Here it is, the first of many posts reflecting on my time spent in Thailand. I thought I would break the posts up into two areas. The first being about the places I visited and the latter being about Songkran – Thai New Year, which was a whole other experience in itself. Thailand is a place I have always wanted to visit. The food and the culture has always been of interest to me. So, after five years of my brother living out there, I thought just get out there and do it! And it was all I imagined and more…
Beware each post will be heavily loaded with pictures!
Above: Ban Pey pier
Above: Ban Pey pier at night
My first stop: Ko Samet. About 3-4 hrs east of Bangkok, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. This island is clearly a popular destination for local Thais as it isn’t to far from the main city of Bangkok. Driving out of the city, which I hadn’t even explored yet, was stunning, The vast amount of vegetation and greenery I saw was immense. Rural Thailand is just spectacular. Having only seen Bangkok upon my arrival I was surprised at how stunning the landscape was. I feel very fortunate to have a brother who lives in such a beautiful country.
The journey to Ko Samet was only a short speed boat away from the neighboring coastal port of Ban Pey, and as we drove closer to the beaches, the sight of white sand had me squealing silently to myself. I was all too eager to jump off the boat and into the warm, blue water. We were only in Ko Samet for a brief period of time but it really was the best way to relax, unwind and de-stress after a grueling 15 hour flight the day before. As you climb off the boat, you pay a small fee to enter if you’re not a Thai local as a way of ensuring the upkeep of the island (Ko Samet is a protected national park, similar to our National Trust over here in Britain).
I am a complete sun bunny, and love all things to do with the beach. For someone with a paler complexion and not used to tropical temperatures, I did surprisingly well adapting to a hotter climate. Sitting on the beach, with a fresh coconut in hand and munching on sweet sticky mango, life instantly felt better. Watching the waves breaking on the shore and feeling the warm rays on my skin was enough to wash away my toxic thoughts. On top of that receiving a traditional Thai head massage had me reaching a whole other level of bliss. My head and neck never felt so light. The smell of rich tiger balm helped sooth my temples and helped ease tension that had built up over the past few months.
We only visited one of the beaches that Ko Samet has to offer. There are at least 20 different beaches along the east coast of the island all stunning and worth visiting. I know I will be! The best bit about Ko Samet were the beach restaurants. Fresh food, perfectly cooked and made even more enjoyable by the sounds of sea and the warm evening breeze. Yes, the prices are a little dearer but what do you expect. I found it worth paying that little bit extra for the views and atmosphere. We also decided to stay at one of the beach resorts, which again a little more expensive than heading further into the island, but was worth it to be placed right on the beach. And for one night at 2000baht (about £50 for the three of us) was not bad at all. This being my first ever experience of Thailand (I knew it was cheap and you can definitely experience Thailand for much less than I did) I wanted to enjoy myself and not get caught up on the expense of things. I wasn’t here travelling but was here to relax, eat and enjoy the time with my brother.
Ko Samet was the perfect way to start my holiday. Not overly crowded but a good mix of young couples, local and tourist families, and small groups of people travelling through. The only thing that irritated to some degree were the sellers who walked up and down the beach trying to offload their goods. Whilst I am aware this happens in most places, and is not exclusively a problem in Thailand, it can bit annoying when you’re trying to relax. Other than that there was little to complain about.
I would highly recommend visiting the islands of Thailand as they are the best way to get a sense of what makes Thailand so magical. I would also recommend trying to find smaller, less touristy islands such as Ko Samet or Ko Chang. They are not as big as Ko Tao or Phuket or the most well known island of Ko Pha Ngan. But with the smaller islands you get a much calmer more relaxed atmosphere; a less commercialized version of Thailand. Well, that’s what I wanted from my experience. Some where that hasn’t been too influenced by Western culture. Not that I have much to compare my experience to but from hearing other’s reviews and stories that was the kind of feeling I got from people.
Like I mentioned before, we were only visiting Ko Samet for a brief period of time and as we made our way back to the main land, I made a commitment to myself that I would be back to explore more of Thailand’s east coast.
Next stop Bangkok and the ancient city of Ayuthaya