An early start saw these three eager travellers hit the road. Me, my friend Cam and my cousin Summer left Wellington at some ungodly hour, flying via Sydney and Bangkok and landed in Koh Samui, Thailand later that night. It was a relatively uneventful trip, aside from the fact that Cam had all of his toiletries and alcohol confiscated for being over 100mL, and Summer spontaneously, and repetitively, keeping on throwing up during what could only be described as a smooth, inoffensive flight. Of all of us, she was definitely the most relieved to finally arrive.
A taxi (clothed as a civilian car) from the Koh Samui airport (essentially a runway next to some upper-class bungalows on the beach front) transported us to Buddha Lounge Samui, where we were to spend the next few nights. The rooms were approximately $20 per night, which we would soon learn to consider expensive. Given that it was the week preceding New Years’ Eve, it had been impossible to find anything much cheaper. The hostel was highly adequate; lovely owners, spacious rooms, free (although minimalist) breakfast, however it was quite far away from the towns of Chaweng and Lamai. We learnt quickly that Asian toilets are different to our Western ones (ie. lacking ANY force) – when, to our absolute horror, we literally flooded the entire hostel due to some flushing difficulties. Along with the highlight of having resident puppies, the hostel hired out scooters – which is how we chose to explore the island. Summer usually rode on the back of my scooter, and we only suffered one (mildly serious) crash. That is excluding the time Summer attempted to drive, where she would have hit a police car if his reaction time not been truly exceptional.
Located nearby to our hostel was the Big Buddha port, temple and village. Temples always meant we had to cover up (here you could borrow shawls and kimonos) and take our shoes off, both of which we endured with great reluctance in such heat. A slightly further ride away were the beach-side towns of Chaweng and Lamai. We witnessed a monkey show (where 100฿ bought two of us the show and a photo with a monkey on our shoulder – Cam tactically steered clear of the photo shoot as he had decided to go without the rabies vaccination) and continued on our way to a local waterfall whereby we were successfully conned into a 700฿ elephant ride just as the skies opened. We are talking torrential rain, something we would see a lot more of whilst on the islands. Later we caught a ride on the back of a ute to the “International Bar” in Chaweng where we watched the football and played our first game of pool (of which there would be many). Cam gave into temptation and had a photo with a monkey, before we came home to find Emma had arrived.
Our first designated beach day saw the loss of Summer and Cam. Miscommunication meant only Emma and I arrived at the beach where we waited for a few hours before concluding that they were going to be a no-show. Again the skies opened, so we indulged in a massage, a pashmina purchase and the spiciest (and grossest) Pad Thai I had ever eaten in my life before reuniting with the others back at the hostel. Dinner saw us discover our new local “Rob’s Bar” which we would eat at many more times before the week was over.
The next day the three of us explored the Fishermen’s Village which, with its narrow pedestrian streets, reminded me a lot of Temple Bar in Dublin. We reattempted the group beach trip, this time with success, as I indulged in dragonfruit (overrated) and Summer experienced her first Asian massage. We then headed to Ark Bar (in Chaweng) for lunch, before discovering an interesting area of bars with highly erotic (and hilarious) names. Examples include, Sexy Bar, Spicy Bar and 69 Bar – oh so original! Cocktail buckets were on the cards that night, as we met up with some of Cam’s friends for a drink and dance (correction, Summer and I were the only ones dancing at Green Mango!).