Wonderfruit 2018: The Facts and the Feels

Written by: Thanita Phuvanatnaranubala
Photo above: Wonderfruit Facebook Page
Photos in article by: Thanita Phuvanatnaranubala

Mid-December brings something special to Thailand every year – the blossoming of Wonderfruit. The music and art festival, with the mission to promote sustainability, is not only a wonder-filled weekend. As an inhabitant of Thailand, it is also a rare opportunity to experience live sets outside the top 40 charts, all in one magical place, full of people just down to have a good time.

The Sitch:

The Fields of Wonderfruit is just outside of beach city Pattaya, about 1.30hrs drive from Thailand’s capital Bangkok. Public buses and vans run periodically between the two city centers, a shuttle bus runs from Pattaya city to the Fields, and carpooling opportunities often pop up on their social media communities. There are several sleeping options: general camping is 400baht (about $12) for the entire festival; boutique camps and RVs with fans or AC are available for the fancier of us; and many hotels for all budget size are dotted across Pattaya.

You should sort all travel logistics early though. Bangkok-Pattaya buses are prone to delays (last run is around 10pm), and boutique camps and nearby hotels can get real full really fast. But once all this is in place, it’s all smooth sailing. 

Wonderfruit also has a strict ‘no single-use plastic’ policy, so bring a refillable water bottle if you want free water the whole weekend.

The Space:

The beauty of Wonderfruit is that it is spacey (in all senses of the word). The festival is quite small, making it easy to dart from stage to stage, with many stunning structures and art installations to marvel at along the way. But if you get bored of going on foot, there are bikes for rent and the Wonder Walk open truck/bus/bar that can take. If you want an all-out festival feel, there are always several crowds rumbling and roaming at various spots, and it’s easy to flit to-and-from the front row if you so desire. If you want peace, the Fields offer quiet areas at all hours. Whatever festival experience is your vibe, Wonderfruit will provide.

The Beautiful Bath House

The Stuff To Do:

Cooking workshops. DIY crafts. Talks on all things, from poetry to sustainability to blockchain. Orgasmic yoga (and other kinds of yoga). There’s a crazy amount of activities scattered across the Fields, and you always end up learning new things while doing fun things. Like…did you know you can make lip gloss from just beeswax, coconut oil, and some food coloring? Why do we spend so much money at Sephora? No matter your age or interest, there’s something for everyone if you plan well – and don’t worry, there’s literally an app for that.

Need a drink to get the day started? Good news – there are bars everywhere! And many will have drinks you can’t find easily elsewhere, like traditional Thai spirits made from elephant foot plant and other unusual ingredients. More good news – if you buy their Wonderfruit reusable cup, you can get 50baht off each drink. Bad news though – if you bring your own cup, you don’t get that discount, which honestly was strange as this would had been more sustainable, right? Hopefully next year, some cups won’t be more equal than others.

The Stages:


Join the climb at Solar Stage

House-out at The Quarry

This year, Wonderfruit had 9 stages which activated at different times of the day. Some stages run 24/7 – others come to life at sunset and end the night at sunrise. Every stage is made from sustainable material – mostly bamboo – yet each has unique designs and a very distinct feel. And with the stages, comes the music. The great thing about Wonderfruit is getting to discover interesting artists, and sometimes even new genres. Here are some notable mentions:

Nightmares on Wax played twice, and both sets were awesome. One was super funky, and other had an intense reggae vibe going. Still, the heavy beats were brought both times, making it all too easy to lose yourself in the constant flow. (His singers were awesome too.)

Indonesian duo Stars and Rabbit transported the crowd to a whole new place with versatile, angelic-yet-desperate vocals and interesting experimental chill jams. Simultaneously sweet and chaotic, in the best of ways.


The moonlit Stars and Rabbit

Thai artist Phum Viraphit came to the stage with a multifaceted yet cohesive set. You go expecting indie-alternative rock, and ended up with some beatboxing, some fiery post-rock, and loads of other stuff in between.

Mammal Hands was siiiick. The English band brought us all onto a cloud of avant-garde, eclectic jazz. The forever changing sounds from just three instruments, fading in and out of each other, gave the most wonderful kind of headmelt.

Local legend Job2Do gave us all a job to do – to bop and sway to their so-tight-but-so-chill reggae. Their 2005 hit ‘Doo Ter Tum’ stood the test of time and got the whole crowd happy groovin’ – it’s one of those sets that just leaves you smiling.


Job2Do

Pyra mesmerized with her voice: crystal sweet, but full of gravitas. She gave a unique experience by getting everyone to surround her in a welcoming group huddle, dissolving the lines between friends and strangers to remind us those lines were just a construct anyway.

FUTURO X – the experiment by Waldorf and Wonderfruit – was interesting to say the least. The entire festival was moved to the main stage, and guided by staff to lie down and watch the stars in triangle-ish patterns. Dancers dressed in fairy lights walked among us, moving their small specks of light in the complete darkness. Heavy transcendent music swirled all around. This lasted for how long, I do not know – lying there, beneath the stars, with not much being spoken, leaves everyone with nothing but their thoughts. And in all honesty, not everyone enjoyed this – being made to lie down next to super loud speakers, sometimes with kids or dogs, makes this understandable.

But it at least got us all to put certain things in perspective. That at the end of the day, everyone there is just the same – human beings, with different thoughts yet similar feelings, existing on just another planet in the vast universe. Despite the mixed reviews, the experiment perfectly captures how Wonderfruit co-founder Pranitan Phornprapha (Pete) sees the festival: “We like to experiment […] we’re not afraid to try new things and see what people think.”

Overall

I have to admit, I haven’t been to a lot of festivals. But I can safely say Wonderfruit is unlike any other out there. Every detail is intricately thought out – every experience feels intimate, regardless of the crowd. Every corner invites you into something different. Don’t just take my word for it though, come and find out for yourself pre-Christmas next year: Early Wonder Bird tickets are out now.




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