“I just saw it online, thought it would be cool, and now I’m here,” a Texan native tells me his story of how he got to Thailand for the Wonderfruit Festival.
It was a cold December day. And there I was, equipped with a camera, a bottle of water, and a sense of adventure, riding a free festival shuttle in Central Pattaya to the fest venue with five other random travelers. The ride to the fest takes about 45 minutes to an hour, so getting on that tuktuk would always ensue interesting conversations with people from varying walks of life. In my days riding that tuktuk to and fro the festival, I’ve met a guy who’s been going to the world’s biggest fests for free for the past two years using a blog name that doesn’t really exist, a couple who’s traveled across Vietnam riding only a bike, two Hong Kong students who were so fascinated with my job, an Israeli-Canadian couple with their adorable five-month-old baby boy, and a whole lot of other fascinating characters.
A guy from Seattle motions to the six of us in that tuktuk by drawing an invisible circle in the air: “Are you all alone? Group up at the fest?” He asks. We all nod in agreement.
“Am I the only one intimidated by this?” I lean to whisper to one of my new friends. “I was just gonna say!” He exclaims back. We were finally at the gate of the festival, finding ourselves face to face with a long row of security staff with their weapons and their K-9 dogs. I guess no one could bring anything funny inside. Or they could try. I head to the media booth to get my pass and kit.
It took me a while to get all my stuff, and I eventually lose my tuktuk buddies. So I trudged my way alone through the long pathway into the fest. I instantly regretted wearing my favorite strappy sandals. I haven’t been there for 30 minutes, yet they were already unrecognizable under all the dirt. My feet, included. Dry, yellow, sandy, dust and dirt, hovering everywhere like clouds. News flash: there is a reason people wear boots at festivals. They’re not just a fashion statement.
I reach the end of the entrance. HO-LY COW. I stop dead on my tracks. The Wonderfruit Festival venue is massive. I’ve been to a few music festivals in the Philippines and in Singapore, but whatever little festival experience I have had didn’t quite prepare my expectations enough for this one. A quick glance around at the field (at what my eyes could reach at least) revealed the grand looking main stage, a camping ground for overnighters, rows of food trucks and stalls, art installations, and people. Many gleeful looking people frolicking about in their big smiles and festival costumes.
Perhaps it would sound too general to say, but this is simply the truth: you’ll find so many great things at Wonderfruit. Good music, good food, and a good time are already given, but you’ll see there is so much more to experience in the details. And that’s the best part of it—discovering all those.
Forbidden Fruit. Molam Bus. The Playground. Artisan Market. Camp Wonder (for the tots!). Theatre of Feasts. These are some of the different venues at Wonderfruit that offer different experiences. There’s even the Wonder Salon in case you need a haircut (seriously). And for the witches like me, there’s the Healing Village where—to my hippie heart’s utter happiness—I attended workshops like a dream interpretation circle, an animal spirit guide quest, a very spiritually liberating Journey Dance, and a drum circle. There were yoga classes here and there, too. The workshops were my favorite things. Each venue holds different ones throughout the day. To be honest, I attended more workshops than watched music acts. I regret nothing.