We took a ferry to Koh Samui, we messed up and booked it to the wrong pier and ended up on the other side of the island, not a big deal as it takes only 30 minutes to travel to the other side. Samui is the third and largest island of our Thai island tour. Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect of this one as it is the most developed of them and we really don’t like when a place looses its charm to tourism (like Cancun). Our hostel named Cheeky Monkeys was excellent and centrally located in Chaweng beach on the eastern part of the island. After we arrived we walked along the main street which were full of massage places, restaurants with exactly the same menu and souvenir shops selling the same stuff…. but for some reason we liked it. It might have been because after spending 1 week in a place with almost no civilization, coming back to a more developed place was a welcomed change. We ended up eating at a place with a different menu, actually an Israeli restaurant. For some reason there are tons of Israeli tourists here and they had a menu in Hebrew.
Sarah has been craving wine since the beginning of the trip so she was on a mission to destroy our daily budget tonight. We (she) found a wine bar where we consumed a full bottle of wine and a couple of pickles because that was the only thing cheap on the menu. We were supposed to go out that night but after seeing the night life area we decided to go sleep early (it was still 1:00 am).
We are active travelers, that means that we get anxious by just laying at the beach to do nothing. After 1 or 2 hours we are ready to do something else. Immediately after arriving we booked a tour around the island for the next morning. For around $12 per person we were able to see what Koh Samui has to offer.
Our first stop was the Wat Plai Laem Buddhist temple that features an 18 arm Guanyin goddess of compassion and mercy in the middle of the lake. The temple complex also included a laughing buddha.
Our next stop was the most famous temple in Samui, Wat Phra Yai or Big Buddha. The Buddha statue depicts Buddha in a state of calm and purity and resolve, having overcome temptation and fear sent at him by Mara, Lord of Illusion. Known as the Mara posture, the left hand rests palm open and up in the statue’s lap, the right hand facing down over the right knee, almost to the ground. Sarah had to cover her shoulders as a woman so instead of buying something she just used her towel.
We stopped in between Lamai beach and Chewang Beach for a nice view of both beaches.
The next stop is where things started to get sour, the grandfather and grandmother rocks. This one big tourist trap feautures 2 rocks formations that apparently look like a penis and a vagina. Yes, this is a tourist attraction in Samui and a perfect example of why I have mixed reviews about Thailand in general, where many sights are something I call “manufactured tourism”.
They were selling this weird coconut candy with free samples, we took the sample and ran! It was too chewy but good:
The next stop showed us how monkeys and humans used to work together (the monkey did all the work) in order to harvest coconuts. The monkey climbed the tree in order to cut the coconuts from the palm tree. After this we got a demonstration of how coconut oil is extracted manually (nowadays they use machines to do this). They sold a bottle of fresh coconut oil for 2 bucks and Sarah of course had to buy it as its great for your skin and hair.
The next stop was a waterfall, so not memorable that I’m lazy to google the name of this one. It was inside a “Safari Park” where you can ride elephants (we are against this and we support the painful death of the Thai companies that do this), take a picture with the tiger (also against this), a crocodile show and basically all the stupid tourist things people in Thailand do for the sake of a picture.
The waterfall is about 10 min walk down a paved road but if you are lazy to walk you can pay around $3 bucks for a 4×4 jeep to take you 10 ft from the waterfall. We walked by the way. When we got to the waterfall we were fairly disappointed by the waterpark with slides that have been built next to it. Souvenir stands, loud music and a million tourist removed the charm of this one as well (slow clap Thailand).
Our lunch stop was not really a lunch stop but a market in the middle of nowhere to take our tourist money, so we used it to eat instead in a local restaurant and it was the best meal in Thailand so far.
Our last stop of the tour was a temple where the main and only exhibit is a mummy monk with style. He had a box full of Ray-bans sunglasses behind him that I assume he wears according to the season of the year. His skin looked like one of those salty dried apricot they sell in Mexico… Creepy….
That night we had dinner at this outdoor street market, basically an outside food court filled with almost all Thai food. It was packed with people so we felt we should try and we got some pretty decent Thai satay among other dishes.
We then walked to the well-reviewed night life spot of a Reggae Bar. The walk there took us through the sleezy part of town filled with lady boys (male transgender) and women seducing you into their bar. This was Sarah’s first time seeing this side of Thailand and she found it so sad and gross especially the old men sitting with their Thai woman they bought for the night. The Reggae Bar was huge and quite empty since we got there at 10 and were told the night life doesn’t begin until 2 am (too late for this honeymoon married couple!). Drinks were also extremely pricey so we shared one glass of awful cheap red wine and grooved to the music. We then walked to the main nightlife area which was packed, somewhat trashy but also looked pretty fun. It was now 1 am but we decided we wanted to try and return to this area the next night and went to bed.
Bonus pic of the day: Everywhere in Thailand you see this posters (at the airport too), where it says to not use Buddha as a souvenir or decoration. Apparently nobody in Thailand got the memo because next to this signs there is always a souvenir shop with a million Buddha heads for sell. Its ironic to see that they want to respect Buddha where Thailand has lost all the respect to its own culture by completely selling itself to tourism. Ask any store owner if they rather get the tourist money or respect Buddha, you know the answer you can expect.