Twisted Village Hosts Full Moon over Koh Phangan Book Reading

3 Mar 2022

On Monday night, legendary Chaloklum BBQ-er “Hinch” hosted the second community reading of the just-published Full Moon over Koh Phangan: What Adventurers, Dancers, and Freaks Seek and Find on Thailand's Magic Island. Twisted Village hosts Hinch and Francis served a hearty buffet as locals and visitors came to share stories about the island’s unique history and draw.
 
Author Brian Gruber read several selections from the 25 interviews in the oral history, including L’Alcove owners Karine and Melanie, Buddhist monk Phra Olarn, and Lonely Planet Thailand’s Joe Cummings. Hinch shared his extemporaneous reflections on his early days on Phangan and audience members pitched in with their own stories.
 
The book is available for 150 baht ($4.95) at https://amzn.to/3B75ssb or directly from the author for PDF or ePUB versions. An expanded version with chapters on each island region and favorite local attractions will be released later this year.
 
Here is an excerpt from the Chaloklum chapter featuring Hinch.
 

Hinch  
I was going to meet up with this Australian chick. I said, “What's your name?” “Rude girl.” I went with one of them coconut trucks from the village. In Thongsala, I took a longtail boat to Haad Rin, there was no road to Haad Rin yet, and there was a little bit of a crowd there. You could sense that there was something going to happen. This was March or April '92. I was not that impressed with the Full Moon Party. It was maybe three, four hundred people. And there were only two places on the beach which had a sound system. Not anything compared with the 30,000 drunk teenagers now.

 

Brian Gruber  
You're in Holland, you hear these mythic stories about these incredible, exotic parties on some beach on some island you never heard of in Thailand. What was the promise?

 

Hinch  
Yeah, that was not really clear. Because it was all developing. I went in Amsterdam to the first acid parties ever in '88 and '89, in the warehouses in the harbor district. There were stories about Goa but India was never a favorite. I went to India on the way here. I stayed one day. I was like… no. 

It was like this mystical, mysterious island. There were also Full Moon parties on Samui so it's not really clear who started what.

Brian Gruber  
There was something called the hippie trail, through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India.

 

Hinch  
Mandalay in Myanmar was a really big stop on the hippie trail. Then these islands were in there as well. And Bali and Australia. 

 

Brian Gruber  
What sense did you get that Europeans were looking for on that trail?

 

Hinch  
I met many in Greece. Travelers, workers, people with a guitar on their back. I had my place in Kos, and Kos and Rhodes were a stop off. You also heard many people going to kibbutz in Israel, and then moving on to India and to Thailand, Bali. It was a land trail but in the ’80s the airplane was getting more favorable. So, I flew everything already, I had my belly full of buses and trains from Greece. 

 

Brian Gruber  
There were the Herman Hesse books, Journey to the East, Siddhartha, and this whole mythology about finding yourself, or finding something in the East that you're not finding back home.

 

Hinch  
That's true. But the people here on the Full Moon Party… I just had a couple of drinks that night. I took mushrooms and people talked about acid. The drugs of favor were mushrooms and weed. And Mekhong whiskey. We had some acid on Samui, and we just spent the night in the beach pissing ourselves laughing, swimming in the sea with the bioluminescence. “Look, I'm a light!" No, you're tripping. “No, no really. Blue stuff… all right… my body." And my mate was, "No, shut up, you're tripping man, this is not true." Next night, I went back, "I'm gonna fucking check this out." So, I went swimming. "Hey, that stuff is still there and I'm not tripping anymore, it's real..."   I met this American girl who was doing marine biology. She explained, “Yeah, I'm going diving here and this is a really beautiful phenomenon," and she explained to me the whole thing about the bioluminescence.

 

At the Full Moon Party, I went to try to score the Rude Girl chick, but she went off with someone else. I was pissed. I shouldn't have left to explore that island. I decided to go back to Samui and stayed on Samui for two months, and I spent three nights here. "Okay, beautiful beach," but very little going on. 

 

Koh Samui already had the Reggae Pub. There was already bars and stuff going on. There was electricity. There was a restaurant with an old television and a VHS recorder playing some movies. I had the time of my life there. Brilliant. 

 

And in '97, I was going to travel with my then-girlfriend, I was, like, "Yeah, okay, let's go a couple of months through Asia." And then I was, like, “Yeah, want to go back to Koh Phangan." We went to Bangkok, Pattaya, Koh Samui, ended up here, and spent Christmas and the New Year on the island. And the New Year's Eve party, we ended up here in the jungle, which is right behind (Chaloklum). One hundred fifty Thai people from the village, me, Marianne, and Ian from England. He still comes back. And we were the only three foreigners and this is how I got to know everyone. 

