Travel Tuesday with Taylor to Koh Samet, Thailand
by Taylor Deer
It’s Beach Time!
Greetings from the Thai Islands!
After adventuring through the mountains of Chiang Mai, we were ready to be on island time! I was hoping to make it to the popular beach area of Phuket, but since we traveled to Thailand during the summer, which is monsoon season, it was best that we stay in the Gulf of Thailand area.
To get to the islands, we had to hop on a flight from Chiang Mai back to Bangkok and then drive two and a half hours south to a port where a boat would pick us up and take us to Koh Samet. After a few delays at the airport, we finally landed in Bangkok and were on our way. Things got a little crazy as we hauled our heavy luggage’s and bags onto a dock and the crewmembers would throw them onto a small long tail boat that each of us would eventually hop into. Thankfully, we all made it work!
The boat ride from the port to Koh Samet was around 20 minutes and we were lucky to get a beautiful sunset over the beautiful Thai mountains. As we got to the islands, I felt like I was living a dream, everything was so peaceful! There were lovers enjoying their honeymoon; 20-somethings having a bon fire on the beach; kids having fun on the island’s wooden swings and the locals carried big smiles on their faces.
When we finally arrived at our resort, our boat docked in the water. In Thailand, whenever you travel to an island by boat you have to walk through the water to get to the beach. When I was first told this, I was slightly confused as I was trying to figure out how we would do that without all of our stuff getting wet.
Well, the water surrounding the island is very shallow and the boat pulls close up to the point where the water is barely ankle high. You just take off your sandals and walk through the water, while the crewmembers will help carry your luggage to the main lobby of the hotel. It was actually pretty cool!
Our resort in Koh Samet was very different than a typical hotel that you would usually stay at when you vacation in the United States or Europe. There was a main lobby, but your room would be in a little hut. There were a ton of huts around the lobby area, but the hut that my cousin Tara and I stayed in was a trek up of the island’s little mountain. It was peaceful and full of the island’s beautiful nature, but I have to admit that it was tiring walking up and down that hill everyday.
We were all exhausted after traveling all day and it was raining heavy outside that we decided to get a quiet dinner at a local restaurant down the beach from our resort and then go straight to bed.
When I woke up the next morning, I was so excited to enjoy the adventures planned for us around the islands of Koh Samet. After enjoying a beachfront breakfast at our resort, we hopped on a boat that took us out to sea. No matter what kind of a mood I am in, being on a boat or just near the sea in general always has me living in the moment.
The Island of Koh Thalu
The first island we stopped at was called Koh Thalu. The water here was crystal blue and there were views of the beautiful mountains from afar. There were also beautiful seashells and sand dollars scattered around the beach. At this moment, I felt so far away from everything and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. This is the Thai Islands I have always dreamt about.
After our boat docked, we walked through the water onto the beach where we were given snorkeling gear. I was so excited to snorkel and see what treasures hid in the Gulf of Thailand. The water was so warm from Thailand’s heat and I loved how I was able to see my feet at the bottom of the sea. I was so used to the murky brown waters on the main land that it was nice to finally be able to swim in island-blue waters.
We were able to see beautiful fish, coral and sea urchins, which we had to watch out for as they ended up stinging a few people. The other thing we had to watch out for was the jellyfish. One of the big differences when you swim in Southeast Asia compared to the East Coast in North America is that you have to always be on guard since there are definitely deadlier creatures. These guys were huge!
When we were finished snorkeling, the locals had a nice spread of fresh pineapple, cantaloupe and watermelon waiting for us in the shade. We were also able to enjoy our fresh fruits and the stunning views of the island on the wooden swings.
After our fun adventure in Koh Thalu, we headed back on the boat, which took us to a cove with much deeper waters. When we got there, you can tell the water was deeper as it was a darker blue. The cool thing about this area is that there were bigger fish swimming around us. One of the crewmembers dumped leftover watermelon into the water and we got to see a whole swarm of fish swim up to us. It was hilarious watching them swim around my legs, but I think I was laughing more at the fact that my life vest was way too big that I started to sink into it. (Imagine that!)
