The plan was brilliantly simple—almost too simple in fact.
As Alex revealed, all he had to do was visit the site early, bury a Nalgene bottle full of vodka (encased in a plastic bag for good measure), and pin the burial location on Google Maps so that it wouldn’t be forgotten. Then on the day of the festival, unearth it and get wasted.
So of course, we had to try it out for ourselves. And where better than at Zoukout, Asia’s largest beach music festival? There are only tens of thousands of sweaty, inebriated party-goers, lots of coarse sand, the watchful gaze of countless security personnel, and a 90% chance of precipitation.
What could go wrong?
First off, timing is everything.
Alex Diamond went in three weeks early. Us? Four days.
By the time we showed up to Siloso Beach on Monday afternoon, the Zoukout prep team was already in full force.
Both the Moon and Star Stages were up and running. Lights were being tested, underground wiring trenches were being dug and there were at least 50 people on site.
Were we too late? No, in fact I’d say we arrived at just the perfect timing.
If we had come any earlier, our mission would have been much riskier.
Not only would the alcohol be in the ground longer, meaning a higher chance of someone finding it by accident even before Zoukout (Siloso Beach is a popular tourist spot), but we needed to wait till the setup was somewhat complete before we could move in. We wouldn’t want to show up at Zoukout all excited, only to find that that we buried the bottle right beneath the main stage.
At the same time, we were early enough such that the area wasn’t cordoned off yet, allowing us to case the venue without looking too suspicious.
Crucial to our mission was alcohol (duh), and we had lots of it. To be exact, four full bottles of vodka, gin and whisky.
Playing it safe, we thought it best to divide and conquer. Not only did we decide to bury the four bottles at separate locations, we also further split the alcohol into smaller bottles as an extra precaution. In total, we had nine alcohol sources to bury.
Since the venue was crawling with crew members, we could only bury our alcohol at two obscure locations. The first bottle went in between a pair of palm trees right opposite the registration zone at the Sapphire Pavilion. The second went underneath the back of the VIP stage.
With each hole we dug, we did it with the very tools God gave us: our bare hands. Alex dug his hole with a shovel but we didn’t own one. Neither could we possibly bring a shovel to dig the bottles out at Zoukout anyway.
Unfortunately years of hard labour typing away at a keyboard did not make my fingers any stronger or resistant to wear and tear. By the time we finished digging our second hole, our fingertips had started to smart.
(Don’t be like us. Bring a shovel.)
To bury the rest of the bottles, we would have to come at a time when no one would be around, i.e. at an ungodly hour in the morning.
Two hours of sleep and $18.00 in cab fees later, we were back at Siloso Beach for the second time in two days. This time, at 4:15am.
Luck was on our side. Not only were the bottles still in the bush where we left them the day before, but the beach was absolutely deserted. Zoukout’s set up, in true Singaporean fashion, was left completely unattended.
We now had the luxury of time and privacy to bury the bottles. One went beside a giant boulder near the Moon stage, another at the edge of the Star stage, one behind a trash can, and just for the sake of it, one in the middle of nowhere.
We put our faith in Google Maps and pinned each location as accurately as we could.
Sneaking alcohol into Zoukout may save you a good $30 to $60 per pax depending on how much you drink, but how much is your sleep worth?
I recall my cab driver, on the way to Siloso Beach, ranting about how much more street smart his generation was compared to mine. I’d rolled my eyes then, but as I tried valiantly to fit an entire bottle of alcohol into a hole that was clearly too small, I have to admit that he was right.
“Is my alcohol still there?” I wondered for the 32nd time that day.
Maybe some lucky beach goers had unearthed it. Maybe the Zoukout crew had dug it up and were on their way to arrest us for ‘trespassing’. Maybe some ants had chanced upon it and decided to carry it away.
The possibilities of failure were endless. And there was nothing we could do but wait.
Fortunately I could rely on Pinterest and their treasure trove of reassuring quotes.
Here’s my favourite one: “Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.”
7/12/2017: 1 Day to Zoukout
“Is my alcohol still there?”
“Stop Worrying About What Can Go Wrong and Get Excited About What Can Go Right.” — Pinterest.
Identity cards in hand, innocent smiles on our faces, Pinterest quotes in mind and a tube of hand cream in our bags, we made our way to Zoukout.
It would be our third time at Siloso Beach in five days. That’s three times too much, if you ask me.
We arrived relatively early at 10:45pm, right when the party was just starting to heat up. Once our bags were checked (no alcohol there) and bodies patted down (no alcohol hidden in my butt, thank you very much), we were in.
Immediately, we were greeted with success. Our first burial spot was untouched. Within just five minutes of rooting around (rather vigorously) with our feet, we uncovered our first bottle.
A few celebratory photos later, we moved on to the second location as per our Google Map pins.
It was downhill from there.
Our second, third and fourth burial locations were impossible to locate. Why did every patch of sand have to look the same? Or was it that we did too good a job of hiding the bottles?
We dug and dug until our feet were exfoliated within an inch of our lives and our toes were sore. We hadn’t yet partied but already, sweat was running down our backs. Still, the bottles eluded us.
Perhaps they weren’t near enough to conspicuous landmarks. Maybe Google Maps was inaccurate (no surprise there). Maybe someone had nicked our stash.
“Such fools,” I thought. And then I went back to digging.
During one of our digging sessions, a guard walked over and shone a light into our (thankfully) unsuccessful hole. He looked at me questioningly. In response, I let out the phoniest laugh of my life. He moved on.
Our fifth burial location at the edge of the Star stage was a success. While the DJ tried his best to rile up the crowd and keep them from gravitating away to the Moon stage, we were trying our best to weave through the crowd to get at our bottle.
With every shimmy and body roll we did, our feet dug deeper and deeper until we hit cold hard glass.
There it was, one plastic bottle half full of Johnny Walker whisky and one glass bottle of vodka still neatly wrapped in soggy newspaper.
Our sixth and final burial spot behind the VIP stage would involve us squeezing through 1,478 sweaty bodies, four security barriers, and six security guards. We decided to go home instead.
All in all, we unearthed two of our six burial sites, a stunning 33.33% success rate, and it only took us all of two hours to locate.
Yes, you could say four of six were unsuccessful with a 66.66% rate of failure, but I prefer to look on the bright side.
Now for the next festival, I’ll know to hide my alcohol in a more conspicuous spot, directly beside landmarks (not just near there), to bring a shovel with me, and not to place all my faith in Google Maps.
Or maybe I’ll just buy my own damn alcohol.