October 24th to November 4thish
After a dreadfully long and sleep-deprived bus ride, about twenty people, including Matt and I, from Island TEFL arrived at a dark and poorly lit ferry station at six a.m. on the 24th. We groggily stepped off the bus with our belongings, waited fifteen minutes or so for the ferry to arrive at the station, then made our way across the Gulf of Thailand toward Koh Samui. During our hour and a half boat ride, we witnessed a captivating and vibrant sunrise over the water.
When we arrived on the island, we were taken by John (yeah, he was there with us, miraculously) to minivans. We hopped on and took a very bumpy and curvy ride to our hotel, which we later found was named “The Cheeky Monkey.” It was a “hostel,” but it only had very small rooms with one queen-sized bed in each. We ended up staying there, spending tons of money and feeling cramped, for two straight weeks.
Since we were in Koh Samui for such an extended amount of time, I’ll sum up some of my favorite highlights from our stay there.
- The beach
Surprise: we were at the beach as much as possible when we were on Koh Samui. When we first arrived at the beach in Chaweng, Koh Samui, Matt, our new friends from Island TEFL Nina and Adam, and I were awestruck by its magnificence. We waded in the clear warm water and laid on the smooth golden sand for hours on end. Throughout the two weeks we stayed on the island, we were on the beach a decent amount of the time. We would’ve been there more often, but since it was still the rainy season, it rained a whole lot while we were there, unfortunately.
Beautiful Chaweng beach, where I met the love of my life: a baby gibbon! Sorry, Matt.
And a picture of a washed up giant jellyfish. My hand is there for measure.
- The nightlife
We explored the nightlife a couple of times on Koh Samui. We went to a bar on the beach called Ark Bar with Nina and Adam, which was a ton of fun! They had buckets of mixed drinks (mainly liquor, not much mixer, which is the way it should be) for relatively cheap, music, dancing, flamethrowers, and even iguanas and baby gibbon monkeys to hold! And it was all on the beach, which of course made it even better. From where we were, we could see the green lights from the fishing boats scattered across the horizon.
We also went to the bars that weren’t on the beach with our friends and a few others from Island TEFL another night. We all went bar hopping along the main road, then went off on a side road, which was just an entire street filled with bars on both sides.
At one point, Matt and I got separated for over an hour, which was slightly terrifying, considering I was surrounded by strangers in a foreign land.
Why didn’t you call him, Marilyn? Well, because we had two Thai cell phones with paid sim cards in them…in the hotel room. Why we didn’t think to bring them with us, I’ll never know.
I drunkenly stepped onto a Song Teow (a cheap pickup truck taxi) after frantically searching for him, which was waiting for more people to get on. While I sat there and waited for more drunken people to jump on the back of the Song Teow with me, I suddenly decided to look just one more time for him. I hopped out of the Song Teow, ignoring the driver yelling at me in Thai behind me, and hastily made my way down the strip of bars. Suddenly, I saw a body sprinting towards me and it was Matt! Of course, we hugged and were happy to have finally found each other.
Moral of the story: when in a foreign land with someone, always bring your phone to contact each other just in case.
One of the bars we went to; Matt and I; Matt posing for a picture with some Thai fellows
- Exploration of Angthong
During our stay, Matt and I decided to take a day trip with a tour to go snorkeling and kayaking at Angthong. We hopped on a dingy, three-floor boat and made our way across the gulf. As we approached Angthong, we immediately noticed the numerous towering islands slowly surround us. When our boat stopped, everyone popped on a damp and grungy orange life vest and stepped down into a smaller boat. We then made a short journey to a sandy bank on one of the islands. Then, we were quickly given kayaks and paddles and sent on our way. Matt and I immediately leapt into our kayak and paddled out onto the shimmering emerald water. While paddling around one of the islands, we floated under the rock overhangings and admired shallow caves.
Kayaking at Angthong
After kayaking for about a half hour or so, we all landed on a different beach. Here, we dropped off our kayaks and climbed tons of stairs to admire the green lagoon on the inside of an island, which was an even more astounding emerald green than the sea water.
The Green Lagoon
We then returned to the beach and waded in the warm, clear, green water.
Our tour guides then riled us up and put us back on our small boat, then our big, rusty boat. Then, we made our way to another island, where we went snorkeling. The snorkeling was, however, slightly disappointing because the water was only slightly clear with a few fish, but not “crystal clear” and filled with numerous fish like we had imagined. So, we snorkeled a bit, but mainly just floated and relaxed in the mesmerizing water, soaking in the scenery around us.
Matt on the boat; where we went snorkeling
Finally, we all got on the boat after about an hour or so and made our way back to Koh Samui.
- Traveler’s Sickness
I’ll spare you the details, but during the second week of our time on Koh Samui, we were horribly sick. Out of the two of us, I had it the worst, since I couldn’t leave the room for more than a half hour without needing to sprint back to use the bathroom. Matt was sick, too, but not as sick as I was, since I had stomach cramps that felt like my innards were constantly in a vice.
This is a highlight because it took up half of our time on Koh Samui and was the worst sickness I’ve ever experienced. So, if you’re traveling or intend on traveling for an extended amount of time in a foreign country, I sincerely hope you do not get this sickness. If you do, have medicine already with you to combat it early. I had a prescription for medicine before going to Thailand, but was too lazy to fill it when I was home. Needless to say, I regretted that decision in Koh Samui.
So, don’t be stupid like me. Bring meds!
After two days in Koh Samui, John left to go back to Bangkok. Yes, he ultimately left us stranded, but I don’t think any of us were really surprised at this point. John and Phil also failed to contact us about our job placements (again). We badgered them via the internet (we being not just Matt and I, but everyone from the agency), but they hardly ever answered us, and when they did, they told us to just wait. Eventually, other people from the agency decided to go to Nakhon Si Thammarat, a province in the South of Thailand near Koh Samui, to figure out the job situation, since that was the province we had be told during orientation in which we would be teaching. Matt and I decided it was a good idea to join them so that we wouldn’t be out of the loop and draining our wallets in Koh Samui.
Next post: culture shock in Nakhon Si Thammarat!
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