Ko Samui is Thailands second largest island and it lies in the Gulf of Thailand
off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus. It’s known for its palm fringed beaches,
coconut groves and dense mountainous rainforest plus luxury resorts and posh
spas. The landmark 12 metre tall golden big Buddha statue at Wat Phra Temple is
located on a tiny island connected to Ko Samui by a causeway. Samui Island is a
cosmopolitan melting pot, attracting budget travellers staying for a month or
two in simple beachside fan bungalows to the rich dropping in for the weekend at
a luxury resort or villa on the beach.
My excursion today is called Ko
Samui Highlights. I can’t find the write up with the details but i know it said i
’d see monkeys and how they’re trained to climb the trees to pick the coconuts
and that i’d see elephants as well. I sure hope this excursion goes off as
planned rain or sun!
So i was up early, got ready, skipped breakfast and
went down to the theatre to get my tender time. Ko Samui was the second port we
had to tender in to. My group was supposed to go at 9:10a.m. but the ship
arrived at the port an hour late so that meant that everyone’s excursion was set
back by at least an hour. I had a good seat on the aisle but when the girl in
charge mentioned there was no toilet on the tender i decided to take care
of that business first. Had I known that my group wouldn’t be called for 90
mins. I could have gone for breakfast. Or better yet i should have made a room
service order but that has to be done the night before and i hadn’t even thought
of it. When i went back to the theatre all the aisle seats were taken so i
thought i’d get out of there and wait in the casino which is right next door and
not in operation when in port but they had comfy seats and i’d be able to see
when people started streaming out but after awhile i decided nah, i’d rather be
in there to hear what was going on. When it was obvious that we wouldn’t be
called for awhile i went back to my cabin and got my windbreaker because it has
a hood. The weather from the window looked cool, rainy, dismal and it was fairly
dark with a heavy cloud cover. However, with only a non opening porthole window i
judged the temperature by looks and that turned out to be wrong. My group was
called and it was the largest group of the passengers even though it included
several different excursions. I finally got on a pretty large tender with seats
outside, inside, under cover and with 2 levels. There were a few different
excursion numbers but the numbers weren’t for the tender but for the numbered
It was a pleasant 25 min. ride to Ko Samui. By then i had found out
that though it looked miserable out it was really very warm and humid out so i
peeled off my sweater and jacket and then was stuck holding them once i got on
my bus because it didn’t have anywhere to put them. Ko Samui was the second port
we’ve had to tender in to. I don’t mind tendering; it usually means much less
walking and then sitting on the tender gives you very nice scenery and a nice
first look and overview of your landing place. Our guide on the bus was really
good and so was the bus driver though he was very young and he drove with his
bare feet chatting on his phone a lot. I can't even remember the last time i talked on the phone while driving as it's not allowed in B.C. anymore. As well, my seat mate was a young Thai
woman who didn’t speak English and i think she was either the drivers girlfriend
or maybe she was in training to become a tour guide.
It was a very nice
drive around the entire island of Ko Samui but i missed a lot of scenery pics. I
had the front seat but it was on the aisle and the young lady beside me pulled
the curtains closed a few times but even if she hadn’t it was hard to take pics
out the side window from the aisle seat. Usually it’s the ideal seat on a bus
but this particular one had a dark tinted windshield half way up which ruined a
lot of my pics. It was a Mercedes Benz big blue bus. I probably should have
asked my seat mate to trade seats because i think she’d seen the views a million
times because she hardly looked out that way at all. Oh well, i was always the
first one off the bus so that was cool.
Our first stop was to see two
elephants and we got a very close up experience with them. One of the elephants
was 3 years old and quite big and the other was just a year old and cute as all
get out. Both were females and considered to be babies, and it was obvious that the
little one wanted to be just like the bigger one. She tried her best to do
whatever the big one did and more often than not she simply couldn’t do the bows
or stand on two legs but it was adorable watching her awkwardly try to copy. The larger one
played soccer with a volunteer from the audience and the volunteer lost the
competition! Elephants are so smart!
We then drove on for 30 mins or so
through cities and countryside covered with palm trees and farms to a restaurant
overlooking the Gulf of Thailand where we all were given a drink of our choice.
I chose a Diet Coke and it was my first in a long time. I used to be kind of
addicted to it but not anymore. It was also a bthrm stop and it was down a lot
of stairs into a dark basement and the toilet was a very weird looking thing but
it worked. Back on the bus we were given a bottle of water which became a little
cumbersome for me as my purse was too small to put it in.
