Monday, February 18, 2013

Escaping the rain in Koh Samui

So, part two of the SE Asia trip. After a bit of a bad night in Penang (we had some druck louts trying to get into our room and being total assholes) we decided to say sayonara to Malaysia and hello Thailand. We took a bus and then a train to some tinpot little place called Trang - from where we hoped we would set off to one of the east coast islands. The weather had other ideas so we headed for Koh Samui on a hunch that the weather would be better - hunch much!

Wow, after a ferry ride from the mainland we stepped off onto one of the most beautiful islands I've ever been to. This small island, an hour and a half from the port of Donsak in the Gulf of Thailand is a Thai beach holiday microcosm. Everything you could ever want from a beach holiday Samui does with a smile and a ‘no worries’ attitude.

Some advice from the volunteer at the tourist information desk got us in a cab and into a villa in Mae Nam all in under an hour – we had not booked, we just rocked up and went with it.

The low season here means that rooms are heavily discounted and the place is just quietly humming along. For the traveller who is not looking for a thumping full-moon-party good time this is holiday paradise and you certainly get more bang for your baht.

We hired a scooter just from a place just outside where we were staying, expect to pay 200 baht for a full day’s hire. First destination was the more popular tourist beach Chaweng.

As we approach Chaweng over a hill the road before us opened up with a huge rock on one side and the blue waters of the bay on the other – postcard kind of stuff.

We pulled up at one of the many beachside cafes for a sandwich and an iced coffee and then just bobbed about in the glassy-flat ocean for an hour.

Like most touristy beaches in Asia Chaweng has its share of beach hawkers – just embrace it – they are making a buck and you have grilled corn, cold drinks and inflatable beach toys at your beck and call. The water is calm and warm and you can just lie about in the shallows for hours (provided you have your hat and suncream on!)

The next day we woke up to another amazing day and took the scooter to one of the waterfalls. A short ride up a cement road we parked and left our helmets for 20 baht and took the ten-minute trip to the waterfall. The waterfall was more of a trickle at the end of a super-dodgy path. On arrival we found some beefed-up Brits splashing about and being general wankers.

Riding around on Samui, it's pretty hard to get lost – basically the island has one big road that just goes all the way around - so we ended up at the pier in Bo Phut – the place we had disembarked for the ferry the day before. We pulled in for a cold Chang with a view.

Onwards again and we took our scooter back to our base, Mae Nam to find some dinner and a drink beachside while the sun went down. Restaurants with a beachfront vista are not hard to find and most have reasonable prices. We paid about 400 baht for some watermelon shakes, a delicious Penang curry and a fresh paw paw salad.

We had a poke around in a few shops and then retired early after a long day of sand, sun and scooter – if you’re looking for ‘party, party, party’ Samui has it, but it’s just as easy to find a quiet nook to relax and get a good night’s sleep. Even in the low season the island has full-moon party events and other assorted alcohol-fueled beach parties. It’s never had to find what you’re looking for.
On the island transport is taxi or the red bus song thaw that will shuttle you from stop to stop. Hiring a scooter is easy – just make sure you give the bike a once over before heading out. As cool as it looks riding along sans helmet and shirt is not a good idea, one the driver is required to wear a helmet by Thai law and two if you fall off a shirt and helmet may save you some skin.

It's hard to look good when you're sweaty ALL the time.
Umbrella anyone?
Yes, I would say this place has a sea view.
The bungalow we stayed in for about $60 a night. 
Tried to read this book - was 50 shades of shithouse. Only made it about 18 pages in.
The resort dog was very cool, he took himself for walks on the beach with patrons of his choice.

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