Since I’ve fallen behind in my updates from the trip I’m going to post in the past-tense moving forward….just go with it.
So we arrived on Koh Samui (Koh is Thai for island) in the late morning, because we’d gotten up earlier at 5am to catch the plane from Bangkok. The flight was just over an hour and they did indeed serve a meal (take a note or two US Domestic airline carriers)… although, I have to admit, the meal was inedible (a custard quiche-like thing, and mystery ground spicy chicken patty sandwich with butter-why do they do that? But my tummy called and I ate it anyways.
The island was hot! Probably just as hot as Bangkok, but there was a slight breeze coming off the Gulf of Thailand waters that made it a little more bearable. What? I’ve got a warm constitution and heat makes me sweat more than I’d like. I know too much information.
The airport was tiny. Small enough to roll staircases up to the plane so we could exit from either the front or the back. Then we boarded trams like you do in the Disneyland parking lot, and they shuttled us nearly 100 yards to the baggage area. Did I mention the airport was tiny?
We were surrounded by European couples with lips super-glued to each other, large Israeli families running amok, and hoards of backpackers sans deodorant (more Caucasian stoners with dreads either on their gap year or just pretending to be Peter Pan in defiance of growing up).
Kids ran around the baggage carousel, knocking over travelers’ bags and stepping on my toes.
Recommendations to all parents traveling with kids: The best way to keep your kids in line is with a leash….a short one at that. It works wonders for my rambunctious Labrador.
Eventually we arrived at The Sea Koh Samui where I’d booked a single suite for my parents and a double suite for Jonathan and I to share with my brother and his wife. When we arrived, they didn’t have either of our reservations. Thank god we had our confirmations printed out and were able to pull the reservation confirmation emails up on the front desk computer (Thanks Gmail!).
Since we were traveling smack dab in the middle of the winter holidays, the hotel was completely booked. So we spent about 30 minutes waiting for the hotel clerks (who were very nice and spoke a little Engrish) to figure out where they were going to put us.
The bad news: we didn’t get our rooms.
The good news: we were upgraded to the three bedroom private villa with it’s own pool!
Holy shit! Talk about lucky. This place was sweet. Bathrooms with showerheads in the ceiling so it felt like you were showering under a waterfall (or drowning in heavy rain depending on how you look at it). Full kitchen and laundry room. The private infinity pool overlooked the ocean with Koh Phangan off in the distance. We had a covered pagoda with a table, which was perfect for playing Scrabble or eating meals outside without getting burned. It was also the perfect place for my clumsy stepmother to slip and fall and nearly break her fingers, leaving giant bruises on her ass, shoulder and elbow. Here’s a picture of her icing it later:
We immediately changed out of our damp sweaty traveling clothes and into our tropical vacation bathing suits. The ocean water was nice and warm, like piss, and our pool was a little colder. Both were so refreshing considering the heat outside.
Thanks to the recommendation from some locals, we ended up walking 20 minutes along the beach to dinner that night at Takho Seafood Restaurant in the neighboring town of Banpo.
Takho Seafood in Banpo
The beaches on the north side of Koh Samui are light, but they’re not the picturesque white sand beaches the island is known for on some of its other sides. Walking barefoot was a little tough with all the broken shells, debris, and pieces of broken coral. The rest of our group didn’t seem to have an issue, but then again, I’m a delicate flower and my feet aren’t calloused like most people in their 30s.
Eventually we made it to Takho, a beach shack of a restaurant and grabbed a table on the sand just above the rising tide. A staff member actually came along and dug out the sand underneath some of the chairs to make sure those of us sitting with our backs downhill didn’t fall back in our chairs. Thoughtful no?
The running joke at this point was that everything in Thailand costs “30 baht” which is less than a single US dollar. Well in this instance, it wasn’t a joke and the seven of us ended up having a wonderful dinner on the beach for less than $5 per person, and that includes the six giant Singha beers.
Instead of bread and butter, they started us off with some curry paste with dried fish smeared on the inside of two coconut halves with fresh cucumber and string beans.
Then we had a whole fish flash fried with tamarind and shallots. This was awesome. Watch out for bones!
My friend Shauna wanted some Tom Yum gai soup but my stepmother turned into the soup Nazi and shut her down yelling “no soup for you!” because she knows that in Thailand (or at least at authentic restaurants), soup is oftentimes served in really large portions. We decided that she could have a bowl of the soup if she wanted considering it was about $1.20 USD. It ended up being one of the favorites around the table.
Shrimp with fresh lima beans.
Pad bung fai daeng (morning glory) with garlic and chilies, because it had become one of our groups’ favorite veggies.
Shrimp with kale.
Grilled squid with black bean sauce and spring onions.
Sausage with cilantro, onions, and Thai chilies (chilies in Thai are called prik). This was just alright. The sausages are served cold, taste undercooked, and are really fatty like Chinese sausages.
And the green mango with peanut and fish paste dipping sauce. This was definitely out least favorite dish and it’s considered a dessert. The green mango is just an unripe mango that’s hard (not even crunchy) and tart. But it’s the sauce that is an acquired taste. Fish sauce, dried fish paste and peanut sauce. The combination of sweet, sour, and brine just didn’t work for me. So I focused on the pineapple and watermelon.
The place is really a series of tree trunks covered with some dried palm fronds. The floors are a combination of dirt, sand, and uneven (and poorly placed) cement bricks. The kitchen was spread out over several stoves and the woks, ingredients, and baskets of dirty dishes all tend to occupy the same space.
But this island living in Thailand, and no matter what the restaurant looked like, this meal was tasty! And with the sound of the ocean crashing between your every bite, the ambiance, experience, or value (whatever you want to call it) was worth it.
I highly recommend eating at Takho in Banpo on the island of Samui if you have the chance. You won’t regret it!