My original plan was to join the rest of my tour group on a ferry and overnight bus back to Bangkok before I flew out to Aus. However, plans were swiftly altered when the chance to spend the weekend on Samui with my friend Char was offered. I quickly cancelled my hostel booking back on the Khoa San Road and booked myself a connecting flight from Samui airport back to Bangkok International. Char’s uncle and aunt live on the island six months of the year, so she was staying there for a month over Christmas before jetting off to Madagascar. I was so, so glad I did this as it gave me the chance to see another island although admittedly catching the ferry from Phangan to Samui is a pretty feeble attempt at ‘island hopping’.
Having had a sneak preview of Samui’s offering on a day trip there with the girls earlier in the week, it was with very mixed feelings that we waved goodbye to the rest of our tour members. Ali, one of the guys from the trip was starting a scuba diving course on Koh Tao the following week, so decided to join us. It was all too easy to find Ali and I a twin room in Lamai on Booking.com which was five minutes on a moped from Char’s aunt and uncles house.
Chaweng is the central area of the island, home to a large modern shopping centre (complete with Starbucks) and a buzzing strip of bars and clubs. Koh Samui has a completely different vibe to Phangan; it’s big, it’s busy and it’s brilliant. By far my favourite. Before we headed out, Char’s auntie Meaw hosted a few drinks and nibbles at their bungalow. In place of the traditional nuts and pringles that make a regular appearance during pre-drinks at my house, Meaw had made us banana sticky rice wrapped in a vine leaf, and some pickled mango. I have to admit I was a much bigger fan of the first offering than the second. My mum and I recently gave pennywort juice a try at our local Thaikhun restaurant in Cambridge. The manager literally warned us away from it, telling us it tasted of ‘grass and dirt’. She was bang on the money. Perhaps the most offensive taste was the sheer amount of sugar in it – the Thais seem to have a very sweet tooth and a strange obsession with pickling perfectly nice fruit.
After a couple of hours of dodging the plate of mango and sinking a few drinks, we got Songthaew taxis out to the strip. The bars were heaving; it was quite a jump from the dilapidated wooden stalls that lined Haad Rin beach on Koh Phangan. My favourite bar in Chaweng was The Green Mango – we knew we were at home when we found ourselves taking selfies next to a 10 ft Absolut Vodka statue. Samui seemed to have its priorities straight. The strawberry dacquiris and Changs kept on coming and this night inevitably got fairly messy – one of my favourites of the whole trip.
Breakfast the next day was wolfed down at The Outback Bar back in Lamai, the slightly quieter end of the islands. The five minute walk from our hotel to a ginormous plate of eggs and beans on toast felt like a holy pilgrimage. The rest of the day passed quickly with a bit of shopping. Samui is full of stalls and shoppings offering up fakes of varying quality – anything from convincing leather Mulberry bags and purses to Nikes. I picked myself up a lightweight Longchamp shopper bag, some Havaianas and a replacement pair of Ray Bans, all of questionable origin. These all came in so useful in Australia, with the added bonus of not having to worry about breaking or losing them as they had only cost me about a tenner in total.
In the evening, we stayed in Lamai to watch the Thai boxing. This was a bizarre experience, and it primarily involved watching scrawny boys and girls beat the shit out of eachother for the first few rounds, until the finale, where two guys emerged that actually looked capable of throwing a punch. Not really my scene so not quite as spectacular a night as our foray into Chaweng, but this may or may not have been directly linked to the collosal hangovers we were all nursing. Possibly.
My last morning on Samui was spent whizzing about Samui on rented motorbikes, visiting the Grandmother and Grandfather rocks. These are literally two rock formations at one end of the island that looked ALLEGEDLY like a vagina and a penis. Obligatory rude pictures taken , we headed off for an iced coffee before parting ways so that I could pack up my stuff and print off my boarding pass. Sad face.
In the evening, we all met up again for a wander through the Sunday market, an enormous food and clothes market that takes up about four streets in Lamai and is held every Sunday. Definitely worth a visit for cheap gifts and souvenirs. This was our momentous ‘last supper’ if you like and it was delicious. It was also a good way for me to use up the last of my Baht on tasty treats and little bits – sushi, spring rolls and spare nose studs were the order of the day. After a particularly apt screening of the Inbetweeners II at Dave’s house, I said a teary goodbye to Char and family and headed back to my hotel before my 8am taxi to the airport.
Thailand, you were an absolute pleasure.