This is the last time I visit Thailand during high season. The weather is great sure, but there are just so many PEOPLE everywhere. This makes for a great city atmosphere but it is really not a plus when considering a tropical island vacation.
Because of this I was kind of leery about visiting Ko Samui. Sitting on the Pacific coast (opposite of Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta), Samui is very popular with travelers- from backpackers to families to resort loving honeymooners. It’s home to McDonalds and Starbucks and all those other lovely bits of home I came here to escape. It even has it’s own airport. I assumed that in the uber-popular month of Thailand it would be absolutely crammed to the gills with people.
I was afraid of another situation like in Phi Phi (where the only room available on the entire island was roughly 5 times our price range). I tried vainly to plan ahead and book accommodations online, but there wasn’t a thing to be found under 2000 baht. We would have to just show up and take our chances.
Still, there was something so alluring about the pictures of Samui. I think it was the palm trees. I’ve become a bit of a palm tree connoisseur on this trip, I’ve seen about a billion of them between Australia and Thailand but I never seem to get tired of them. Ko Samui promised those perfect, tall skinny palm trees that stretch out over miles of beach, dropping coconuts on unsuspecting heads. I can’t resist them.
So we plunged almost blindly off the ferry. Who knows where we would have ended up if it weren’t for the advice of Audrey and Dan of Uncornered Market. Probably in the crowded, girly bar filled areas of Chaweng or Lamai. It would have been the path of least resistance, after all that’s where most of the tourists and the guest houses congregate. Instead, we took their advice to check out the quieter area of Bang Po.
After a bus unceremoniously dumped us by the side of a road near nothing even remotely resembling a guest house, were started to get worried. We probably walked bout half a kilometer with slowly sinking hope when I spotted a small sign by the roadside “By Beach: A Budget Beach Resort.” We followed the arrow down a side road… and into a small slice of paradise. All of those things I’d lusted for: a near deserted beach, with a bar, and palm trees! And even a hammock!
And the words every blogger longs to hear:
What followed was seemingly endless days of sleeping in, lying in the hammock, eating yummy Thai food and writing at the water’s edge. The owner’s two pet dogs wrestled at our feet. At night we sipped beers and watched the ocean fade from aqua to deep navy. One evening I decided to go for a night swim and floated on my back, watching the stars as somewhere nearby, fireworks went off.
By Beach, one of the owners told me at the bar one night, is run by a group of resort architects. Running the resort is just a hobby of theirs. Their office is in the main building and the design buildings by day and socialize with the guests by night.
We spent 5 nights at the By Beach resort, left for Ko Phangan, then felt compelled to return for another 3 nights. After the reckless, long party nights of the Full Moon Party, and a traumatic hospital visit, it just felt right to sink into a few more days of relaxation.
I think what I’m learning in Thailand more than anything else, is to just give up on having expectations. Research and planning are all good, but combination of good luck and good advice I think is probably key to so many great travel experiences. So often it’s easy to follow the conventional wisdom, to do what everyone else is doing. But when those two things combine, and you find yourself drinking Changs with your new friends as the ocean gently rolls in the background and the owner’s pet dog licks your foot, that’s just the best.
* By Beach didn’t pay me or comp me in any way for writing this, in fact they don’t even have a website. I genuinly enjoyed my time there so I wanted to share with you guys.