First of all I want to join everyone is recommending the Full Moon Party - an absolute must do for anyone who loves a party in Thailand. Heaps of fun, just keep away from attractions such as the flaming jump rope - I saw many people suffer burns.
So in all, FMP was awesome - once we got there that is. I went last night to the Feb 2014 party on Haad Rin beach. We are staying on koh samui and had not planned to go to FMP at the time of booking, but decided it was a must. We went to a travel shop in Chaweng who offer relatively cheap transfers to Haad Rin by speedboat for the FMP. Included was a pick up from hotel, transfer via speedboat (appx 20 mins) to Koh Phangan and the choice of any time between 1am and 7am to return via speedboat, and a coach transfer back to the hotel in the morning. We paid 800 baht for this service in total.
However, we were exceptionally disappointed. We booked to be picked up at 7pm, the bus arrived at our hotel at 8pm, the time at which our speedboat was due to depart. Many people reported similar experiences, with transfers not showing up at all and being forced to pay for a cab to get to the departure. It took us to a beach where we waited over 3 hours for a boat. In this time, they make you sit and wait in separate sections - you're basically fenced in like farm animals. Alcohol and other drinks were for sale but were extremely overpriced - 100baht for water, 120 baht for a small Chang/Singha and we were charged 10 baht to use the toilet.
Most frustrating was that they offered people the chance to go to the front of the line as 'VIP' for an additional 400 baht. These people would fill up the boats that arrived and the rest of us not willing to pay were not able to get on board. Once you were freed from your 'paddock' everyone just spilled down onto the beach and waited for the boats. When one arrived, there was no orderly manner to board that boat, it was not done by who had been waiting the longest, more who could push to the front of the line. My friend became ill after being pushed around so much. Though I had already waited 2 hours in line, I had to wait another hour and a half on the beach before I could board a boat. In this time 4 or 5 boats arrived, however people who had been in line behind me boarded before me simply because they could push through to the front.
Similar story in the morning, we arrived at Haad Rin pier at 6am to catch a speedboat home. We waited another 2 hours for a boat here (there were no chairs, we had to stand), though there were perhaps only 100 people in the line in total (the boats carry up to 30 people). There are supposedly 6 boats operating at once, however I saw only 3 different boats operating.
Most worrying of all was when a passenger was attacked by the driver. Having waited 2 - 3 hours for these boats, people were naturally frustrated and desperate to get on board. A man was trying to board despite instructions to wait. I am not sure if he was provoked, however the driver hit him in the face. The passenger hit him back at which point the driver jumped off the boat and onto the man's chest and beat him under the water. Many people were knocked underwater in the fight, or were hit as well. Many other scuffles broke out over the course of the wait as the crowd was not controlled and frustration was high.
Now I understand that we did arrive at peak times to travel, however forcing people to wait on a beach for over 3 hours with no guarantee of getting onto a boat, and selling VIP tickets is extremely corrupt to me. I made comment to the man in charge of ticketing and he just gave me a sick smile - he didn't care about our experience, only the thousands of baht he was making. The company we were booked was RS Ruangsri - one of the biggest tour companies on Koh Samui. I strongly recommend anyone in the same situation as us not book with this company. Other companies at the same pier were transporting the same amount of customers in half the time.
My advice to anyone wanting a speedboat transfer to Koh Phangan, particularly with RS Ruangsri, would be - catch one of the earlier transfers (they start around 4 or 5pm) and eat dinner at Koh Phangan before the party. You will avoid the main rush and crowd later on.
In total i ended up waiting 6.5 hours for this speedboat service. In my view, that is simply unacceptable. These people are running this service every full moon party, and I can imagine that this would be a similar occurrence each month, I cannot believe that they can't improve this service with simple crowd control measures, and a better booking system. A little organisation would make the experience smoother and safer for everyone involved.
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