a long journey. We made our way from the bar to an isolated rock just in time to watch the sunrise over the perfectly still water. Sitting there with my best friends, alone in a country far from home, I experienced a sense of peacefulness & serenity that I had never known existed. I sat marveling at the juxtaposition of the crazy & unusual party & the safe haven we currently found ourselves embracing. The silver light from the rising sun swept over the calm sea joining the sky & ocean into one continuous, magical realm. No one spoke; we all just sat there in the quiet, wondering how a place this heavenly could exist.
A few hours later, we worked our way back to Haad Rin relishing in our radiating euphoria. In the morning light, the beach only faintly resembled what it had been only a few hours prior. Some dancers remained, undulating ot the last songs of the few Djs, but many were asleep in the sand or were watching the sun rise over the still sea. The bright sunlight & already warm day matched our smiles as we walked along the beach. Despite the long night, we felt amazing & more alive than ever.
Arianna Ross graduated from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in May. Post-graduation, she spent a month traveling around Asia with some of her closest friends. While the night she spent under the full moon in Thailand was especially memorable, they were also lucky enough to travel through Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia & Thailand. While she loved eating new & interesting foods abroad, now that she’s home, Ariana’s happy to be back to Sunday morning brunch & some classic California Mexican food. You can find snaps from her travels & follow along with her every day adventures on her Instagram page.
Photography: Arianna Ross