A Haad Rin New Year’s

January 1, 2009 - 12:30 am No Comments

Pretty amazing, and about what I imagined. Thousands of people drinking and dancing to rave music, with bass beats shaking the whole beach and lasers everywhere. The drinks we mostly sold as “fuck buckets,” or little pails with various combinations of cans and bottles inside of them: rum, vodka, whiskey, Coke, Sprite, Red Bull. You could mix and match as you pleased, and it was yours for 300 baht (about US$11). Along the beach, there were 10-15 different bars, each pounding out their own beats and overflowing with people. Hundreds of others, male and female, were at the waters edge pissing into the ocean at any given moment. (There seems to be a lot of pissing on this trip.)

Fire Twirler

Red Explosion

Doug and I drank lots, went all night long, and had a great time. It seems that Koh Phangan is where all the tourists are. It also seems that most of them are English or Australian.

Doug Pours a Drink

Fuck Buckets for Sale

At the stroke of midnight, Doug and I were standing on a little wooden bridge overlooking the beach. The place went nuts, and Doug and I gave each other a thumbs up.

Happy New Year!

Amazing Thailand

Getting back to the resort this morning was a bit of a problem. Let me recount the events of last night and this morning, perhaps a bit too verbosely:

12/31, 5:08pm – After taking much longer than expected to get to Bottle Beach 1 Resort, we finally arrive and check in. We ask about a ride back to the other side of the island for the Full Moon New Year’s Eve Party later that night, and the guy at the front desk says there are two scheduled trips, one at 5pm and one at 7pm. It was obvious to me that we had missed the 5pm departure, but we were asked to choose, so we picked 7pm. We’d be expected to stay down at Haad Rin all night. Then, the same taxis would bring us back the next morning. Again, we were asked to choose between two times, 6am and 7am. We chose 6am. He jotted our preferences down onto a makeshift pad of paper that screamed of disorganization.

12/31, 6:55pm – Doug and I promptly show up at the front desk. Apparently, the guy made a scheduling mistake, and instead of leaving at 7pm, the taxi would now be taking us at 8pm. No problem, but this makes me think that maybe things are in fact a bit disorganized.

8:08pm – We finally get into the 4-wheel drive vehicle. Packed in pretty tightly, we are one of two taxis making the hour-long journey simultaneously down to Haad Rin.

9:12pm – The taxis arrive at Haad Rin. We are explicitly told to meet back at the same place to be picked up the next morning at our designated time, which our driver says is 8am. This conflicts with what we were told back at the resort, but the driver insists on the 8am pickup when I verify it with him.

1/1, 5:55am – Happy New Year. After a long night of partying, Doug and I stumble to the exact spot where the taxi had dropped us off. We see a lot of taxis, but not the Bottle Beach taxi that we needed. Even more disconcerting is that we don’t see anyone from the resort who took the trip down with us.

1/1, 6:15am – After hearing that we are going to Bottle Beach, one of the attendants directs us to a parking lot next to the spot where we are supposed to be picked up. There, we find a non-descript van and a small group of people who claim to be guests of Bottle Beach. But this is not our taxi, and we are told that there is no room for us anyway. There is no driver to be found.

6:21am – I run up a side road to discreetly take a piss and step into a thick pocket of mud, covering my foot up to my ankle with brown muck. I almost lose my flip-flop trying to pull it out.

6:26am – Taxis drive by every 20 seconds and offer to pick us up. Amazingly, none of them know the place by its English name, Bottle Beach, but they pretend like they do and offer to take us anyway for 100 baht. “Yes, I take you! Let’s go right now!” We decline their offers since we think a Bottle Beach taxi that we’ve already paid for is on its way.

6:32am – The sun rises.

6:38am – A Bottle Beach taxi drives past us, filled with people. I yell “Bottle Beach!” for him to stop, but he waves at us with his hand and tells us to wait without even slowing down. Wait for the next Bottle Beach taxi, I presume, which is still on the way.

6:46am – Fed up with waiting, Doug and I decide to eat some breakfast and return for the 8am pickup that the driver had mentioned the night before.

6:48am – It starts to rain.

7:06am – After walking the alleys of Haad Rin, we finally find an open restaurant and proceed to have one of the worst breakfasts I’ve had in a long time.

7:54am – We return to the same spot on the road where we are supposed to be picked up. Again, no taxi and no Bottle Beach people.

The Next Morning

8:13am – Convinced no one is going to pick us up, we start looking for a taxi. Suddenly, there are no taxis to be found.

8:14am – It starts to rain.

8:19am – We start looking for a shop with a telephone and someone to help us get in touch with Bottle Beach 1 so that we sort things out. We find an Internet shop, and the friendly girl at the counter obliges. Of course, the listed number for Bottle Beach 1 does not work, so I have to pay for Internet time to look up their phone number online.

8:21am – Outside, Doug is talking to some taxi drivers. They offer to take us to Chaloklam, at which point we are to catch a boat to Bottle Beach. After explaining the fiasco from the day before and that we require a 4-wheel drive vehicle, we are quoted 3000 baht (about US$105) from one of the drivers.

8:36am – We finally get Bottle Beach 1 on the phone. The guy who answers speaks mediocre English, so I am able to explain our situation.

“You did not pick us up as planned, and we have been waiting for three hours. If we get a taxi, do we have to pay for it?”

“You two are only ones! Everyone else come back already.”

“OK, so what should we do?”

“Take taxi to Thong Sala. Go to 7-11 by pier, we will send 4-wheel drive. Meet you there.”

“OK, we are leaving right now.”

8:44am – We get into a taxi. One of the drivers who understands our situation immediately asks for my money when it’s obvious that they are waiting to load up the taxi with as many people as possible before leaving. Tired of people making promises and asking for money without delivering on their end, I snap at her. I feel bad, but we joke and make up.

9:04am – We arrive at Thong Sala. Nobody there.

9:16am – Turns out that a guy sitting in a random pick-up truck is in fact our ride. We are to hop into the back of it and ride to the 4-wheel drive vehicle, which, naturally, is at another location. Also turns out that we are also giving a ride to three other Germans who got also screwed by Bottle Beach 1. But they are sitting in a restaurant, so we have to wait for them.

9:29am – The Germans order their food.

9:36am – Doug looks into the bed of the pick-up truck where we will be sitting and finds that it is caked with mud.

9:44am – The Germans begin to eat in slow motion.

9:56am – The Germans finally finish, and we head off to pick up the 4-wheel drive vehicle.

11:01am – We finally arrive at our Bottle Beach 1 bungalow.

I don’t get it. Doug and I are reasonably intelligent guys. How did everyone else get back to Bottle Beach so effortlessly? I’m dying to find out. The lesson, I think, is to not stay at Bottle Beach. It is unacceptably inaccessible for the traveler who wants to get around.

Right now, Doug is in the room sleeping. I’ve got a nice spot inside the open air restaurant here at the resort, with a clear view of the ocean crashing around in front of me and a humid breeze flowing in. It’s warm, but too cloudy and rough to do any water activities around the island. And it’s now too late in the day to take any trips to some of the smaller islands around Koh Phangan. So I think we’re going to write this one off and make it a day of relaxation.

It’s just after midnight for most of you back home, so Happy New Year!

Leave a Reply