Samui Adventures Continued
And here I am again, guiding you through the beautiful island of Samui, Thailand. As promised in my previous post, I will take you to some great sightseeing spots, as well as introduce you to the wild Chaweng Beach where one can find any, and by any I mean ANY, kind of entertainment to his or her own taste.
I was anxious to scuba dive in Thailand, as I had heard multiple tales from my fellow diver friends about some exciting diving sites in this part of the world. But for the sake of spending more quality time with the family, my dad and I (the only diving aficionados) decided to dedicate just one whole day to this leisure activity and chose to explore the Koh Tao reserve that lies 50 miles away from Samui.
Even though the diving was not as impressive as I expected for the reason of low visibility, the island itself was absolutely charming. Featuring a beautiful beach with the clearest water and seductive aromas stemming from authentic Thai restaurants, Koh Tao will be remembered as a delightful paradise for wandering nomads. Covered in hot, silky sand and stroked by a gentle sea breeze, I tried to soak in all that beauty to be able to retain it forever.
One day we rented a boat and went on a cruise to the Ang Thong National Marine Park, an archipelago of tiny inhabited islands scattered haphazardly by God’s hand. This park is mostly known as a setting to a mediocre yet beautiful movie The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tilda Swinton. It offers amazing snorkeling sites hidden underneath the mysterious caves. Adventurers can also enjoy kayaking from island to island, hiking or even camping. The best part of the trip was having a cozy family picnic on a deserted beach, not being bothered by a noisy tourist crowd.
Another great thing to do in Samui is elephant trekking along the picturesque waterfalls. You will get a real sense of adventure, riding an elephant through a verdurous jungle. Crunch some delicious durian chips at the local market or bathe in smooth mineral water of Na Muang waterfalls to feel like a newborn again.
After that you can pay a visit to the famous mummified monk who predicted his own death, abandoned everything to become a hermit, and whose body was then found by his followers, almost untouched by time. According to the legend, his visitors should get down on their knees and shake a tube with wooden sticks with the predictions about their future. The stick that will fall out is going to tell you all about your destiny in very bad English.
As another tribute to Thai traditions, visit the biggest statue of the Golden Buddha on the island. You’ll have to climb a steep staircase, barefoot, to glare at the monument in the rays of the twilight sun. There are about 30 bronze bells hanging along the perimeter of the observation deck, so the goal is to bang each one of them and make a separate wish. According to Thai beliefs, they will all come true. Oh well, I really hope so!
Proceeding to the nightlife entertainment, Chaweng is one of the busiest and noisiest neighborhoods in Samui. It’s a several miles long street with hundreds of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops. Good-looking transvestites will fight for your attention and act as drama queens if you don’t acknowledge their charms. Be careful with taking pictures, they will most likely ask for some cash in return.
Thailand is famous for its crafted salesmen who have been polishing the art of negotiation on relaxed tourists for years. So if you want to shop around, be prepared for some serious battles. And I’ll tell you what, shopping in Thailand is so worth it. Hundreds of fake Hermès and Prada purses in the lit-up windows will be beckoning you to peep inside. And you absolutely can’t tell the difference once you examine one such bag. High-quality fake Hermès is the most valued, therefore, the most expensive one (about $500); however, it will still cost you 10 times less than the authentic purse. While waiting for the table in one of the multiple restaurants, try a trendy fish pedicure or check out local jewelry stores.
My favorite restaurants in Chaweng were Red Snapper and Prego. Red Snapper is a high-end seafood restaurant with a modern twist on traditional recipes. The winner dish is obviously red snapper steamed in a complicated Asian sauce. Prego is an elegant Italian restaurant, a recipient of multiple restaurant awards, that offers a variety of delicious pasta dishes, an exquisite wine list and perfect service.
Chaweng never sleeps, and the boisterous crowd of thrill seekers is substituted in the morning by loud-mouthed, early bird merchants who haste to open their businesses to please another wave of curious tourists.
If I’ll ever get a chance to visit Thailand again, I will definitely check out Similan Islands, a national marine park that ranks among top 10 dive sites in the world. And for now, come back soon for my new adventures around the globe. Ciao!