While this blog is about the good times, the high times in Haad Rin, it is only fair that some mention should be made about the low times, the bad times at Haad Rin. It is sadly not a fairy land place where nobody gets hurt, heart-broken or injured. I wish it was. So here are some of the low points of the place.
Having a huge party by the sea makes for an impressive back drop; it also makes for a convenient toilet and a way to avoid the 20 to 50 Baht toilet fees during the FMP. Sadly a few times a year someone mixes too much booze (or other substances) with the sea. They go for a swim and are washed up hours later, face down. These incidents don’t make it into the media.
The sea gets rough from October through to January. There is often a strong under tow that sucks people out. People fight the under tow, get exhausted and go under.
I don’t think anyone has died from the burning skipping ropes or the burning limbo bar but they do get seriously burned. Can you imagine the Swiss allowing drunk people to publically play with fire? No.
There is now quite a selection of medical centres in Haad Rin. These places are designed to profit from full moon injuries. They expensively treat second-degree burns and motorbike injuries, knowing that most people will pay as they have travel insurance.
Top Tip: If you are seeing double or having mushroom tracers don’t skip with fire.
On New Year’s Eve 2012/13 Stephen Ashton, 22, was caught in gang cross fire while sitting at a beach bar. He died minutes later. At first people assumed he had provoked a young Thai lad who went away, got his gun and took his revenge. It turned out he was a totally innocent bystander.
Koh Phangan is traditionally something of a wild place. Each village has its young bloods. Haad Rin is no exception. The gangs dabble in drug dealing, petty theft and intimidation. Guns are sort of allowed in Koh Phangan. The one that got Stephen Ashton was homemade.
Generally Thai men are friendly and polite and like a laugh. So many young Thais have tattoos that these daubings don’t immediately flag any warning signs. However, I’ve noticed that Thai men have their pride or face and don’t like being publically humiliated. They will sometimes go away and reappear with mates or a weapon to wreak revenge. Even if you are tasty with your fists don’t be a hero, disappear sharpish. Leave the island ASAP.
Highs and highs. The FMP offers a smorgasbord of natural and synthetic highs. The bars on the rocks at the northern end of the beach sell ‘special shakes’ openly over the counter.
The police know this and turn a blind eye. They are interested solely in the users not the suppliers. That tasty high you are cultivating can frighteningly implode when the cops nab you doing something you shouldn’t be. It is a protracted and expensive process to buy your way out of a cell.
Anyone arriving in Thailand for the first time will notice within days that laws are being broken left, right and centre. The primary role of the police is to generate income, secondary is to uphold the law.
Burglary and Petty Theft
Before booking a place to stay in Haad Rin online spend a few minutes reading Trip Advisor. Avoid places where people mention that their bungalow was broken into and their cards, camera etc. were stolen. Bungalows are easily accessed and when the party is going full swing opportunists know they have a range of places to plunder.
Some resorts have safety boxes in the rooms or at reception. Avail yourself of these facilities. Also don’t bring your all in a money belt. In the early hours thieves can be seen searching those passed out for valuables.
Lady boys are not always easy to identify. A young man gets his mojo all stoked from being surrounded by Thai hotties during the day and at night gets drunk, and ends up being carried back to his bungalow by a man in a dress. Some men laugh it all off the next morning; others go through some bruising self-questioning.
And then there are the jokes from your mates who saw it all and will have endless mirth from re-hashing the whole sorry episode.
The best advice is to do the FMP with a group. Try and stick together. There are numerous benefits to going out as a collective. One of the group will spot possible pitfalls. As one person becomes a bucket victim, another will sober up enough to drag their buddy to the safe zone on the beach or back to their bungalow. One person will spot the man hands on the fair maiden. One person might hold back their eager chum when they get caught in the mesmerising spectacle of swirling fire. It is the quantum theory of insanity at work in the universe.