As mentioned before, I was heading to the Full Moon Party in Ko Phangan. I ended up spending six full days in Siem Reap and I was liking Cambodia so much, I was hoping to visit some of the smaller towns and villages but I was planning to meet a friend in South Thailand in a few days so my time here was coming to an end. I’d definitely recommend visiting Cambodia to anyone though. Friendly people, extremely affordable and much to do and see….
Leaving from Cambodia, I was off to another border crossing as I headed towards South Thailand to meet a friend. Only this time, coming back over the border into Thailand was not the easy process it had been just one week earlier. Originally, it took about 5 hours by bus and about an hour and a half at the border to get to Siem Reap. Coming back through, the distance was about the same, only this time the journey took over 10 hours.
When we finally arrived into Bangkok that night, it would be just a quick stopover and I’d be leaving the following day on a night bus to head south for the Full Moon Party in Ko Phangan. The bus had dumped us off at the pier for the ferry to the island of Ko Phanghan but since it was only 3:30AM, it would be an interesting wait in the parking lot for everyone as the ferry wouldn’t be arriving until 7AM to make it’s four hour ride to the island. After looking back at all the cabs, buses, trucks, tuk tuks and boats I’d taken, it had been a crazy three days of straight travel. I finally arrived onto the island of Ko Phangan later in the day and shortly after, met up with my friend Dylan, who some of you may know from back home.
Ko Phanghan is one of three large islands in the Gulf of Thailand. It sits between two other popular islands, Ko Tao and Ko Samui. From land, its about a 3-4 hour boat ride to make it to the island but a lot of people fly straight into Ko Samui and then take a short two hour boat ride to Ko Phangan. And each month they have a Full Moon Party in Ko Phangan that is held on the Ko Phanghan’s south east part of the island called Haadrin. The Full Moon Party in Ko Phanghan started way back in 1985 but has grown every year since and today, it attracts crowds of people as large as 20,000-30,000 on one small section of beach!
The month I was here however, it was estimated there were about 10,000 people at the Full Moon Party in Ko Phangan. Still one of the largest gatherings I’d ever been a part of but there wouldn’t be any records made for attendance during this particular month.
And that was probably a good thing as many who come here seem to think the laws of nature don’t apply to them as they do the most insane things.
During the party, I saw everything from people trying to jump rope with two large ropes on fire (see video below), more than thirty people trying to climb to the top of a thirty five foot steel scaffolding for no real reason other than to make it to the top and others that would be swimming around in the ocean at night in an area known for having an undertow. It is said that every month on this island, a tourist dies here and its not surprising.
After spending just four days here, I can clearly see why they have so many fatalities. Just after two short days, I’d already seen enough people bandaged up or on crutches that you’d of thought there was a horror film being shot in town.
Most of the injuries though occurred from motorbike accidents. The motorbikes are so cheap to rent for the day (about $4-5 USD) that almost everyone on the island was riding them around including us.
But enough about all this. I’d like to get to a real story. One, that if you follow it, you will find love, drama, irony and karma all wrapped up into a four day saga. I’d like to tell you the story about my flip and about what became my missing flop…..
Lets start from day one, arrival to the island where I meet up with my friend. We went out for some drinks that night, nothing too involved and upon making it back to the hostel we were staying, I left my flip flops at the door like everyone else to prevent all the sand from the beach from tracking into the room. Well, when I woke up the following day and headed outside, my right flop had vanished. Yep, just the lefty was there. Huh? This is weird, I’m thinking to myself…
My friend was standing there with me and after studying a pile of about thirty different pairs of flip flops at the doorway, he found one that looked a bit similar though a slightly different color but it was a righty and was missing its companion as well. With no other options and not wanting the chance to be walking on glass shards all day, I took that righty and this is what I ended up with for the next day and a half:
Now, the last thing I wanted to do was to give up my remaining flop. Obviously I felt like an idiot walking around town with two mismatched flip flops and my friends kept telling me to just ditch my left flop and find or buy a new pair. If only they knew how much I loved my flops. Were they aware that I spent an agonizing time trying to find the ‘perfect’ pair of flops for this world trip? Did they realize these flops have trekked through the mountains in six different countries? Were they also aware that these flops molded to my feet like a glove on a brisk winter day? By god, these were OluKai Brand Kia’I flops worn only by the Hawaii Lifeguard Association and myself. Would you like some additional details on these flops?
- (kee-ah-ee) – Translation: Guard.
