A private pool villa overlooking the ocean, sun, sand, cocktails, a vespa….our exit from Myanmar (with a heavy heart, of course) brought us to the sandy beaches of the island of Koh Samui, in Thailand for the last few days of the year. Where better to ring in the new year than on a beach?
Though not boiling hot, the weather was pleasant – with just enough sunshine to wear all the beach attire in the world, but not hot enough for us to be in our private pool all the time, which was somewhat a pity – but that didn’t stop me from having a dip in it every time we went back to the villa from our adventures around the island!
The first thing we did after checking in to our villas, was rent a scooter to get around. I cannot recommend this enough – it is the easiest, cheapest and certainly most fun way to explore the island. You will need to deposit your passport with the rental company, which I must admit we were very reluctant to do, but Pips Bikes were brilliant and once we returned the scooter we got our passports back, so I would recommend them.
Transportation all sorted, the next item on the agenda was finding somewhere to while away the afternoon – it was not quite hot enough to be sat by the pool or on the beach, but we wanted somewhere with a relaxed atmosphere. Koh Samui is teeming with great places to eat at, and we were completely spoilt for choice in terms of cuisine. The Cliff checked the boxes for what we were after and were not disappointed. It was actually the perfect venue for a lazy afternoon, with great cocktails, amazing seafood (they also sell this in platters) and a fabulous view of the ocean beneath, with waves crashing onto the cliffs. If you do go there, try the New Zealand mussels in creamy white wine sauce – they are to die for!
The one thing I love about Thailand is the fact that you can walk out of your hotel or resort and straight onto a street full of vibrant energy and life. Lamai was no different from being in Bangkok in terms of the number of massage parlours (we did have a couple of foot massages while out here), bars, restaurants, and of course – the ever famous night markets. It was full of people and had such an amazing vibe, that it put us in the party mood which was appropriate given that it was New Year’s eve! We sauntered onto the beach and joined a party at the Swing Bar and in typical me fashion – lit a lantern in the new year (I just can’t resist these the temptation)!!
Quite apart from all the fantastic selection of restaurants, beach bars, shopping and lounging you can do on Koh Samui, and we did plenty of that at Beach Republic, sat on a lounger on the sand, drinking cocktails and eating fancy canapes, there is also some fun stuff you can do riding around the island.
The perfect hair of the dog for us is adventure. On new years day, after our mad beach party ushering in 2014 on the beach (by the way, stay away from the fire swingers because the sparks can burn you), we got onto our scooter and rode up to Bophut. We wanted to see the Big Buddha, but we had also read about a “secret garden” – one man’s ode to life with the most amazing statues in it, which google maps had pointed out was in the same direction, so off we went to find this.
The Big Buddha was quite nice, and there are some nice bells surrounding the image that can be fun to ring. The little boutiques around the Big Buddha had some fabulous dresses and I must admit that I bought a few, which I absolutely love! If you’re into shopping, then the Big C shopping centre out in Bophut has some great shops too.
Close to the Big Buddha is also the Wat Thai Plai Laem that has a big laughing Buddha, a statue of Guan Yin and other interesting statues and is a nice place to amble around in if you enjoy temples and want to spend some time doing cultural things. There is no entry fee and no dress code (other than bikinis) so you can wander around in a dress or shorts.
We started out the journey to Bophut looking for the Secret Garden, which actually turned out to be a resort, and after a lot of asking around, we found out that what we were looking for was actually known as the Narnin Magic Garden in the hills of Samui, which were in the opposite direction to Bophut! Not to be dissuaded, we decided to head there anyway but first, stopped off for some cocktails and bites at Dr. Frogs en route.
All fed and watered, we set off for the hills of Samui. Thank goodness for our Honda Switch which turned out to be quite powerful, because the hills were quite steep and it took some effort to whizz up them. Wind in our faces and green trees all around, the experience is hard to capture in words. The gardens were well worth the detour!
So, this garden is one man’s secret fantasy dream world. There is a beautiful collection of statues hidden deep in a cool, green forest, with a river cutting through it, creating an almost fairytale like allure with an air of magic. The amazing thing is that the statues were carved entirely from the imagination of this farmer, and this was his project until he died at the age of 91!
On our final evening on the island, whilst wandering around Lamai we saw a huge queue for a restaurant called Sala Thai and decided that we would also join in. I am so glad that we did because this was probably the BEST Thai food we have eaten in Thailand. Everything was ultra delicious – we ate a tonne of different food and it was such good value for money that we were pretty sad that it was our last night – otherwise we would have eaten there again! But, as cliche as it may sound, it was the perfect way to end this adventure before going back home and back to the grind. But that’s the thing about adventures…there is always the next one to look forward to! Keep posted for more, and thanks for hanging out with me!