Right Turn, Right Time- Or, Nothing Ever Works out How I Think it Will

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:

Free WiFi.

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.

28 Responses to Right Turn, Right Time- Or, Nothing Ever Works out How I Think it Will

  1. Gemma January 25, 2011 at 9:14 AM #

    What a great chance you took, and looks like it paid off. Sounds like the perfect trip, sleeping in and waking up to the beach!

  2. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World January 25, 2011 at 10:40 AM #

    Whoa, that place looks really nice. What a stroke of luck, but after the hospital visit and what not, you guys deserved it 🙂

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:55 AM #

      Seriously- we needed some major r&r

  3. Rease January 25, 2011 at 1:53 PM #

    Oh no, you missed some links! Just thought I’d let you know.

    Also, I agree about palm trees. In Buenos Aires they have palm trees in the most random places in the city. I absolutely adore seeing a palm tree with a skyscraper in the background.

    ps- That hammock looks divine.

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:53 AM #

      doh! thanks.

      The hammock was super comfy and big enough for two! a winner in my book.

  4. Maggie January 25, 2011 at 3:37 PM #

    Sounds like a wonderful spot to enjoy the beauty of Thailand’s beaches! I find when I travel, that often the best things do to and places to stay are recommendations from other travelers. Guide books are great, but a fellow traveler was JUST there last week; they know what’s really going on. I’m so glad you got to stay at such a nice and relaxing place!

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:52 AM #

      Yeah the first thing I usually do when I’m heading somewhere new is ask Twitter for recommendations. You can’t beat first hand information.

  5. Katherina January 25, 2011 at 6:24 PM #

    By Beach sounds amazing… When I went on a road trip around Mexico with a couple of friends, searching accommodation (also during high season), we ended up at this hippy beach “resort”, with wood cabins, hammocks, home made food and reggae concerts every night. Sometimes there is a reward for the hopeless search, right?

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:50 AM #

      And it’s so awesome when you find great accommodation isn’t it? Just makes all the difference.

  6. Adventurous Kate January 26, 2011 at 2:27 AM #

    Awesome recommendation! I’ll be honest — I had no desire to visit Koh Samui, but after hearing about this place, it sounds more or less perfect! (You had me at Free WiFi.) Perhaps I’ll stop by pre- or post-Phangan…

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:47 AM #

      Go post-Phangan- I promise you’ll want the break.

  7. Bobbi Lee Hitchon January 26, 2011 at 6:03 PM #

    Great advice. I’ll be heading to Thailand in about a month and am soooo nervous about being bombarded by people. I want a hammock, sand, water and nothing else for a few days. Hope to stop by By The Beach. Enjoy your next destination.

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:46 AM #

      Tell them hello for me!

  8. Audrey January 26, 2011 at 9:43 PM #

    Isn’t it great when you find a place that you just absolutely love and want to tell everyone about it?

    I am so glad that our general advice about heading to the Bang Po area led you to By Beach and the days of relaxation and calm you needed after Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. Although, you guys seemed to take the good weather with you from the island…it’s been raining almost every day since then!

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:45 AM #

      Yeah, it absolutely poured our last couple days here- still, better to be cooped up somewhere nice than somewhere horrible!

      Thanks again for the tip!

  9. Theodora January 27, 2011 at 12:21 AM #

    That does look sweet for Koh Samui. We lucked out with a similar slice of paradise on Koh Chang — Treehouse, which is down the quiet end of the island.

    It’s nice to see that you can still find those idyllic little places somewhere as developed as Samui, and get an experience much closer to what so many come to Thailand for and so few actually find.

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:44 AM #

      Yeah, this was probably the closest I got to my ideal Thailand experience- it’s hard to escape from the bullshit that seems to pervade just everywhere.

  10. Amy January 27, 2011 at 1:06 AM #

    It’s so freeing to not have plans and great when it all works out! 🙂 It makes for a wonderful trip when all the pieces fall into place!

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:43 AM #

      Yeah, it’s so nice to have the freedom to fall into unexpected situations.

  11. Kirsty January 29, 2011 at 10:16 AM #

    This sounds like a wonderful place to just chill for a few days. We’ll be heading to the Islands in April: I want to stay here now!!! 🙂

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 7:03 AM #

      tell them i say hi!

      • Debbie October 19, 2011 at 2:51 PM #

        Your trip to By Beach sounds exactly what my husband and I need. I have been looking over 3 months for the ideal, low cost vacation. I read they have no website. Do you have an email address for them?

Leave a Reply