Sunday, March 17, 2013

THAILAND-Samui & Ko Tao

After a long, grueling commute down from Chiang Mai, we finally reached the south eastern islands of Thailand-and a breath of fresh air. We got to the downtown area of Ko Samui via a pick-up truck 'bus' that runs everywhere locally. People just hop on and off these trucks and drop a buck or two off to the driver when they get to their destination. Ko Samui isn't very big, it's basically one big road all around the island so we rented a scooter (about $5 for 24 hours) first thing in the morning.
Shopping is grand at Samui. We hung out at Chaweng beach most of the time cause that's where all the action was! I wish I hadn't brought any bikinis cause I had never seen so many uber cute bikini stalls packed so colorfully down this road, most for about $5-$10 if you bargain. We bought baggy pants and to fit in with the funky, touristy vibe. Samui was packed with tourists, but the locals were more friendly and the crowds were more relaxed and fun-loving. It felt like everyone else had landed here to escape the chaos of the city as well. There were so many amazing seafood restaurants along the strip...

We found a bungalow right on the beach, and got massages at the beach stall in front of our place. Everything is blurred in my memories already because I lost track of time and the days when I'm on an island like that. One day we rented snorkeling gear and explored beaches by our area. Our last night in Samui we strolled down the beach as it got darker and darker, to watch fire dancers come out to perform and people spilled out to the shores with their drinks and mats. Then fireworks exploded all around us at midnight and after gulping down a 'bucket' it seemed like the most magical night ever!

We took a ferry to Ko Tao, a neighboring island. It is world-famous for it's diving and snorkeling. I didn't have a diving license, but I was looking forward to snorkeling! We signed up for an excursion at a restaurant that we had breakfast at, and left on a boat with a guide named Jude and a handful of Germans and...Eastern Europeans? The boat took us to a number of good snorkeling spots, but the sights on the ride there were more surreal than the fish. The fish were plentiful as well, but (no offense to anyone) I've seen prettier fish and more colorful coral beds in Bali.

There wasn't much to do in Ko Tao besides diving and partying, but that's where we celebrated Valentine's Day. After some cocktails watching the sun set, we had dinner next to the beach, on pillow mats. We only stayed two nights, and then we were off to Krabi!