Took a recent weekend trip to Koh Samui. A chill little island in the south, that to date, is not quite as busy as other beach areas.
Part of the reason for the sparseness is that it is hard to get to. One way to arrive is via a cheap flight to Surat Thani, a bus ride to the ferry pier and an hour boat ride. The other way is a direct flight on Bangkok Airways which owns the airport and, thus, can charge what they choose. They choose pricey.
However, they get there, there are still quite a few tourists and expats. Per capita, there is an elevated number of french bakeries and italian restaurants, in addition to bars and cafes. There are also quite a few Muay Thai boxing arenas and training centers. Not sure how it started, but there is a critical mass and a community here and a fight can be found most nights.
A tropical depression in the area meant the weather was a bit unsettled, so our plans for beach/poolside reading were hampered, so we headed out into the greater island to explore.
There are go-karts and shooting ranges and deep sea fishing which we didn’t do. There are several waterfalls to hike to, which we did.
Tamin Magic Garden is a mountaintop tourist spot at the end of a quasi-treacherous drive created over decades by an old durian farmer on his land. The result of an excess of money, time and concrete.
One highlight is the Samui Snake show. For some twenty-five years, this guy has made a business of showing and performing with snakes. He’s also the trainer for the police and rescue folks on how to catch and remove snakes from things like toilets and pools and backyards.
It is an interesting walk around his site with penned up snakes and other reptiles. He has a couple of 12 foot King cobras, “Mr. Strong and Mrs. Poomee”, that live together. He talks to them and they respond to the sound of his voice. Straight out of “Harry Potter” when this cobra uncoils out of its box, opens its hood and rises 4 feet off the ground, issuing a deep throaty hiss.
There are pythons, too. And a 14 foot crocodile. And monitor lizards. He raises chickens. The strongest become fighters. The others get fed to the animals. It is the wild kingdom there.
The pinnacle is the snake show at the end. This part led by the son. It is 10 minutes of scorpions, centipedes, and snakes. Dancing, dodging, weaving.
Here’s a video of part of the show. My laugh may indicate that I’m enjoying, but really I’m quite terrified.
And finally there are night markets, that rotate around the island. The place to be in the evening. With street food including some uncommon dishes like porchetta sandwiches and street entertainment.
In all, a relaxed time, if not cheap. Given the airfare, I’m not sure I’d go again without good reason. Thailand is full of beaches and waterfalls and markets. I think there would be a better use of funds.