We conquered our long flight from Heathrow by sharing favorite wedding memories, reading about the Thai islands and watching three (subpar) movies: Finding Dory, Suicide Squad, and The BFG. Koh Samui’s airport welcomed us in the humidity with a one loop baggage claim, and a small taxi stand of drivers eager to pick up tourists. We were using Koh Samui for its convenient airport, but we’d be heading immediately out to Koh Tao, a smaller island famous for snorkeling and diving. However, at the ferry dock, we were told the Koh Tao ferries were canceled for the day as there was ‘big wave’. ‘Big wave’ meant that it wasn’t safe for boats to travel to Koh Tao until the following morning.
A small glitch in our travel plans, but we made the most of it. After a quick booking at the Mermaid Inn, we started to explore this part of Samui island. We passed the ‘smelly market’, as locals call it, due to the numerous fish vendors who throw out their fish remains at the market entrance. I was wowed with the toads, and mounds of homemade curry pastes on display.
It was easy to spot the major landmark here: The Big Buddha. The Big Buddha was very big indeed. It was flanked by various smaller statues and ngars (snake like figures). I used a kimono style robe from the shared tourist rack at the entrance as my shorts were not long enough to enter the grounds. This was a first of many borrowed accessories needed to enter temples in Thailand.
Leaving the temple, we wandered towards the Bob Marley jams playing out of a local spot. It was decorated with shells, colorful lights, and cabanas with bean bags. The owner let us know the food set out was free and that we should help ourselves to fresh seafood! She hailed from Leicester and had been living in Samui for eight years. We met a variety of characters that night since she had a group of English friends reuniting together on an island vacation.
We tried the various Thai beers to find a favorite for the remainder of the trip (Singha, Leo, and Chang– in that order for me). The evening was so relaxing even though we didn’t make it to Koh Tao as planned. We’d be on the first ferry at 8am the next morning.
I’m not really sure how to post about today. We were in a rocky situation with our boat trying to get to Koh Tao—so much so that we didn’t make it to the island. The waves were so rough that we, and all of the passengers, were holding on for dear life.
Blogging for the memory of this event seems strange as it was an unforgettable experience. Passengers were losing their stomachs all over the place, the anchor of the boat broke off and hit the front window on the boat, and the waves were so high that even while Corey was gripping his seat, he was still flying up in the air. I spent most of my time squeezing his arm, keeping my eyes shut tight, and using my deepest yoga breathing. He was a rock for me while the waves were crashing on top of the boat, and he was also a source of calm for other people as well. The Thai crew were barefoot outside on the bow in the sheets of rain trying to fix the anchor, but no one gave any announcements about what was happening when the motor stopped! It felt like an eternity before they told us we’d go back to Koh Pha Ngan due to ‘big wave’. One of the crew members played ‘My Heart Will Go On’ as we filed off of the boat. I didn’t think it was funny.
We spent the next 24 hours with a small group of travelers- the You Only Boat Once crew (YOBO!). We huddled around a cell phone and wet maps to find a place to stay on such short notice, especially as so many places were packed with full-moon-partygoers. We found the Sabaii Bay hotel and made our way to what felt like an oasis. It had been two days on the islands and I hadn’t laid on a beach, but I was grateful just to be on land!
We went for lunch in a garage with a woman cooking the daily specials in just four silver pots. We took a walk in the rain just because we could. Then we had happy hour with the YOBO crew: a newlywed couple from Vancouver, a younger couple from Gothenburg, and an Argentinian woman about our age traveling on her own. The day’s events definitely brought us closer together. We shared stories about traveling, work, and ‘must see’ places for our remaining weeks late into the evening. It felt like a good sign that the rain stopped while we were getting to know one another.
Our boat ride was an easy one! The weather was sunny and I even had time to walk on the beach before we took off. Before the trip, everyone in the YOBO crew seemed to be carefully weighing breakfast options in anticipation for the upcoming ride. Overall, we were all in hopeful spirits with the sun shining. On the boat, we sat in our same seats, almost superstitiously.
Just walking to into our last hotel on Koh Samui was incredibly different to our past two evenings. This hotel was luxury. Thank you, SPG points!
We changed into our bathing suits for the first time in three days. We read on deck chairs, swam in the ocean, had drinks in the infinity pool and basically ordered everything on the menu. We surrendered to complete and utter relaxation.
Though we didn’t leave the resort hotel, we did run along the beach the next morning to see the other bungalows down the coast. We also felt proud of our mini workout in the fitness room before the breakfast buffet! La gon (goodbye) Thailand, for now, but we’ve got plans to get back to Koh Tao in the future.
*Apologies that this post is out of order. These Thai islands were actually the start of our honeymoon!