There are so many islands in the south of Thailand and deciding which ones to visit is a good problem to have. In addition to the many top islands on the east coast, Andaman Sea side, (Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Railay Beach, Koh Lipe, Ko Yao Yai, Ko Yao Noi), you also have the west side islands in the Gulf of Thailand, (Ko Tao, Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Kood, Ko Chang plus a bunch of others)
Earlier on this journey we visited some of the islands on the Andaman Sea side. Now its time to visit the islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Samui is the largest of the three island archipelago made up by Koh Tao, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui. Each island in the Gulf of Thailand are different in their own way. If you like the party scene, beaches, backpacker bars and yoga retreats, go to Koh Pha Ngan. If you are a big fan of diving, Koh Tao is your place. If you are looking for a more built up island experience that has both midrange and luxurious resorts, with a great nightlife thrown in, Samui will set you straight.
We were both reluctant (Barbie more so, than me) to re-visit Ko Samui because we have heard how built up this island has become. Ko Samui was the first SE Asian island I visited approximately 25 years ago (1991) and it was a simple budget tropical backpacker paradise. I loved it so much that when Barbie came under the Big Doug umbrella, I was anxious to show her this piece of paradise I loved so much and we headed off to visit Samui in 2002. I was taken back by the rapid development of the island but the island still retained some of its charm. So, we headed off to Samui again to check out the current day scene here in 2016 as I just couldn’t resist seeing how the island has changed over the years. And oh boy, has it changed. A once tropical paradise has turned into a tourist clusterfuck.
We opted to stay away form the circus of Chewang Beach and chose to stay on the quieter Bophut Beach at a boutique hotel called Zazen. The decor of the place is what I like to describe as “hipster cool chic”. I’m clearly not a ‘hipster’ nor the least bit ‘chic’. However, I do qualify for being ‘cool’ so I decided the Zazen Boutique Resort would be a good spot for us cool, bad mamma jammas to plant ourselves. The resort was really nice but I was not crazy at all about Bophut Beach where the resort was located. The resort was close to Fisherman’s Village which was a fun place to visit at nighttime as it had a wide range of restaurants to eat at directly on the beach. The town of Bohphut would be a good town to pass thru when circling the island on your motorbike and stopping for lunch to check out. But, overall the town is a big zippo and really had nothing worthwhile to see.
When we returned to Samui after our visit to Koh Phangan, we stayed in the thick of the Chewang Beach action during the huge holiday called Songkran. This incredibly fun and crazy holiday happens to be Thailand’s New Year. It’s one of the most epic events to catch while visiting. Songkran is the world’s largest 3 day long water fight. 10 years ago Barbie and I celebrated Songkran in Chiang Mai and had a blast. Now we got to celebrate in Koh Samui where it is a total water war zone along the beach road. Our guns were loaded but so was everyone else’s. I played the role of a sharp shooter with my main target being Chinese tourists. I put ice water in my high powered water gun bazooka and aimed for the eyeballs and scored some great hits. Unfortunately both Barbie and I got nailed pretty good. We both got absolutely drenched.
The development of Koh Samui has really killed this once tropical paradise. The main beaches are a tourist factory with not a local in sight anymore. The only locals present are those hawking cheap clothes and assorted crap to the tourists. There are now high priced beautiful resorts that offer more seclusion from the chaos of the main towns if that is what your are looking for. However, it would be a shame to go all the way to Thailand to isolate yourself from the local Thai culture. Thailand has really blown it here. You can add Koh Samui to the long list of Thai islands that have been destroyed by pure greed. What a damn shame!
Gusto’s Italian, Bellavita, Zazen Resort, Stacked, The Onion Big Horn, McDonalds.
LOOSE STOOLS INDEX – 8
Been eating a ton of the freshest and sweetest fruit on this tropical Thai island of Samui with a focus on papaya, mango, pomelo and pineapple. The binding properties of these healthy fruits have been a net positive for the stools index.
THRU THE BINOCS-
VIP sounds pretty posh right? What does VIP in Asia mean, anyway? You would think it stands for Very Important Person or something along those lines. Every tour company allows you to pay a bit extra for this coveted VIP experience. After all, who the heck does not want to be a VIP? To be clear, when you are talking bus trips in Southeast Asia, VIP is more than likely just an AC bus and a way to entice tourists to book it. That said, it is nicer than a local non-AC bus and it may even include one bottle of warm water and a meal voucher (for a crummy meal) at one of the rest stops. It also can include AC vents stuffed with tissues, to prevent it from dripping on you. So, next time you are in SE Asia and the ubiquitous travel booking agent tries to sell you on the coveted VIP upgrade package, try to keep your expectations in check. For me personally, after traveling in SE Asia for 6 months, I have come to the conclusion that VIP, really means Vomit Inducing Probability.