We woke up early and opened the curtains to reveal a beautiful day, sun shining over the huge expanse of ocean that dazzled our eyes. As promised the jeep was delivered to the hotel and after a quick exchange we were mobile. We finished one of many filling healthy island buffet breakfasts, picked up the maps and recommendations and hopped in the jeep. Koh Samui is a relatively small island, which can be quite easily explored without a detailed map. (Incidentally, when you are waiting for your luggage in the one of a kind baggage reclaim area, see if the free maps are available in the small book stands dotted around, as this was priceless in terms of letting you know what was on, where to go and where everything was)
So we set off to find a waterfall that looked of interest on the map……… in the end, we did a huge hike into the middle of the jungle and up a mountainside, in flip flops, to find this waterfall, which in the end didn’t turn out to be all that great. It did, however, require some 4×4 driving to get to the start point which was more enjoyable than the hot and sweaty walk required to get to the non-event waterfall. We got back to the car and were very grateful that we went for the air conditioned option on the jeep. So after not really seeing that waterfall, we decided to go and find another one, which again was a hike up the side of a mountain – a lot further than we had anticipated, but this time we at least did arrive at a destination, that had a great view of the waterfall. We were tempted to dive in, as some others were, but looking at the water and the variety of wildlife that was living on the surface, decided it wasn’t such a good idea!
After the trek back down we decided that was enough adventuring for the day and headed back to the hotel in order to get ready to out for dinner. We also came to the conclusion, that although Naomi hadn’t ever ridden one before; a moped was the way forward to explore the island, as it was a) cheaper than the jeep to hire and b) used a lot less petrol to motor around. Another plus point being that petrol stations are few and far between, but for the mopeds, there were plenty of shops selling bottles of petrol for a few baht each. Quite a novel feeling pulling up to a small shack and picking up a 1 litre bottle of fuel rather than water or some other soft drink!
You may have noticed a theme through a lot of my blog posts and that is the Italian food. Naomi and I for our sins do enjoy good Italian pasta and pizzas and as such, we once again ended up in an Italian restaurant for our dinner. A lovely place called Olivio’s in the Baan Haad Ngam Boutique resort, right on the waters edge looking out towards Chaweng bay, it was a lovely setting with a clear sky and a very bright moon. Coupled with a very amusing waiter and what turned out to be very good Italian fare the day in Koh Samui came to and end with two very satisfied, rather tired individuals.
We returned the jeep the following morning as we had booked ourselves onto a tour. In fact everything we did on the island was sorted out at the reception desk of our hotel which is very useful. We had picked a half day tour to incorporate how to make Thai red curry, an elephant trek, a swim in a waterfall, how to make rubber, a very impressive view point and finally a traditional Thai lunch. All of which was an amazing experience – we have since put the lesson we learnt for traditional Thai cooking to good use in our house. The elephant trek was an awesome first for us and feeding them bananas afterwards was great fun, for such huge creatures they are so gentle. There are some truly breathtaking views on the island and I am sure that given more time, we would have ventured out on other tours to see them all. The point I am making there is that, whichever tour provider you choose to go with, you will get value for money and see some once in a lifetime sights. We chose the half day tour, so by early afternoon we were finished, after an 8 am departure. And this gave us a chance to make use of the hotel’s infinity pool and chill out for a few hours, perhaps the first time we could really do nothing and just appreciate the amazing view from the pool, out over the rocks and the smooth blue sea.
We immersed ourselves in the lush surroundings and even took a couple of kayaks out for a paddle until I sank mine! This wasn’t long after we had set off and I then had to swim it back to shore!! However, the brief trip did offer some spectacular views of our hotel from the sea. Then we decided to get the mopeds.
We walked a couple minutes down the road to the nearest moped hirer and got ourselves two ‘peds to see us through the remaining days on the island. Naomi, never having ridden a moped before was understandably a little nervous, especially as helmets are not provided and we had also timed our visit with the Thai New Year – Songkran. This is significant because the whole festival is a water festival. This means that every 5 metres on the road is a gang of people with buckets, hose pipes, water pistols and talcum powder, basically standing in the middle of the road stopping you and drenching you as well as marking you with the powder mixed with water.
It was awesome to be a part of it, but to say it was a little nerve wracking for Naomi is an understatement, and understandably soon, first time on a moped and having groups of people standing in front of you in the middle of the road basically not getting out of the way and throwing buckets of water at you. If you didn’t stop, that just made it worse and you got a face full of, sometimes ice cold water for your stubbornness. However, I am getting ahead of myself. The evening we picked up the mopeds we had a little trial run along the road outside the hotel to let Naomi get used to it. All went well!
After our little jaunt we decided that we would head down to Chaweng Bay and to the Brazilian restaurant that had come highly recommended from our friend who had been in Samui the previous week. We tidied ourselves up and then decided to catch one of the many pick ups with bench seats in the back, into Chaweng. In principle this was a good idea, in practice it turned out to be the wrong choice. We jumped into one that was already pretty much full, so we took up to spaces close to the back of the bed, it was an interesting ride, getting to know our fellow passengers, as we approached Chaweng two more passengers joined us, a very well dressed couple heading into town. What none of us had realized is that the Songkran celebrations started that evening and that the 10 of us on the bench seats were basically sitting targets for the revelers. We realized our predicament as we came into Chaweng and the first bucket of ice cold water was thrown into the back, swiftly followed by a number of water pistols, the odd hose pipe and of course pint glasses filled with water. We decided to get out of our target vehicle and wonder down the street. We couldn’t have got much wetter, so we joined in. One of the great things they have on the main drag is little cocktail stores, so we got ourselves a freshly made Mojito each and guarded it against water attacks. Coupled with the water is the obligatory talcum powder, so we were soaked and covered in talcum powder, so our ‘posh’ dinner ended up being McDonalds, as we thought that would be the only place that would allow us in! We ordered and left a huge puddle on the floor after we had ordered – somehow, we just couldn’t see the original restaurant letting us in! The Golden Arches sufficed for the evening and we carried on our trudge up the road. In the end, we had travelled all the way to Koh Samui and ended up in an Irish bar, again as it seemed like the only place that would happily serve us, in our soaked state. It was an eventful introduction to the festivities of the Thai New Year, but we did miss out on what I am sure would have been a lovely Brazilian meal. Nevertheless, it gave us a clear idea of what the following day would hold for us.