Arriving in Thailand on the first day of my travels, I had no idea what to expect.
But this is what I found, the Good, the Bad and the ugly.
Here’s 50 things you should expect in South East Asia!
Part 2: Partying
Just a reminder, if you have travelled through South East Asia before, then these posts might not be as interesting to you as it may be for someone contemplating backpacking in this part of the world. That being said, it is still an interesting read and will definitely make you reminisce on the amazing adventures you had in South East Asia. Also, if partying isn’t your thing, this won’t be ask interesting but check it out if your curious.
Everyone looking to get a weird on the streets of Bangkok or dance their heart out at the notorious Full Moon Parties will want to know a this stuff.
Now I don’t condone taking illegal drugs at all, so do them AT YOUR OWN RISK! Using any form of illegal drugs in South East Asia is often a really bad idea. If you do intend to use these type of drugs make sure you a very careful who you get them from and know what you’re taking.
Often locals will try to sell you drugs, whether it’s Tuk-Tuk drivers or kids hanging out, there’s drugs all over the place. Typically a rule that a friend of mine employed was only buy drugs from bars and hostels and NEVER from locals on the street. Often people working on the street are actually working for the police and even getting caught trying to buy anything from these guys can land you in a Thai prison with a pretty substantial bribe.
In places like the Islands in the Gulf of Thailand or just off the coast of Cambodia, there are all sorts of ‘semi-legal’ drugs that can be bought from bars or café. Namely mushroom shakes and weed pizza. In Cambodia, edible THC based goods aren’t necessarily illegal and there’s quite a few places that sell all sorts of green goodies. And in Thailand and Laos you can buy ‘Happy Balloons’ which is Nitros Oxide gas in balloons.
The illegal drugs available to tourists are quite abundant when you’re looking for them, and I would encourage everyone to stay away and take with caution. If you are going to take these drugs, only buy them from a hostel or a bar.
Buckets are a type of drink sold almost everywhere through-out South East Asia. A bucket is usually anywhere from 700ml to a litre of mixed spirits and put you on your butt quite quickly if you’re not drinking in moderation. Typically, the Vodka/Redbull mix is preferred and this means that you might be up all night dancing away on the beach under the stars.
Though they’re great fun, these beautiful and cheap drinks are usually very sugary and sweet and often contain alcohol that isn’t of western standards. This mix usually means for a hefty hangover. I’m serious, drinking buckets = chronic hangover. But we’ve all been there right?
So to put it delicately, in South East Asia’s more party focussed areas there are some collections of professionals who manage to launch ‘certain projectiles’ from their ‘lady bits’ into the air. It’s definitely an interesting thing to see, but never something you’re proud to have watched. The whole world of ping-pong shows and go-go girls is weird. And I’ll leave it for now.
If you do go, expect to pay some serious prices if you want to watch an indifferent old Thai lady shoot bananas out of her baby maker. (I’m not saying that I went to one of these, but I totally did. For me it was horrifying and personally I felt dirty while sitting in the ‘establishment’ helping fund this trade.)
But hey, if you like that stuff, go for it. It’s pretty interesting. But you’re not doing any favours by encourage this lifestyle for the employees in the industry.
There’s not photos of drugs or lady boys, but as a symbolic device: This is a Hand Grenade.
14. Lady Boys
Now each to their own, if that’s what your into, good. My conception of this lifestyle choice changed a lot as I moved through Asia and gave it some thought. I’m going to try to articulate my current view on the topic, and it’s all down to interpretation. But if you can shed some more light on the topic, leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
Essentially, in some Asia cultures (particularly in developed regions in the South East), Lady Boys are a thing. The term Lady Boy means a man who has chosen to identify as a women. Typically in appearance, though sometimes physically. This practice isn’t actually frowned upon in these cultures. Though sadly as a result of the thriving ‘sex tourism’ in these cultures (more on that later), it’s becoming more and more plausible for men to increase their standard of living by choosing this path of employment. By identifying as a woman, or something a mix of both genders, Lady Boys are open to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be available to them as a male. Usually this means performing sexual acts for wealthier westerns and sometimes with the end goal of finding marriage and residency in a western country – And good for them. It’s a very serious sacrifice and quite and bizarre lifestyle choice when looking through the eyes of a not-so-liberal western culture, but if it means a chance at a better life then go for it I say.
