Thai New Years in Ko Samui, Thailand

A while back, I had lunch with my friend Debra so she could give me the rundown on her recent tour around Europe. After filling me in on all the scandal that inevitably happens when you’re on a Euro tour (the romances, the break-ups, the make-ups), she mentioned that she planned to meet one of her new South African friends from the trip for the Thai New Year’s festivities in a few months. “You should come to Thailand too,” she said. “It’ll be fun!”

Five months later, Debra and I were on a plane to Ghuanzhou, China, along with a friend of hers named Sarah. The flight would ultimately take us to Thailand. Once we got to our hotel in Ko Samui, Thailand, we would also meet up with Debra’s childhood friend Cher and Cher’s boyfriend Sean. I know, a lot of characters to keep up with.

It was a 28-hour journey, so when we reached Ko Samui we had just enough energy to eat dinner and crash. The next morning the clan and I had breakfast at a local café chain called The Coffee Club. That day was Songkron (Thai New Year) and part of the tradition is a water festival, which was originally a ritual of washing away one’s sins but has now turned into a citywide water gun fight. We purchased water guns reminiscent of the Super Soakers I played with as a child then hit the streets with hundreds of other water fighters. In the midst of all the water fighting, I found time to indulge in a little street meat. After a couple of hours on the streets, we returned to our hotel with our clothes drenched and our faces covered in various colors of talcum powder (a symbol of good luck). We spent the rest of the day at our hotel pool, where we hung out at our swim-up bar with a group of rambunctious Aussies who were in town for a bachelor party. Things get a little hazy after three rum-filled pineapples, but according to the pictures, we had a blast.

The next day was the full moon party on Ko Pha Ngan Island. We met up with Debra’s South African friend and took a ferry to the island, where we ate, shopped and drank buckets of booze until the sun set. (No exaggeration, drinks are really served in small buckets!) Once the moon came out, the music got louder and the beach began to fill up with thousands of partiers waving glow sticks and jumping fire ropes. There were whispers of mushroom shakes being served on the other side of the island, but by full moon party standards we kept it PG; we had a few booze buckets, got silly neon tattoos and took the first available ferry off the island at 1:30am (most patrons stay until 7am).

The following day we did a little poolside recovery with our Aussie friends, who had a much rougher full moon party than we had, and we finished our day off with a live Muay Thai kickboxing match. Our last day/night in Ko Samui was spent getting fish pedicures. (You stick your feet in water and tiny fish suck the dead skin off of them, one of the oddest sensations I’ve ever felt.). We also hit up a local club full of non-locals, called Green Mango. All in all, Ko Samui was a great way to start our Thai tour.

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