Saturday, March 12 – This island was a tender port and once again, the weather was hot and humid. We decided to explore it on our own and after arriving in the town, we did the walk through all the cab drivers waving maps in our faces, which is of course to be expected.
Seasoned travellers that we are, I have found the best way to get through is not to make eye contact and just keep walking!
So we grabbed a map and walked through town so we could buy some souvenirs and get our bearings and do a bit of bargaining before deciding where to venture to. Once out of the melee, we found a lone cab driver and began bargaining for what we wanted to see. It worked well. Pen and paper is good to write down the price you agree on, making sure it covers two people and very importantly, is a 2-way fare! The driver’s wife was there too, as her English was not too bad and she and their little daughter came along for the ride.
I thought the town a bit shabby but then we drove through beautiful scenery – this island is 90 percent virgin rainforest, surrounded by great granite mountains and lovely stretches of white sandy beaches. Very popular with backpackers, Kho Samui (or Samui to the locals) also has many resorts, restaurants and shops.
Our aim was to visit the Na Muang waterfall, very pretty with water cascading down a natural rock staircase, Big Buddha (Wat Phrayai), a massive 39-foot sitting Buddha and Wat Plain Laem which is home to a superb statue of Kwan Yin, the 18-armed Buddhist avatar of Mercy. Along the way, we stopped at a market and our very friendly cab driver bought us a cold drink each (it was pink, no idea what it was) and a bag of a crunchy fried treats – some were banana and others were sweet potato. Delicious!
Considering that we had never heard of this island before, we had a memorable day and great value for money! The islanders also enjoyed it, as our sister ship, the “Sun Princess” came in at the same time, so the island was inundated with tourists.