(Day 240 to 258)
19.07.2010 - 05.08.2010 37 °C
Logically, it should have been a simple affair getting from the Perhentians to Koh Samui. Reality is another story. We expected a ferry or a flight but neither exist in between the 2 regions.. Our next option was to travel by bus along the Malaysian East Coast into the Thai East Coast then hop on a ferry to Koh Samui. Easy? Hum..This alternative although feasible, is very dangerous at the moment due to political unrest in the area, and it had gotten worse the few days leading up to our crossing.. Scrap that idea..
Our only other option was to fly back to KL, spend the night, and catch a flight the next day to Krabi (as flights to Koh Samui were a real fortune) and from there a 3-hour bus to the ferry terminal (on the East coast) to catch the boat to Koh Samui.
We were glad to arrive and oh how worth it, to be back in Thailand. This place really is the land of smiles and you feel it almost as soon as you set foot here. Back to friendly people, delicious food, fresh fruit juices, currys of all sorts.
Our time here is to be relaxing and tanning so we thought it best to regroup the “Island” blogs into one to avoid repetition.
This is the most southern island on the East coast, situated in the Gulf of Thailand, and the island we would call Home for the next 5 days. We had 2 glorious days of sun worshipping in Lamai Beach where we were based, followed by a day’s exploration by scooter and by 2 days of rain, rain and more rain!
Our day by scooter was quite good fun and covered a fair bit of ground by first going inland to see some (very boring) waterfalls and a few temples, then to the west (Chaweng) and north coast (Maenam) where we checked out their beaches, towns, Big Buddha, very high viewpoints and the mummified monk of Luang Pho Daend who died over 20 years ago and is still in pretty good condition
Getting off the beaten track was great, we travelled inland and up a dirt road through a few small villages and lush vegetation, up, up, up, and finally to a view point where we could see Koh Pha Ngan in the near distance.
Also in the Lamai area, was a great food market with some excellent food at very good prices (as they’re always are at street stores) and free Kickboxing (Muay Thai) on Friday night which was a bonus.
Muay Thai originated as a form of combat used by Thai soldiers in actual warfare. Today though, a match consists of 5 rounds of 3 min each. Typically the match starts with the Wai Khru Ram. This is when the fighters circle the ring 3 times; kneeling and bowing at each corner of the ring to ask protection from Buddha and also pay respect to their trainers. Next the fighters usually demonstrate a range of movements meant to display the fighters control and strength and is used as a way to intimidate his/her opponent.
Famous for the full moon parties (as well as half moon and no moon parties!), we had come for that reason alone. We stayed on the west coast, really nice quiet and away from all the touristy bits in the south east where the parties are held on sunrise beach.
The Full Moon Party was as good as expected. With various bars and dance podiums scattered along a long stretch of beach, and in between a myriad of drink/ food/ weird things being sold – a party paradise! The music was pumping from everywhere and the crowds grew bigger as the night wore on. We had a very good night even though we were soaked with rain from start to finish!
The north and west coasts feel more like the real Thai island style we were expecting: Small villages, fewer people and just relaxing with beautiful beaches, perfect to have sun downers watching the tide coming in and the sun going down.
We hired a motorbike again (the best and cheapest way to get around the islands). And with the current BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we’ve decided to boycott BP and therefore filled up with one of their main competitors on the island
Of the 3 islands we have been to on the east coast of Thailand, Koh Tao (Turtle Island) is our favourite. It’s relaxed, super chilled, has beautiful beaches, great restaurants. They also have bars right on the beach for us to enjoy cocktails while the palm trees sway in the wind, and the sun sets with candles dancing in the breeze each night for atmosphere. There’s a pleasant small village in Sairee Beach, where we’re staying, so it doesn’t feel like the main tourist drag like Phuket and parts of Koh Samui did. We even had Lady-boy volleyball to watch from our veranda every other day – highly entertaining!
2 days after the full moon parties and you can see those who fell victim to drunken motorbike accidents, one in ten people (no exaggeration here) have bandaged feet, legs and arms, its quite funny actually, feels like you’re in a hospital town. We briefly considered wrapping some bandages on our ankles and developing a fake limp too to fell more “in” at some point
We went by long-tail boat and spent a day on the 3 tiny islands called (Ko Nang Yuan) 1km off the Northwest of the coast which are encircled by a ring of coral and joined by a beach of fine white sand, a nice place to enjoy the sun and sea.
One thing we have come to enjoy on the islands are the evening tropical rain storms. The gray clouds move over, the light changes and within seconds a scorching days heat is cooled by wind followed very quickly by a downpour that brings refreshing relief to the days sun worshiping.
Although we have had quite a bit more rain we had expected, we were able to do what we came here for: Do nothing and enjoyed every second of it! Tomorrow the exploration resumes as we head for Bangkok.