Koh Samui – Aren't you glad Chaweng there?

I arrived at my hostel in Chaweng just in time to join a crew of enthusiastic girls in my hostel dorm heading out for dinner. They had evidently all been partying together over the previous couple of days.

We found a nice little place and had some delicious and pretty cheap food – again, I had obviously been judging my impression of Thailand prices by Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, which are apparently significantly more expensive than elsewhere in Thailand – before heading first to a packed big open air pub where some travellers whom one of our party knew were watching a sports game on a big screen, and then to a bar on the beach to chill out on some lounge chairs with a cocktail. Feeling very tired after my day of travelling and three nights partying in Bangkok I retired quite early for a much needed long night of sleep.

The next morning I was offered a 7 Eleven toastie by one of my hostel mates, Lauren. This was when I first came to realise that the 7 Eleven toasted sandwiches and other similar heatable goods that I had discovered in Bangkok were popular with all travellers. I declined but later ended up going to get my own – a delicious pork burger that I would purchase more than once. That day I joined Lauren and Harriet, my two new UK friends, exploring the island by motorbikes they hired. I had originally not intended to do this at all but ended up riding on the back of Harriet’s motorbike as we zoomed around the island, exploring a couple of waterfalls – including taking a dip in one until it started to rain properly, and having my feet nibbled by the nibbling fish – and lookout points. Unfortunately the weather was a bit dreary and rainy and the lookouts none too spectacular.

After talking to the girls, who had been here three nights already and were planning to head to Koh Phangan the next day, I agreed with them that four nights would be too many in Koh Samui. Happily, they had had friends cancel on their accommodation in Koh Phangan meaning they had spare beds, enabling me to change my plans and join them in Koh Phangan a night earlier than I had planned. This would not necessarily have been possible otherwise as it was the peak season of the entire year over Christmas and New Year and accommodation was presumably booked out – although I had already met several travellers who were planning on finding something when they got there. I called the ferry company on the spot and managed to somewhat painlessly change my ferry to a day earlier at no cost. On our way back we stopped at another popular tourist beach, Lamai; which may have been lovely during warm weather but was not during the grey, windy rain. Although I had planned my trip expecting it to be the best time of year to visit, it turns out that it had been a particularly late rainy season that year so it was still effectively the rainy season!

That night Harriet and Lauren were not up for a big night but I met a new girl in our dorm, Poppy, and we decided to join a group at the hostel who were meeting to go and watch some Thai Boxing on another part of the island. There were first more adventures to come: while talking to Poppy at the same time as withdrawing money from an ATM next to the hostel (a mistake) I left my card in the ATM and it was unsurprisingly not there when I returned five minutes later. I was able to call the bank and cancel the card and transfer my money to my other account, for which I had also brought the card, having to buy more Thai sim credit in the process. None of this would have been easy without a working mobile phone but with it it was doable. Unfortunately I had undermined my well laid plans to open that bank account to avoid large overseas charges, but at least had already withdrawn two of perhaps three withdrawals for the trip.

First Poppy and I went back out to get dinner at the pub that we had been to the night before and enjoyed some tasty cuisine: mine was pasta. We then went back to to the hostel to join a group of people meeting out front and we all taxid to Lamai and the large Thai boxing set up. It was set up with a number of different bars all around the outside and we were only allowed to order drinks from the bar in front of which we had sat. Poppy and I enjoyed strong Long Island Iced Teas and watched the weird boxing, including a women’s match. Afterwards a group of us went out back in Chaweng; first at a place that played only old school RnB; then to Ark Bar, the popular beach club; and later Mango, a large and elaborate club that included many levels and a water feature and was open late. I grabbed some pizza from a nearby vendor before heading back to the hostel.

The next day started off drizzly and grey so I wandered around a bit. When I got back to the hotel it started to pour properly so I ate some pad thai in the hostel, a tad marooned. Afterward I took my umbrella and wandered back into town and ended up sitting down at Ark Bar, the big, popular outdoor pub/bar that had its clear coverings drawn against the rain. I noticed that the tide came in so far at this time of year there was basically no tide during the day. Eventually the rain stopped, management withdrew all the walls and I got talking to some friendly Australians.

Back at the hostel I told Poppy of my plan to go and see a ‘cabaret’ show, and she and I went to find it but realised the show wasn’t until later, so we went back to the hostel to find that another hostel mate had decided to join us. The show was hilarious, especially the ‘lady’ impersonating Whitney Houston singing ‘I will always love you’ with over-the-top mouth gestures.

Afterward we went to a nearby large bar, chose a table and had a drink while playing Connect 4. We then headed to Ark Bar, the beach club, which was busy and a great venue, but not my kind of music. It was here that my camera met its end due to sand somehow becoming lodged in the zoom lens. After again heading to Mango Bar, the late open and multi level large club, I confirmed to myself that this kind of music was not my scene. Unfortunately, some people on the beach assured me that Koh Phangan would not be my scene either as the scene was the same. Would they be proven correct?

Ultimately, I concluded that although I had a good enough time in Koh Samui, it was not worth a repeat or a long visit. It was just as obnoxiously touristy as Phuket, with the annoying Thai boxing trucks driving past and kids and people trying to annoy and scam you as you tried to walk the very narrow footpath (the road had too much traffic). For example, on the final night one of our party had a lei placed over him by a child that she refused to remove or let him leave without providing payment. Moreover, the bars did not really play my kind of music. I was happy to move off early to my next stop: Koh Phangan.

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