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Published: January 2nd 2013
At the end of our third week here I think it is fair to say that we have all well and truly entered relaxation/lazy mode. With quite a drastic turnaround from out first week, we have embraced the heat and beauty of island life, our days spent laying on the powdery white sands of Koh Samet, interrupted only by a cold Chang beer or a refreshing dip into the crystal clear water.
My first blog entry was a rushed muddle of words, perfectly reflecting the chaos of our first weeks activity. Likewise, unless you want endless metaphors about how glorious the weather is, how dipping into the sea is like stepping into a bath or how sunkissed we have become, you will have to excuse my hazy tone and let our pictures tell the story.
We arrived in Koh Samet, a small, beautiful and serene island in the Gulf of Thailand on the morning of Thursday 20th December, after a sleepy overnight bus journey from Chiang Mai all the way down to the pier on the coast of Ban Phe. We jumped onto a speedboat which gave us a quick 10 minute breath of refreshing, morning air before dropping
us not at the island pier but straight onto the shore,bags and all. Our initial plan was to arrive in Koh Samet on Saturday 22nd and stay for four nights, spending Christmas on the beach, but arriving earlier than expected, we decided to stay a little longer.
The sun was already beating down onto the quiet morning sands and all very eager to get our pasty limbs into the sun, we checked into our room at Saikaew Villas and headed onto the beach for our first day of sun. As we strolled back down the beach after a hard day of lounging, the deckchairs were being packed away and tables replaced them ready for the onslaught of evening tourists heading out onto the beach to sample the food, drink and incredible fire shows provided by the local Thai boys which are as much an igrained part of island life as the walnut and palm trees lining the shore.We took our pick from one of the many barbeques and restaurants lining the beach and watched the evening sky transform to a burnt pink hue as the sun set on our first day over Saikaew beach.
Time to celebrate as
we headed onto what has now become our favourite place to spend the evening, 'Ploy Bar'. Sharing a bucket of Sangsom, we watched, impressed, as the toned Thai men lit up the stage and dazzled the bar with their epic fire-twirling skills.Set to a not so subtle background of infectious dance music,it's hard not to be in awe of these guys and as they left the stage and the sangsom kicked in,it was hard. Not to join the throngs of people as we leapt onto the stage and danced into the night.
Friday afternoon nearing the end of our hottest day yet and I think we had all come to the conclusion that hangover + dehydration + midday sun=exhaustion. At one point I lost the ability to hear my own voice and decided that it was perhaps time to move into the shade. We crawled back to our room,excited for the marginal refreshment of a fan and a lukewarm shower. Little did we know however of the horrors awaiting us on our return. No sooner had I stepped into the shower than I was alarmed by screams coming from the bedroom. Fearing the likes of rats, snakes or (heaven
forbid) spiders, I ran to the rescue of my two little travellers who I found cowering on the bed from...... a lizard!!! Now, by no means am I attempting to portray myself as a hero here (cockroaches are a deal breaker for me) but I think it is fair to say that where lizards are concerned, I will be the handler.
All a little tired and shaken by 'lizard gate' we had a quiet dinner on the beach which was infiltrated once again by firemen indulging in the entertainment of the night 'FIRE LIMBO'. As the flaming pole descended lower, the people scattered. Sarah's reaction however,was to jump into the arms of a fireman as he attempted to carry her in a double limbo underneath the pole. Jess and I cowered (and videoed) holding our breath as we watched our friend nearly lose her fringe to the flames.
The next few days were spent in a very similar fashion; crisping in the sun in the daytime, playing cards over a barbecued dinner and drinking cocktails as the night went on. Either we all have very bad taste or watching ripped, semi clad Thai men contorting their bodies and
spinning fire around on the beach just does not lose its appeal.
We met Charlie and chris over shisha on Saturday evening. charlie is from the US and his parents live in Bangkok while Chris is from the Caribbean. They were spending Afew days exploring the island before heading back to Bangkok to celebrate Christmas and on Sunday afternoon we bumped into them as they finished up a day of paddle boarding. They had rented scooters and when they offered us a quick ride around the dirt track roads of the island me and jess could not refuse. Holding on for dear life as we careered through the less touristy backstreets, they led us to a lookout point they had found earlier on. The rocky cliff top nestles behind dense trees looked out over a vast spread of ocean, the mainland just visible in the distance and once again, we felt the air cool as the sun set down below the horizon.
Christmas Eve came around and all thoughts turned festive and to our families back home. We decided that it would be lovely to wake up to some presents on Christmas morning and scoured the beach shops
looking for the perfect gifts and had probably one of the best nights we have had so far. Ploy bar was on the agenda of course and in true Christmas Eve fashion, we saw the morning in with copious amounts of unidentified blue alcohol, dancing in the sea and just getting well and truly into the festive spirit.
Waking up on Christmas morning was a bittersweet affair. We were on a beautiful island but it is probably one of the most traditional days of the year and when I say traditional I am speaking not in the general sense but about personal family traditions. Everybody has a set out Christmas Day agenda, mine includes being woken up by my siblings, opening presents with them in my room, wrapping up in layers of clothing, walking my dog Alfie along the beach, sitting down for an unrivalled Christmas dinner courtesy of Mother White, telling awful cracker jokes, playing charadesdrinking shots of whatever strange liquor my brother has decided to buy me, and passing out overcome with food in front of a classic, family film. I think as we all lay on the beach wearing our Christmas pants, getting henna tattooed and
eating a perculiar yet delectable feast of Greek salad, chicken satay, spring rolls, beef in oyster sauce, banana split and frozen daquiris, we all felt the pull of home and were a little sad to be so far away. Nevertheless, spending Christmas Day with two girls so dear to me was an unforgettable experience that I would repeat in a heartbeat. Next time however,I will be seeking out some pigs in blankets because I'm afraid that is a tradition I just can't live without.
I'm well aware that Christmas was over a week ago and that I'm pretty behind with this but more very soon I promise. Hope you're all enjoying 2013 so far.
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