Writen by Tracy Lee
If you've ever wanted to go train in Thailand, this blog will cover every aspect of my trip. This includes the gym, accomodations, as well as the things I went, did and saw. I imagine I will have at least 8-10 blogs to cover my 2 weeks out there. I hope you enjoy them and the photos- I had a great time taking them! As I post this it's 5am in and I'm in Singapore. I will be blogging about this part of the trip as well!
Thailand.. I had always wanted to go to the beautiful country that was located halfway around the world from where I live. It was a desire going back over 10 years.. When the tsunami hit in 2004, I was tempted to drop everything, take off to the remote country, and live my life as a starving photo journalist in an effort to document the tragedy.. Needless to say, that never happened and through no fault of my own (or very little to say the least), it's taken 10 years for me to finally make this trip. I wanted to be able to make it a working vacay, so I set up my trip with Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket as my home base booked my flights for a few days after the UFC in Sydney, Australia. I would be able to cover Tiger for Combatlifestyle and still see Thailand in the same trip!
As I sat at the Sydney Airport a good five hours early for my flight on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, it occurred to me that I had seen an almost full moon that week. I jumped online and quickly ascertained that, not only was there a full moon while I was in Thailand, it was actually Thursday night after I arrived. This party was on the bucket list directly below going to Thailand and in spite of it being on the other side of the country from where I was going to be, I knew I needed to make it happen. A few text messages later and I was set up to head on a bus at 9am Thursday morning to Koh Phangan where the Full Moon party would take place that night!
Fast forward through 14 hours later. I had touched down in Phuket and Philippe from Tiger Muay Thai was meeting me outside of customs. Not two seconds later, the skies opened up and it was pouring down rain. Not exactly the best way to begin my trip, but as I soon would learn, these monsoon type storms were quite common and would come and go very quickly.
Fast forward again about 10 hours and I was late meeting the crew to leave for Koh Phangan. I was up at 5am to see the sunrise and get some photos; I even walked down to the end of Tiger Road to the 7-11 I had stopped at briefly the night before. I just had no clue that my phone had set itself to +6.5GMT instead of +7 that is Thailand. Because of this I rushed to grab my bag and get out the door and then sit in front of tiger for at least 30 minutes while we waited to leave. It wasn't till we were 30 minutes down the road that I realized I had an almost dead camera battery and I had forgotten my battery charger. I was in a van with 15 of my closest friends that I had yet to meet; devastated because like a time bomb ticking, I knew the inevitable would happen at the most inopportune time.
The trip across the country was slated to take 6 hours time. We would arrive to Koh Phangan in plenty of time to check into the hotel that Jason Saggo (an up and coming fighter who trains at Tiger Muay Thai) had booked for our part of the group. It would be nice to have some down time and not rush to get anywhere. It seemed as though Murphy (you know, the one with the Law?) had his fickle finger in the pot and the van we were very noisely dropped its exhaust somewhere out along the road. Lucky for us it was in front of a roadside restaurant in the shade. The new friends and I all bought some lunch as I studied the money I had just pulled out the night before.
After at least an hour on the side of the road, another van arrived and transported us to a charter bus. I managed to freak out a Monk who was traveling on board (caught him staring at my boobs in shock before frantically waving me away) and we continued on till we were dropped off at an office/restaurant of some kind. I had seen a camera store a couple miles prior to getting there but a thai guy at the store wouldn't let me leave because our ride to the boat would be there any minute. It was at least another 2 hours till we were in another vehicle to the boat dock mere minutes away.
It was at least 30 minutes before the last ferry of the night left, and then 2.5 hours across to Koh Phangan. We entertained ourselved with whatever means necesary in our impatience to get to the island. By the time we got there and checked into our hotel, we had been traveling 12 hours. The trip was supposed to be 6!! We had just enough time to rinse off and throw clothes on before our taxi was there (at 250 baht a person) to take us to the party on the other side of the island. We had no choice in this, it was the only cab the hotel would offer. Needless to say, in throwin myself together, I took a shower with Marina, my new friend as the bathrooms were multipurpose; the shower was part of the toilet and sink area. I should have taken a photo of this (the bathroom, not us in the shower!!!) because this was how many of the bathrooms were in Thailand. I also managed to forget more batteries; the ones I needed for my camera flash.
