Beach Bums finally do something....

Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, January 4, 2013

So as promised this trip to Samui we actually did more than just lay on the beach. We laid on several different beaches and even went on some day trips, it was exhausting :o)

So our first stop on our return to Samui was Lamai, this is smaller than Chaweng but still has a fair amount of shops and restaurants to keep us busy. 

Lamai has a nice beach, but our hostel was not beach front so we had to go to a local bar to get a sunbed.  What was funny about this beach is that it is so narrow that at high tide the sea comes right up under the sunbed so most farangs spend most of their day retrieving their flip flops from the sea. 

What Lamai has more of than Chaweng is go-go bars.  So what better way to spend Saturday night in Lamai than sat in a go-go bar watching Lady Thai Boxing.  This was brilliant; there is a Thai boxing ring in the middle surrounded by little round go-go bars, each of which had a fighter for the night.  There were children, ladies, men and even Katoey boxing rounds and I have never seen such good fights, there was no dancing around the ring, the women and the children were possibly the most violent of all, I certainly wouldn't want to take any of them on.  What was almost as entertaining as watching the boxing was watching the Farangs.  One young Aussie caught our attention as he was chatting to one of the waitresses and thought that he had got lucky, next thing you hear him telling her to meet him in the club opposite the Thai Boxing.  The Aussie leaves and the waitress ducks under the bar hiding. The poor Aussie has clearly not read Private Dancer and has no idea that he has got to pay a bar fine to take his 'date’ out of the bar.  The Aussie returns wondering where his date has got to.  His date points to the mama-san and after a hushed chat the Aussie leaves – alone.  Bless his little cottons.  If you can’t take the heat don’t go into the go-go!

The bar opposite our hotel claimed to have the best beach party in Thailand with human fireworks.  Having seen more than our fair share of fire dancers over the last month we were not desperate to go and see more, but the scaffolding being put up in the sea left us intrigued so we popped over for a beer to see what all the fuss was about. Boy was this worth the effort.  The standard fire dancers were out at first and they were ok but then one of them got onto the scaffolding and lit his Poi (the ball on a string they set fire to – the Maori word for ball).  This is where we realised this was not your average fire dancer he had fireworks on his Poi’s so he turned into a human Catherine Wheel throwing sparks over the entire beach, it was totally stunning and well worth the price of a beer.

Having not had a haircut for 6 months, my split ends were beginning to take over my life so I bit the bullet and went for a trim.  This was an all-round odd experience, when I had my hair washed, this also involved a deep clean and a good squeeze of my ears, then rather than using scissors she used something that looked a bit like a bread knife to cut my hair.  It surprisingly looked quite good when I left, but then the 90% humidity returned and with no hairdryer I scraped it back and it has stayed like that ever since, maybe one day soon I will be able to see what it actually looks like.

After a few days it was onwards to the next beach, Mae Nam.  This was by far the best beach we found on Samui.  Mae Nam was the original backpacker beach but Chaweng took over and Mae Nam has been forgotten, it now has just cheap to mid-range wood bungalows or 5 star amazing hotels, making it a very sleepy beach with a few bars and restaurants and not much else.

The hotel was like a petting farm with 2 huskies, a golden retriever and two cats that I quickly lured into our room.  The golden retriever is the cutest dog ever and he just spent hours stood in the sea watching the fish.  The huskies just looked hot.  One day we were cooling off in the sea and there were a few other people paddling when a dog from further down the beach came bounding over to a guy in the sea as if it was his long lost owner, the guy backed off and the dog swam deeper with a look of absolute adoration in his eyes.  The guy got out of the sea and the dog followed and made a pretty good effort to try and take the guys short off.  The guy’s girlfriend and Tim and I looked on in hysterics thanking our lucky stars we were not the object of the dog’s affection.  We later got chatting to the couple, Clark & Emma who were backpacking Thailand for a month and did not expect a trip to the local doctor to determine whether the scratches from the over excited dog required a rabies jab.  The joys of beach dogs!

There was so little to do here that we just lazed on the beach, occasionally walked along the beach for a sun set cocktail but mainly stayed in our hotel bar.  We were really lucky and along with Clark and Emma met Barry and Laura who were en-route from London to their new life in Oz, so had a few late nights sat in the closed bar drinking into the early hours.  The highlight of these evenings was Barry asking the confused looking Thai barman if he had Slippery Nipples, brilliant.

