Koh Samui – feet up ‘n’ f#ck em
The sleeper-train attendant pulled back my curtain and shook me gently awake: ‘…hey Mister – twenty minutes to Surat Thani.’
I opened a sleepy-eye and acknowledged him with a grunt and a shitty nod.
It was almost 2am and we (my wife and I, and our two children) had been on the go since 4.30am the previous day. We had departed my wife’s parent’s village at 6.00am in the back of a hired, pick-up truck to drive to Buriram City in order to catch the train to Bangkok (six hours away).
In Bangkok we changed trains at Bang Sue Junction. We were headed for Koh Samui in the South of Thailand, and the next part of our journey was a 10 hour+ 2nd Class Sleeper-train trip to Surat Thani, a Town on the main southern Thailand railway line. From Surat Thani we would head for Don Sak Pier (about 70km away) and catch the 5.00am ferry to Koh Samui.
The train trundled into Surat Thani station at 2am and we disembarked with a twenty-something French couple and their two-year-old son. The streets were dead except for a few sinister-looking sewer-rats out on the hunt for food, and a solitary taxi driver that had been waiting for the train to come in. We had originally intended on getting the bus to Don Sak Pier but at this time of the morning a taxi was our only option.
As my wife negotiated with the taxi driver, I got talking to the French couple. They were headed for Koh Samui too; they had travelled all the way from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand and were booked on the bus to Don Sak but decided they didn’t want to wait 6 hours (for the 8.00am bus) and asked if they could have a taxi too. Our taxi driver wanted 1200 Baht; my wife proposed that we take two taxis for 2000 Baht. The driver told us to hold on whilst he phoned his friend and then a few minutes later another taxi turned up signalling that her efforts in bartering had been successful.
It was a fair old jaunt from Surat Thani to Don Sak Pier. As we battered along the highways, I was surprised at how modern and well kempt everything looked in the south. Coming from Buriram in Issan, being in the south felt almost like being in a different country. The road infrastructure in these parts was like Europe or America. Although, Thailand’s roads, in general, were good – that’s why Thailand had the second highest ‘road fatality rate’ in the world, because Thailand’s road infrastructure was excellent and lots of shit drivers were bombing down high-speed carriageways resulting in around 80 deaths a day.
Fortunately our drivers were good and we got to Don Sak safely and in plenty of time for the ferry.
The Ferry from Don Sak to Koh Samui was 130 Baht per person and took an hour and a half to make the crossing. My wife and kids were tired so they sat in the passenger lounge whilst I went outside and leant on the metal railing, waiting on the sun coming up. A school of flying fish followed the ferry, glistening and flashing in the moonlight each time they broke the surface of the water. The sunrise – obscured by Samui, was a bit of a letdown, but the scenery was typical of what you would see in a Thailand travel brochure: rugged limestone rocks covered in vegetation and jutting out of the sea like tiny islands; and then the outline of Koh Samui appeared in front of me out of the early-morning mist.
for Koh Samui hotels see here
We took a minibus cab from the pier and headed for Lamai Beach. Chaweng Beach is the most popular destination on Samui but Lamai Beach is quieter and comes a close second. We booked into the Sea Breeze Bungalow resort at 500 Baht a bungalow (July –low season prices) and ordered some breakfast outside; it felt really cool to be here. I was a self-employed builder/joiner back home in Scotland and was usually up to my eyes in all sorts, buzzing around all over the pitch like a ‘blue-arsed fly’ most of the time. I knew it would be easy to relax on Koh Samui. I had enjoyed my time in Buriram. It had been tranquil and simple up there, but being on Koh Samui was like being on a proper holiday, and the stresses and strains of everyday life evaporated in an instant the moment I walked down the steps onto the white, sandy beach.
