Koh Samui – Life Is A Beach !
Thailand is every beach bum’s quintessential dream destination. Being ardent lovers of the seaside, it was only obvious to plan a trip to Thailand’s gorgeous islands Koh Samui, Krabi and Phuket.
We landed in Koh Samui’s teeny tiny (almost resort like) international airport around afternoon. The spectacular views of Turquoise Ocean water, luscious greenery and golden sand from the up above were the starting of our love affair with this tropical paradise within the first few minutes of arriving.
Koh Samui welcomed us with Songkran – the annual water festival to celebrate the Thai New Year. Songkran is a word of Sanskrit origin and means movement or change of place. We checked into our hotel at Bophut and after a quick nap and freshening up, we were out and about. To our surprise, we were already drenched in the boisterousness and water the minute we set foot outside our room. Everybody, from our hotel staff to the friendly onlookers, was soaked in the joyous and soggy celebrations of Songkran which is also celebrated by putting talcum powder on each-other’s faces (White ghosts all around! Haah). The best (and also the cheapest) way to get around in Samui is to hire a scooty. It was easy enough to hire one, from one of the many vendors for the same vying for our attention. Excited, we kicked off to Chaweng’s main high street. Upon reaching Chaweng and seeing the wet and wild crowd around; we bought buckets and started off with this watery affair. The crazy music, splashes of water and the flowing beer from a nearby restaurant added a buzz to the whole experience and continued till the midnight. Exhausted and sopping in a greasy mix of talcum powder and water, we headed to our hotel for a good night’s sleep!
Next morning, we drove through the breathtaking paradise that is Koh Samui. Our first stop for the day was the Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai) sitting atop a hill. After climbing a number of stairs, we saw a dazzling and majestic temple complex and a towering figure of Buddha. Swaying in a gentle breeze, observing the calm and purity of Buddha – we sat there enchanted! This place also rewarded us with the most brilliant views in whole of Koh Samui.
In close proximity to the Big Buddha Temple lies a bright colored Wat Plai Laem, a beautiful, serene Buddhist Temple. The lake that surrounds the complex adds to the tranquility of this place. We bought fish food from the local vendors there and fed the fish. Adding to the serenity of this beautiful temple was the huge statue right in the center of the grounds, of Lord Guanyin, the protector of human life and unconditional love according to local faith. The ornate workmanship that has gone into the detailing of this temple complex is awe-inspiring. We spent a couple of hours here – sitting around admiring the architecture and splash of colors.
Later, we went to Fisherman’s Village and had a leisurely lunch at one of the restaurants with a brilliant view of the turquoise blue sea. While we were about to leave, our server told us about the Friday evening market at Fisherman’s – the first thought that ran past our minds was that it’ll be a tourist trap but we were wrong and how! This place is brilliant to wander around, eat and shop. The varied shops, wide roads to accommodate the bustling crowds, great atmosphere and extremely picturesque surroundings – a heaven for foodies and shopaholics like yours truly!
We had booked a tour to the Angthong National Marine Park for the next day. Ang Thong Marine Park is a protected area and a national park that was made famous by the popular backpacking novel, which was later adapted as a movie by the same name – The Beach. The book was set in Ang Thong, however, the movie was shot in Koh Phi Phi. This day trip was probably one of the highlights from our trip to Koh Samui.
Our day started with a pick-up from our hotel to the Lomprayah Pier, where we boarded the high Speed ferry we’d be on all day. With home-cooked spreads and various beautiful stops where we got to go out snorkeling and kayaking – it was a brilliant mix of leisure and action. So, the thing is that I love the sea – that is from a distance. I’m petrified by actually getting into the deep waters where my feet can’t touch the ground. When we stopped for snorkeling, thankfully, our guide jumped with me in the water. Floating gently over the reef, we were soon marveling at the underwater paradise of shimmering corals and schools of colorful fish. We snorkelled for around fifteen minutes when the guide took the group to the slightly deeper side. That’s when the fear kicked in and I jumped back in the ferry while husband dearest happily continued with the snorkel fun.
On a secluded beach somewhere in the middle of the marine park, we set out on a guided kayak tour. Thankfully, the tide was low, revealing an underpass to the limestone cliffs. We paddled around for close to an hour and before meeting our group back at the beach where the lunch buffet was served. After stuffing our faces with the oh-so-delicious food, we relaxed on the beautiful beach for an hour.
The next stop for the day was the otherworldly Emerald Lake at Mu Koin. We hiked for around ten to fifteen minutes to get to the lake. Once we got to the top, we were rewarded with an utterly unbelievable view of the Emerald Lake and the Marine Park. We stood there mesmerized by the wonders of nature and how the two of us were blessed to see such sights!
After spending some time here and clicking numerous pictures (which didn’t come close to doing justice to the beauty of this place), it was time for us to head back to our hotel! The day was absolute fun. We spent rest of the evening shopping and trying out various street side foods at the bustling seaside of the Chaweng beach (the most famous soft sand beach in Koh Samui).
Early next morning, we packed our books and freshly made breakfast from our hotel and rode to Maenam Beach. The vivid colors, lined up palm trees and peacefulness that we experienced at this beach were breathtaking and soothing. We spent the morning lying down under the palm trees, away from all the hustle-bustle, reading, munching on the breakfast savouries, and in between, enjoying a million shades of blue.
On our way back, we stopped at the Chaweng for an early lunch and a nice relaxing foot massage. After all, there was an action packed evening ahead of us.
The Full Moon party is every party animal’s dream. This all night party has been happening every month on the Full moon night since the 1980s when a group of friends celebrated a birthday at the Haad Rin beach, Koh Pha Ngan. This has got to be the most massive beach party that we have ever been to. Close to 35,000 revelers gather here every month from all over the globe to party till the sunrise. As the party ritual goes, we got our faces painted with glow-in-the-dark face paint (I went for butterflies). There are vendors all, around selling little colorful plastic buckets – we bought two of buckets, ice, Jack and coke (Well, hey! Glass full of alcohol is clearly not sufficient!). With the party potion ready, we happily sipped and danced away the first few hours and dipping our toes in the water every now and then. Later in the night, we took a stroll on the beach to see if we were missing out on something. We found giant jump rope lit on fire which four to five high spirited people were jumping over at the same time, spinning fire poles, quirky dance floors and alcohol – fuelled people having the time of their lives. Despite becoming hugely popular, and hence, a little commercial over the years, it’s a whole lot of fun. We left Koh Pha Ngan around 4 AM in a Lomprayah High Speed Boat.
The next day, we were mostly nursing a hangover and packing our bags to head to Krabi. Koh Samui’s picture perfect landscapes were dreamy and idyllic – it felt as if we had found our own paradise for the few precious days we were there!