Staring at the Sun

Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Aug 27, 2010

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Where I stayed
The Florist Resort

Flag of Thailand  , Surat Thani,
Thursday, March 4, 2010

The past week has been one of sun, sand, sea and sunburn. We've taken an earned break from travelling and sightseeing and chilled out on the beach or by the pool most days. No, we’re not kidding about the break; contrary to popular belief, travelling is not like being on vacation, it’s actually quite tough at times and can be somewhat exhausting. Until you’ve actually done the extended travel thing yourself, you just don’t realize how tiring it is to be continuously on the go and thinking about what’s next on the agenda…at least I didn’t anyway. It’s also a bit tougher when you’re travelling with kids as you have to be more cautious about what you do and when and then there’s the constant nagging to do their school work… sometimes we cave and just let them do it for a while ;-) Joking aside, they have been pretty good about doing their math, writing their journals and can’t get enough reading. Both are now into the Harry Potter series, particularly Lauren who, if given the chance, will read a new Harry Potter non-stop until it’s done (the second book was done in four days when she borrowed it from one of the hostels!).

Back to Koh Samui then; on our second day on the island we booked a couple of scooters and set off mid-afternoon to explore a little. At least, that was the plan. Sarah was a very cautious scooter rider (having read too much about the numbers of farang (foreigners) seriously injured or killed on scooters in Thailand every year) and so progress was slow but steady. Our afternoon explorations culminated in a visit to Tescos! (For our non-British friends, Tescos is the largest supermarket chain in the UK.) We’ve been somewhat surprised by the appearances of familiar chains (other than the unwelcome and all-to-prevalent fast food chains such as McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Burger King, etc) as we travelled. In Costa Rica and Peru it was Scotia Bank (a Canadian bank) everywhere we went, in Thailand it has been the appearance of Seven-Eleven stores, Boots the Chemist (British pharmaceutical store) and Tescos supermarkets.

Our second day with the scooters, with Sarah feeling a little more adventurous, we set off for the southern part of the island to find some of the beautiful waterfalls that Thailand is so famous for. We made it to the waterfalls successfully, but were a little disappointed by what we found. The first waterfall was a little smaller than expected, dirty and had lots of bugs. The second waterfall was far more picturesque, but overrun with tourists and over-commercialised. We made our way back to our resort and returned the scooters, only to discover that Derek’s had a flat tire and the rims weren’t looking too healthy (… come to think of it the handling did seem a bit off over 60 clicks). Ever the Irishman, he managed to talk his way out of having to pay for the tire!

For the rest of the week we started the day with the big question – "beach or pool?" and finished with an equally tough decision “dinner on the beach or in town?” There are several restaurants right on the beach serving fresh fish cooked in a style of your choosing, whereas the town had the more typical Thai restaurants serving the Thai food that we have all fallen in love with….decisions, decisions. We also discovered the delights of massage on the beach for less than $10/hour and Lauren and Sarah treated themselves with braiding from the same lady.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from somewhere like Koh Samui, but Cambodia was calling and so we returned to Bangkok for our flight to Phnom Penh. It’s quite the trek from Koh Samui to Bangkok starting with a 6am taxi ride to the Ferry terminal. The 7am ferry docked at 8:30 and we were soon on a bus to Surat Thani (60km away), where we caught a saamlaw 14km to the train station at Phun Phin. We then boarded the train for what should have been a nine hour journey to Bangkok but unfortunately ended up taking almost eleven hours. After a half hour taxi ride to our accommodation, we finally fell through the door of our room at 10:05pm (Derek was 5 mins late for a work phonecall, but what else is new?). A rather tough travel day endured by all, but Sivalai Place where we are staying is quite exceptional, we only wish we were staying longer! We have a two bedroom suite with mini kitchen (including a fridge stocked with beer which instead of being exorbitant mini-bar prices is the same price as Seven/Eleven!) and one of the best showers I’ve ever used. The complex also has an Olympic size outdoor pool, gym, games room, etc. Tomorrow we fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Should be quite a change)….
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