Koh Samui Rupert writes
Our first stop on our unexpected tour of the Gulf of Thailand’s south islands was Koh Samui.
Largely built up for package tourists with, hints of a backpacker paradise history, this island was, to put it simply, easy. We started in Chaweng with Isabel and James, staying in a fancy room that was way over our budget. The same night we found a fantastic Indian Restaurant that had low tables and those Indian cushion seats – when calling the waiter over for another order of samosas whilst leaning back on a cushion, legs stretched out, bottle of Chang in hand, it’s not just a feeling of luxury; it’s a feeling of peaceful tranquility mixed in with subtle embarrassment.
The next day we all hired a jeep and me and James took it in turns to dodge the local traffic.
First stop was Lamai beach to find the perfect wooden bungalow placed directly on the beach with an awesome view. Me and Laura checked in to stay two nights and then we drove to the bottom of a waterfall and ascended to the peak to find out my camera has impeccable timing with halting from useful existence.
Despite the help from a guide that appeared from nowhere to aid Laura to the top of the waterfall, she still suffered.
There was an option to take an elephant trek up the waterfall but the price was high. And this is the first monkey we’ve seen; shame it was chained up.
We said goodbye-for-now to James and Isabel as they headed to Koh Phangan and we stayed on Koh Samui for another day to cruise around on a custom style bike (sunglasses on, wind on my head and in Laura’s hair – we looked cool. Really damn cool) and check out the rest of the island.
Koh Phangan Laura writes
Koh Phangan is like a beautiful pearl, with white beaches, tropical palm trees, blue waters and beautiful people.
Our first evening on the island was in a little wooden hut overlooking the ocean. It was minimal but cosy. At least for one night anyway! Unfortunately, after checking into our room the island had a power cut, due to an electrical problem between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. However, it actually turned into a truly magical evening, as we found ourselves eating exquisite food under candle light, which spread along the entire beach. It’s tranquility was incredible!
That night when we decided to retire to our beds, we found there were some draw backs to this magical ambiance – no in room fan! Bugger. It was stifling hot and poor Rupert didn’t get an ounce of sleep. Think that may have also had something to do with the bottle of water he spilt during the night. No darling, you haven’t wet the bed! tee-hee.
Thanks to Nikki, Manager of the Rock Restaurant from the night before, her good word helped us up sticks the following morning and make our way to the other end of the beach for new and better accommodation. We were located at the top of some peaceful woodland and very near to friends. Always a bonus.
During our stay at Koh Phangan it was the full moon party. Woo-hoo. It was pretty much as expected, but definitely an experience not to be missed. There is definitely something to be said for parties on tropical island beaches!
So, still wondering about the new and improved buckets we found?! Well, for just over two pounds, these bad boys are filled with the entire contents of a full quarter of a litre’s worth of Sam Song! Me and Rupert decided sharing was the best option…it certainly was, especially looking at the mess of the crazy people around us.
I always imagined what it would be like to swim in the sea on a tropical island, and now I know; sore! I was slightly confused as to why I seemed to be being stung or something, but it wasn’t until later that I discovered I was being attacked by sea lice – nice, hey! Didn’t seem to stop everyone from getting in though, I really did find it quite amusing watching everyone itch and scratch, looking somewhat baffled. The good news though; they are not always around as I later found out.
During our time at Paradise Bungalows (our resort) I fell in love with a little puppy. It belonged to Thalia, the daughter of the Australian Nikki and was the most adorable puppy I have ever set eyes on. I want one…please Rupert!!! Unfortunately we lost the disposable camera with pictures of it, but trust me when I say you’d just melt if you saw it.
The last day on the island we decided to do a little walking just off the beaten track. We found ourselves at an authentic Thai market with not a word of English to be understood. Just what we were looking for. We bought our first market pineapple and all for as little as twenty Baht (about thirty pence): Bargain!
We arrived at Koh Tao and spent one night on Sairee Beach, the main and most populated on the island. We found nothing wrong with the room or the area but felt we were missing something; like we were meant to be somewhere else. So, the following day we took a pickup truck (also known as a taxi) and headed to Chalok Baan Kao, a less populated beach, check, with good snorkeling, check, fantastic views, check, and rooms at bargain prices, check.
We’d been walking up and down the beach long enough to get tired, hot and sweaty, and therefore seriously bothered with not being able to find a suitable room to make camp. We came to the end of the beach, a new end we hadn’t noticed when we first arrived. I collapsed and let Rupert do the room checking from then onwards.