- Designed with the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association (HLA), all 420+ Lifeguards wear the Kia’i from Olukai™ as part of their uniform.
- Water-resistant synthetic leather strap. (Wonderful for the beach and useful on dirty shower floors)
- HLA and Hawaiian embroidery details on strap. (Stylish at the bar)
- Quick-drying Lycra™ knit lining and neoprene backer. (Quick drying is essential for a backpacker!!)
- Anatomical compression-molded EVA midsole. (That’s right… Anatomical compression-molded!!!)
- Non-slipping brushed EVA drop-in footbed for a personalized fit. (AKA like a glove)
- Non-marking rubber outsole with coral reef design tread.
- Weight: 8 oz (perfect for the backpack)
My point? I was not giving up on my right flop! I actually special ordered these before I left the States! So it was out there somewhere…and from that point on, I was no longer able to comfortably walk down the street without checking out everyone’s else’s footwear and since you have to take your shoes off at the entrance to any store or restaurant, I was checking those areas too. I had even given thought to put up flyers around town. This was serious business. And even if I hadn’t been able to find righty, I still had one good lefty and the flop on my right was a good flop too, just a bit off in height so it looked as though I had a slight peg leg walk. Ok, the whole situation was ridiculous but as I said, I hadn’t given up hope yet!
On my third day in Ko Phanghan, I came out of the hostel entrance, looked in the spot I had been hiding my last remaining flop along with the other one I’d been wearing and sure enough, somebody had found my hiding spot and taken the right flop. Now I was back to just my original left.
But wait…. this was odd…. Why would the right one be taken now? Unless…. Aha! Unless the original culprit that took my righty had returned and had finally located his missing flop. Well, as soon as I turned around, guess who was standing behind me? Aha! As I look down to his feet, there was the right flip flop I’d been wearing the past two days, only now his pair had been reunited. But strangely, my righty was still nowhere to be found. Being a bit curious, I casually asked him if he’d seen a flop like the one on my left foot. And I was about 95% sure he’d been the one who took it in the first place. His reply, “Ahh, naw man, hadn’t seen it.” “Mmmm, you sure?” I asked. “Nope, sorry. I know they all look the same out here….” Uh, yeah, no they don’t. Mine were OluKai HLA flops in a gun metal gray color. Likely the toughest flops this side of Thailand. This guy must’ve been plenty drunk when he walked off with my righty and now I realize, he may not even remember where he left it. But wait, how did he get back here then if my righty is still missing. Surely there was a loner flop somewhere in this pile of flops. And sure enough, there was. It was the only one there and was a far cry from anything that looked like mine or his for that matter.
Great, so now I’m wearing my original lefty and some crap $1 thong flop on my right that was a half inch shorter in height, extremely uncomfortable and not even close to matching in size or style! And now I was walking around as if I had full limp! I probably looked like a hot mess barreling down the street. Damn Ko Phanghan drunks! As my friends continually find my flop story funnier by the day, they are nonetheless sick of hearing me whine about my missing righty. “Dude, get over it. Go buy a new pair or just grab someone else’s” says Dylan. Well, it wasn’t even a day after mine had been taken that his had also been taken too! In fact, I had also seen at least six other people walking around town with mismatched flip flops!
So we had originally booked 5 nights accommodation and paid in advance for our room here but after 3 days of craziness, I was ready to get off this island and of course, I was still agitated about my flop situation so we planned on leaving a day early. This meant I had just one night left before I would be forced to accept the fate of my missing flip flop situation. Well, after walking through town in south Ko Phanghan, we decided to head to the beach bars for a quick drink before calling it a night. The place was a good fifteen minute walk from our place and the last place I would of thought where karma would occur… but sure enough, as soon as I walked up to the door to take off this mismatched pair of flops I’d been wearing, there she sat, my MISSING OLUKAI FLOP!! At first, I froze for almost twenty full seconds. I couldn’t believe it. It had to be karma…
There were over 10,000 people in the south part of this island and after four loooong days of separation and stress, my flops and I were once again reunited. You might think this story is crazy or that I’m a bit too passionate about a pair of flip flops. Either way, you have to admit, it was pretty amazing to find this flop after four days. I think my friends were as amazed and astonished as I was.
And its too bad ‘Seinfeld’ is over as this would of made a perfect episode. At least it was for me… and I was glad to be heading to Ko Tao the following morning… with my reunited pair of Olu Kai’s. Crazy memories of the Full Moon Party in Ko Phangan will definitely be carried on…