F#ck it, I thought, my phone and laptop were getting switched off for the duration of Samui and I was extricating myself from the information/telecommunication, supersonic-cybersonic-electronic-highway. And so I did. I turned off my phone and ate good food, internet-free. We hired motorbikes and toured the island. We rode up to the Samui Highlands and had lunch in a hilltop restaurant with a bus load of German and Scandinavian tourists. We visited ‘Hin Ta and Hin Yai’ – a natural rock formation on the coastline near Lamai known as Grandpa (Ta) and Grandma (Yai) that resemble the male and female genitalia. We rode down to Chaweng Beach and done a bit of shopping in a fancy mall that hadn’t been there on my last visit to Samui some years ago. We got blessed by a monk at the ‘Big Buddha’ Temple near the airport, and my daughter and I got tattoos. Most importantly, however, we lounged around on the beach a lot and swam in the tepid, turquoise sea.
for Koh Samui hotels see here
I was loving it. We only had a little over a week left in Thailand and I wanted to spend as much time on Samui as I could before we had to head for Chonburi to see my wife’s Thai daughter (my step-daughter) and our wee grandson.
And then Joy and Bao showed up…
Joy was my wife’s cousin who lived on Koh Phi Phi, and Bao was her boyfriend. Joy and Bao were (fairly) financially well-off for Thai standards. Joy was a traditonal Thai-masseuse who owned two Thai massage places on Tonsai West Beach on Koh Phi Phi; Bao had two longtail boats that he used for sightseeing tours and snorkelling around Phi Phi for backpackers and tourists.
It was my birthday when they turned up and that evening we went to a delicious, seafood, beachside restaurant to celebrate my birthday. I was glad Joy and Bao had turned up; it had made my day more of an occasion. We ate our meal and then a birthday cake was brought out by the staff and everyone sung to me ‘Happy Birthday to you…’.
I don’t drink but as the others sat around chatting over a beer or two I heard it mentioned that we should go to Koh Phi Phi for a couple of days. My immediate reaction was that I didn’t want to go to Koh Phi Phi. Koh Samui was good for me – I needed to relax and had done enough travelling about Thailand. Koh Phi Phi for a couple of days? If we went to Koh Phi Phi that would be more travelling, added to the fact that if we went to Koh Phi Phi, we’d be further away from Chonburi and ultimately that would mean even more travelling again.
But the others were ‘pissed up’ (drunk) and full of ideas. before I could say ‘geez a f#ckin’ brek fur f#ck sake’. The plans had been made and we were leaving for Phi Phi first thing in the morning. I didn’t feel so bad when I found out that Joy and Bao had a fancy, MG car – it would still be a fair bit of travelling (12 hours in total – ferries and road) but at least we didn’t have to go on public transport, I suppose…
Read my Koh Phi Phi post here
Read more stories like this here
for Koh Samui hotels see here
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Only Raising Dust On The Road
The first Part of my book/novel (novella – approx. 25,000 words in Part 1) is available for download at Amazon in Kindle format.
Only Raising Dust On The Road
By Raymond Carroll
A novel set in Thailand
Part 1 – ‘Buckfast, Lager, & Fags’
‘Only Raising Dust On The Road’ is a novel set in Thailand. The book has been serialised into 4 novella length books.
Part 1 – Buckfast, Lager & Fags (approx. 26,000 words), follows a group of friends from around the globe as they embark on a money-making enterprise to Thailand.
Micky, is a heavy-drinking, drug-using Scotsman who has been hired by his friend ‘Slim’ to manage a bar on a tropical island on Thailand’s eastern gulf coast. Slim’s business partners: Sanjit – a South African-born Indian, and Connie – a white, Afrikaner Durbanite and Sanjit’s girlfriend, have recruited Winston (Sanjit’s South African Indian – ‘hood-rat’ – cousin) to be bartender. Can the mismatched motley-crew make this venture work? Nothing in Thailand is ever as it seems and dangers abound along the way.
The story is told from a multiple character first person point of view and takes place in the late 1990’s.
‘Only Raising Dust On The Road’ is a work of fiction.
Lots of profanity throughout. 18+
Part 2 – ‘Same-Same But Different’ on sale at Amazon…
Buy Part 1 of Only Raising Dust On The Road on Kindle and paperback at Amazon
‘In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.’
Copyright © 2017 Raymond Carroll