Koh Samui, an island in the Gulf of Thailand, is one of our absolute favorites places, perhaps the best beach town we’ve ever been to. We keep coming back; we’ve been here twice before since we started this adventure and I’m pretty confident it won’t be our last. The water is perfect, the sand is perfect, the town is … well, good. And all a lot more affordable than other idyllic locations.
Planning a trip to Koh Samui has always been a bit of a struggle. The best beach, by far, is Chaweng Beach, and that’s where we want to spend our days. But most of the nicer resorts are spread out around the island. And then there’s Fisherman’s Village with neither great beaches nor nice resorts, but the best little restaurants on the island. This time, for the first time, we decided to stay right on Chaweng Beach at a hotel we’ve looked at many times, The Library. It definitely worked for us.
Here was the routine, then. Up early to run on the treadmill for 40 minutes or so. After stretching a quick dip in the ocean. Breakfast and then the beach, where I would spend the morning reading The Three Musketeers (I know, it’s about time!). Mark & I would go for a dip now and then and just marvel at how incredibly perfect the water was. Well, almost perfect. The first couple days the water was really rough and it was even a little dangerous to go in. After that, though, it calmed down and then it was pretty much perfect. When my only complaint was that the water wasn’t really cold enough to cool down you know things are OK.
Then it was off to lunch, sometimes after a taxi ride to Fisherman’s Village, sometimes just up the road a bit from our hotel. In both we found tiny hole-in-the-wall kind of places with great Thai food at really cheap prices, just the kind of places we love. And it was good that we found them: both of our favorite places from earlier visits – Eat Sense on the beach and Nirvana in Fisherman’s Village – were closed. The case of Eat Sense is a sign of how things are changing. When we stayed at other parts of the island we would take a scooter to Chaweng Beach and then get loungers and an umbrella from Eat Sense; as long as we had lunch there the rest of it was free. This time, though, the place was closed up. What happened? I asked one of the guys at our hotel and he explained that the Chinese bought it. They’re going to open their own resort for Chinese package tourists, but for now it’s empty. Yeah, that’s what the world is coming to.
At any rate, after lunch I’d head back to the beach for a late afternoon nap and swim while Mark would typically head out for a massage. While there are plenty of the, ummm, less reputable kinds of massage available, there are also seemingly unlimited perfectly legitimate massage opportunities, all at crazy cheap prices. One day after lunch in Fisherman’s Village he came back just gushing that it may have been the best massage he’d ever had anywhere, and all for about $10. Two days later we were back there for lunch again and afterwards he went to the same place. Sadly, the masseuse he’d had wasn’t in. Not to worry, though there are others. The result is that the earlier massage is now only the second-best massage he’d ever had. He could never figure out if the person doing the massage was a he or a she – gender can be a little fluid in Thailand – but whoever he or she was, it was apparently amazing. And did I mention that it was only $10?
Meanwhile I managed to finish The Three Musketeers, so the novel and the island will always be connected in my mind.
We had seven full days on Koh Samui and each day we seemed to enjoy it just a little more. We’ll be back in a year or two. For now, though, we’re off to Bangkok for two days and then headed to the States to see family and friends. The plan is to spend two months stateside, by far the longest return visit since we started. Who knows, maybe we’ll decide we like the States again!