Koh Phangan Thailand: home of rainforests, waterfalls, enviable coastlines, Buddhist temples, and the infamous Full Moon Party. The Full Moon Party is a monthly event held on Haad Rin beach on the south tip of the island. It began over 25 years ago as an impromptu gathering of travelers on the beach, and it has grown a life of its own, attracting upwards of 10,000-25,000 people each month. The party has gained a somewhat notorious reputation worldwide for its drug and alcohol-related injuries, sexual assualts, and even deaths. However, we went to the party in April to witness a concern of our own which we could find little to no exposure on in the media or online.
Over the years we’d heard myths from friends back home in California that there was a very serious problem with the impact of trash from the party which was not being properly dealt with. For this reason we’d never wanted to personally attend the party ourselves. We’d heard that the beach was covered in bottles, straws, plastic, and cigarettes by dawn- all making its way to the ocean by incoming tides. One friend told us a story so wild we thought it couldn’t be real–his account of watching Thai women rake the trash into the ocean after the sun rose, and as the shore pushed the litter back to land, she’d shovel back out to sea.
We’d been to Thailand before, enjoyed and admired its culture, cities, and islands. Was this beach really being trashed by tourists on a monthly basis? Who was responsible for keeping it clean before this becomes an ocean conservation issue? We decided to attend the event and document the scene for ourselves. Our intention is to turn our footage and various interviews into a short documentary. Here’s a small glimpse of what we captured in snapshots.