Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A weekend away

Photo by Gsy Donkey

So the past weekend I got out of the grind and grime of Bangkok and went to Ko Samet. Ko Samet is the cheapest and closest beach island get away from the city. It's really fantastic and relaxing. And it will cost you next to nothing.

The best way to get there from BKK is by van. It's a little more expensive than the bus but totally worth it. You go to Victory Monument and just ask for a van that's heading to Ko Samet or Bang Phi. It should cost you about $200 baht for the 2 1/2 hour journey. You want to try and be there early-ish so you don't get stuck squished on the back seat (it's bad trust me). Once you get to Bang Phi pier, you take the ferry across to Samet. That costs 50 baht and takes around 30-45 minutes. At the Samet pier you jump on a ute (20 baht) which will take you all the way along the island to where ever you need to get off. You will need to pay to get onto the island (this is pretty standard all over Thailand; Ko Samet is classed a national park). It is 40-200 baht depending if you're a student or not.

Once you are actually there, you need to find somewhere to stay. All the cheap places don't take booking so you will just have to try your luck. Be careful in high season. Places book out quickly, expecially on the weekend. You may find yourself hiring a tent. I suggest Jep's. No air con but the bungalows are in the shade so it's not too hot. Plus they are crazy cheap, 300 baht a night (approx $10AUD). And then once that's all sorted out, you can start to have FUN!

Samet is really a relaxation island. There's not a lot of activities like some places aside from the norm (motorcycles, jet skis and snorkeling) so you are pretty much free to swim and Frisbee and all that jazz. The water is lovely and refreshing although strangely more salty than back in Oz. I'm not really sure why that is. There are tonnes of beach chairs you can lounge about on for a mere 25 baht a day. Bargain! Drinks are cheap too. This is the land of the bucket drinks. By bucket I mean, a kiddies sand castle bucket filled with booze for about $7 AUD. This does mean there are a hell of a lot of drunken idiots on Samet. Namely drunken foreigner idiots. But they can be ignored.

The only shitty thing about Samet is the food. I have found it to be a little bit so so at all the beach front. One think I can recommend is orange chicken and som tum. You'll see people walking up and down the beach carrying two baskets on a pole. Keep an eye out for for the ones that have a grill on one side and a mortar and pestle on one side. Get yourself some of the chicken and a big pile of som tum (god I love som tum). Unless you like your food really spicy, I suggest you ask for it mai pet (no chlli). There is usually enough chilli left in the mortar to add enough spice.

Oh and there are a lot of beach dogs but honestly, they are a lot cleaner and healthier than the dogs in Bangkok. They keep out of your way. Keep an eye out for a "white" dog (by white I mean, she has some white fur on her body along with some patches of skin and mange) . Her name is Cow, which means rice. She's the ugliest dog you have ever seen but she is well known on the island for protecting people when they are in trouble. I always try and give her some tidbits when go.

Oh and people please!!! Put on sunscreen! I see so many foreigners that look like lobsters. Get in the shade occasionally and please, please, PLEASE put on sunscreen every hour. I feel burnt just looking at them. And Scandinavians, quit sunbaking topless on the beach. I'm not a prude but I don't like seeing boobs when I go for a stroll. Plus I wouldn't want all the gross old men that hang about on Samet looking at my lovely lady humps. Speak of the devils, wearing g-string speedos is not okay for anyone, let alone 60 year old men. I don't want to see all you business and I'm sure many other people feel the same way.

It really is a great get away weekend from Bangkok (aside from the Old man arse) if you need a break from the hustle and bustle. It's way more laid back and friendly. A great place to unwind. And if you take the ferry back, you might get this awesome driver and his wife on the way back to Bang Phi. Drinkin' a Chang beer and gutting some fish. Enjoy!

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