The hotel we had booked into on Koh Samui was called the Tropical Garden Lounge. It was made up of 35 little bungalows with en-suites, AC, cable TV a fridge and 24 hour access to the pool. All for 6 pounds a night. The pool had a sunken which sold 99baht cocktails for most of the day from a list of over 200.
On our first day, they had given us a 50% off of breakfast voucher, so it made sense to go for the biggest option. Normally 200baht (4 pounds) it seemed a steal at 100baht. You got tea or coffee as standard, 2 bread rolls with jam and butter and then 6 other choices. We had scrambled eggs and toast, pancakes, croissants, fruit salad, cereal, yoghurt and many different juices. But the end of it we were ridiculously full! The next few days we went for smaller options, Gem and I are were even able to share one of the big breakfasts between us and still be full!
The pool was great as a communal area and by being there with Antonio and Jordi (the world’s biggest flirt) we were able to meet loads of people. Particularly Sam and Rachel, from Manchester who were getting towards the end of their trip in Thailand. We also met an American guy named Jake. The barmen in the pool bar were amazingly camp (see photos) and they offered to take us out drinking one night which seemed like a good idea. We started the night at Chumpoo’s bar (one of the girls who worked behind reception that Jordi had gotten friendly with). And then we all piled into a tuk tuk to Chaweng. To put it bluntly, we all hated Chaweng. It’s where all the tourists go for their resort holidays to Thailand and then want big loud clubs to get drunk in before going into one of the many many strip bars. We first went to a Mexican restaurant. The burritos here cost 400 baht. Which when you compare it to the 40baht Thai meals we’d been having, it was nothing short of extortion. So we grumbled through our Mexican and then Fang ( pronounced Fong – one of the barmen) took us to the Green Mango. It was a big, loud club with noone else in it. Nobody was really in the mood for this so we quickly got bored and left. Fong spent the rest of the time we were staying at the hotel being snappy and snide with us and essentially sulking because we’d gone home early. Such Fun!
The beach was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel and it was beautiful. The sand was nice and solid for lying on, the sea was clear and warm. We spent nearly a whole day there until the sun set just enjoying the peace and quiet. That night we went for dinner at the german restaurant which is next to the hostel. It started out as just the three of us, but first Jake turned up to join us, the Rach and Sam appeared and finally Eugene joined the party. Antonio turned up (Jordi had found himself a lady) and we went to Bamboo bar, just down the hill from our hotel. The drinks here were only 60baht for a rum and coke. With getting to know Sam and Rach and the plentiful table service, we very quickly had a whole bunch of these. The next bar, owned by a French bar, sol rum and red bull for 60 baht. So, predictably, it turned into quite a long night. When the bars kicked out we ended up back at our pool drinking more red bulls and mini-bar rum until about 4am where we all got so cold we had to get out of the pool and get some sleep. Although, it turns out to be rather difficult with that many red bulls, so it was a rather restless night.
Having only really slept at 6am, the next day was a bit of a write off. But we did have to journey into Chaweng again to go and book our transport up to Bangkok. We’d decided by this point to go to Koh Phan Ngan just for the night of the full moon party and then travel onwards towards Bangkok the next day. For 1,000Baht (twenty pounds) we got a four hour boat ride, followed by an eight hour bus journey, getting us to Bangkok about 12 hours before we’d anticipated. And Eugene had decided to join us on this venture.
With two days left on Koh Samui we spent one renting Mopeds and riding around the island. For those who are aware of the story of the last time Gem was entrusted with a Moped, they will know why she decided to ride on the back of mine. Although, that incident had left me a little scarred and riding the mopeds was just a teensy bit terrifying. But, I’m glad to report there were no disasters.
We visited the Big Buddha, which is a temple centered around, believe it or not, a giant Buddha statue. We had a lovely lunch here looking out over the bay as we became increasingly aware that our beach days were numbered. The temple itself was beautiful, although it felt a bit commercial with all of the requests for money. The big statue is surrounded by large bells which people are supposed to hit in order for their wishes/prayers to come true. So, the peace and calm you imagine in a Buddhist temple is a little lacking.