As we continued
around the island the guide spoke on life there and some passengers asked
questions and he answered them all in length. Meanwhile watching the scenery and
traffic and people riding scooters and bikes and some pulling carts of various
design. It was a very busy road and we passed the entrances to lots of high end
resorts. I think it would be a lovely place to have a land vacation as there’s a
lot of markets and stores all along the main road. We saw one accident only and
it involved two young women, obviously tourists who were both on the ground with
their scooters upturned.
We arrived at the monkey camp awhile later and i
saw two monkeys but only one was going to be our entertainment. The owner of the
monkey is the only one who can interact with it and we weren’t allowed to touch.
After explaining how and why they trained the monkeys to climb the trees to pick
the coconuts he then indicated to his monkey to climb a certain tree. At first
the monkey wanted to fool around a bit, he wasn’t in a hurry and his master let
him do his own thing. Then it decided to climb the tree and he was so fast and
so cute climbing around it and showing off as he climbed to a huge cluster of
coconuts. All the while the man was holding the rope that was around the monkeys
neck and with the rope the owner can signal to it to which coconut to pick.
Apparently monkeys are colour blind and they will pick any or all in the clump
but some aren’t ripe yet and would be wasted so the owner signals the monkey
somehow through the rope on which one to pick. He took his time and then finally
started jumping on one and shaking it and finally it broke free and the ripe
coconut fell to the ground with a loud thump. This was repeated a few times and
then the owner signalled his monkey to come down which he did very fast. We all
cheered that cute little monkey for a job well done.
I then watched a man
scooping out the meat of a coconut and how he shredded it and squeezed out the
milk. I didn’t have a very good view of this so my pics might not be great.
There was a water buffalo in the distance and then i watched a woman weaving
things out of the palm leaves and then it was time to get back on the
We stopped at a place of much beauty, the Wat phra Yai Temple a
place with many, many temples and objects of worship as well as lots of vendors
of various things. One thing that interested me as i hadn’t had breakfast and it
was afternoon already was a man who was using a very sharp machete to cut the
kernels off of the ear of corn. He was so good at it, and fast as he threw the
machete in the air and caught it just right and then threw the corn cob in the
air and he had a very entertaining thing going on as he cut the kernels off the
cob. He then added butter and salt and something else, not sure what but maybe a
bit of sugar in a big stainless steel bowl and he sort of stirred and mashed it,
poured it into a plastic cup and it was for sale $1. each. There was a small
lineup of people waiting to buy a cup of corn and i got in the lineup to watch
him make me up a cupful. I found a spot to sit and scarf it down as it was
almost time to go to the bus. It was very tasty, fresh and and sweet and buttery
and hit the spot very well.
All throughout my travel on this island i noticed
stray dogs and cats everywhere. Two dogs were sound asleep at the entrance to a
ladies room and everyone stepped carefully around them not wanting to disturb
them. It reminded me of Istanbul and the stray dogs there. Cats also weren’t
bothered by people walking close to them so obvious they were born into this
life. They all appeared to be well fed and content.
I tried to do a little
shopping but it was difficult, sometimes because i was afraid of getting lost.
Some of the shops were open on both ends leading into a different alleyway and
some were open on all sides. I knew if i got turned around i’d never find my way
back out to the bus. As well, i couldn’t compute the Thai prices fast enough to
even try anymore. Anyway i didn’t see anything that i really wanted to
Back on the bus the remainder of the trip around Ko Samui was very
nice and soon we were back at the pier and able to get on any tender boat back
to the ship. I got a crappy seat so wasn’t able to take pics of Jewel in the
distance nor when we got closer because the boat was rocking too much for me to
feel comfortable to be even standing so i didn't.
Onboard it was dinner time and i
went w/o my camera so don’t have a pic of whatever i ate. Soon it was time to go
to the final stage show in the Stardust Theatre and i got a good seat on the
aisle beside the two ladies Betty and Louise who i had befriended way back in
Japan on an excursion there. The show was fantastic with awesome stage decor and
lighting and then the crew all came onstage and it was our final chance to say
goodbye to them all.
I returned to my room to wait until the casino
opened. We were not far enough from land yet to be able to power up the slots so i
just chatted with my roomie for awhile and then went back and the casino was
in full operation. I tried a couple of different machines w/o any luck then
went to one that a fellow Canuck had recommended and i picked up $80. from it. I
played a while on another machine that turned out to be no fun so i then ended
up at that stupid Haunted House machine again. It let me down once again
but in the end i had played for free and that was good enough for me. I was too
tired to play anymore so i said goodnight and went to bed.
My notes were all screwed up again and with this post being so long and having so many pics and not enough time to redo it in 2 parts i decided to post it rather than take a chance of losing it. So todays pics will be the elephants, tomorrow i'll post the monkey pics and then the Thailand religious temple on the next day. It's just been overwhelming trying to keep things straight.