Fah Thai – Return To Paradise

It is late October in 1999, and time is about to be called on the 20th century. In the real world, Pakistan’s government is in the process of being overthrown while the rest of the planet nervously awaits the consequences of the Y2K bug, with conspiracy theorists warning of imminent Armageddon. Pre-millennium tension, though, is in short supply here on Haad Rin Beach, home to Koh Pha Ngan’s infamous Full Moon party. I’d made my way to the island alone a day or two before. Now I’m holding court in a party of compadres – spinning yarns of travel in South-East Asia as colourful as the garish fake designer T-shirt I’m unself-consciously modelling. With bars and sound systems dotted around the beach, pumping out a throbbing, pounding soundtrack of Goa trance, I dance until daybreak. Exhausted, I make my way to the quieter, far end of the beach, find a spot in the sand, hitch up my sweat-drenched fisherman’s pants, and let the waves lap at my toes. The beats in the distance provide a comforting cocoon and I gently close my eyes. I could stay in this place forever and ever, I think to myself…

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