Afterwards we rode to see Grandmother and Grandfather rock. These are supposed to represent the founding parents of the island of Koh Samui. And so the rock formations look strikingly similar to the necessary anatomical items. Rather surreal actually. But on the way there we did discover a little private beach which you had to reach by almost abseiling down to. It was very beautiful, but the water was very shallow and so very warm and rather rocky. We also managed to disturb some nudists who seemed unaware that other people might just find the beach too.
The next stop on our little moped tour was the Chaweng food market. We’ve come to love these evening food markets which make for a great dinner. Gem says she’s just really going to miss eating things off of sticks! We tried some little fish bits on a kebab and some little curried eggy things and Gem had a couple of sausages. The dessert was these little crispy pancakes topped with a marshmallow/meringue type substance and grated papaya on top – so very yummy!
We had to have a look in the Tesco while we were there and it was eerily similar to being back at home. We picked up some overpriced cheese (we’d all been craving it as there’s hardly any proper cheese here), a baguette and some grapes. A very simple but incredibly satisfying dinner.
Back at the hotel, it was a member of staff’s birthday. So there was free food all around and some very scarf fireworks. I’m guessing they’re not regulated the way they are at home and these were absolutely huge and very very close to us. Luckily no one was hurt. One of the fountains was actually taller than the palm tree it was next to.
A thai tradition is to use light cloth balloons with a wick in the bottom which when lit will life the balloon up into the air as well as make it a pretty orange glowey colour. We got to send one of these off ourselves and they’re absolutely beautiful.
On our last day in Koh Samui we spent our time enjoying the pool and soaking up some sun. This was to be the last proper day we would have being able to relax by the water. For dinner we went to a local thai place, which turned out to be a little too traditional. All sorts of bits of dead animal were on the menu. I settled for some fried rice, but gem ordered the Squid served with a lemon and chilli sauce. It still hadn’t turned up by the time we’d all finished our meals, although this is something we’ve had to get used to in Thailand. When it finally turned up it was an entire (500g as we were soon to find out) squid. And it was bathed in Coriander – the one thing Gem can’t stand. The sauce was like liquid coriander and piled on top of the thing was another mound of coriander. It was actually inedible. Luckily Antonio, the gentleman, stepped up and ate the whole thing for Gem. He was sweating and red from the sheer amount of chilli they’d put in with it. (Gem’s pictures show the horror). And when the bill turned up Gem was charged 200 baht for the pleasure. Not our best meal experience, but then that’s part of the deal with traveling!
We hit the 7/11 to stock up on some red bulls for the full moon party the following night and then figured an early night was probably in order.
Koh Phan Ngan
We’d arranged a ferry to Koh Phan Ngan with our hotel and the shuttle bus turned up to pick us up. Our plan was to go and visit Rachel, Sam and Eugene who were already on Koh Phan Ngan, leave our bags with them and just party the night away. We’d grab our bags first thing in the morning and head straight to the ferry port to get our ferry towards Bangkok. Except we got a frantic message from Rach saying that there was a problem and that wasn’t going to work, their dictator landlady was simply not going to let us do that. So we spent a frantic half hour at the ferry port trying to call all of the hotels on the island to see if they had a room. The only place we found had a double room for 1,500 baht, More than we wanted to spend, but at that point it was somewhere safe to leave our bags.
Sunset cove was a beautiful place and they even gave us a free pick up from the ferry port – not asking any questions when they picked five of us up for a double room. It was only when they saw the boys stashing their bags in our room that they started to have questions. They said unequivocally that only two people could stay in the room.
