The Last Koh

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
Trip End Jun 11, 2011

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Where I stayed
Amarina Residences

Flag of Thailand  ,
Thursday, May 5, 2011

We arrived safely and on-time on the ferry from Ko Phangan to Ko Samui, the third island (or Ko in Thai) in our beach-hopping adventure.  Ko Samui is the largest island on the East Coast in the Gulf of Thailand so we expected a more crowded and eventful island experience.  As soon as we disembarked from the ferry we were ushered into a private car to Lamai Beach, the second largest beach on the island.  Although Chaweng Beach is the biggest and most popular we were hoping for a bit of a quieter experience so we went with Lamai.  We found our hotel online with rave reviews and we were super impressed - until we walked in and saw the 'pool' that was advertised.  It was no such thing and to call it that is certainly insulting to actual pools. It was a tiny bath, as I'm sure we have bathtubs at home in houses bigger than this, and they defintiely aren't in the enclosed lobby of the hotel.  Clearly, I was disappointed but what could we do.  At least the rooms in the hotel were spotless and really nice and it was a 50 meter walk to the beach which was a useable one this time with water you could actually swim in. 

After dropping off our bags we headed down along the main road to explore, pick up some sundries and also look for travel agencies to find out about our next move, going south to Malaysia.  After paying way too much for overpriced toiletries, we found a few travel agents who all recommended taking the bus from Ko Samui to Penang, Malaysia.  Although there are trains, the times are very inconvenient since they start from Bangkok, so you have to catch it at the nearest station at like 2am.  So, after stopping at a few agencies for price comparisons we find one that's the lowest offer and get her to come down a bit more before agreeing to book with her.  She tells us that on the 6th (2 days from now), we'll be picked up at 6:30am from our hotel in a mini-bus to the ferry, take the ferry to Surat Thani Pier, then another bus to the travel company station, then another mini-bus to Hat Yai, Thailand, then another mini-bus to Penang, Malaysia. She assures us that we'll arrive by 7pm the same night. Oh man, does this sound fun!

Having solidfied our plans (we're now leaving on the 6th which is a day earlier than we thought to leave but the long upcoming trip made us a bit nervous to leave early), we found a cheap place for some quick pad thai and tom yum kung for lunch which was actually delicious.  We also stopped by a spa/salon since they line the streets here and I was finally able to get some treatments I've been missing.  We then enjoyed a first walk on the beach and dip in the ocean.  The sand was truly white and soft and the water spectacular.  Although the beach was crowded it was nice to have amenities like restaurants, cafes and beach chairs for rent available after our quiet time on Koh Phangan. Our hotel also had a lending library (most beach hotels here do, actually) and I managed to find one in English so that kept me entertained while Dave waited patiently in the shade.  It was just about sunset by this time so we went back to change for dinner. 

It's very popular here to eat on the beach.  All the beach hotels and restaurants set up lounges and chairs on the beach at night and have their fresh seafood for bbq (or grill as we call it) on display.  You pick out what you want, have it weighed and they'll cook it up for you.  For some reason, in one stretch of beach there were 4 of these restaurants where the 4th had every item listed for at least 10 baht less per gram so that was our choice.  It was neat to lounge in the same beach chairs we use during the day for dinner and reminded me of Passover (you know, all that reclining).  We enjoyed lots of wine, beer, and the mixed grill for 2 which was quite the seafood feast with huge prawns, crab and pomfret.  The best part was that after stuffing ourselves with food and wine you only have to negotiate the sand to get to your hotel.  I can see why this is paradise!

The next day, Thursday, was our last beach day.  We've enjoyed about 2 full weeks of beach time here in Thailand (including some time earlier in the trip on the East side of Thailand in Koh Chang) so I was sad to see it come to an end, but we were ready to move on and get back to touring.  On our last day we went out searching for breakfast and found an interesting local restaurant that was open at 10am (apparently nothing opens before noon).  We then spent most of the day on the beach, enjoying the scenery.  We've really lucked out with the weather - beautiful and sunny every beach day and if it rains, it's been only at night.  Having had our fill of sun & sand we went out for an early dinner at a European restaurant on the main drag.  I haven't had proper pasta (that wasn't made out of rice) since we left the USA on March 8 so I enjoyed this treat.  The food was actually delicious and relatively inexpensive.  We then walked further along the main street just to see what was around and stumbled upon a night street market.  It was pretty small and had most of the same stuff we've seen everywhere except I did find a Chang beer koozie that they use here and I hadn't seen for sale elsewhere. 

We then headed to the same spa I'd visited earlier in the week for a traditional Thai massage.  We've been in Thailand for 3 weeks and haven't had one yet!  We just never seemed to have the time or wanted to spend the money at the time.  As this was our absolute last night here, it was now or never.  This was by far the cheapest massage we've gotten and mine was just alright although Dave had an expert masseuse so I think he enjoyed his more.  But either way was a very pleasant way to spend our last evening in Thailand!  Afterwards we passed by a McDonalds on the way back and found Ronald out front in the traditional Thai greeting pose.  We also couldn't resist the 40 baht ice cream sundaes! 

We were now ready to head home, but spotted one more market on the way.  This market consisted of all street food stalls.  Although we were stuffed from dinner and dessert, Dave still wanted to check it out.  The stalls had all of the Thai favorites, from pad thai to spring rolls, and all for under a dollar.  We then came across a fruit stand.  Dave wanted to pick up some fruit to have for breakfast since we will be up early to leave for the ferry.  We have taken a liking to pomelo's which are larger than grapefruits, but not as sour.  While at the fruit stand we saw a package of durian.  For those of you that are not familiar with durian, it is a fruit that is known for it's odor of stinky feet (you cannot eat it on public transportation because of the smell).  Most people hate it, but there are some that swear by the fruit.  When planning this trip, we had our list of must do's (great wall, angkor wat, great barrier reef, zorbing, etc.).  Trying durian was on Dave's must do list.  There is durian all over the country, but we never wanted to purchase the entire fruit, we just wanted a taste.  The gentleman working the stand was nice enough to give each of us a piece.  There certainly was an odor as I brought the fruit towards my mouth, but not as pungent as I was expecting.  It wasn't terrible, but did leave an interesting taste in my mouth for the next day.  Afterwards it was time to head home to plan for Australia and get a good night's rest.
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