Just as we are getting ready to leave Bangkok for Chiang Mai, I’ve found some WiFi and can share a bit on our time in Koh Samui:
We stayed at a place called Chaweng Gardens Resort, Chaweng Beach on the eastern side of the Island which, as we discovered is the backpacker ghetto of the island. The shuttle bus to the resort took us right down the main road where 7-11 convenience stores, pharmacies, massage parlour’s and a surprising amount of Swensen’s Ice Cream shops littered the streets. Filling the gaps between brick and mortar were corrugated iron shop-fronts selling anything from counterfeit clothes, books and DVD’s/CD’s to weaponry such as tasers and knives that would impress Crocodile Dundee.
After dropping off our bags and discovering one of the many awesome little things about Thailand and Koh Samui itself – anyone can buy and launch fireworks off the beach, we headed off to find some bars. Day two was spent primarily at the beach, lazing on the sun lounges, discovering Thai food (new favourite – massaman curry), riding jetski’s and finally finishing off the afternoon with an hour long Thai massage overlooking the beach for 200 Baht (roughly AUD $8). The third day was spent in much the same way because our attempts to hire motorbikes to explore the island failed due to high demand.
On the fourth day we to hired motorbikes for 200Baht/day and began to explore the island. Firstly, anyone going to Samui or anywhere else for that matter wanting to hire bikes – do yourself a favour and take photos of the bike and note any scratches, dents or problems to the person you hire them from. This, sadly was the rookie mistake I made and it cost me about AUD $40 with only my word against the owner that I didn’t create the scratches on the side of the bike. Nevertheless, it was still a fun day of exploring the deceptively large island seeing Big Buddha and local markets where I received the shock of seeing chicken meat simply sitting on a tray in open air with nothing but a fan blowing away the flies. Here we discovered that Thai food is often not cooked to order (at least from the markets and roadside carts) and the food we were eating back on Chaweng Beach was a very westernised version of Thai food. Finally, we finished off the afternoon by heading to one of the elephent trekking places on the island where everyone else besides myself (I’m saving it for a big trek in northern Thailand or Laos) went on a half hour elephant ride.
That night was New Years Eve and the biggest party was being held at Haad Rin beach on Koh Phangan, made famous for it’s Full Moon Parties. For anyone planning on going – travel agents all over Samui will be able to provide express or ferry boat rides over to Phangan for the night with various companies. I think we paid about 600 Baht return for the express boats but I’m sure if you shop around you can find a better price.
Arriving on the island we were met with stall upon stall selling ‘buckets’. Generally, buckets are a concoction of 200ml spirits, be that whisky, vodka, gin etc with a container of red bull concentrate, a can of coke or lemonade and some ice. All for the about $3 – $4 AUD. The beach itself was packed, people filled to capacity all of the clubs and overflowed onto the beach. Fluorescent body paint was for sale everywhere and even mushroom shakes were available at a select few stalls. After seeing the new year in and dancing away until about 1.30 we decided to try and beat the rush back to Samui and continue the party. Some people waited for hours to get both to Phangan and back home again so it paid off to be a little bit early. The next day, not so surprisingly was spent recovering before getting on a bus to Bangkok.
So that’s about it from Samui. I’ll upload a few words about our days in Bangkok soon but until then here are a few other of the main lessons from Samui:
- Prices on most things are negotiable. Especially true if there is no visible price tag on the item
- It’s best to ignore taxi drivers, tailors and anyone pretty much anyone else that begins a conversation with “hello, friend” instead of greeting them and spending 10 minutes trying to get away from them.
- If a young Thai girl offers to play you in connect-4, you won’t win.
- If it is peak season, book your onward connection well in advance to avoid 12 hours in a very uncomfortable bus.
- Sex tourism is clearly a big industry in this country. More on that later.
- Beer Chang is good, and Beer Chang is cheap.
- Ensure sturdy launchpad when launching fireworks.
- Thai pancakes are amazing.
*Note – I tried to add some photos but my WiFi connection at the moment is pretty bad. Will try again later *