We went and had some lunch. And panicked. Worst case scenario we envisioned being thrown out of the hotel and having to take our bags to the full moon party when they’d inevitably end up being set on fire. So, in need of a new plan, Gem and I set off to talk to the local hotel places to see who had space and for how much. As luck would have it, the place next door to Sunset Cove had a triple and a double for 500 and 200 baht. It was perfect. The rooms were shabby, but what did it matter, we weren’t going to be sleeping in them. This meant we had to go and grovel to Sunset Cove and get out of the 1,500 baht room with no charges. Which, somehow, Gem and I achieved. They did charge us 200baht for the pickup from the ferry port, but we were quite happy to pay that and then run away.
So, crisis averted, we got ourselves showered and rested before cracking open some of the red bull and Sangsom. The hotel did us a great deal on a truck towards Haad Rin – the beach where the full moon party is held.
The full moon party is supposed to have originated at the paradise bungalows as some kind of homecoming celebration for a family member. Somehow it’s turned into the biggest party night in Thailand, if not the whole of South East Asia. 10,000 or so people gather on the beach and dance the night away under the light of the full moon. For us, we’d figured that the chances of going to another one were slim and so we should probably jump at this opportunity.
Sam, Rach and Eugene were staying at a hostel called The Silvery Moon. We’d marveled that it was so cheap (150Baht a night for the room) but when we defied death to get down the hill to the bungalows it all started to make a bit more sense. We’d signed up for a BBQ on the beach provided by the hostel owners, which was lovely. All of us sitting on a traditional low table, on the beach with a fire raging behind us and the moon rising over the mountain – a fabulous start to the evening. We even had another of the Thai hot air balloons which we all got to write our wishes for the coming year on before setting it to sail away up and above the ocean.
We got ourselves all readied up with the body paint, courtesy of Rachel. And Eugene and I even managed to squeeze in a quick game of chess, which I definitely would have won if we hadn’t had to leave…
So, after a hike up the hill, 12 of us piled into the first passing Tuk tuk and we were on our way to the full moon party.
We’d heard so many conflicting things about the party that we weren’t sure what to expect. I think that the reason it was such a good night for us was because of the people we were with. We all stuck together and had similar ideas about the amount we wanted to drink and steering clear of the drug scene. So we drank from buckets (very elegant) danced to all sorts of music, sweated off our glow paint and climbed up the full moon party sign.
The lower points of the evening include watching people who had too much of something collapsing on the floor, me almost punching an Israeli guy who grabbed my bum, Gem being picked up and thrown in the sea and the sheer number of people who were too out of it to realise the tide was coming in. But we took that all in our stride and looked after one another and managed to have a brilliant night.
At about half past five (the red bulls were at work again) we found ourselves a tuk tuk home. If at this point we were feeling a little woozy, by the time we were done with 40 minutes of careering round corners on almost two wheels we were definitely getting towards feeling sick. The driver was very luckily he didn’t have vomit in his truck, and after he rudely threw us out and tried to demand more money, we almost wished we had.
So we had an hour to get showered and try to re-hydrate before we had to get back in a tuck and get down to the ferry port.
When we finally got on the ferry – really not feeling too great by this point – there were no seats left apart from those on the top deck in the sunshine. Possibly among the worst journey of my life, I was very glad at our fist stop when the majority of people got off and we were able to move to the air conditioning and comfy chairs. Four hours later we arrived in Chumphin where we were moving to the bus which would take us to Bangkok. But this point we felt able to handle a sandwich and some crisps before being piled onto the bus.
The next 8 hours passed rather uneventfully (which was nice) with lots of sleep and movies to watch.
We’d booked a hostel in Bangkok knowing that we’d want to arrive and just roll into bed. But when we started talking to the taxi drivers we found out if was nearly an hour and 800baht away. Seeing as we would have had to get the taxi back in the next morning to get to the train, it seemed a bit silly, so we found somewhere closer on Khao San Road and checked in for the night.
We only spent the one night in Bangkok, a day of browsing the markets and then we were onto a train heading up to Chiang Mai. Which is where we are now. The adventures of Chiang Mai and Bangkok will have to wait until I’m home (less than a week now!).
Thanks for reading, see you all soon!
Sarah (Gem and Alan)