Night of Mayhem

18 Apr 2009

I've warned her that we'll have only minutes, and that she should choose her final words to us carefully. She looks into my eyes and says "You owe me a night of mayhem".

It's true. But in the mean time we're trying to find one ourselves.

It's harder than it seems. We hiked down the beach to a widely-advertised beach party and found it deserted, the poster gone, the huge wooden structure that I'd hoped they would set on fire standing there inert. The second time our expectations were lower, but we did see a farang wander up and ask "Isn't there meant to be a free barbeque here?". Thais asked Thais asked Thais, and eventually they determined that no, there wasn't a barbeque. At least not at the moment.

It seems that nearby Ko Pha Ngan draws not only the full-moon-party animals, but the tamer nightlife as well; Ko Samui is completely chilled.

Finally we pre-book tickets to a "Massive Songkran Party" over the internet. It names a bunch of DJs, boasts a "VIP dry area".

The internet cafe's printer was broken, but I show the bouncer a screenshot of the confirmation on my phone, and he lets us in. I really wasn't expecting that to work. But then, I was expecting them to have our tickets waiting at the gate.

Entering, we pass prominent signs reading "Songkran Festival: No Drugs". So, of course, the first thing anybody does is try to sell me ectasy. There are competing sellers doing laps, and although I don't see any deals happen, I see people who look like they've done one.

It's ten o'clock and nothing's happening yet. The barman quotes me a price on a couple of beers, saying "sorng loi" to mess with me. He mistakes my disbelief for incomprehension and repeats the price in English, but it wasn't the language that was the problem. With a captive audience they're free to charge twice the going rate.

I forgive them instantly when I find the bouncy castle. Adults allowed, beer allowed, and only slightly damp - plus it's in the shape of a pirate ship! It doesn't get any better than that, except for a bouncy castle with slides, and they've got one of them too. But it's punishingly hot, and we've soon exhausted all the possibilities that don't lead to heat exhaustion.

I wasn't expecting that either; Songkran is a water festival. The previous day was a total free-for-all all over the island, Thais piling into the back of pick-up trucks with water guns to pelt people on the side of the road, who armed themselves with buckets and hoses. I turn to Lyn and explain my concept of dance party-waterfight hybrid:

"I seem to be missing a waterfight."

"And a dance party."

But we persevere, and the dancing does start. We'd done a lap of the island that day, getting repeatedly lost and burning a whole tank of fuel each, and we're pretty shattered, so we don't stay long.