Thailand part III: Koh Samui

In this blog post series I will have six posts telling you all about my adventures in Thailand. The posts will be published every other Monday. Check out Thailand part I & part II.

 


 

After spending 3 absolutely wonderful days on Koh Tao, it was time to travel to our next destination: Koh Samui. We woke up around 7 and then checked out around 7.30. Since we knew it’s not a long way to the pier, we decided to walk.

We didn’t rush, enjoyed our last walk on Tao and reached the pier by 8.15. The boat was supposed to leave at 9 AM. We had plenty of time to take pictures, find some food and chill out. We also noticed that the weather had changed: it was windy, a little cloudy and not as hot.

The boat to Samui was supposed to leave at 9 AM but we actually boarded it around 9.30. We soon found out why: the waves that day were HUGE. So it took the catamaran a little longer to get from one point to another. Many people were seasick. Me and my mom had taken a seasickness pill in the morning at it helped me but mom… Let’s say she wasn’t feeling great when we got off the boat at last around noon. It also rained a little, the weather had really changed.

A very big fruit salad for two for 80 baht.

After arriving on Nathon pier, I really wanted to find a good big map and some information about the island. I did have my Lonely Planet guide but since the little booklet about Koh Tao was really helpful, I thought maybe there’s something like that about Samui as well. We walked around and found an actual tourist information center (not a fake one like in Bangkok). The ladies there got us some magazines, booklets and maps and not only about Samui but also our next destinations. Success!

Then it was time to grab a taxi and drive to Chaweng Beach, the largest resort area on the island. The drive was around 45 minutes. Then the taxi driver dropped us off near the center. We started looking for some bungalows or a room. Everything was really nice but really expensive. The more we walked, the more out of our budget everything got. So I got a little frustrated and just asked at a random high-end hotel where I can find some cheap accommodation. She made some phone calls and got us a place near the center and the beach for 650 baht per night. Right on budget and a great location. Win!

Trying to figure out the next place to go to…
Our room at Green Resort on Chaweng Beach

After unpacking and settling in it was time to get to know Chaweng. We planned to hit the beach but since it wasn’t really a beach day weather, we didn’t. We booked a tour to Ang Thong National Marine Park and an island tour from our hotel reception. 

See the electric lines? Crazy, right? These are the good ones!
Estonian old currency in the middle. Since 2011 we have the euro…

Then we left the hotel to find some food since we were starving already. I had the best mixed pad thai ever: it had lots of noodles, veggies, chicken, seafood, squid, spices, nuts and a thousand other things I don’t know the name of. My mom had a soup. I slowly began to learn how to use chopsticks 🙂

Absolute best pad thai with everything in it

After lunch we just walked around Chaweng, bought TONS of souvenirs for everyone back at home and were exhausted when we got back to our hotel room after sunset. Then we wanted to go swimming… It was dark outside but we still went. It was good and refreshing.

Fresh coconuts
Mangos

Why not order…SHARK?!

Banana and cashew crepe

We went to bed early since the next day we had to get up before 7 AM to go to Ang Thong. 

Around 8 AM we were picked up from our hotel and taken to Nathon pier again. We were told that some snorkeling that was planned for the trip had to be cancelled because of huge waves. We were also given seasickness pills again. 

On the boat they offered some breakfast but there wasn’t much to choose from: bananas, croissants, coffee, tea, cocoa and water. I had a banana and a croissant initially but still felt hungry and had some hot cocoa and a couple of more bananas. A lot of people were seasick again… Before reaching Ang Thong, we were given waterproof bags to store our electric things in. 

Around 10 AM we arrived at the national park and it was time to get into our kayaks. I was nervous, I had never done that before! Fortunately my mom is experienced with kayaks and took over quickly. I just sat there and took pictures. At first I was terrified to take my DSLR camera out but since we had nice balance, I calmed down. But some people did fall off their kayaks and ruin their stuff!

Me: scared as hell, takes out her DSLR with shaky hands terrified to drop it in the water 😀

My mom is an experienced kayaker and took over right when we took off. I was disturbing her so I just sat there and relaxed 😀

After 45 minutes of kayaking (or for me just enjoying the ride :D) we arrived on an island. All kayaks had some water on the bottom so everyone’s pants were soaked. I had sports shorts on so my pants got dry pretty quick. We climbed up a platform and saw the beautiful Emerald Lake and also a pretty nice view of some of the 42 islands of Ang Thong National Marine Park. 

Emerald Lake

After enjoying the views and spending some time on the beach, it was time to go back to our boat to have lunch and then proceed on to either spend more time on another beach (actually they were meant to snorkel but the waves made that impossible) or climb a small mountain. The lunch was pretty good: rice (which is always cooked to perfection!), sweet potato and chicken stew, vegetables, spring roll and fruits. I really grew to like Thai food on that trip, my mom didn’t. 

