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On the Loose - My South East Asia Adventure My travel adventure through South East Asia starts on the 16 April 07, and includes a little side-trip to New Zealand to begin with. On the 31 July I will be landing at Zurich Airport in an attempt to try and settle back into life in my country of origin. If you want to know where the road of travel is leading me then read on. I will try and update this journal as often as possible so that everyone with a genuine interest is able to share some of the experiences I'll encounter. Sit back and relax, over a cold beer or a glass of wine, and enjoy!

Ko Samui

THAILAND | Tuesday, 12 June 2007 | Views [1514] | Comments [1]

Initially wanting to go to Chiang Mai for 1 week, then visit some of the southern islands in the Andaman Sea (i.e. Phuket, Pi Pi, Ko Lanta) - we changed our mind after talking to some travel folks and reading up in the travel book, and headed off to Ko Samui after being fed up with noisy, congested and polluted Bangkok (well, I was...I think Andy would have had no problems spending 2 weeks in Pantib Plaza:-)).

Not that any of the initial ideas would have been bad, but lots of people said Chiang Mai would get hotter than Bangkok in the summer months, and the LP mentioned trekking, which was one of the things I wanted to do, may turn into a torture on some of the really hot days...I didn't want to spend all day in the air-conditioning not neing able to leave my room until after dark. Oh well, and weather and visibility apparently is better in the Gulf of Siam than the Andaman Sea from April onwards...

So Ko Samui here we come...

Booked a flight with Bangkok Airways (currently the only carrier flying to Bangkok - and with them having the monopol over easy and quick tourist transport to and from the island plans apparently now exist of building a new airport in order to allow other airlines to fly into Ko Samui...how ridiculous is that?).

Our flights cost us roughly THB 4000 each one way (approx. AUD/CHF 140.-), and I have to say I'm very impressed with Bangkok Airways...especially the airport lounge where you get fruit juice and nibblings such as sweet rice pudding wrapped in banana leaves, springrolls etc. for free, and not to forget internet access, and popcorn, all at no cost to the waiting traveller:-)

We messed up the airway's lunch planning process by pre-ordering a muslim and a hindu meal...(note these were options to select when we booked the flights online):-) and nearly ended up not getting anything to eat because they couldn't provide us with the special dietary requirements. The fact that we booked our flighs for the wrong day (mind you it was 1am in the morning and after a few beers...Andy and I both not realising that the date on the computer was not 'tomorrow' but 'today'...), and hence had to change the flights at the airport and go stand-by for the next one available, probably didn't help the situation either...but we were lucky and didn't end up starving.

So applaus and hats off for Bangkok Airways, yay!

We pre-booked the hotel for the first night at the airport in Bangkok. It was located at the southern end of Chaweng Beach, a bit away from the overcrowded stretch near the centre. Well, I'm not sure how crowded the beach was there as we didn't end up walking up to have a look, but if the number of tourists you meet on the street that lies behind all the resort hotels that line the beach are any indication, than I don't think we missed anything.

Ko Samui is about 250sq km of coconut farms, forrested hills and beaches and is full of luxury hotels, fancy restaurans and tailor shops (viva ARMANI - Andy has developed a specific liking for them:-)). Apparently there's over 3 million tourists that flock to the island every year. It was low season when we were there. I don't want to know how crowded it gets in the peak...you probably wouldn't see the hills anymore if there's thousands and thousands of sun-burnt faces running up and down the streets...a bit like Rimini? Use your imagination...

We spent 2 days/nights in Chaweng just layzing about...sleeping, jet skiing, swimming...seafood platter for two in a restaurant right on the beach (THB 600, absolutely delicious - it's at the southern end of Chaweng Beach - and the tables and chairs are on the sand...you can't get any closer to the water:-)), a chit chat with an English expat over a beer (or was it two?) while sitting around the bonfire in the eve (note they used the restaurant chairs to fire up:-))... 

Then felt the urge to discover a little bit more of the island so hired a 4wd for initially 2 days which we ended up keeping for for 4:-). The roads on Samui around the island are sealed, but if you want to go bush beashing you definitely need a 4wd otherwise you're getting nowhere. Also, I wouldn't recommend anyone who is not used to drive a 4wd to do so, the condition of some of the dirt roads is really bad and I had a few scary moments...thanks god I had a WA-boy with me who knew how to manoveure the vehicle over the dirt and get me safe back down the other end...

It's actually the 4wd that I liked the most out of everything we did on Samui (apart from the 1 day at the beach doing nothing:-)). 5 mins after leaving the beaten track we bumpt into a couple of elephants in the bush. I first thought they were someone's elephant pets but later on, looking at the map, I figured out the cuties probably belonged to one of the elephant trekking company's that you find abound on the island:-)).

