When you travel as often as I do, it's easy to forget what country you are in sometimes. Right now, for example, I'm on the Koh Samui island in Thailand, sitting in Bondi Australian bar, surrounded by Burmese staff and British travelers. Get where I'm going here?
Anyway, I arrived to Koh Samui (Koh or Ko means island in Thai) yesterday. The $11 ferry boat left Koh Phangan around 11:30 am and arrived at Samui port around 12. I hopped in one of the shared taxi vans waiting at the port. Koh Samui is Thailand's 4th or 5th largest island (depending on the source) and it is quite large. I learned my lesson from Koh Phangan and had done my research to know what area I wanted to be in--Chaweng Beach.
The taxi companies placed people in vans based on area so everyone in my car was headed that way. Since everyone else had a reservation, I figured I'd just watch where they were staying and get off when I saw an area I liked. My gamble paid off and I met a French girl who knew a good area to stay so I got off when she did. I looked at one hotel with her, her brother, and friend, but ended up finding my own place just down the road. As much as I wanted to shop around for a great deal, it was already 1:30 pm, it was HOT, and I was starving. So, the 2nd place I asked was decent and they were willing to negotiate the price with me down from 600 baht to 500 baht (~$15) a night. Yes, the islands are a bit more expensive than the mainland.
My room is HUGE (big enough for me to workout in comfortably this morning), and comes with (working) air con, tv, balcony, hot water (with a shower that stays on the wall), wifi, and a FRIDGE! This was a BIG DEAL as it meant that I could find food and eat well for at least a few days. I promptly headed to the beach for a few hours and then set off to find a market.
The 711s in Thailand are a God-send as super markets are almost non-existant here. I found a look-a-like fake one but found the prices to be almost FIVE times more than they should have been (I did splurge on my salt and vinegar chips that I never find)! So, I wandered on. I stopped to ask some taxi drivers if there was a super market and set off in the direction they told me. I had just about reached the market when I met Danny, a local restaurant owner. He told me the super was over-priced and told me how to get to the local open-air market instead (Laem Nim market). He also let me use his toilet. He could not have been more helpful. He told me he was from Burma so we talked a bit about my upcoming travels there and then said our byes.
As I walked on looking for the market, I stopped and asked several other people if I was still going in the right direction. They were all SO firendly and helpful (didn't try to sell me anything and genuinely wanted to help). One boy told me he didn't know where it was (this is huge since most people just point you in the wrong direction if they don't know), one woman grabbed a friend to tell me since she didn't know, and one guy left his shop unattended to show me the market from across the river. Turns out they were all from Burma too! I didn't realize that the Burmese border was so close, but it is.
I had been told of the Burmese friendliness and have been trying to get back there ever since my short stint there a few months back. I am even more determined than ever to go now and take it as a sign that I should head as soon as I can!
I did eventually make it to the a market....although I ended up going to the local super market instead and I wasn't disappointed. I stocked up on nuts, FRUITS and CHOPPED VEGETABLES and could not have been happier! I even splured on a motor taxi back to the hotel.
I was torn on staying more time in Koh Phangan or island hopping (as most people do). I'm glad I decided to come here since based on friends and written reviews, I thought I was going to prefer Phangan. I much prefer Samui so far. Just goes to show, you gotta try it for yourself to know since everyone's opinion is different!
It's raining now, which I'm happy about since I'm getting some blogging done. I was able to get in a run on the beach this morning and drop off my laundry before it hit. Plus, I'm headed to the other side of Thailand to different islands tomorrow so I know I'll get some beach time in soon. For now, I'm enjoying my little break in Burma/Australia/England/Thailand....