After one of these late nights we got home to find our cats (that I had been luring into our room with biscuits) asleep on our balcony as usual but unfortunately one of the huskies had followed us home and got onto the balcony before we could so we had a cat and dog hissing and barking at each other preventing us from getting into our hut.  Eventually I managed to trick the dog into thinking I was going back to the bar so he ran off and we made it home.  Only to discover that we had a rat running around in the roof of our hut, needless to say we didn’t have the soundest night’s sleep and were more than happy to pack up and move onto Bophut the next day.

So Bophut is more of a harbour town so we didn’t book a hotel on the beach and went for a bargain spa hotel out of the town, but within walking distance which seemed fine.  It seemed fine until the first night when we realised the walk into the town was either along a main road which had no pavements or through pitch black temple grounds.  The temple seemed like the obvious option until the temple dogs started barking and following us and generally scaring us witless.  Every night was like an episode of Fear Factor where fear was definitely a factor for us.  I genuinely thought that my rabies vaccine was going to come into action here, but thankfully we survived, often due to going to dinner at 5pm and being home by 6pm before sunset.

As promised we finally did some tours from here, first up was the Amazing Dolphin Tour.  We had initially planned on going over to the mainland to a town called Khanom, it is a bit off of the tourist trail and is where Thais go for holidays and weekends. The reason we wanted to go is because Khanom is the home to the elusive pink dolphins.  There are only a handful of places that you can see pink dolphins such as the Amazon, but for some unknown reason they also breed off the coast of Khanom in the Gulf of Thailand.  Luckily we found a tour which took you from Samui to the waters surrounding Khanom thereby avoiding a trip to the mainland.  We were not sure whether we would actually get to see any dolphins but the tour leaflet promised a 99% chance which seemed pretty promising.  We set off on a speedboat and had a prime seat at the front ready for some dolphin spotting.  We drove for about 20 minutes and came to an area where you could see the mainland and the sea was filled with trawlers and longtails (traditional Thai wooden boats with a car engine and a rudder on a long stick at the back) fishing.  Our guide shouted over to the longtail fisherman, we subsequently learnt that he pays them 300baht (6) if they have seen the dolphins and can point him in the right direction.  This is a great arrangement as the longtail fishermen do not like the dolphins as they pinch fish from their nets, so this arrangement ensures that us farangs have a better chance of seeing a pink dolphin and gives the fisherman a reason to like having them around.  After about ten minutes of floating around staring out to sea suddenly we were graced with an amazing pink dolphin, in fact there were two of them.  Just popping up and swimming down and popping up on the other side of the boat.  Kun our tour guide has spent so long watching and learning about the dolphins he is able to tell you when to take your photo as they go down just before they come up giving a stunning view of their pink beaks and pink tails.  They really are pink, like strawberry angel delight, with the odd spots of pale grey.  The reason they are pink is that they are actually albino dolphins and the blood vessels under their skin show through making them pink.  It was such an honour to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat and was even nicer that our tour guide cut the engines and we just sat back and watched them so as to not interfere with them.  It is such a treat in Thailand to see animals which are not tied up, caged or drugged for tourists to gawp at.  After the dolphins we went over the Koh Tan, again this was a huge treat to find a beach which has clear water.  Koh Tan is an unusual beach in Thailand as it has no beach dogs.  Folklore claims that if a dog steps foot on Koh Tan it will go crazy, so seemingly no one has put it to the test and the island is dog free.  After a luscious lunch overlooking the clear blue sea we stopped at a bay for a bit of snorkelling.  Tim was straight off the boat and into the sea, I was not so sure about this.  Our guide was throwing bread over the side of the boat to try and entice over the fish, having been nibbled by fish thinking I was bread in Cuba I decided to pass, I could see the fish perfectly well from the comfort of the speedboat.  Tim was happy enough snorkelling and taking photos until some bread was flung in his direction and he got nibbled by the fish.  Nimble knees has never climbed a boat ladder so fast in his life!

The next day we decided to head over the chewing for a bit of shopping and for a good pizza, we had our shopping list and were working our way down the street and down our list when suddenly all the shops started to put their rails away and close their shutters, we looked a bit confused and a stall holder told us that the police were coming.  Thankfully the raid was over in less than an hour and after a sit down and a beer we were back shopping and safely bought our fake Havaianas flip flops.

