After saying our goodbyes to our friends in London, five of us met just outside Heathrow Airport in the smoking area on a wet and damp March morning. We were each armed with an around-the-world ticket from Singapore Airlines. The word on the street was that Singapore Airlines was one of the best airlines in the world to travel with.
It was our good friend Tim’s 30th birthday the day before we left, so we planned to celebrate his birthday and the first day of our around-the-world trip in style.
We started off with a few drinks in the departure lounge, and then we were ushered onto a beautiful 747 by a group of dainty little Asian women from Singapore in really cool uniforms. Definitely a step up from the haggard Aer Lingus attendants shouting “chicken or fish” in your ear.
This was pre 9/11, when you could literally drink as much as you wanted. We all got to sit next to each other. Before we had even taken off they were bringing us over beers and baby bottles of Irish whisky. Our first stop was Singapore which was 13 hours away, where we had to change planes for Thailand. I woke up on the runway in Singapore and looked around. No one else was on the plane except the super cool stewardesses. We were the last passengers left on the plane. All the lads were still asleep. It was like the aftermath of a wild house party. There were bodies sprawled out in their seats. It looked like someone's living room.
We had three hours to hang around Singapore airport. It was a pretty amazing airport for a lay over, free movie theaters, showers and some amazing restaurants and bars.
Then, we got another flight to Bangkok. We had no idea where we were going, but had heard from some other travelers that Ko San Road was the place to go to find out everything you needed to know.
Hungover and tired we walked out the front doors of Bangkok airport and the heat hit us with a bang, it was about 8am. Holy shit, it was hot and humid, and we were dehydrated and hungover. There was about 100 taxi drivers just outside the doors fighting for our business.
After some tough haggling by our good friend Doug, five hungover sweaty guys and all our baggage crammed into a dodgy old Nissan. It looked like something out of a comedy sketch.
The driver drove us through Bangkok during rush hour traffic to a half decent hotel close to Ko San Road. After he dropped us off, he asked us if he could be our guide for the duration of our stay in Bangkok. “Sure,” we said.
It was about 9am local time and we were Fu@k*d. We needed some rest after our drinking binge on the plane. We told him to meet us back at the hotel at 3pm. Mind you we didn't actually wake up till 6pm. Low and behold he was sitting there waiting for us.
Refreshed and ready to hit the streets, we left the hotel in his old Nissan. He brought us to a pretty cool Thai restaurant where the staff proceeded to fill us up with Sang Thip, a mass produced hardcore Thai whisky that is rumored to to contain hallucinogenic chemicals. Just perfect for our first night in Thailand.
We drank it like it was going out of fashion. After about three large bottles between the five of us, we ended up in Patpong Road partying in some crazy club with a load of other twisted foreigners and locals of all different genders.
After a few days of partying in Bangkok, two of us decided to make our way to the Island of Ko Samui on route to Ko Phangan for it’s famous full moon parties. The others would follow us there. We made our way to Ko San Road which was full of young backpackers from all over the world. We bought a bus ticket to Ko Samui and now had about 7 hours to wait. Instead of doing the sightseeing thing, we went straight to an Irish bar in the middle of Ko San Road.
After a few days in Ko Samui we decided to make our way to Ko Phangan. We wanted to get there a few days before the full moon party, to get properly situated.
We got a little cabin in a place at the end of Haad Rin Beach right next to where a lot of the parties were taking place. Instead of staying for two weeks, we ended up staying for three months. I fell in love with the place. I think we went to every party possible, full moon parties, half moon parties, black moon parties, jungle parties. We did it all. In the bungalow across from where we were staying, there was a guy from Malta who seemed to be supplying the whole island with acid. We nicknamed him the Maltese Falcon. All day everyday there were tourists wandering around our bungalow grounds looking a bit bewildered after visiting the Maltese Falcon. Also, there was a cafe on the side of the mountain at the other end of the beach that served magic mushroom milkshakes and omelettes, it was a pretty crazy place back then.
Tim & Doug spent most of the time on Ko Samui drinking beers and playing connect four and janga with some of the local women. We took a few trips back and forth from Ko Phangan to Ko Samui every few weeks to party with the lads and they did the same with us. One night while out partying in Ko Samui in a place called the “Green Mango,” we ended up in a fight with a group of lady boys. My good buddy Liam decided to tell some drunk English guy that the girl he was with wasn't actually a girl. Which happened to a lot of young backpackers. Liam proved it to him by grabbing the lady boys nuts. Bad move. Suddenly lady boys came out of the woodwork and went straight for Liam. The two of us ended up getting a few slaps. Mind you, Liam got more than a few slaps. They cracked him over the head and back with a pool cue quite a few times. The next day I made a decision to apologize to the lady boy that Liam grabbed. That wasn't a fun encounter. We had to go to a lady boy bar called “Christies” that held a cabaret every night with about 12 lady boys. Find the lady boy and then apologize, it had to be done. I didn't want to walk around the Island paranoid about been attacked by a group of wild lady boys. He actually wanted to go back and fight with them and I talked him around that it wouldn't be a good idea. “We’re in Thailand Liam.” I said.
After approx three months in Thailand, we decided to move on to Vietnam. The Vietnamese embassy screwed up our visa’s and instead of having a month stay in Vietnam we ended up with only a week. This was 1999 and Vietnam hadn't seen many tourists. The place was crazy and the monsoon had started. We didn't see many other foreigners at all. We ended up spending the week in Saigon partying it up. We had the cyclo drivers/cyclists race each other with each of us in our own cyclo’s through the crowded streets when we were drunk. They didn't know what to make of us. They took us to some real seedy underground bars. Ho Chi Min (Saigon) in 1999 was a crazy place.
At this stage our friend Dave left us after Thailand and went straight to Australia. Tim, Doug, Liam and I made our way back to Singapore, stayed there for a few days and then got a bus to Malaysia.
It was fun, but nothing like Thailand or Vietnam.