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For or Against

It is amazing how Haad Rin divides opinions. More often than not mention Haad Rin and the Full Moon Party to people and they will reply with a strong for or against comment about the subject. It is a bit like fox hunting for the British or gun laws for Americans.

The same is true for search engine results. Google top 10 for ‘full moon party’ or ‘haad rin blog’ are dominated by admirers or detractors. You have the major brand media producers like newspapers weighing in with exposés of party culture. You also get media stories of shootings, drug taking and other crimes in the results. These types of sites are weighed against travel agents, DJs and travel blogs that eulogise the party; that make it sound like the best event in the world. Naturally both types of websites are generating revenue from their search engine pre-eminence.

So is Haad Rin the best party town in Thailand? In South East Asia? Is it a DJ mecca? Is the Full Moon Party a fun rite of passage? Is it the best and biggest party in Asia?

Well partly, yes. Parties need people – and the Full Moon Party’s reputation has made it the biggest, loudest and most raucous party in Thailand. A constant stream of party-goers require a constant stream of DJs. So yes, it is an important place for DJs.

FMP-positive

And to address the other side of the argument: is Haad Rin dirty, dangerous and lewd? Is the FMP a crass and cynical commercial enterprise? Are authorities in collusion with party organisers to keep the bucks rolling in?

Well partly, yes. Haad Rin has seen more than its fair share of littering, pick pocketing, soliciting, drug taking, drug selling, lewd acts, public exposure, violence and gang activity. Thai culture can be difficult to comprehend from a modern Western democracy perspective. What they say in Bangkok and what happens in Koh Phangan are two different things. Stake holders are not restricted by the scrutiny of transparency. Of course deals are done.

FMP-negative

I have no new light to shed on all of this. Graham Gold, one of the spokesmen for Haad Rin and the FMP points out the hypocrisy of old people criticising young people for getting drunk, getting high and sleeping with each other as if they never did such things in their youth.

Haad Rin and the FMP serve a purpose. Thailand has sunshine, beaches, a drink-friendly culture, a laissez faire atmosphere and cheap prices. There was always going to be at least one spot that was going to become the Las Vagas or the Ibiza of Thailand.

The good news is that Koh Phangan is still a tropical paradise. It is one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand. Much of the land is covered in virgin rainforest. There are stunning beaches that seem a million miles away from the madness of the Haad Rin parties. The island has not become over-developed or over-priced or over-regulated as a result of the parties. Even Haad Rin Nok and Leela Beach are still really good beaches.

So let’s be slightly less strident and dogmatic when it comes to Haad Rin and the Full Moon Party. Maybe they are not as good or as bad as we think.