5.5 Koh Samui
My first impression of Koh Samui, besides the gorgeous beach right next to the pier where we arrived, was that it was big, hot, dusty, and apparently perpetually under construction.
I love the fact that there are markets here and the island is big enough to support loads of small towns and miles of coastline. We went to a couple of the nearest markets, but all I suceeded in doing was falling in love with a number of items that were far too big to fit in my rucksack, and leaving my camera in a shop. (I ran back for it!) I tried to haggle with the stallholders but they all seemed to be toting cute pets or toddlers so I was too much of a gooey mess to play hardball with anybody.
That night we headed to a bar where they were playing the best music I’ve heard all month (Bob Dylan, the Animals playing House of the Rising Sun, and Johnny B Goode) it made me happy. Moon fooled us all by pretending she had never played pool before and begging us to ‘teach her’, then proceeded to destroy us all in just a couple of moves per game. Incredible.
The Cabaret club which backs onto our hotel seems to think it’s appropriate to play music loud enough for people in England to join in the party until the wee hours of the morning, so waking up at six to catch our boat was a killer. We were headed off on a day trip to Angthong national marine park, and while the travel time was nearly three hours, they are obviously used to having teenaged passengers on the trip, and the entire top deck is laid out with thick gym mats which make a perfect bed for one person. We all slept until the sun drove us below deck, and the other, normal, well adjusted adults on the boat must have thought we were an odd spectacle, especially as Moon, our great leader, spent the trip screaming and burying herself under towels so that the sun didn’t burn her.
Once there we got to explore yet another beautiful island and I scrambled up to the viewpoint at much risk to life and limb just so that I could have the satisfaction of cooling off in the sea afterwards. I enjoyed the sea for all of twenty minutes and then a spherical rock posing as a jellyfish drove me back to the shore in a relatively undignified, splashy fashion.
After an amazing lunch on the boat (is it okay to want to do violence against someone who takes more than their fair share of spring rolls from a buffet?), we headed off to kayak around the tiny surrounding islands. They are essentially huge floating rocks and remind me of the floating mountains in Avatar. Before we proceed, I feel I should make clear that unless in Wales or possibly the lake district, in the freezing cold or the driving rain, I find kayaking a little pointless. I therefore spent the first half of the jaunt sulking in the front of the Kayak, but we started exploring some awesome caves and Georgie and Lewis, in the kayak in front of us, kept crashing into the walls, so by the time we returned and I mistakenly knocked Rob into the water by pulling the kayak at the wrong moment, I was laughing so hard that I accidentally began to enjoy myself.
We quickly scaled some perilous concrete steps for a peak at an amazing turquoise lagoon and then it was back to the boat for the journey home.
It’s getting to the end of the trip now and as much as I am happy to go home and sleep and eat sandwiches, I am always sad to leave. I have a lot of thoughts about the Thailand I’ve seen and the Thailand I’ve heard about from my cousins. I feel like we’ve visited areas which reflect British tourist culture more than they reflect Thai culture, but I suppose that that is a part of Thailand, and it is just as real as the less affected areas, which I would love to visit one day.
I’m getting a bit emotional and reflective, seeing as this is the last leg of my official Gap Year Travels, and it doesn’t help that UCAS keep sending me emails with cheery titles such as ‘countdown to crunch time’ and ‘get ready to become an adult and do your own laundry’ (okay, they didn’t actually send me that one, but I have half a mind to reply and tell them to stop harshing my vibe.) It’s a little crazy, but I guess I’m also pretty excited.
We have one more evening in Koh Samui and then a massive thirty-six hour journey home to my bed.
Thailand, it’s been insane.
MTG, PV x
Photos: Rob Carroll, Instagram: Rob_C17, http://www.instagram.com/Rob_C17