We took the ferry from Langkawi to Satun, leaving Malaysia and returning to Thailand for the final time on this trip. Our destination for this part of the journey was Koh Samui, we made the decision to head north to Trang first instead of heading to Hatyai which is the more popular option. We reasoned that from Phuket a number of buses left via Trang to Koh Samui so we should be able to pick one up. As it turned out there weren’t that many options and we ended up in an uncomfortable minivan for quite a few hours before getting to Surrathani and the ferry.
We were actually going to spend some time on each of the 3 islands which lie close together in this part of Thailand. Koh Samui, Koh Phagnan and Koh Tao.
Koh Samui is the most commercialised of the three and quite similar to Phuket. The main beach is fronted by hotels which take up much of the sand in front of them, when the tide doesn’t cover it. As our hotel was set a street back from the beach we ended up at a beach club, basically a restaurant on the beach which has a pool and sun beds that you rent for the day. There isn’t much in the way of sights on the island with most of the people there for the nightlife or watersports. We weren’t really much interested in either so chose to have a restful few days.
Ko Phagnan is best known for the full moon party. As this obviously only happens once a month it is now supplemented by various others including: the black moon, half moon, waterfall and jungle parties. Basically every couple of days there will be an excuse for a party! We just missed the full moon party but the aftermath in terms of body paint was nearly everywhere you went! We visited the full moon party beach which is a great little bay with fantastically clear water. The sand was a little iffy in places with pieces of broken glass quite common. The island is much more laid back than Koh Samui and still retains a heavy backpacker influence though the high end resorts are starting to appear. We also had a unique cinema experience here, the Moonlight Cinema is basically in the jungle and has a covered room floored with mattresses and cushions where you can relax with your popcorn and drink. We watched Slumdog Millionaire with only one other couple in the cinema so it felt like our own private viewing room.
Koh Tao made us feel very old, with one or two exceptions we were probably the oldest people on the island. We also felt left out because we did not possess a ridiculous beard, dreadlocks or full body tattoos. It’s funny how those that think they are rebelling all wear the same uniform. The island is very much a resort focussed on scuba diving. We decided to go for the easier option and took a day trip around the island stopping to snorkel in various places. This was a fantastic experience, although we had done a little snorkelling before in Koh Phi Phi we had far longer here. The variety of fish and coral was amazing. Highlight of the day was seeing a giant turtle. The creature was huge and was viciously devouring several brightly coloured fish at one time. The snorkelling and the beach on Koh Tao easily made up for the feeling that we didn’t belong.
The islands all have quite different characters and we enjoyed different things about each of them. The ferry journeys between them and the mainland were all fine despite various horror stories we had heard. The timekeeping was typically Thai but the boats and the crossings were very good.
On to Hua Hin next.