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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Thailand - Relaxing on Ko Samui

Ko Samui is like a well-established Hollywood celebrity: she's outrageously manicured, has lovely blond tresses and has gracefully removed all of her wrinkles without more than a peep from the tabloids. Behind the glossy veneer there's still a glimmer of the girl from the country...

Not one of Lonely Planet's better descriptions of a destination, but our three-day stay on Ko Samui island was a relaxing one, a nice escape from Bangkok's faster pace of life. We flew in from the capital on a Tuesday, and took a taxi to our lodgings, the family-friendly Coco Palm Resort in Mae Nam. Our bungalow was a comfortable combination of bamboo, rattan and wood, and it didn't take me long to start visualizing it as a blueprint for my home after retirement, beachfront location included:

A reminder of the workplace left behind in Shànghăi 上海. I quickly changed the channel:

Soon after checking in, my daughter was ready to hit the beach:

That's Amber running down to the water:

The water wasn't clear and teeming with fish like at the beaches I'd been to in Okinawa 沖縄, but it was warm and gentle, and the atmosphere was close to idyllic:

The rest of our first day on Ko Samui was spent at the resort. The next morning, following a post-breakfast swim, I took a walk in the neighborhood outside Coco Beach. Water buffalo relaxed in a field:

Posters advertised an upcoming Thai boxing tournament:

My daughter was relaxing on the bungalow portico when I returned:

The three of us went out together for lunch. On the way we passed a Chinese grave. About 14% of Thailand's population is descended from Chinese immigrants:

My wife tries out a different look.  Her love of beer and pork precludes her from ever making certain religious conversions:

Speaking of pork, this dish was so spicy I was sweating and close to tears. The Singha beer didn't help; it took a banana milkshake to help put out the fire. And naturally it was delicious:

Dinner that evening didn't trigger any fire alarms, but was still tasty, as were virtually all our meals while we were in Thailand. We ate outdoors, with a breeze blowing in from the rice fields behind the restaurant doing a great job keeping us cool:

The view from the Coco Palm Beach Resort's restaurant as we had breakfast on Thursday morning:

Amber took a stroll along the beach after breakfast:

We rented a car from the German owner of a restaurant/travel agency located across the road from our resort, and spent most of the day driving around Ko Samui, following Route 4169:

We stopped several times to admire the views:

The Nam Tok Na Muang waterfall, at 30 meters (98 feet) the highest waterfall on the island:

My family did some souvenir shopping:

Near the waterfall was a small cafe selling handmade organic chocolate. The proprietor was a young man from Eastern Europe who had opened the business only six months before. The chocolate was some of the best I'd ever had, which is saying something after having spent some time in Belgium last September:

The Wat Khunaram temple was the home of a mummified monk named Luang Phaw Daeng. Amber was fascinated by the sight, until she asked me why the corpse had sunglasses on, and I told her the reason why:

We also stopped briefly at Ban Hua Thanon, a Muslim neighborhood:

Ko Samui's most popular sights for Thai visitors are two stone formations called Hin-Ta and Hin-Yai, also known as Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks. The female rock was difficult to locate...:

...but the male counterpart was easier to identify:

Lunch at the Hua Thanon Market near Lanai. The layout was similar to markets found in Taiwan, only with better tasting food (sorry Formosa):

On the advice of the German who rented the car to us, we made a stop at Silver Beach. Though ostensibly a private resort, buying some drinks there also bought us some time. While Pamela enjoyed a couple of beers and the shade, Amber and I played in the water alongside the German, Russian and other European tourists:

We made one more stop at a vista point to check out the view before returning the car:

Back at the resort that evening, my wife decided to relax in the air-conditioned comfort of our bungalow, while my dinner date and I enjoyed a nice meal sitting outdoors as night fell:

We left Ko Samui on Friday morning and returned to Bangkok. While the girls were packing up, I took another walk in the neighborhood around the resort. Although the area was family-friendly for the most part, the main "street" still had a few adult-themed establishments:

Fishing boats at rest in the morning. It took a while for Ko Samui to wake up:

The neighborhood Buddhist temple included a statue that I thought might've been that of a previous king:

After spending three days on Ko Samui, I could understand why there was a significant resident foreign community on the island. Although parts of Ko Samui are busy with traffic and tourists, other areas seem quiet and peaceful. The pace of life is relaxing and no one is in a particular hurry to get anywhere. You're never too far from the ocean on Ko Samui, yet the interior is hilly and promises some decent hiking (though I didn't have the time to explore). The food is great and inexpensive, and...OK, so it's obvious I was starting to feel the attraction as well. I can see myself retiring to a spot like this someday (the Kinokuniya bookstore in Bangkok that I later visited had a book on retiring in Asia that I came close to buying), though Pamela isn't so keen on the idea. I still have time to change her mind, and she does seem to have the appropriate fashion sense...

At the airport on Ko Samui, being carted to our plane going to Bangkok

1 comment:

  1. Because his future's so bright he has to wear shades?
    Looks like a great trip!