We drove randomly through the island's interior and got some stunning views, discovered the most beautifully set up open-air restaurant on the entire island (can't remember the location nor the name but if you really want to know Andy can give you the GPS coordinates:-)), and also were lucky enough to drive through some of the small residential areas in the forrested hills which most likely belonged to local fruit farmers and were very impressive...

Driving back to the main road at dusk got me worried a little bit, but we made it there safely. And on the way down we discovered this local market maybe a 10 minutes drive from the main road where we stopped and had a wander around. We were in fact the only white people at the market and people were looking at us as if we just landed in a UFO from the moon wearing green skin with little sensors on our heads... We tried some of the local food, nearly got talked into watching a Thai-Boxing fight, got repeated applaus and comments through the speakers from a guy that was running some sort of bingo-contest both times we walked past the stand(only that I didn't understand what he was saying in Thai...but he was smiling so I made myself believe whatever he said was nice), and Andy ended up buying 2 pairs of jeans (Levis and ?) at a really cheap price.

We then had a 'proper' dinner at Mr. Poo's (yes, that's how the name was spelt) Hot Pot restaurant...which reminded me of Japanese Sukiyaki, or some of the Korean dishes I have had in Australia (obviously not because of its name). A hot cooking pot which is heated up with charcoal is placed in the middle of the table and you get whatever food you like from the buffet (noodles, seafood, meat, vegetables - really everything you can think of) and cook it at the table yourself. You can grill the meat and seafood in the middle of the pot where there is a pointy mountain- like-surface (sorry my English is deteriorating after 8 days of Swiss German company:-) always blame it on the others:-)), and the vegis and noodles can be cooked/simmered in the soup that is in the bottom of the pot.

I also liked Bo Phut very much which is a small little fishing village that lies at the northern end of Ko Samui. It's touristy but not as bad as Chaweng, has much more atmosphere, is more relaxed...and we got a beautiful bungalow with lots of charm for only THB 800/night.

Actually we found all of the northern Beaches on Samui to be very pretty, especially Maenam (west from Bo Phut), and feel kind of sorry that we didn't have enough time to go and discover that area a little more. It's not just the beach but also the whole village set-up with it's green surroundings and pretty local residential homes and wooden bungalows that give this place the 'special something' other places on Samui lack.

From Bo Phut we booked a day trip on a boat, thinking it was a combined fishing, snorkelling, island hoping and swimming excursion...which ended up being a whole-day fishing trip off the north-eastern tip of Ko Samui (Ko Lum Mu). I've only fished once in my life before, in Airlie Beach in QLD in Australia...thank's god I love the sea so badly that I didn't get bored all too much:-) and I actually still enjoyed the day). The moral of the story is: always make very specific inquiries about the itinerary etc. before you book and pay!

Big Buddha located to the west of Bo Phut is something you don't have to worry about missing...I guess they put the big Buddha statue there because the village has nothing else to show off...apart from ferries that go over to Ko Phagnan for the famous fullmoon parties...

However, if you do have a bit of time to spare, I recommend you drive past Big Buddha towards Choeng Mon to the very north-eastern tip of the island, and pay 'Sila Evason Hideaway Villas' a visit. First of all, the drive up there is really interesting as it takes you through some of the more expensive residential homes and villas which are really pretty to look at, and secondly the resort itself is probably the best I've ever seen. We pretended that we were interested in booking a villa for a night or two and asked whether we could have a look, not knowing how much it cost...of course - otherwise I don't think I would have dared.

The cheapest villa is around USD 450/night...still has it's own pool of course:-) The villas are very very pretty, the service is fantastic (we got a little private tour for about 45mins where the guy showed us the entire resort - except for the spa) and we then booked dinner for the following night at their sea-view restaurant which supposedly belongs to the 5 best in Thailand. Food was really good, and the service too, plus we got to use the hotel pool (located on a cliff overlooking the ocean) at sunset before we being privately escorted to the restaurant.

VERY impressed! Check out this website http://www.sixsenses.com/hideaway-samui/index.php - the pics speak for themselves!

Tags: Beaches & sunshine

Comments

1

Hi Frau Walsch

You have reverted into the ultimate budget traveller/ backpacker with your reporting on the price of things with currency conversions!

I'm very jealous as usual. We've just had to cancel our European holiday for September this year. :-( Very sad. We will have to discuss alternatives. Of all things Paul's mum wants to drag us to a Latvian Folk/ Singing Festival in Riga in July next year.

We are still trying to get the roof repaired in from the storms. Very annoying!

Where's our next instalment? It looks like you've been slack with your journal.

  David Jul 3, 2007 4:44 PM

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