Fourteen of us piled into the truck taxi; some strangers, some of them friends of Jason's from Canada who met up with us at the hotel. Somewhere along the way 3 more girls jumped in. Add the 3 people in the cab of the truck and there TWENTY people in the truck. The way transportation goes in Thailand would NEVER go down in the States, lol. 20 minutes later we arrived to an area where people were covered in blacklight paint, and neon clothes and t shirts of all kind. We sat down to eat and started painting ourselves as well. Someone suggested writing where we were from on our bodies which was a cool suggestion that went over really well with people we met in passing.
It was close to midnight before we were paying 100 baht (the equivelant of $3 US) to enter the area where the party was going down. We were told the money goes toward cleaning the beach after the event, and were given a cool rubber souvenir bracelet as part of the payment. I rushed into a 7-11 and found batteries and the guys bought buckets, which was the standard way of getting drinks there. A pint of alcohol, a mixer, and a straw in a bucket; I had never seen this method before but it was sure to get everyone wasted very quickly.
There were nine of us in our immediate group and somehow over the course of the night, in spite of the rain, the amount of people, the craziness and the intoxication, we managed to stay together till the bitter end! We even picked up a new friend along the way. We were like a floating island traveling from one end of the beach to the other; checking out all the sites, music and entertainment the event had to offer.
Midway through the party, we were up in a bar on Mellow Mountain on the dance floor. I got really creeped out because I felt someone kind of grab at me and I was shocked to see a very dark thai guy as the culprit. I escaped across the dance floor to the safety of one of the guys in the group and watched as the guy disappered into the night. It wasn't until we were heading back down to the beach that I realize my brand new purse had been slashed and I was the victim of a common scam, an attempted robbery. Lucky for me I had felt the guy grab at me and nothing was taken. Also I was lucky I hadn't gotten sliced as the cut went through both sides of the bag. I didn't dwell on it and continued to have fun with all of my new friends.
Once back down on the beach, it started sprinkling, and then started pouring. Everyone had told me NOT to bring my camera to the party and I didn't listen. I've also been doing this for many years and was prepared. I pulled two plastic bags out of my purse, double wrapped it and then put into my sliced purse. The song "I just came to say hello" came on and the skies completely opened up; We welcomed the rain with open arms. Camera safe, bodies soaked, and no pictures to prove the insanity during that time. It was so wet that I ended up escaping back to 7-11 to purchase a tshirt to dry everything off and make sure my camera was ok. All was in order, and I now have an "I love Thailand" tshirt for the experience.
We ended back up at Mellow Mountain around 3am and because it was covered the camera came back out. The rain also stopped for the rest of the night. While in my group of friends, the Thai guy who had slashed my purse came up and grabbed my hand. I freaked out and he once again disappeared into the night. We left mellow mountain, never to return again.
The floating island journeyed to the opposite end of the beach and came across many interesting things including a pink bunny and tons of people passed out in the sand. At about 4am, I decided I was done. Crossfit for the first time Tuesday, a 9 hour flight wednesday, a 12 hour trip across thailand thursday and a Full Moon Party Thursday night. Turns out most of our group was (thankfully!) and we grabbed a cab back to the hotel at a rate of 200 baht a person. I paid mine and Marina's part with a 1000 baht bill. The lady tried to only give me 100baht change which at 530am I'm sure she hoped I wouldn't realize. The guy with her gave me 500 baht in addition to the 100. It wasn't till the next morning that I figured out it was fake.
We watched the sunrise from the deck of the hotel pool which had an amazing view looking out over the water. I took photos of us there and it was at 630 am, the end of our night, that my battery died. I took the hint and after an extremely eventful first full day in Thailand, I headed off to bed.