Aug 16-22, 2016
Arriving to our Airbnb
We booked 6 nights in a beautiful apartment on Lamai beach on the Thai island of Koh Samui for what we are calling our "vacation from travel." Feeling a bit worn down from the daily routine of incessant planning, researching, booking and reserving, we gave ourselves a week off to relax and cook our own food in a glorious kitchen. The apartment was huge, modern and clean with spacious living area and kitchen. The balcony wrapped around the entire unit.
We rented a scooter for our stay on Koh Samui as our apartment was tucked away in a quiet area away from the main road.
Exploring The Town
On our first night we found an enormous wholesale grocery store, very American-esque, similar to Costco. We were overwhelmed by the bountiful selection of fresh produce. It was a slice of home for us both. We were able to stock the fridge with a weeks worth of food to cook; really a treat after eating almost every meal on the street or in restaurants for the last several months. After a year of travel and complete freedom from household chores we find ourselves missing some domestic duties, like cooking, so much.
The island of Koh Samui has a few main streets with hotels, post offices, and commercial stores. Closer to the beach there is a smaller street crawling with endless bars, nightclubs, restaurants, 7/11s, tourist agencies, and massage parlors. I counted 5 massage parlors in a row on one side of the street and 4 on the other side of the street! No shortage of places to be pampered that's for sure.
In my opinion, Koh Samui is tailored for the 'less adventurous' traveler. Which is fine if you're looking for a relaxing vacation with only dipping your toes in a new culture...Sure, you're in Thailand and, don't get me wrong, it is absolutely a tropical paradise with palm trees and teal waters, but you might as well be in any resort town. Western music plays throughout the streets, bars and western food is ubiquitous, and upscale beach-side resorts hug the beaches. Also, the activity- bars, restaurants and live music- were off of the beaches and on the main street instead, no scenic view available to enjoy a beer over. We found ourselves actually missing Seminyak beach in Bali, which at the time we declared too touristy, but now reflect fondly on it's wide open beaches and nightly live music on the beach. We were searching for that same vibe in Koh Samui but failed to find it. However, our vacation was still a success with lots of relaxing, downtime and movies. Our purchase of an HDMI cable was a game changer- no hovering over the tiny laptop screen to watch movies for once!
Adventures Around the Island
We managed to drive our scooter around the majority of the island, covering a lot of ground and exploring some of the other town and sights. We spent one morning at the Namuang Waterfalls. Near the entrance to the waterfalls there were elephant rides for a fee. We haven't brought ourselves to visit any tourist attraction with elephants; we have many concerns about how they obtain and treat the elephants and don't wish to support the animal tourism industry.
We passed through Chaweng beach, the largest tourist town and 'party' scene on the island and Fisherman's village, which contrary to it's name is not a quaint little village but rather a fully equipped tourist destination complete with countless overpriced restaurants. It does offer a particularly beautiful beach though.
Of course our time on the island wouldn't be complete without a Thai massage. For $10 a piece we each had a one-hour back/neck/shoulder massage. Typical of Thai massage, the massage therapists bent and and stretched our limbs around in a slightly painful but mostly enjoyable way.
We witnessed three people almost get hit by tourists driving scooters. And another man, a tourist, with wife and child on his scooter, parked the scooter, got off and the scooter tipped over onto his sons leg. The boy was hysterical for quite sometime after. Be careful on your damn scooters. I get that you're on vacation and want to have fun, but use your brain. Traffic accidents are one of the leading cause of death in Thailand.
Recent Political Happenings
We had a chance to speak with our Airbnb hosts about the recent bombings in Thailand, which almost changed our travel plans. The hosts were a married couple; she was Thai and he was an expat from Norway-many expats have made Koh Samui their home. They told us about some of the deep rooted corruption within Thailand government and about the Muslim insurgency in the three southern most Providences, in contrast to the Buddhist majority in the rest of the country. This group is responsible for almost daily bombings in the south. These most recent bombings however targeted tourist areas making international news. It's still unknown if the 11 bombs were set off by the Muslim insurgency or as a political response to the recent military-drafted constitution.