I am not a fan of wearing life vests since I can swim and float in deep waters for a long period of time (thanks to all of those summers spent at the Jersey Shore), but it was required that we wear them when we were snorkeling. I ended up feeling a little sick after that adventure since my body was sinking into the vest and I was rocking back and forth way too much from the tide. I couldn’t wait to sit on a beach and take a short nap.
Luckily, the next island on our boat tour was where we were going to relax. Prior to visiting Koh Samet, I was looking online and saw that the island offers a beautiful dock with mountain views and crystal blue water. When we arrived at this island, the pictures of Koh Samet came to life. The sand was warm and welcoming, so I laid my towel down and let the sun hit my face for a bit. We also got to walk on the dock and take cute pictures. Before we left, we also enjoyed delicious coconut ice cream from one of the island’s vendors.
When we arrived back at our resort, we enjoyed a Thai lunch on the beach and swam in the water for a bit.
Later that evening, we all got dressed up and enjoyed a lovely sunset dinner at the beautiful resort next to ours. I enjoyed delicious seafood fried rice that was served in a pineapple. It was one of my favorite meals during my time in Thailand.
After dinner, we took a tuk-tuk to downtown Koh Samet, also known as the island’s public beach. One of the things that I didn’t know about this island is that it is run by the Cue – also known as Thailand’s government. Since the government runs it, the entire island has a curfew of 10:30pm. I was a little disappointed that there was a curfew, but I still enjoyed my time. When we got to the beach, we enjoyed our time singing and dancing the night away at Lido Beach Bar. They played a variety of American and Spanish music and they were running a great happy hour special on tropical drinks.
We didn’t want the night to be over at 10:30pm, so we ended up finding a nearby black light bar called Naga Bar. I am assuming since this place was open later than the curfew, that it was owned by the Cue. It didn’t stop us from having a good time though. They had a variety of different colored body paint. My friends painted a cool tribal color on my face. The music that played at Naga Bar was the kind of music they used to play at the house parties I attended in college, so it was a good time!
Over the next few beach days, we had a ton of fun activities planned such as parasailing, banana boating and jet skiing, but because it rained on and off, they were unfortunately called off. I was bummed out about it, but figured that it would be my opportunity to relax, enjoy great food and get a well-needed Thai massage.
On the island, there was a huge area dedicated to Thai massages. They were super cheap, so I bought quite a few services. I got a full body massage, facial as well as head and neck rubs. The massage services ranged from 400-600 Thai baht, which is equivalent to around 12-18 USD (at home, I spend an average of $120 on a massage). It was an amazing deal and we even got to listen to the small waves crash along the shore. You definitely can’t get that at your local spa in the States.
In Thailand, there are a lot of stray dogs and cats wandering around the different areas. No matter where you go, you can be sure you will see a cute animal strolling by. Around the massage area, there was a litter of newborn puppies wandering around. They were so adorable that I just wanted to take them all home. Luckily both the mother and father dogs were near them and always searching for food. I felt so bad, but there were a ton of warm souls on the island that kept feeding the puppies and giving them fresh water.
Later on in the afternoon, I enjoyed another amazing dish that consisted of glass noodles, crab and fresh veggies with a Thai iced tea on the side. Since we had some time to kill, we also enjoyed waffle sundaes for dessert.
That night, we headed back to Naga Bar where I painted another design on my face and then we walked around and explored a few of the other bars on the island. It was just as fun as the previous night.
Unfortunately, the weather in Koh Samet wasn’t that great during our last day, so we did a few more Thai massages and even rented floats to relax on the water with. I also got to catch up on a few of the books I brought with me to Thailand and take a nap. Sometimes you just need some R&R.
We ended our time in Koh Samet with a beautiful waterfront dinner that featured gorgeous bamboo trees and a fun fire show on the beach. I was amazed at how talented the guys twirling the fire were. They did a bunch of cool tricks and even did an amazing fire circle right by the water. It was awesome!
I cannot believe my Thailand blog tour has come to an end. I hope you all enjoyed reading about my adventures in this amazing country. I definitely recommend everyone to travel to Thailand at some point in his or her lives to get an amazing and eye-opening cultural experience. I learned so much about myself on this trip and I cannot wait to come back here at some point in the future.
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