Lunch: spring roll, veggies, rice, fruit, chicken and sweet potato stew.

Then it was time for people on the boat to choose: beach or climbing. The lady who was going to be the guide of climbing – Kristina – warned everyone that this was going to be a seriously hardcore workout. If you didn’t have workout shoes, she told you not to come. My mom wanted to but Kristina told me to make the decision whether she is fit enough or not. I said no. Mum wasn’t happy about that but we both understood it’s important not to put anyone’s health into risk. 

In the end only 8 people went mountain climbing, me included. Because of the waves the boat had to stop at another beach, further away from the mountain. So that meant another 20 minutes of climbing to get to the actual mountain. We only had 1 hour to get to the top (500 metres) and back. So all in total 1 hour 40 minutes of mountain climbing.

The warm-up of 20 minutes was already so hard! Kristina was going really fast and we were in trouble keeping up with her. My mum would have quit on the first 10 metres if she had come… Everyone, even the really fit guys had trouble climbing the small mountain. Plus, during the first 5 minutes of climbing, 2 snakes fell down from the trees 30 centimetres from us. I was freaked out! Our leader Kristina, however, climbed all of the mountains BAREFOOT. OMG!

Then we reached the actual mountain. Kristina told us that the warm-up was nothing compared to the real thing. There were 100 m, 200 m, 350 m and top, 500 m, viewpoints. She told us that if we don’t have the time, we can’t go to the top because everyone else will be waiting for us then. If 30 minutes is up, then we should be coming down again.

At 100 metres

The trail uphill was insane!!! Only a rope to help us climb. This mountain climb is the hardest workout I’ve ever done in my whole entire life. And I was in my best athletic shape! At 100 metres I was already really tired and out of water. It was hot and humid outside and it didn’t make things any easier.

100 m

At 200 metres I checked the time and knew that I wouldn’t have enough time to reach 500 metres and come back down again.  Kristina had told us previously that people usually have 1 hour and 30 minutes to climb this mountain but since we had the extra 20+20 minutes, she had to cut our time limit by 30 minutes… 

200 m

When I reached 350 metres, I checked the watch and understood that I only have a little time to take some photographs and go back down again. When I was ready to go down, I still saw a middle-aged couple going up. The woman was absolutely breathless and looked like she was ready to collapse. But the man kept pushing him telling they’re only 50 metres away. It was actually 150 metres… But I didn’t want to make my group wait and went down. I was disappointed that I didn’t reach the top but happy also because the views on 350 metres were AMAZING!

350 metres. Wow!

Going back down wasn’t as difficult as going up and I fortunately got back right on time. Kristina passed my on the way down and most of the group was right after me. Some people only went to 100 m or 200 m but a couple reached the top. When it was time to leave, the middle-aged couple still wasn’t there. So we had to wait up for them… I hate when people are late.

Easier parts of the trail…

While waiting for the last people, we had some time to wonder around the beach we were supposed get off the boat. There was a whole family of monkeys! The adults were black with white around their eyes but the babies were orange. How weird is that?

The baby is orange!

After a couple of minutes Kristina told us to start getting back to the beach where we would be picked up by the boat again. The couple had also come down finally but the woman was not in good shape at all. She barely could move… Kristina told us to climb the 20 minutes and that then we would have time for a small swimming break until the last people reach the beach. So we climbed again and the 20 minutes wasn’t as bad anymore since I knew what to expect. Then we swam a little and got back to the boat.

Around 5 PM we were back on Koh Samui and were taken back to our hotels. By 6 PM we were home. We went swimming, then showered, got ready and went out to Noori India to eat. We picked the set menu for two people and the amount of food that was served to us was just crazy. Everything tasted good though.

Set menu at Noori India. Waaaaaay too much food for two.
Tikka masala with saffron rice
Garlic naan bread. Yum!

After dinner we just walked around a little, did some more shopping and then went to bed since I personally was exhausted from the day and especially the climb uphill.

The next day was the day of the island tour. But the morning started with a very unpleasant surprise: my mom was ill 😦 She had a high temperature and a cough. Obviously the strong wind on the boat was to blame for that. We still decided to go on the tour. We were picked up around 9 AM and taken straight to an elephant farm.  

Just me casually sitting on an ELEPHANT.

We got on a small platform and then the elephants came and picked us up. I was so excited! We went elephant trekking on the farm and just enjoyed it. Elephants are such nice and calm animals. It was a really relaxing experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. At one point we could also buy some bananas and feed them to the elephant. 🙂

Next we had to wait a little and got some time to meet with the baby elephants, feed them bananas and take pictures. They were such cuties 🙂 Should have brought one home with me LOL.