With this being said, there is a nastier side of this part of the culture. I’d heard stories all over of guys going home with what appeared to be girls, only to find a pretty solid surprise at the end. I’d even heard of a few mentions of guys being aggressively forced to pay for the night spent with what they thought was a reciprocating sexual partner.
Then again, you’ve got to be quite drunk for this to happen. So lay off those damn buckets.
Parties with fluorescent paint. Why not?
Clubs in the major party districts of the towns are usually quite cool. They’re safe, big and fun. To find the best places, ask your hostel and be sure to look for places without girls dancing on the tables and a younger crowd (by this I mean no old western guys looking for you Asian women to take home – which there’s also nothing wrong with). A place called ‘The Club’ on Bangkok’s Koh San Road was a favourite of mine and I never felt unsafe. It even has a giant air-conditioner for when I’m busting a move on the D-floor after just the right amount of Vodka/Redbull.
All in all, just be safe and in this instance, try to stick to the crowd of tourists.
Not only will you find clubs, but you’ll also find giant festivals out of the cities and usually a Tuk-Tuk will take you there and back. I’ve had some of the best fun going to forest festivals and beach parties all over Asia. Sometimes your entire hostel might make it out to a festival and with your team of new buddies and bunk mates you rock that dance floor. Just look out for each other.
16. Markets in party districts
So you’re drunk, you’re walking down the middle of Pub Street in Siem Reap with that cute girl/guy/transgender that you met, and you’re hungry. You’re not alone. To accommodate for the not-so-elegent crowds of drunk tourists and locals alike, there’s plenty to choose from in-terms of street food and cheap goods. Rip your T-Shirt dancing hard in the bar? Buy a new one. Fancy a self stick for you and your new love interest? They have those two. But if your feeling adventurous why not try to eat a scorpion or a cockroach. Your potential partner for the night is going to love it – I think?
Fireshows of Koh Tao, Thailand.
17. Fire Shows
I bloody love fire shows! You’ll see me jump through fires on the beaches of Thailand and Cambodia all night if you’d let me. Very often, most bars on the beaches host amazing fire shows with all sorts of fire twirling instruments. Then once the show’s over and everyone’s a bit drunk, sometimes they set a giant jumping rope on fire and tempt you to test your ‘drunken acrobatics’. With the smell of burnt hair in the air, and one-to-many buckets of booze in your tummy, jumping in a giant spinning rope of fire is a fantastic idea right? Right.
18. Cheap Alcohol
Now there’s some pretty cheap alcohol. Seriously cheap. In Laos, you can buy a 700ml bottle of home-grown ‘mixed spirits’ with an indeterminate alcohol content for under $1.00. In Cambodia you can buy a bottle of Mekong Whiskey with half a label for under $5.00. The problem here is that the alcohol you buy either from some stall on the street or from a cheaper bar, isn’t going to be of a decent quality. This means you’ll be doing some damage to yourself by drinking too much of this stuff. It’s not like in the west where there’s serious standards on the quality of alcohol.
If you drink too much you run the risk of blindness or a trip to the hospital which can cost you a lot! So don’t buy the cheapest booze every day, just maybe every second day.
All sorts of free shots and drinks.
19. You’re going to meet some tourists
One weird fact that I wont try to dress up (and it’s not racist), is that if your walking down the party street alone, and you walk up to a group of people who look even remotely like you, chances are they’re backpackers as well and they’re more than willing to share their table. I can’t count the amount of times as a solo traveller that I’ve literally walked up to someone at a bar and asked to hang out because I’m alone. It’s a little bit sad but once you break the ice, almost all backpackers just wants to drink beer and hang out with you. Some of the best and longest friendships I’ve had travelling have started because I heard them speaking english and asked to sit with them. You’re going to meet other tourists and backpackers, you’ll never be lonely. Check this out if your still asking the question; Is Solo Travel Lonely?
Drinking on behalf of my minion because thats the responsible thing to do. – Australia Day.
I will say that it’s not hard to find this aspect of the party scene but you can read about this elsewhere if that’s what you’re interest in. I’ll be writing a post about sex tourism some time soon but until then do your own research.
Bonus: Full Moon Parties
Now Full Moon Parties are cool. But they’re not the only parties around, and certainly not the best. Essentially the original Full Moon Parties started on the Haad Rin beach on Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand. And it’s really just a bunch of people getting drunk on the beach. It’s great fun, but there’s more to offer in the part scene of South East Asia.
If you think I’ve forgotten anything or want to share your experiences, leave a comment below.
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Now check out Part 3: Culture and Food, click the link below.