For some (most), Koh Phagnan is a tropical paradise with palm tree fringed beaches, mile-upon-mile of lush rainforest and, of course, the heaviest party scene in the Eastern Hemisphere.
For me, it began as being all of those things, until that night.
Before I get to the story behind the most insanely-unbelievable blog post ever, I’ll catch you up with my arrival to the island and everything leading up to that night.
I left Bangkok on a bus heading for Chumphon around about 8pm. I was beyond excitement to be trading thick smog and pushy suit salesmen for clear sea air and pushy drinks salesmen – my paradise, and only my second destination since leaving home, awaited me on the tail-end of an 8-hour bus journey.
After asking for a light from a random outside of the bus terminal, I began chatting with a group of lads who had picked up on my accent. Adam, Dudley and Dan Beer (actually his surname) were also on their way to the famed island for the Half Moon Party – which I hadn’t even realised was a thing. I’d heard of Full Moon Party but assumed that I was going to have to wait a whole fortnight before I was to get my rage on. They assured me that this wasn’t the case and I was informed that the Half Moon Party was the most psychedelic, tripped-out, neon soaked rave, set in the middle of the island’s vast jungle – as you can imagine, that inner-Bart Simpson (mentioned in ‘He Belongs To Bangkok Now: Part Two‘) gave me a cheeky elbow-nudge that made my stomach grumble…or, at least, that’s what I thought that was.
How Being A Gentleman Sometimes Backfires
We boarded the two-story coach and I couldn’t believe my luck when I sat down at the back (like a gangster), to have a pretty blonde girl sit next to me. I asked politely if she would like the window seat (like a gentleman), to which she softly declined. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on her accent (like a geogra-tard) so I took a stab in the dark and guessed Sweden. She smiled and nodded, extended her hand and told me her name which I have now forgotten – I cannot remember a hot Swedish girl’s name yet I happily recall the name of a guy named Dan Beer, what the hell is wrong with me?!
I extended my hand and was about to return the greeting but before I got the chance, a dishevelled looking Thai dude and his half-asleep toddler started yelling in our general direction, pointing frantically at his ticket. It took all of two-seconds before the driver came to the back, pointed at the Swedish girl, then at me, then at the disgruntled passenger’s ticket and then toward the front of the bus. Seeing as this appeared to be a first Thai bus journey for the two of us, we had failed to notice that the vast majority of the backpacker crowd were sat at the front of the bus while the residents were surrounding us at the back. We both apologised and walked sheepishly towards the front to join the rest of our flock, only to find that there were only two seats remaining – separate from each other. My heart sank slightly as I realised that the following 8-hours would either be spent in the company of a pale, malnourished skinhead who was already shaming himself by wearing an England football shirt or a large Thai lady who had obviously booked her ticket too late to join the rest of her clansmen at the back. As the seat by the Full-Kit-Wanker was the wondrous window-seat, I threw Gentleman Joey into full-force and offered it to the Swede while I took my ticketed aisle-seat, next to Thailand’s answer to Rosie O’Donnell.
After about five-hours of listening to a mix between Thai Rosie’s snoring and Skrillex in my headphones (which at times, synched perfectly), we had a snack-stop. Sometimes these snack-stop’s are at 7-11’s, where you watch the backpacking passengers skip off the bus, tempted by the smell of the Ham and Cheese Toastie’s being pulled from the microwave. This stop was in the Thai folks’ favour, a rickety shack housing shady-looking hanging meats covered in flies and bizarre fish-based snacks. I looked desperately for a tube of Pringles and a pack of biscuits but ended up walking away with a bag of Thai crisps with a lobster printed on the front – as predicted, they were rank.
‘Joey, Don’t Puke On Thai Rosie O’Donnell’
I delicately fingered the suspect potato chips into my mouth, attempting to push each one to the back of my throat, diverting round the tastebuds but filling my stomach. With each small pile I placed into my mouth, a whiff of tomato-ey fish filled my nostrils and made me gag until eventually, I gave up and decided to remain hungry.
About 7 hours in I felt Bart Simpson nudging my stomach again, except I was nowhere near a bar and it was way past Happy Hour – something was wrong. I began burping and with every second one, a hot swell of vomit came with it, burning my throat and re-introducing the rancid flavour of lobster-flavoured chips into my mouth. Thai Rosie continued to snore and dig her chubby elbow into my side, which certainly didn’t help the nauseous feeling that had taken hold of me so suddenly.
The next hour was spent holding the half-full bag of lobster crisps beneath my chin as an odorous sick bag, fully realising that with every heave, I would inhale through my nose and intake more of the tomato fish smell that would bring on the next heave – it was a vicious, pukey circle. I really wanted to just let go and blow lobster-shaped chunks across the bus but all I kept thinking was, ‘Joey, don’t puke on Thai Rosie O’Donnell!’ Weirdly, this helped to keep the actual appearance of any vomit from happening but the heaving continued every ten seconds until the bus came to an eventual stop.
I stumbled off, swaggered my way to what I can only assume was the men’s toilet by the following illustration:
Sunrise on Vomit Beach
Unable to lift my head, I stumbled towards what looked like the nearest stall but, forgetting I was in South-East Asia, almost stumbled straight into the wretched trench of an overfilled squatter toilet. It was at that moment, staring an upturned turd straight in the eye, that my puking resistance gave way. Again I attempted to breathe through my mouth with every heave but as you all will know, that only brings on further burning of the throat and so, I filled my nostrils with the pungent aroma of a ceramic trench filled generously with all-manner of human excrement. This caused a vomcano like nobody had ever witnessed before, I genuinely felt as if I was going to break my back from hunching over without anything to hold onto.
After what felt like hours, I stumbled out of the bathroom, eyes bloodshot and back arched, looking like a stoned hunchback. I made my way to a seating area where I saw the three guys that I had met at the beginning of my bus ordeal, I plopped myself down on a stone bench and began to whinge about the gut-wrenching horrors of lobster flavoured chips. I asked how long it was going to be until the boat arrived and was met with an answer I was not expecting nor wanting – an hour and a half. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that I have a very high patience level, especially when travelling but when I had just spent the longest time chucking my guts while attempting to balance over a pool of human waste – my patience had worn thin.
Half an hour later and the grumblies began again so I apologised to my enduring audience and made the bowlegged stumble towards anywhere that would be out-of-sight of anybody I may plan to be friends/sleep with once I got to my final destination. Unable to lift my head, I watched my feet as they flip-flopped from gravel to sand and began to empty my stomach once again.
I spewed until I felt well enough to lift my hazy head once again and as I did, I witnessed my first Thai beach sunrise:
I instantly began to feel better as I saw our boat coming in from the end of the pier, so I walked back slightly more gallantly than before to see if I could attempt to re-initiate a friendship with the three fellas that I had connected with in Bangkok.
I got two steps back onto the gravel from the warm, wet sand before seeing the hot Swedish girl from the beginning of my journey, still being chatted up by the FKW from the bus.
I turned back towards the sea, slumped down into the sand, lit a cigarette and attempted to swallow the fact that I had been out-pulled by a chump in an England kit…think I would have preferred the lobster vomit!
Next on How Koh Phangan Ruined My Life: I trip balls on magic mushrooms, get hunted down by a Thai motorcycle gang with tasers and spend the night in a Thai hospital!