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Published: March 24th 2008
The Pool at Coconut Tropicana
Saai and I looking out over the ocean from the pool. I'm not really that white, am I? Umm, yes I am!
Ok, ok. Where have I been?
Well, the title of this blog entry surely will give you some clue as to one
place I've been. After wrapping up teaching English at Neeracha School in Bangkok for this past semester (February 29), I returned to an island I first visited in 2005.
Ko Samui is a large island in the Gulf of Thailand (3rd largest island in Thailand). As to be expected, development has continued since my first (and only prior) visit three years ago. This includes the charming outdoor airport, which is in the midst of expansion. I wouldn't say that
much has changed with the island though. However, a lot has changed with me in those three years. In 2005, I was traveling with my friends Jonathan & Heather on my first trip to Thailand. That was a fairly short vacation when I was still working at State Farm in the U.S. (year #13 with the company) and living in a condo (year #13 there too!). I was single and stable, with no plans of moving overseas.
Now what am I doing? I'm teaching English in Thailand. That's been covered in prior blogs. However, what hasn't been
in the living room of our rental house.
mentioned yet, is that I'm also engaged. Yep, it's true. Saai and I got engaged in February.
Some of you will say, ok, let's hear about this engagement! Others will want to know about Samui. This is primarily a travel blog after all, right?
Ummm, well, this update isn't going to be too
long (at least I don't think so!), but I'll start with the engagement. I proposed to Saai in the gardens of the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok. We went to dinner at Salathip, the Thai restaurant at the Shangri-La Hotel and walked around the gardens/pool area afterwards. It is there that I proposed, and my beautiful Thai girlfriend became my fiancee. Wow!
So when's the wedding? Well, we're hoping for October 11, 2008 (tentative)? Where will the wedding be? Bangkok.
Ok, so now back to Ko Samui. This trip to the island was tied to my parents' visit to meet Saai. They were in Bangkok for a couple of days, but we wanted to hang out on an island for a bit. Ko Samui seemed like a good spot. We opted to rent a house on Bang Po Beach. It's the same house I
Bang Po Beach
the beach in front of our rental house
rented with my friends in 2005 (Jonathan & Heather: remember Tropicana 4?). Alas, my favorite pair of board shorts I left hanging on the upstairs terrace 3 years ago was gone. Some lucky guy is probably still wearing them. Since we didn't want to break tradition, my dad left a nice shirt in the closet on this trip.
Back to topic here. Ok. Ko Samui. I'm a big fan of the island. I think it's the palm trees that seal the deal for me. They're everywhere. It gives it a different look then most of the other Thailand islands (sure, many Thai islands have some palm trees, but not nearly this many).
Bang Po Beach (where we stayed) is near the northwestern tip of the island. It's a bit isolated so we rented a car to help us explore the rest of the island (recommended). There are plenty of beaches on Ko Samui. The hotspot on the island is Chaweng Beach, on the east coast. It's got the most hotels, restaurants, shops, etc, and also the best beach (white, fine sand). However, it's also the most crowded, and the water can get quite polluted in sections. The water
Saai & I at the north end of Chaweng Beach where the water is shallow.
along the northern section of that beach is quite shallow, which allows for walking across to another island without the water reaching above one's waist during low tide. Check out the pic! The water along the southern end is deeper which would appeal to those wanting to swim. Some other popular beaches include Lamai (east coast), BoPhut (cool, charming Fisherman's Village; north coast), and Mae Nam (north coast). None of these are nearly as built up as Chaweng, however.
Just north of Chaweng Beach on the ring road (4169) are the superstores Tesco Lotus and Big C. The Tesco Lotus also has a Major Cinema and Bowling Alley attached to it. I don't recall those being there 3 years ago. There are plenty of Starbucks on the island (where aren't they???). Expect McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Burger King and other international chains too.
Sooooo...what did we do on Ko Samui?
We mostly relaxed. We rented a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house (they added a 1/2 bath since my last stay) at the Coconut Tropicana resort (House #4 of 6). These houses are individually owned, and most of the owners opt to rent them out when they aren't
Mom & Dad
@ dinner on Bang Po Beach
there. Coconut Resorts
handles the rentals for 7 resorts along Bang Po Beach, and Coconut Tropicana is the smallest of their developments. It's a bit pricey to rent (8,900 baht + service charge & tax; approx $300 per night), especially for Americans using the weak dollar (exchange rate is now about 31 baht per dollar; it was 40 baht per dollar 3 years ago). But, considering we would have needed to rent 3 rooms (Saai and I aren't married yet!), it seemed like the best option for us. It worked out really well.
We generally ate breakfasts at the house (full size kitchen with pots, dishes, etc). Other meals consisted of either takeout (pick up & eat at the house), walking to a simple seafood restaurant nearby, or driving to a nicer restaurant in another part of the island. It was a good balance. In terms of dining, we espcially liked Eat Sense
on the southern end of Chaweng Beach. Great combo of food, service, atmosphere, and decor. It's large too so they can accomodate a lot of guests. But overall, we had good food at a lot of restaurants (Angela's Bakery & Cafe in Mae Nam, La Sirene
in Bophut, etc.)
Coconut Tropicana 4
our rental house on Koh Samui
We (that would be all four of us) also got a massage right on the front deck of our house (300 baht per hour; $10). Deal! It was tough to leave, but after 5 days, 4 nights, it was back to Bangkok. Saai and I are still in Bangkok, but my parents are on their way home to Denver, Colorado.
I'm not staying too long though. I leave in 3 days for Hanoi, Vietnam (visa run).
Meanwhile, there is this thing called March Madness going on (NCAA college basketball tournament). This is my favorite sporting event of the year, and here I am in Thailand with only the internet to help me cope with being away from all the madness in the states. I haven't seen a single game. Doh! I'm signed up (VIP pass) at NCAA.com
to view the games online, but I haven't been at an internet spot with fast enough speeds to watch it. Maybe I'll have more success for the next rounds when I am in Vietnam. I'm bringing my laptop. Go Bruins (that would be the
One other little thing I'll mention before drawing this blog to a
at Coconut Tropicana resort
close. I've got a new job.
St. John's University hired me. I'll be working in their language center teaching Jr. High and High School students starting April 17. This is the job that I tried to get in October, and just missed barely missed out on. Now I'm in.
That's all for now
Look! There goes Dave!
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