‘I found paradise in Thailand, drew a map, and within 15 years it was ruined’


But his time on the island was limited. Earlier in his travels Costas had met a German couple in Bangkok, and after the girl broke up with her boyfriend Costas had agreed to meet her on Koh Samui on a set date. This being, of course, in the days before email and mobile phones.

While catching up on their adventures Costas excitedly drew a map of Koh Phangan, showing the girl the exact location of Hat Rin Beach. They even visited the island together, staying with Somboon and Chom, but after arriving back in Koh Samui, their relationship came to an end. He went to get her a drink, and when he came back she was gone. Costas never saw her, or the map, again.

The secret is out

Two years later, in 1981, Costas revisited Koh Phangan and everything had changed. Somboon and Chom had been evicted from their home and boats were now arriving straight on to Hat Rin Beach.

In the early days, free spirits visited the island to stay in stilted bungalows, and there would be a relatively low-key Full Moon Party each month. But it soon grew, and by the late 1980s Hat Rin Beach had become the epicentre of the hedonistic monthly parties. Later, a wellness retreat away from the chaos, The Sanctuary, was founded elsewhere on the island. Today the island attracts around a million visitors per year, with the Full Moon attracting between ten and twenty thousand people.

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