I remember that day quite well, the Monday I packed my bags and went to the airport without a flight or hotel reservation. At the behest of a close friend, who would not stop painting Koh Samui as an island paradise, and that it would tremendously help my novel-writing, I obliged and found the first flight out of Chiang Mai. While I’d read about the island, I’d never before contemplated living in Koh Samui.
The good thing about the Thai islands is that they are never too far apart. If I didn’t like Koh Samui as much as my friend did, I could always hop over to another island in a matter of hours.
When I arrived on the island, the prospect of living in Koh Samui immediately brightened the overcast skies. It reminded me of the island of Maui back home in the U.S. Only, Koh Samui looked far more loyal to old traditions. If you look carefully at the picture above, you will notice the golden spire of Pagoda Khao Hua Jook overlooking the small airport.
The airport itself looked nothing like I’d imagined it to be. It was a series of open-air, thatched roof rooms, connected by corridors.
If living in Koh Samui was anything like the serene atmosphere projected by its airport, I was already half-sold. I could already picture myself in a thatch hut on one of its beaches, writing well into the night.
I soon found out Chaweng Beach was one of the more lively spots on the island, so I checked it out. What’s interesting is how much the streets of Asian cities and islands resemble one another. If you’d told me this photo was taken in Vietnam, I’d probably have believed you (save for the Thai writing).
Chaweng Beach caters heavily to the tourist crowd, albeit being a little pricy. The menu set above costs $12, which isn’t too far from western prices. But to spend $12 here is what I’d consider $12 well-spent.
Chaweng Beach is probably where I’ll stay next time, but I can’t complain about my resort on Lamai Beach: The Royal Beach Boutique Resort & Spa. I hardly stay at 4-star resorts when I travel solo, preferring cheaper hostels intead, but I really wanted to treat myself this time. My greatest regret is catching a stomach bug which eventually killed my stay on Koh Samui.
The resort on Lamai Beach was about thirty minutes away from the airport and Chaweng Beach, but had excellent service and is a great spot for people looking for seaside romance or moments of self-reflection.
At least, that’s what it seemed like to me. Life moved slowly; almost carelessly. The rest of the world and its many troubles didn’t touch the shores of Koh Samui.
I soon decided to hit up Chaweng Beach at night and see what it was all about.
It was not as crowded as Phuket’s Patong Beach, but more so than Ao Nang Beach in Krabi province. I was also told there were numerous “half-moon parties” happening along the beach, so I decided to check one out called Arkbar.
The beach setup of Arkbar was pretty elaborate, with flashing neon lights and a heavy bass beat that fended off the darkness. To think that such a peaceful-looking island abruptly came to life at night was a little surprising. When I got to Arkbar, the placed was rather empty, but it quickly filled up within the hour.
Just like most touristy beaches in Thailand, you can also expect plenty of beach kids trying to sell you merchandise.
Living in Koh Samui does not deprive you of things found elsewhere in Thailand. You will find the trademark night markets that are a staple of southeast Asian society.
Unfortunately, the stomach bug won the war of wills. I was forced back to Chiang Mai, where I currently live. I intend to go back to Koh Samui and focus on taking beach shots.
I also plan on going there and staying a long while to test out what living in Koh Samui would be like. Would my novel-writing improve? Would I be able to focus in this kind of environment? Would it be too slow a pace for me and will paradise eventually bore me?
These are all tests of who we are whenever we travel and try out new experiences. No matter how we picture the situation beforehand, things often turn out differently. We discover more about ourselves along the way.
But I’ll admit, I already see myself basking in its sunsets as I ponder days gone,
And dream of days to come.
Do you prefer places with a slow or fast pace? Do you consider this island more of a vacation destination, or would you consider living in Koh Samui?
Cover photo of Koh Samui used with permission of Hydromet.