Home Sweet Home
I think I found my home for the next few months! So far, I absolutely love Ko Samui, Thailand. Samui is a smallish island of around 60,000 people off the coast of SE Thailand. Why is called Coconut Island you ask? Well, there are coconut trees every five steps!
So, getting here. I took the 11-hour overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani and then a ferry from there. The train was very interesting. It had a bunk bed sort of situation. At 9:00pm the crew folded down all the seats and opened up these upper compartments that had beds in them! It was cool and surprisingly comfortable!
Getting around Samui is easy, but you need a motorbike if you want to go to other parts of the island. There is no public transportation, and taxi’s are expensive. Although, the entire island only takes about an hour to drive around, so nothing is too far.
There are two main areas in Samui, which are about a 20-minute drive away from each other – Chaweng (in the northeast) and Lamai (in the southeast). I started off in Chaweng, but I quickly wanted to leave due to the large amount of tourists. So after a few days, I settled in the quieter, more local area of Lamai.
Lamai is very walkable, and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and even a small shopping mall. On top of that, I absolutely love how everything is outside! Yes, it can get hot during the day (mid-80s and humid), but the ocean is always right around the corner! There are basically no walls on any buildings other than houses and hotels, where air conditioning is turned on for sleeping.
There are many markets open during the day and evening for cheap food, drinks, clothes, and other simple goods. The night markets are the best, and on weekends, they tend to have street performances. While I couldn’t get myself to eat spiders in Bangkok, for some reason I didn’t feel weird about trying crocodile. I couldn’t figure out why this was; maybe just because it’s a large animal? Regardless, I got a couple skewers, and it was delicious! Also worth pointing out – look at that smoothie cup holder! Brilliant! Western smoothie shops really need to step up their game.
So, where do I live now? Right on Lamai Beach of course! And guess how much I pay? $4.50 per night! That’s $135 in rent per month… Pretty good, eh? 🙂
One of the main reasons I’m in Thailand, other than the beach… is to train Muay Thai (Thai Boxing). I joined a gym, and they train four hours a day, six days a week. If you’re not familiar with Muay Thai, it’s similar Western Boxing, except you are allowed to kick, knee, and elbow along with punches.
I’m not going to lie. Those first five or so days, I was pushed harder physically than I’ve ever been pushed in my life. These guys are the real deal. It’s how they survive and feed their families, and most of them had their first paid fight before their 10th birthday. They then usually retire in their late 20s with around 250 fights under their belt, meaning a fight every 3-4 weeks for 20 years!
So at the first hotel I stayed at in Chaweng, I met a girl, Kat, who worked reception. We hung out a few times, and she invited me to her sister’s birthday. Sure, birthdays are fun! What I didn’t realize was that I was about to meet her entire family! Only her aunt spoke English, and they were all not so secretly whispering about how Kat brought home an American. It was an interesting night but fun regardless!
In addition to the beaches, Samui has a large forest with gorgeous waterfalls! I’ve only been to this smaller one so far, but I soon plan to see the big ones so stay tuned…
Now, how could a post be complete without more temples?? There are three main temples in Samui: Wat Plai Laem, the Big Buddha Temple, and the Shrine of the Mummified Monk. Alright, of course you want to hear about the monk. So, this monk directed that his body be put on display when he died as a reminder of the transience of human existence. He died at 79 years old while meditating. Classic.
“If we’re not reflecting on the impermanent nature of life, then there are a lot of unimportant things that seem important.” -Allison Choying Zangmo
Okay, now if something in the picture looks off to you, you’re not alone. Is this monk sporting Ray-Bans? Indeed he is. They seem out-of-place, but the monks put sunglasses on him so that his eye sockets would be less disturbing to children. Makes sense. I just want to go back and see all the monks sitting around deciding which sunglasses to put on him. Oh, and the side of the glass casing says “Sponsored by Ray-Ban.” Ha, JUST KIDDING. But, what if?
Lastly, there is Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park, and WOW. This marine park consists of 42 islands and is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been. I took a ferry from Samui to get to the islands; I just love being out on the open water. Then I relaxed and kayaked around the peaceful, uninhabited islands. There was also a nice viewpoint I hiked to, and the sight was breathtaking.
Have you been to Ko Samui? Let me know your favorite spots in the comments below!