 

We were going to Haad Rin and, actually, we were like, no, this is much more fun. We stayed here until daybreak with most people from the village. Then this became my village, and Mae Haad as well. It became my hub. If I came to Asia, I came here first. I rented a house. I went somewhere else, Bali, when the storm hit here in November. I went to Krabi, I went up north. But I always came back here. Winters that I stayed here, two months, went back for Christmas, came back for another two months, and I was like, that's a lot of hassle, I'd better stay here the whole winter.  So, from then on, at the end of the ’90s, I decided to just come here for half a year.

 

This is the thing with Koh Phangan. I still meet people from Baan Tai area that have been there for 20 years and I've never met them. And because we are always on this side of the island, the people that come from Mae Haad, Chaloklum, Haad Yao, this is a separate group and you go there sometime for parties, but never hang out. Even though now it's half an hour drive.

 

I set foot on Haad Yuan and Haad Tien once or twice in 2000, 2001, 2002. I always had a boat here. And I went there once or twice but it never drew me. 

 

Brian Gruber  
There wasn't much there.

 

Hinch  
We went to all those beaches. We did a beach crawl. We go with the boat. You stop on a beach, see if they have a beer, drink the beer, go back to the boat, get to the next beach where they sell a beer. Even Haad Rin back then was not that busy. I remember getting to one of those beaches once or twice, but never meeting any of the people. Leela Beach was different. I have been quite a few times and ended up with parties there. But I always found the people there, I mean, they behaved like they were the party elite of Haad Rin. They distanced themselves from all those partying people, like the feeling you get in Srithanu – they're more enlightened or something.

 

Brian Gruber  
Someone suggested to me that the Thai resort guys came up with the idea of staging Full Moon parties because of what they saw at Leela Beach.

Hinch  
Music, the way we carry it now, is so much different. You carried records, thirty 12-inch records. It's heavy. And with this temperature, it melts. I can remember that I was in a little bar that is now Tommy's. Tommy's and Paradise were the only two places where they had a sound system of any significance. There was a guy who was going to be DJ at that party. And he came with his pack of records. And he asked if he could put the records in the fridge because, otherwise, they bent. The way of playing music, you had a thing called a DAT recorder, digital audio tapes.  People were actually mixing with two DAT recorders and a little makeshift mixer. This is this is how they mixed music. They just put a mix on. It was so much more simple. 

 

At the end of the ’90s. I had also kind of a moment where I had enough of the parties in Holland, and all the drugs, everybody was taking MDMA, all that stuff. And I went on a bit of a spiritual course. Stopped taking drugs, came here again in the winter to get away from that. Not to go to parties, no, I came here to get away from the party culture in Holland. 

 

Brian Gruber  
Marijuana and hashish had been legalized [in the Netherlands].

 

Hinch  
Oh yes. In Holland since the '70s. I got caught one time with a folder of cocaine by the police on the road. And he went like, is that cocaine, and I went like, yeah, and he just went, that's bad for you, now move. Nowadays, they don't even do anything

 

In 2000, I did a 70-hour Ashtanga vinyasa course with an English teacher down the road a bit further. It was beautiful – green fields, no traffic, no concrete. It was a small tarmac road, completely quiet. We did two and a half hours of yoga a day, hardcore Ashtanga vinyasa and I did 70 hours out of a 100-hour course. That's the most flexible I've ever been. I've even done some yoga not so long ago, I can't do it as easily as when I was younger. I overstretched my hip. I think I can stretch, but I cannot. And I end up with pain. So that's why I don't do it anymore.

 

I've done Qi Gong, Tai Chi. This was really, really hard. The yoga teacher, this English guy called Richard, was an OCD alcoholic. He nearly drank himself to death. Then he got in a clinic, met a yoga teacher, and stopped taking, stopped smoking, stopped drinking, and went OCD doing yoga. And he was really good. Full power yoga, nothing to be spiritual or enlightened. No, it's just good for your body. And it keeps your organs in line. You're squeezing your liver into a point where it says ow. The teachers that I met were characters. Like they had a history. 

 

Brian Gruber  
Did you get some feeling that this island attracts people looking for something?

 

Hinch  
There are different parts of these islands. Because this village has a different kind of magnet in the ground than, for example, Srithanu or Baan Tai.

Brian Gruber  
What do you mean by different kind of magnet? Figuratively or literally?

 

Hinch  
It attracts different people. This village has some people that come to live here and you see that they don't fit, but they will fit in Baan Tai. You notice they don't fit in and, eventually, the village will massage them out. I'm a machine engineer. You cannot fit a square thing in a round hole. The square thing has to go. 

 

For more, order the book at https://amzn.to/3B75ssb