The guest house at the end of the beach had a nice room; clean, large, and with a good bathroom. But I wanted more – I wanted a view, a balcony – I wanted Authenticity (oh yes, with a capital ‘a’). And so, leaving Laura to slump at a table under the shade I headed across a long bridge that led to another small beach, where I found View Point Guest House.
Rupert came back with a smile on his face, I could feel a “but” coming on. “It’s got a great view, with a balcony, and it’s on stilts! It’s just..” Rupert hesitated, “a bit basic. And open.”. Okay I thought, still, sounds nice. I had this vision of a charming hut balancing on stilts, an elegant walkway to its doorway; basic but clean and with all the necessities.
My heart dropped as we approached the ‘rustic’ looking beach hut.The room was shabby looking, basic, one bed, four walls. That’s alright I thought, as long as we have a nice clean and spacious bathroom I can handle it.
In it’s own way it was perfect. Perfect if one was looking for the Tarzan den replica! Absolute quality people, do you hear me? Perfect.
I stared into the bathroom in disbelief. The walls were damp and mouldy, there was a basic toilet (and by that I mean basic, no flush!) and a simple shower attached to the dirty side wall. Please save me I thought!
I went to sit outside, to gather my thoughts, try to see a little light on the situation. Rupert started calling me, “come and look at this, quick, quick, it’s so cool”. And there it was, a large green snake slivering along the outside bathroom wall. It would have been an amazing moment, had I have not been so wrapped up in my first impressions of our new found accommodation. A snake really was the last thing I wanted to be greeted by, especially on our wall. I was then greeted by a rather large Gecko (lizard). Nice, perfect timing…. Get me out of here!
We spent most of that afternoon on our first snorkeling trip around nearby rocks and across from white beaches. The coral was beautiful, fish spectacular and tranquility much needed. By the time we emerged from the warm and calming waters, the idea of staying in a typical travellers den started to not seem so bad, until…
After a pleasant meal on the beach we came back to our authentic hut on stilts. Laura wanted the bathroom and so sent me in to stake it out before committing to the toilet. I saw a small spider on the wall. They all look tropically dangerous over here – the way they spread their legs out and how their eyes reflect like mirrors when you shine a torch on them – but it looked settled and I didn’t think it would do much in the next twenty minutes. “All okay” I shouted back to Laura, “just a little spi… AAAHHHHH!!!!”. Oh yeah, I handled it like a man. There, on the ceiling, glinting in the torch more than any other has before, was a spider bigger than my hand with all fingers stretched out (and I have big hands). It must have been seven inches in diameter (including legs. Thankfully).
The next hour was spent constructing a means to catch this invader (settled or not, this thing was not staying in our bathroom). I went in armed with a tub and a tour guide, with the intention of catching it. Despite my fear, I couldn’t kill it – it wasn’t in me (and besides, I thought it might fight back harder and faster). After taking another look I wanted to be further away from that beast and so I went and came back with tub now gaffer-taped to a two-foot pole I ripped off the balcony hand rail (what? It was already falling off. The whole hut was falling apart). Still not far away enough. It was really big, okay?! Next up was an eight foot bamboo pole firmly attached to the tub. So, feeling really manly, I entered the bathroom and tried to catch this thing. It ran before I in position, and boy does this thing run. Nearly as fast as I ran in the other direction.
It went out of bathroom and I went outside as Laura sprayed water to scare it off. Unfortunately our hopes of it running back into the wild were broken as it flew into a crack far smaller than itself. And there it stayed through out the night as we hid in our mosquito cage -light on, eyes wide- all night.
We were taken on a boat trip out to Shark Bay. Sadly, we didn’t see any little Reef sharks (hence the name – Shark Bay), but nevertheless had an amazing afternoon. On the way back Rupert even got to steer the boat.
I wasn’t upset to leave that place, the prospect of finding a nice bathroom somewhere was far too appealing for that, but actually, I come to really enjoy our time there, on that island, in that hut. And one thing is for sure, I certainly felt like a stronger person when I left.
Sadly not many pictures of the time we were here. We bought a disposable camera but it dropped out of my pocket as we left the taxi to board the boat to Koh Tao. We bought another camera at Koh Tao and will get these photos onto CD and onto the website as soon as we can.
Tags: Koh Samui, South of Thailand, Thailand, Travel