As by this time we have been in Samui for over a month it is only right that we did the island tour, surprisingly there is not a huge amount to see on Samui but the round island tour is a quick and easy way to see it all.  First up was Wat Leam Suwanaram, which is a Buddhist temple which is over 100 years old and houses the Chinese lady Monk ‘Jow Mae Kuan Im’.  Whilst we still have a small amount of temple fatigue from our time in China, Thai temples are so full of bling and cool characters it was great to see.  We were also lucky to see some of the Buddhist monks blessing a couple who had just got married.  Onwards to Big Buddha, this is possibly one of the most famous landmarks in Samui.  Big Buddha is 12 meters high and sits at the top of 73 steps with a rather good view over Mae Nam beach and over to Koh Phangan.  The funny thing about this location is that it is also on the flight path so Big Buddha has planes skimming over his head all day.  After two temples where better to go than to Grandmother and Grandfather Rock in Lamai.  These are rocks which look rather a lot like male and female genitals, sadly the tide was too high for a good view of Grandmother Rock, but Tim kindly posed for the grandfather rock photo for full effect! 

Next up is the coconut farm and the monkey show, selling coconuts has long been a main income for local people and they learnt that they can train the monkeys to go up the trees and pick the ripe coconuts.  It is absolutely amazing, the monkey gets the coconut between its foot and hand and just spins it loose, so cool and the monkeys are super cute.  Onwards to the Mummified Monk, really, that is what it is!  At the Khunnaram temple the body of Loung Pordaeng sits in the same meditation position that he died in 40 years ago when he had predicted the date of his death.  I particularly like the fact that they have treated him to a pair of fake Raybans!  The final stop on the tour was the Namuang waterfall, the problem with waterfalls in Thailand is that it very much depends on how much rain there has been as to how good the waterfall is, thankfully knowing this the area around the waterfall has become a bit of an adventure playground, there are huge elephants giving rides trundling up and down the roads that you are walking on, there are pick-up trucks taking you to the entrance of the waterfall and there are all sorts of Indiana Jones style bridges to get across to find the waterfall. This is all just as well as the waterfall was definitely not the cascading masterpiece it might have been and served more as a game of ‘how many Chinese tourists can you get into a small pond’.  Our ride to the entrance to the waterfall was one of the most terrifying journeys yet, it was up there with the ski-lift to the Great Wall of China.  Basically the big 4-wheel drive pick-up trucks, have seats in the back and just to get full value for money they have 2 seats on the roof of the cab, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I basically screamed the entire way to the waterfall, mum would have given me a clip around the ear for getting up there for sure, sorry mum!

After a busy few days touring we felt that we needed a drink or 3 so we headed into Fisherman’s Village for the weekly walking street market, the road is pedestrianized and the shops spill out into the street and various shopping, food and drink stalls set up in the road making it a bit like a festival.  With mojito’s at just 1 each we were in heaven and we ate and shopped our way through the mayhem.  The food was amazing, it is astounding how the Thai’s can make food on a stick 100 times more appetising than the Chinese, I had corn on the cob on a stick followed by a cheese powder coated twisted fried potato on a stick with a banana, peanut butter and chocolate pancake for dessert, (and several large mojito’s) heaven!

As with most other hotels I had managed to lure a cat to our room with my new found animal magnetism (cat biscuits), this lovely ginger girl cat was so sweet and would cry at our door to come in and then would fall asleep leaning on my pillow on the bed.  Even Tim warmed to her until we found her having a little walk around the room to have a pee in the wardrobe! Just as well we are off to Malaysia, sorry next tenants, oops!

Next stop Penang Island, Malaysia.
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Comments

Tony Slater on

Wow, I have to say guys, I'm dead jealous! You seem to be having a fantastic time! I love this blog post, it gave me loads of ideas for places I want to go if I return to Samui. hard to believe I spent a year right next door to Samui, and never saw any of this stuff!! Too 'busy' chilling in my hammock, I guess...
I'm glad to hear you're off to malaysia next, as I'll be heading that way soon - so I'll be back to check up on your adventures, and hopefully steal some of them for myself!
All the best,
Tony

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