The Shrinking Islands (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan) Part 1

Koh Samui
Jethro: Last you all heard, we were rooftop infinity pooling in Vietnam, nearly 3 weeks ago. Since then, we seem to have adopted a distinctly slower southern island place to our writing. Sorry! Our next destination we ended up staying at for 2 weeks, so really we’re only a week behind on our blogs.

Peach: Only something really amazing could’ve torn us away from a luxury apartment with a private gym, rooftop pool, and comfortable bed (a rarity in this part of the world). The islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan were just that – amazing. 

Private beach

The approach to the By Beach Resort bungalows was via a road that hadn’t been built yet and we walked past the bungalows (which were built on little stilts) and through the quirky garden full of hanging ornaments and a bicycle swing to get to the beachside reception area. We were already in love with the place but then we sat in the resort restaurant on the private beach for Thai food (I hadn’t realised how much I had missed Thai food). Resort makes it sound quite posh but it really wasn’t, it was rustic and down to earth. The private beach wasn’t really private but the only sensible way of getting to it was through the resort so it wasn’t really a beach that people could come across it easily. 

Of course, on our first full day we hired a moped and darted around the island looking for cool and interesting spots. We went around the entire island and in the evening we found a food market where we stopped for super tasty (and spicy!) Thai food. During our moped adventure we had spotted a cool beachside bar with big colourful lanterns where we stopped off later for beer and cocktails. We were given an elephant photo frame by the extra enthusiastic host which we conveniently ‘forgot’ to take with us as we don’t really want to be adding stuff to our backpacks.

Jethro: We were in a super nice spot in the bungalows, where you could (we didn’t) watch both sunrise and sunset. There were a few awesome viewpoints we saw, and some very steep jungle surrounded hills. Annoyingly enthusiastic loudspeaker trucks roll around toting thai boxing matches, with cheesy music over the top. We took a random dog for a walk and found out that data Sims here cost 4X the amount as the mainland.

Koh Pha Ngan
Peach: We took a ferry to the next island, Koh Pa Ngan (smaller than the last island), and stayed on the south coasts in an area called Ban Tai in a really cool cafe/guesthouse called Bubba’s Cafe – the staff are super friendly and give us a free coffee in the cafe everyday. As it’s not the high season we are the only ones staying (out of just three guest rooms in total) so we have the living area and bathroom to ourselves. We went for a walk on our first day and it was soooo hot, but we found a beach to walk along and the sea breeze helped cool us off. 

It had been nearly two days since we explored somewhere on a moped so the friendly cafe dude sorted us out so we could get our fix. We zoomed along, Jethro navigating his way up the mountain road and back down again, expertly getting us safely over the dirt roads and around the tight corners. We came to a stop when a barrier and a couple of guards got in our way though. They instructed us to park up and carry on the road by foot – we had reached a National Park type area and motorbikes were not permitted to drive through. So we started walking (running in between shady spots because it was so hot) until the road stopped abruptly at the edge of a shady forested area. Just a few minutes walk further through the palm trees we were greeted with the most beautiful and postcard-perfect beach, with white sand and sparkling water. The beach wasn’t very big but there was enough space for a little restaurant constructed mostly of bamboo, and driftwood where we sat blogging, reading and eating the most delicious Laksa curry noodles. On the curve of the bay were bungalows on stilts, which looked almost if they were themselves climbing up the hill. 

Jethro: Paradises still exist boys and girls! This was unspoilt and beautiful. Blue sky and picture perfect white fluffy clouds that looked like they were drawn for a Toy Story movie drifted overhead. The food was excellent and cheap, the water cool, the atmosphere alive but chilled. It was as close to beachside perfection that I can Imagine.

Peach: It’s quite spectacular how suddenly things, like the weather, can change. Just minutes after we were at the beach in the beautiful sunshine we got hit with some brutal rain. By the time we had driven back to the guesthouse we looked as though we had jumped fully clothed into a swimming pool. After a while it had calmed just enough to go down the road for some food but while we were out the downpour started up again and we stayed in the restaurant (Memory Restaurant – amazing food…), stranded, until it had stopped. 

As much as we wanted to go back to that beach the next day, we managed to convince ourselves to go and see the west side of this tiny island. 

We found a cool treehouse bar/restaurant towards the north of the island
Cool beach with palm tree swing on the west side of the island
Playing around climbing the palm tree

Jethro: During some exploring, we found the limits of our offroading skills. We were not super sure where we because our moody sat-nav lady was not speaking to us. She won’t tell us what’s wrong (standard girl), but she doesn’t speak out directions anymore, she just makes a “dong” sound when we’ve gone past a turning. Can’t for the life of me work out why, and it’s too much effort to keep pulling over and checking the map. So we were ambiguously located when we went down the enticing dirt path. It started a bit bumpy, and got steadily worse. The random bay it seemed to be going towards (no road on Google maps to it) looked like it was going to be worth it so we carried on. Shortly after passing an abandoned moped on the side of the track, we did the same. The scraggly walk continued going and going, we had gone a kilometre or so when a truck went past and we jumped on the back. It was attached to a place down there, and as no-one could drive a moped there they ferry customers up and down. The beach we found at the bottom was exquisite and basically empty.

Most people get here by boat it seems. We ended up hitchhiking up with two random dudes back to the moped, as the taxi truck didn’t seem to be going anymore. Peach walked while I just about drove/pushed the moped up the track to tarmac and safety.
Later that evening we went to a super-duper cute outdoor cinema, with comfy lounging/beds everywhere, and a chill area covered in fairy lights (we’re both suckers for a solid fairy light display). Saw Logan, which was terrible, and not just because it had a watermark near the end for the website they pirated it from. Maybe I’m turning into a hippie, but that movie was just mindless violence, with nothing substantial to it.

Comfy floor cushions inside the cinema

We got our first hattrick when we visited memory restaurant on 3 separate occasions. The eating here (Thailand as a whole) is incredible. Island life is much more expensive than everywhere else we’ve been, but exploring beaches and hiking around is free so we saved money doing that over the advertised tourist activities.
On one of our last nights we went back to Than Sadet and stayed in one of the cliff bungalows, and got up early to watch sunrise from the bed. We then moved to the hammock, and then walked along the beach getting all the photos. It was a weird mix of peppy early-morning-risers, and wasted just-got-back-from-the-nighters. The sea here has a weird problem where sometimes it stings. Like tiny little bites, a couple a minute. There’s nothing visible doing it though. It’s really annoying. We think it’s sea lice, or dislodged jellyfish stingers.

View from our window at Than Sadet beach
Beautiful pink sunrise at Than Sadet beach

Coming up next blog: EVEN MORE island hopping!


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