It’s a humid night on Koh Samui when I head out from Amari to meet two of my friends in the heart of Chewang. I’ve got no idea what to expect, but once I start walking, I begin to imagine the bars in Chewang will be similar to the backpacker enclave I so loathe in Chiang Mai, home to Zoe, the Reggae Bar and other little, non-descript bars where the name of the game is two-fold: get super sloppy drunk and get laid. Perhaps it is the visitors to the island clad in the “Same Same” and “Chang” shirts, complemented by the fisherman pants or short, brightly colored shorts. Or, perhaps it is the onslaught of flashing lights and menu boards advertising their drink specials.
As I walk down the street, shop owners hassle me.
“Hello, miss, where you from? You buy [dress, purse, massage, etc.].”
Annoyed by the constant hassle, I grab my headphones and put them in my ears. There’s no music playing, but the act delivers a great excuse to ditch the BS conversation and head down to where my friends are staying — across from the main drag of bars in the city.
When I first arrive to my Koh Samui vacation, I don’t envision the hustle that confronts me. From the plane, and then on the ground, navigating the winding roads lines with tropical, flower-toting trees, I get jaded … and quickly. Then, when I realize that this island is the stop before partiers board a ferry and shuttle over to the real party on Koh Pha Ngan, it hits me.
The younger group of tourists here are looking for the same excitement they get during the Full Moon Party, namely the drugs, booze and sex. It’s evident by the throngs of young girls packed together and the groups of similar men, cans of Chang in hand, eyeing them as they pass on the uneven sidewalk.
My friend and I head over to the main bars and decide on an Irish pub. It’s about 10 p.m. and while the streets are beginning to get lively, the bar is still rather quiet. Unless you count the blaring music being pumped from the speaker behind our seat.
We do what most partiers do when wanting a night out and order a Sangsom and Coke bucket. For 150 baht, it isn’t a bad price considering Samui is far pricier than Chiang Mai. We sit there until the music drowns out our conversation, and then grab a picnic bench at the front of the bar. And another bucket.
By 11 p.m., the bar is crowded and the drunks have come out. From my vantage point looking into the pub, I see a guy, probably in his mid-20s, sit down and then fall backwards on his chair, crashing to the ground. Laughter erupts from his friends as he stumbles up and aims his ass for his seat again, this time making contact and not falling.
“Dear god,” I mumble, looking at the intoxication on display.
Then, girls walk up to them, holding balloons in their hand, and join them at their table. If they weren’t friends before they sat down together, they are now.
By midnight, when my other friend joins the mix, this little street of debauchery has become the place to be. It’s a hodgepodge of all ages with the same goal: to party their asses off in their temporary tropical reality.
We head out to what seems to be a club — it’s got a few empty dance floors, laser lights casting green and red dots on the floor, and high tops situated around — and order up another bucket. The outdoor venue is just getting started, but we opt to continue our exploration, passing the Laughing Gas Balloon stand for 150 baht a balloon. I remember the sweet inhales of my youth and shudder.
It’s like I’m at a Phish show. In Thailand. And suddenly 19 again.
As the early morning begins to take over, we head to one last bar before dipping out and returning to our respective rooms.
When I arrive back to Amari — a 10 minute walk from the madness — I am ridiculously grateful to have my plush bed … and massage at Breeze booked for the morning.