Day 57: East to Chaweng BeachAugust 11, 2016 in Thailand
Our bonus day used up, it was time to go and check out the other side of Koh Samui - the touristy side. Another hotel breakfast and a quick laze around the beach before checking out at midday. We had lunch for the third time at our now-favourite Thai restaurant, where the food was still excellent, and we wished the owners well.
Our taxi arrived at 1pm on the dot, a pre-paid 800 baht for the 20 minute drive around the island's perimeter. I know I'm getting irrationally angry about it, but 800 baht ($32 AUD) is both literally and figuratively highway robbery. As I've alluded to, I assume the taxis here are all run by a cartel/mafia sort of group which fix expensive prices for tourists. There's a separate bus system in covered ute trays that the locals use, but again there's no fixed prices and foreigners get charged outrageous amounts. I know Thais have a reputation of being very friendly, and most of them are, but at least pretty much everyone we dealt with in Malaysia (and Indonesia to a lesser extent) was being mostly honest with us.
Anyway. Our new hotel is at the southern end of Chaweng Beach, the main town area on Koh Samui. It's much more built up here, with endless hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, food carts, shops and stalls, people selling all kinds of stuff. Unfortunately it's one of those places with no beachfront - the main road is 100m back from the sand and the space in between is occupied by giant hotels (some fancy, most not particularly). We were staying only a stone's throw from the beach, but to actually access the beach you either have to trespass across hotel property or walk 10 minutes down the road to a side-street.
We checked in and dumped our bags, eager to head out and explore. Room is very nice - we'd actually spent a bit more on this one and used up some of our "free night" credits with hotels.com, so that the $90/night cost actually worked out to about $30/night. Bargain! The hotel isn't too large, and has a small rooftop pool as well as a small pool downstairs near the lobby and restaurant. We headed out into the heat but didn't explore too far as we wanted to hit the beach.
We also wanted to get away a little from the madness of the main street. It's easily the most touristy place we've been since Seminyak and Ubud. Westerners on scooters flying up and down the streets, everyone trying to talk you into their shop, taxi drivers yelling "taxi yes hello my friend" from a block away to get your attention, vans driving circles advertising all sorts of things - the full moon party in a few days, muay thai kickboxing fights, the local go-kart track, the beach club that was next door to our previous hotel.
We eventually just trespassed through a hotel and walked onto the beach, found a spot in the shade of some palm trees and set up camp. The beach itself is absolutely beautiful - pristine white sand, no rubbish, very clear water and very warm too. We were definitely glad we visited this side, as the beach was definitely better despite the tourist hordes. The weather was better as well, no rain although it was a bit overcast, and the wind was much lesser (I'd guess we're now on the leeward side of the island).
We chilled on the beach for most of the afternoon, people watching and enjoying the water. Lots of vendors wandering around selling ice creams, sarongs, tattoo designs and even bikinis! Go figure. Late in the afternoon we went back to the hotel and decided to check out the rooftop pool. Not much view other than of the mountains, but it was nicely landscaped and a good environment for chilling out. We had room service bring up a pair of mojitos for sundowners which we enjoyed in the pool.
After our swim we freshened up and headed out for dinner. Found ourselves an outdoor food court where we got a bunch of stuff grilled up and a couple of beers for a pretty cheap price which we were happy with. Wandered around the town which had only gotten more intense as all the restaurants have hawkers trying to entice you in, plus all the others who were still there from the afternoon! We retreated to the beach, and ended up walking almost the entire length of the beach (at least a kilometre if not two). There were some quite expensive beach club type places at the end which we declined to patronise, so we started back along.They looked nice, but I don't really get the sense in paying 200 baht for a cocktail when there's a guy just back down the beach selling them for 90 baht.
So we stopped at one of the cheaper places and had another cocktail, sitting on loungers on the beach in near-darkness. Nice environment, except for the noisy Israeli backpackers who kept walking past. Our cocktail bar closed up at 9pm so we did the long walk back to the hotel, stopping only for a banana & peanut butter pancake!Read more