view of Ao Phai, Ao Hin Khok, and Ao Sai Kaew beaches (in order, separated by rocks) on the east coast of Ko Samet
I've done some traveling since my last update. Where? Mostly to destinations within Thailand such as Phetchabun (northern Thailand), Khao Yai and Hua Hin; but, I've also taken a trip to the U.S. to see family & friends. However, there's really too much to cover. So, let's keep it simple...
and share about my most recent trip to Ko Samet, an island in the Gulf of Thailand. Due to its proximity to Bangkok, it's a popular destination for those in Bangkok seeking nice beaches with limited time. Although it's fairly close, it's not THAT close. Through public transportation, the trip took approximately 5 1/2 hours from door to door. That's 5 1/2 hours from walking out my apartment door in Bangkok to walking into my resort room's door on Ao Phai beach on the island of Ko Samet.
What transportation am I talking about? A bus (11 baht) from my apartment to the Mo Chit BTS station (skytrain), the skytrain from Mo Chit to Victory Monument, a public van (200 baht) from Victory Monument to a pier in Ban Phe (2 1/2 hours), a ferry (50 baht) from one of the piers to Ko Samet (40 minutes?), and walking
Samed Villa Resort
My room at the Samed Villa Resort on Ao Phai Beach
25-30 minutes to my resort on Ao Phai Beach. That's less than $10. Excellent!
This was a short vacation - just 3 days/2 nights from May 20-22 (midweek). Unfortunately, Saai's school had already started so she couldn't come. I still had 3 more weeks before classes started for me so I thought it was a good opportunity to check out another island, relax, and do some reading (Kite Runner...done!) without being away from my wife for too long.
Where did I stay? Samed Villa Resort. It's on Ao Phai beach (on the east side of the island - 3rd beach from the pier at Nadan). It's a very well-maintained resort on the southern end of Ao Phai beach (a short beach - there seemed to be only 3 bungalow operations on that beach). I stayed in a rear room (no sea view) for only 1,200 baht (approx $34). The room is normally 1,400 baht during the low season (2,200 during peak season) but I bargained via e-mail prior to my arrival. The room had A/C, hot water, cable TV, refrig, towels, soap, shampoo, etc. It's in a good location and reasonably priced. I found it to be a
The northern part of the island (closest to the mainland piers)
The island. What do I think of Ko Samet? My experience was likely atypical from most since it was midweek during the off season. During my time there, the island was quiet and peaceful. The sand was generally good - white and clean. However, the water was a little choppy with poor visibility (likely just seasonal). Also, the island has lots of mosquitoes. Bring the bug spray - they're out to get you! There are also a lot of stray dogs (typical of Thailand). The dogs are lazy and mellow during the day, but beware during the night when they can get aggressive.
The weather was fairly good during my stay. It's been rainy in Bangkok (thunderstorms) but it was mostly dry on the island with partly cloudy skies. However, it was really humid. From what I have read, Ko Samet misses the monsoons and the weather is generally good.
I only checked out four beaches, and they were all in the northeastern part of the island. This is the most developed and crowded area of Ko Samet. There isn't much open beachfront. Resort operations line the beach. However, things are still pretty basic. There
My volleyball fix on the island...the only net found on the 4 beaches I explored during my time on Ko Samet during the low season.
aren't any huge resorts or high rises. This is a small island after all. The roads are primarily dirt, and fresh water has to be brought over from the mainland for use by the resorts/restaurants.
One of my hopes for this trip was to play some beach volleyball. Man, I miss it. After living most of my life in Southern California where beach volleyball originated (Santa Monica), I was hoping to find some games on Ko Samet. Of the four beaches I visited, there was only one little volleyball net on the northernmost part of Ao Sai Kaew (White Sand Beach, the largest of the beaches). When I first saw the net (around 4:30), nobody was playing, but there was a Thai guy nearby with a volleyball. I didn't know if I'd be able to play but at least I could warm-up a bit. The guy didn't speak much English but we started to pepper. For those clueless about volleyball, pepper is a term for a warm-up where 2 volleyball players alternate between passing, setting, and spiking. Soon, a couple more Thais showed up, and we played a game of 2 on 2. Ahhh, good to playing again. We
Ao Putsa/Ao Tubtim
the 4th beach on the east side from Nadan (pier)
agreed to re-connect the next day for more. As I've found throughout my travels in SE Asia, beach volleyball is generally played here in the late afternoon until sunset.
I did eat some pretty good food while on Ko Samet. Jep's Bungalows on Hin Khok beach has a good reputation for food. They serve Thai, Mexican, Indian, Japanese, and more! Impossible menu, really. I had masaman chicken which I thought was really good.
I had a very reasonably priced seafood salad (60 baht; less than $2) at Tubtim Resort's restaurant on Ao Putsa/Ao Tubtim beach. Tubtim Resort is trying to go upmarket...lots of construction going on at the time of my visit. The bungalows on stilts at the end of the beach (southern end) look really nice.
There is a lot more to the island. I know I just caught a small part of it, but it was good to at least check it out briefly.
I'm now back in Bangkok, and classes start next week at Kasetsart University. Where? I decided to leave my job at St. John's (teaching middle school & high school students) to teach at the university level! I interviewed at Kasetsart
One of the ferry boats to Ko Samet
University for an English Lecturer position in April, and was quickly offered the position. It actually was a tough decision to leave St. John's. It was a very good job. However, I want to experience all levels of teaching (primary, secondary, university, & adult students).
My job at Kasetsart University started on May 12 (after Saai and I returned from our vacation in America) but I haven't had many responsibilities up to this point since it's summer break for the university. Classes don't start until June 8. I'm looking forward to teaching. It's good having a break but I'm excited about the opportunity to teach English to university students here in Thailand. I'm teaching 4 courses: Foundation English 2, Foundation English 3, Fundamental English Writing, and Basic English Listening/Speaking.
The next chapter begins...
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