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KOH SAMUI

Beauty and the rain

Koh Samui, Thailand

 

Koh Samui (part 1).  The Beauty and the RainKoh Samui is the most acclaimed Thai island among Italians who spend their holidays in South East Asia. It’s a fool-proof equation; therefore, Koh Samui is full of Italians. Not that I have anything against Italians in general (hubby and kids are Italian). My problem tends to appear when I find them abroad. I do not know what happens but they undergo a peculiar transformation which makes them look stereotyped, sound awkward and misbehave. They act different. How different? They become more Italian than ever!

i-Thai-lian Samui. With all those thoughts in mind, I already sensed Koh Samui was going to be Hell: I like Italians in Italy; I hate Italians abroad. And I do not mean expats or Italian that travel with a genuine interest in what they do or see or learn, I mean the typical Italian tourists.

Tourist that need a pizza Margherita in any China town, a piatto di spaghetti on a desert island (and they even complain because it’s not made come la fa mia mamma – mom’s way) I know men who even travel carrying a pack of Barilla pasta in their bags! Oh, come on, Giovanni, this is Thailand, not Naples! Or even the ones who spend a week abroad longing for espresso… do the World a favor, stay home! Sorry. I got carried away. Samui is a branch of Milan in the Asiatic world. Now forgive me, I will not write “Italy” or “Italians” again in this post, and that’s a promise. Let me go back to the Beauty this island – and the Rain.

Dream on, tour of the island

Italians Difficult tourists aside, Koh Samui is beautiful, but Beauty sometimes comes with the Beast. Ours was the rain. We barely enjoyed a couple of fresh mangoes on our first afternoon. It was a marvelous beach, but skies were stormy grey. That same night, we visited the center of Chaweng for a late dinner with fresh lobster and prawns.

Everything went smooth down the streets of colorful Samui, a bit too full of shops, but it was colorful, and I liked it. Then, out of nowhere and just like that, suddenly, it was pouring down with rain. Heavy monsoon rain all over the place. I did not have an umbrella, but I imagine umbrellas are useless in those situations. It was impossible to see a meter away from your nose. Nothing! The whole world was hidden behind a curtain. All you could was wait.

We found shelter under the roof of a Seven Eleven, behind the stand of a guy who, as if nothing happened – and I mean nothing – kept on preparing (and selling!) banana pancakes with Nutella (I*a*l**s again).

We called our hotel and they sent a taxi for us. Our driver guy, a very young guy from Puket, was going to become our guide in Samui, his names was Dream, and his pick-up would be our second home during these days: it never stopped raining, though Beauty was always there. We only needed someone who showed it to us to make us forget about the Beast.

Being Samui such a well-known place, I prefer not to bore you describing some extremely famous places, of which I choose to only place a few pictures, as usual (and you know me already) whatever information you may need, if you’re preparing your trip to Samui, if you think I can help you or if what you’re looking for is not on a guide (which I strongly doubt!), drop me a line, I am always happy to help.

Hin Ta (grandpa) and Hin Yai (grandma) – Lamai Beach

“An old couple by the name of Ta Kreng (Grandpa Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandma Riem), lived with their son who had come of age and it was time he got married. One day they decided to sail to nearby province of Prachuap Khiri Khan to ask for the hand of a woman. During their sea journey, their boat was seized by a storm and the old couple died at sea, turning into rocks as proof to the would-be bride's parents of their true intentions. The rocks stand there to this day.”

“An old couple by the name of Ta Kreng (Grandpa Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandma Riem), lived with their son who had come of age and it was time he got married. One day they decided to sail to nearby province of Prachuap Khiri Khan to ask for the hand of a woman. During their sea journey, their boat was seized by a storm and the old couple died at sea, turning into rocks as proof to the would-be bride’s parents of their true intentions. The rocks stand there to this day.”

Fresh home-made coconut ice cream – Lamai Beach

Koh Samui:   There's nothing better or more refreshing than Thai home-made coconut ice cream. Mommies: give this to your kids and go try some local silk dresses in complete peace, nobody is going to bother you while you try on amazing hand-painted dresses, I swear! (Plus, when they're done, they'll come to you and say "Here mom, this flower is for you..." you'll melt!).


 
There’s nothing better or more refreshing than Thai home-made coconut ice cream. Mommies: give this to your kids and go try some local silk dresses in complete peace, nobody is going to bother you while you try on amazing hand-painted dresses, I swear! (Plus, when they’re done, they’ll come to you and say “Here mom, this flower is for you…” you’ll melt!).

 

Koh Samui: This man painted colorful fantasy on silk, cotton and other natural fabrics.

