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The 60 Shot Challenge

This little tale takes place on Koh Phi Phi – an island off the southwest coast of Thailand. Upon my arrival, I decide to stay at a place called Blanco’s that’s located directly on the beach. It’s a fun place, but definitely not somewhere to stay if you plan on sleeping. The walls of the rooms vibrate until three a.m. from the constant pounding of music. It’s a good place to socialize – not so much to relax.

Blanco’s main claim to fame is that once a week they host “The 60 Shot Challenge”. Now, you obviously don’t take sixty shots of hard alcohol. Instead, you’re given three buckets. For those of you that have never had a bucket, imagine a bucket you would use as a kid to make sandcastles except that instead of sand it’s filled with coke and cheap rum. Normally you’d buy a bucket to share with a few friends. In “The 60 Shot Challenge”, you have to finish three of these concoctions by yourself.

A group of us decide that we can defeat the challenge and sign up. As the Thai lady behind the bar fills up our buckets with rum, she laughs and says, “I gonna make you throw up”. Wonderful. If we make it to the end without throwing up, we win a free tank top. I’ve been losing a lot of clothes throughout the trip so this is a pretty good incentive for me.

The challenge takes place on a big grouping of tables in the middle of the beach. They’re arranged in a rectangle with a gap in the middle. The Blanco’s workers stand inside the gap to regulate the game. We’re handed three buckets and a “shot glass” (which is really just a small cup) and take our positions around the perimeter of the rectangle.


The challenge commences. We have to finish a shot from one of our buckets every minute. It’s basically a power hour with disgusting mixed drinks and giant shot glasses. I’m at home.

I’d say there are roughly twenty-five people doing the challenge. At first everyone is loving life. A shot a minute isn’t that bad. People are high fiving. Ten shots down. This is child’s play. Then we hit twenty and the first signs of fatigue start to show.

You see, in a drinking event like this, it’s not the amount of alcohol that’s difficult. Granted, there is a shit load of alcohol in the buckets. It’s the amount of liquid and the carbonation that make things tough. There comes a point when your stomach feels like it may burst.

I spent the past four years of my life at UCSB training my body for such an event but other people aren’t as prepared. And by other people, I mean my friend Jon. At about 28 shots in, he is not looking good. We hit 30 and you can see the pain in his face. Vomiting is imminent. Our Italian friend, Tiziano (people call him “Tits” for short), points at him and shouts with his strong accent, “Jon, don’t you dare. Don’t you dare!”. Here’s a quick picture of Tits for reference:

Tits in the flesh

Tits in the flesh

His callout is particularly great because it gets every person on the beach to stop and stare at Jon. In addition to the people playing, there are twenty or so spectators that have gathered to watch the carnage.

With everyone’s eyes locked on him, Jon lets loose a projectile vomit that damn near makes it to the ocean. It is like being in the splash zone at Sea World. The distance is commendable. He fires off another one with everyone pointing and laughing. It is one of the happiest moments of my life. The best part is that we captured the end of it on film.


Jon was the first victim but after him people are dropping out left and right. No one has quite as spectacular an exit, but people are tapping out or running off to the bathroom pretty consistently. My UCSB stomach is doing fine until I hit fifty. Things shift dramatically from “fun-drinking-game” to “my-stomach-feels-like-Snooki’s-yoga-pants” – stretched to capacity and nearly tearing in an attempt to contain the mass that I’ve shoved inside it. Each of these last ten shots is a grueling test of my mental fortitude but, god dammit, I need that tank top. It’s painful, but I manage to limp my way through to sixty.

Of the twenty-five people to start, eight make to the end – me and my friend Bop being two of them, Jon pathetically losing first. Now Bop, being a smarter man than I, goes to the bathroom to throw up so that he can actually function for the rest of the night. No such thought occurs to me. I am a champion. I have conquered “The 60 Shot Challenge” and the rest of Koh Phi Phi is beneath me.

It is at this point that I don’t remember anything. Fortunately, my friends were able to give me a second hand account.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my signature dance moves is to just fall on the ground and roll around like an idiot. There’s no real purpose to it other than the fact that it concerns onlookers and makes me laugh. Apparently, there was a span of a few hours where I was rolling around in the sand more than I was standing on it. My friends knew that I was just weird and liked doing that, but the workers at Blanco’s were concerned and thought that I was having a seizure or something. They would try to lift me up and drag me to bed and I would just giggle and run back out and roll in the sand.

As I was rolling around having the time of my life, some people who worked at Blanco’s were playing a beer pong game. They take their beer pong seriously and apparently this game was particularly intense. Each team had one cup left and tensions were high. One of the players carefully eyed the last cup, lined up their shot…and surprise! I come running out of nowhere and dive across the width of the table. I have no recollection of this, but I imagine to onlookers that I was a majestic tan arc, soaring over the table, like a blacked out Free Willy breaching the ocean water.

Unfortunately, my lovely dive didn’t have enough on it and I clipped the side of the table with my toes, knocking the cups over, and thus ending the game. This resulted in one of the players having a strong desire to punch me in the face. Luckily, I have good friends who were able to talk him out of fighting me. I was already rolling around on the ground elsewhere so punching me seemed like a pointless gesture.

As I lay there on the ground, a local Thai woman came over and started grinding on me. One of the workers at Blanco’s came up to my friends and told them that the woman dancing on me was actually a man, and that they should let me know. Did they tell me this? Of course they didn’t. They proceeded to take a video instead. Here is that video.


…beware the 60 shot challenge.