Ko Samui has undergone huge development over the last few years, it was barely touched by travellers
until a couple of brave backpackers showed up in the seventies, and now it has an international airport
and more tourists than you could shake a stick at. It's in the Gulf of Thailand (as opposed to the Andaman
coast which was hit by the tsunami) and the place has a generally scruffy feel, as if it were built specifically
for the budget traveller.
We had been planning to go to "a tropical island type place" for the last few days of our South East Asia tour
2006 before heading back to Bangkok and home, it turned out to be Ko Samui by virtue of the direct flight from
Chiang Mai which we could get on our airpass. We spent three nights on the island which was certainly enough,
I get bored on a beach after I've dug the hole and built the sandcastle, which only takes up an afternoon.
The airport is more or less completely outdoors, including check-in, departures and baggage reclaim.
Nice in theory, but not so good when you just need somewhere cool to curl up the morning after the night before.
We stayed at the Montien Guest House in Chaweng Beach, the largest settlement on the island. We could step
out of our room almost straight onto the beach.
Hiring a scooter is a good way to see the island, we each got one for a day and cruised the entire
circumference of the place. The tourist board hammers home the message of probably death when using the roads
on Samui, so we wore helmets and were some of the very few sensible people to do so.
More waterfall swimming, following payment of a small fee/bribe when you park your scooter, to stop the
locals from nicking it.
I was hoping the mountain top at the centre of the island would afford better views, but at least there
was a nice cafe. The road up the 650 metre hill was the only quiet one we found in the whole place.
The serenity of this photo taken on the west coast of the island at sunset belies the thundering traffic
at my back when I took it.
The big buddha is one of the main tourist attractions on Samui, it sure is big. From here you would get
the boat over to Ko Phangan for the full moon party.
Night life in Samui was very similar to that in Chiang Mai, with every bar full of girls on commission
trying to get you to buy them drinks.
Back at the airport in the "departure lounge" to catch our flight back to Bangkok,
if only there was some air conditioning...!
As we flew back to Bangkok it was apparent that there was a full moon. Yes, the full moon party would
be in full swing, but we hadn't checked the times and missed it by just one day. Never mind,
there's always next time.