This man painted colorful fantasy on silk, cotton and other natural fabrics.

After we visited this crazy area of Samui, full of fashionable Koreans wearing state-of-the-art hats and purses, after ice-cream, after rolled fried slices of banana (Sweet tooth raging out of control? Don’t buy them!), after buying some beautiful Thai silk dress, a few souvenirs and making tons of pictures, we got on our car again to move on, we had agreed on a 4-hour tour with Dream and Samui is truly a big island.

If you remember our bitter experience in Ayutthaya, elephants were something I still wanted to do in a different way, so – again with this limited understanding of my academic English – I did my best to explain Dream I wanted to interact with elephants in the most natural possible way. I could handle their being inside a closed area and everything, but I was not going to ride any animal nor I was in the mood for seeing any elephant with heavy burdens or ropes around them.

He nodded… did he understand? On our way to who-knows where, I was surprised by the sight of a very special temple, its colors were so surprising I asked him to park and let us enter to visit it inside as well.

 

Still under construction (so new its Buddha on the main altar was still wrapped in cellophane) this stunning red temple is built right next to the older Wat Silangu.

Still under construction, this stunning red temple is built right next to the older Wat Silangu.

 

After this visit, we drove on to reach another must in the touristic circuit of Samui: Wat Khunaram, a temple famous because of a mummified monk kept on display inside a glass box. Let’s agree on something first: I will not post pictures of this (there are plenty on the net), not because I find them disturbing. At all, but just because you might. I respect you, it’s up to you, want to see them? Go and look for them, I do not feel like imposing you something that for most Westerners might be an uncomfortable sight.

For Thai people, instead, the body of the monk is there to be worshiped because death is an opportunity to be reborn in a next and better life. So this monk is inside this upright glass casket, surrounded by flowers, candles, incense sticks and fruit offerings, it’s the body of Koh Samui’s most famous monk, Loung Pordaeng. The display of sunglasses people offer to the monk when they visit called my attention. This is because the eyeballs have dried out (rather an unpleasant view), so the monk has shades on.

Although the Wat Khunaram is not the island’s most beautiful temple, it is well worth a visit. Locals come here to make merit and pray.

We finally made it to the Elephants, but they weren’t alone, they came together with a tiring but fun trekking to Na Muang Waterfalls. Ok, they’re not the best trekking option nor the greatest waterfalls ever, but it was raining and I guess being this my first trekking experience with kids, it was quite fun.

We got to feed baby elephants and made a good laugh with them as well. We arrived just when they were having their daily bath, kids were ecstatic! They laughed so much seeing babies next to their mommies, cuddling and being tender. That was really a sweet view.

Elephants and jungle fun in Koh Samui.

Elephants and jungle fun in Koh Samui.

After so many trekking, climbing, raining and going up and down the island, we were starving to death. We asked Dream to take us to a Thai restaurant, a simple and authentic place where to taste genuine food, no frills, not for tourists. He did! And he was spot on. We invited him to share our table, but he said it was impossible to him to miss lunch at home. Since his mom had passed away he took care of his father and never failed to have lunch with him. His eyes filled with tears and I felt sorry for him. Dream was such an earnest guy, one of those pure souls you are lucky enough to just find once in a lifetime.

Longan (dragon eye): fragrant, sweet, juicy and succulent.

Longan (dragon eye): fragrant, sweet, juicy and succulent.

He came back later on to pick us up. I had told him the day before I had tried, longan, which I had found delicious… why on Earth did I ever do that? He thought I was trying to buy longan… We went around Samui for about half an hour trying to get a seller who would sell me only a kilo (they sell it by tons, apparently!). It was useless for me to keep on explaining that I was just making conversation, I was just telling him I had tried the fruit. He was still convinced that I wanted to buy them. I turned around and looked at my husband laughing in the back seat. What can I do? Let’s buy a kilo of longan!!! This was one of those Lost in translation experiences I will never forget, it was hilarious. He stopping at every vendor saying something like:

[Tweet “”Hey, ka, here a farang want to buy some longan, less than kilo”.”]

O something similar… I could only understand “farang” and “longan”. I couldn’t stop laughing.

But then, sweet Dream was there for us, as it began raining heavily again he understood kids were not going to take it much longer inside the car. So he made them a surprise, something he knew they would have loved: Muay Thai!!!

 

Muay-Thai

Dream already knew Federico was dying to visit a gym and try some Muay Thai. He made a phone call and made our day!

Moving on: Still rain in Samui.

 

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Koh Samui. Thailand.

 

 

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