Koh Samui – First Impressions
by Dad - What?
I thought we should do a quick roundup of our first impressions here in Koh Samui Thailand.
The journey here was great fun - flight from Kuala Lumpur to Surat Thani then choosing to get the bus and ferry transfer from Surat Thani (mainland) to Samui was a good idea as it turned out. We all had fun believe it or not. Plus we saved some money as the direct flights were pretty steep - even by Asia standards!
The villa - is pretty special. It is at the top of an extremely steep road / lane called Bang Po Peak. The views are incredible - the sea and Koh Phangan island to the front and wild jungle to the back.
A Note About Steep Roads
Koh Samui does very steep roads. You know in Europe how the roads will wind back and forward for miles, snaking their way up a mountain? Well, here they just go straight up - seriously, I've never seen anything like it. When you walk up these roads you're almost on your hands and knees. The car can really struggle to keep moving - and parking on one isn't an option.
We have a hire car here - a nice change after being driven in Bali. The island is fairly small - you can drive around the main ring road in about 1 hour ish.
Driving is .... different. Not as crazy as Bali and less traffic (out of Chaweng) but certainly different to home. The middle line is only a rough guide. Right of way is according to the size of vehicle - so lorries - pickups - jeeps - cars and then scooters! You only worry about what's in front and try not to hit them.
Anything coming behind is too much to worry about - you never see half of them coming up the inside. They also have a habit of driving casually up the wrong side of the road - mostly the scooters but sometimes cars as well - takes a bit of getting used to.
No Road Rage - typical of the Thai people, you never hear them shouting or tooting horns in anger - incredible at times, but it works somehow.
Before we came to Samui we had read lots of things online about how it has been ruined by tourists, too commercial, too many people etc. etc. Well that can be true if you come here and don't leave the busy resorts. Chaweng and to a lesser degree Lamai, are a bit like Asian Benidorms! Some people love Benidorm - hello mum!
But there is much more here than all that. Lesson learned - don't listen to the hype.
The surprising thing about Koh Samui is the amount of changes you'll see as you travel around the island. It is very diverse - from mad resort towns to dense and inaccessible jungles - really. Want a deserted tropical beach - shared only with a local fisherman? you can find it easily here.
It's nice sitting in the morning watching massive sea eagles soaring above the trees and in the evening we watch the local fishing boats heading to work.
It is a very beautiful island - with some spectacular scenery. And we have only seen a small part of the island so far.
The people are brilliant - very friendly and helpful - with a sense of humour too. Lots of great local markets and walking streets (night markets with food stalls and pruck) around the island. Did I mention the food? I officially love Thai food - although you need to be careful - here, spicy really does mean spicy. Even their salads can numb your lips!
Working through all the famous local dishes - Pad Thai (spicy noodles with chicken or seafood), Tom Yum soup (spicy soup), Thai Green Curry (spicy),Papaya Seafood Salad ( spicy salad) - there is a theme - Spicy. Great street food and small beach restaurants everywhere.
Thai people love their food - they eat out a lot and it is very cheap. We have a favorite local beach restaurant called Haad Bang Po - incredible food and really cheap. All fed with a couple of beers (Chang) for us and desert for Tom - about £15 - and this food is excellent. The view isn't bad either!
If you want something a little more western, and soft seats rather than a bench on the beach - it is available too. A great range of restaurants from Belgian or Mexican to Japanese and KFC - one plus side of having tourism. I could go on about the grub all day, I'm so impressed.
We got lucky and our villa is in just about the perfect spot for us. Close enough to everything you need and far enough away from the busy places. Although Chaweng isn't bad at all - as long as you are leaving it when you are done! The basic rule is that the further you drive from Chaweng, the quieter and more local it all becomes. There is something here for everyone.
The Weather - Rainy Season in Samui
We came here knowing that November was supposed to be their wettest month of the rainy season. We were always going to hit the rainy season somewhere and decided Koh Samui might be the best place to ride it out. Well it hasn't disappointed!
Lots of rain - tropical, mad thunderstorms and rain like you wouldn't believe. None of that mizzle we get back home - this is bucket over your head stuff!
We have actually enjoyed the weather - a big change to Bali's endless sunshine and it does cool down a bit during the rain - for a while until the humidity starts building. We have brilliant views from the house and sit watching the storms roll in - then run to close doors and bring in the towels! The thunder and lightning shows have been amazing - better than watching TV.
It hasn't been all wet though and the storms usually only last a few hours - then it all dries up in ten minutes and the sun is out again. We only had a few days that didn't brighten up at some point. Apparently December starts to dry up - we'll see.
So we like Koh Samui so far - we have actually booked an extra month here to take us into February. We will be moving to another house just around the corner that we liked and then ... who knows - we haven't decided yet. I might need a health farm after all this food!