The best hug ever 🙂

And then it was time for the baby elephants to show us what they have learned. The did some pretty amazing tricks, played the harmonica, beat European tourists in soccer and gave free massages. The workers there also told us a little about the elephants. Did you know that there are only 3000 wild elephants in Thailand and another 2000 live in safari parks and farms?

After the elephants showed us their skills and talents, it was time for the monkey. Before the monkey did his thing, the monkey coach told us that monkeys were taught how to bring coconuts down from coconut trees after many people had gotten killed on the job. Then people got the idea to teach monkeys. It was a success. Also, a monkey is over 3 times as productive as a human. Fun fact: did you know, that on the rather small island of Samui alone are over 2 MILLION coconut trees? I wonder what’s the number for all Thailand then, it must be A LOT.

After the elephant and monkey show were over, we had a small snack break. I had fresh coconut shake and it was so good. The lady there literally opened up a fresh coconut, then poured the coconut water and meat into a blender, added some milk and syrup and blended it all up. Yummy!

Me enjoying a fresh coconut shake… *drool dripping down my face*

Next we were put on those big safari cars and taken to the Big Buddha.

Right after seeing the Big Buddha, we were taken back to the farm to have some lunch. My mom felt really poorly and barely touched her food. I on the other hand enjoyed everything that was offered 😀 After lunch we saw the pictures that were taken while we were elephant trekking. For a photo in a nice frame they asked 700 baht: that’s waaaaaaaay too much for Thailand (16€). For a cheaper copy they asked 300 baht. We decided to buy that one because it was a pretty picture but we still felt a little ripped off if I’m honest.

Rice, chili sauce, spring roll, fried chicken, vegetable swwet and sour

Then the tour continued. We visited the famous Grandmother and Grandfather Rock that looks like human genitalia. A lot of giggles there 🙂 But we didn’t really understand where the Grandmother part was. The Grandfather is obvious of course 😀 I also found some coconut ice-cream there. Really good 🙂

Coconut ice-cream with sweet potato, pink stuff and peanuts

Next it was time to see the Mommified Monk. An actual mummy of a monk! Pretty creepy in my opinion. By the way, monks are really respected in Thailand and unlike in Estonia, religion is a very important part of people’s lives. Every house has a little sanctuary and has decorated it carefully. The most common religion in Thailand is of course buddhism but the in the south you can also see a lot of muslims. Fun fact: did you know that a woman can’t touch a Buddhist monk?

After seeing the monk we had an opportunity to take a photo with a tiger. But after seeing how sleepy and tired the tiger looked, me and mom decided not to take that opportunity. The tiger was obviously drugged and caged to make it safe for the tourists. It just isn’t right. Wild animals shouldn’t be used like that…

After everyone who wanted to take a picture with the tiger had done just that, we were driven uphill to see Namuang Waterfall no 2. We had to climb uphill a little again but after what I had done the day before, it was nothing to me 🙂 But my mom then realised it was a good idea she didn’t climb the mountain in Ang Thong.

Namuang Waterfall no 2 (creative names, I know)

When we were ready to leave the waterfall, a tropical rainshower began. It was strong! Our guide was worried that we might not be abled to go to the viewpoint to see the panoramic view of the whole island. It cleared up a little and we got to our second to last attraction: Magic Garden. It was filled with statues and old stone houses where a religious group used to live years ago.

While at the Magic Garden, it started to rain again and it didn’t seem to clear up at all. So our guide had to tell us the bad news that we can’t go to the viewpoint because there is no visibility because of the clouds 😦 I was so sad, I would have loved to take some amazing photographs there. But you know: maybe next time 😉

My mom was still ill, she was basically living on her aspirin to lower her high temperature. She felt really bad at the end of the island tour and I got worried for her… Fortunately we had all sorts of medicines with us on this trip.

When we got back to Chaweng, mom still felt miserable and didn’t have an appetite. I ate a crepe and then we bought some water and more aspirin and went to our hotel room to pack and rest. We didn’t really go out in the evening, both of us needed some rest considering we had to get up really early the next day.

Blueberry jam and nut crepe

The next morning we got up before the sunrise around 5.30. Around 6 AM we got a taxi and were ready to be taken to Nathon pier. As we drove through Chaweng, in many bars and clubs the party was in full swing, people were still drinking, dancing and having fun.

Around 7 AM we got to the pier. We decided it was wise to take some more seasickness pills because it was still windy and the waves looked pretty big. Also, my mom told me she already felt a little better which was great news. 

The 3 days on Koh Samui were great but we were ready to leave the island on the 8 AM catamaran to reach our next destination…

 


 

Next post: Khao Sok National Park.

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4 thoughts on “Thailand part III: Koh Samui

  1. I get the chance to visit Koh Samui and it is indeed a very beautiful island a paradise, I stayed at Crystal Bay Beach Resort they have the perfect beach soft white sand, enormous granite boulders and backdrop of lush tropical jungle is a truly gorgeous location. love to go back there….

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