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Koh Samui – Home Sweet Home #3

June 29, 2013

Our stay in Koh Samui is about to draw to a close – we leave June 10th to head back to Krabi and catch a flight from there to Singapore.  We feel very comfortable in Koh Samui and are sad to be leaving – it has been a wonderful place to spend a month and we suspect it will be a very bright spot in our trip when we look back.

Highlights:

  • We were surprised to hear that Bangkok Airways actually owns the airport in Koh Samui.  We thought immediately, “How did anyone let a single airline own the only airport in a major tourist hub??”  The inevitable consequences of this became even clearer when we started researching our own flights out of Thailand.  The cost is nearly triple to fly to Singapore out of Koh Samui when compared to leaving from Krabi (a 3 hr ferry/drive away, and with identical distances).  The cost difference is enough that we decided to drive back to Krabi and fly out from there.  The road trip in our own little car may actually be fun, and now that Amelie’s lip has healed, we be will all be able to swim in the beautiful pool ‘where it all happened’ as a family again.
  • There is an interesting phenomenon on the island – in some fashion the taxis have “organized” and work very hard at controlling the pricing.  No one seems to know exactly how it is being done – but it clearly is.  Taxi prices on the island are 10 times the prices back in Bangkok – literally ten times.  The price is high enough that if we take a taxi trip to and from anywhere we have more than covered our daily car rental.  You rarely see a taxi actually moving – they are all parked on the side of the road waiting for customers while playing games, gossiping and drinking Red Bull.  As one local put it …maybe they have it figured out.  They sit around all day doing nothing, if they can get two fares they have made enough money for the day.  Brad has been seen taking great pleasure in spinning his car keys visibly on his finger as we walk by the sitting drivers and get in to our rental car.
  • Paradise Park Farm – another amazing Thai tourist venue.  You could say that this place has basically been set up as one giant petting zoo….only with a very beautiful aesthetic, with much thought given to design.  It really did seem like a little slice of ‘paradise’ and the name was very fitting.  When we arrived (after many wrong turns through the hilly inland of the island), we were found that we were virtually the only visitors to the farm, and also that the drive was very much worth it.  Immediately upon entering, we were given a handful of bird feed and were let in (alone) to a huge bird cage full of beautifully colored exotic birds, who immediately began eating right out of our hands.  When we’d had our fill of these birds, we left the cage only to find so much more…monkeys, parrots, deer, squirrels, painted chickens (you have to see the picture), baby bunnies, etc etc etc.  The girls were in heaven and completely captivated by petting, holding and carrying around baby bunnies in their own wicker baskets provided by the farm.  While the girls focused all their attentions on the bunnies, Katharina had found a new love of her own.  A large monkey with the most amazing coat of fur fluffed to perfection, sat on a bar near the base of a tree (no cage but on a long line).  Just watching him was fascinating, but Katharina wanted more.  After asking one of the staff whether it was safe to touch him, and being reassured he doesn’t bite, Katharina returned to the monkey with a brush in hand (also provided by the farm…it seemed like they really did think of everything).  For a while the monkey continued his calisthenics routine, and Kat continued to admire him in silence.  At just the right moment, Katharina made the first move by offering up a banana….then the next move…Kat gently reached out to touch the monkey’s beautiful mane.  This was the beginning of what could only be called an intimate courting ritual between Katharina and the monkey.  Using the large brush provided, Katharina proceeded to start combing the monkey (thus explaining the “fluffed to perfection” coat).  The combing induced rapture was clearly evident on the monkey’s face.  This progressed further to more scratching and petting, and finally culminated in the monkey climbing on Katharina’s back and proceeding to do a very thorough check for mites, lice, ticks and any other edible insect that might be found in Katharina’s hair.  We are pleased to confirm she is lice free…..now.  It was a good 3 minutes of primping – the only thing that was missing was some Leonard Cohen music playing softly in the background.  🙂
  • Brad went on a 10K cancer charity run.  It was an interesting experience to see just how well organized (and attended) the whole event was.  We continue to be impressed by how well everything works here despite the veneer of chaos which is often the first impression Thailand makes on you.  Brad confirms that running in the tropics is, in fact, both hot and sweaty and the combination makes that 10km feel a LOT longer than it should.  He also had a minor moment of terror whilst getting ready for the run – when he went to put on his running shoe and felt something soft and squishy inside with his toe. Picturing any manner of snake, spider or otherwise dangerous creature, he quickly withdrew his foot and began knocking the shoe against the ground.  Out popped a frog and hopped away.   He is quick to point out that frogs can be poisonous too.
  • Visiting the animal shelter on the island.  Coming to Koh Samui we had envisioned possibly having Lucia volunteer at an animal shelter on the island several days a week.  We had hoped this would both appeal to her love of animals and provide a venue for her to take on some responsibility (under parental supervision).  This idea was quickly shelved as we slid open the security gate and entered the premises only to be greeted by dozens of free roaming dogs (all in some form of disrepair – missing legs, mangy fur, etc) barking their heads off.  The girls were quick to scurry to mom and dad.  We made our way through the pack and were greeted by one of the volunteers and basically told to make ourselves at home – there are many pens full of dogs (front yard serves as one pen).  They have nearly 300 dogs in their care.  The staff pick up homeless dogs, fix them up and feed them until they are able to find a suitable home for them.  If they can’t find a home they are kept and cared for – all of which is supported by donors.  They have done lots of great work cleaning up the island of stray dogs; it is very apparent how many fewer street dogs there are now compared to when we were here many years ago.  We spent a good few hours there hiding out in the cat house petting the 30 cats residing there and then left – knowing that it was all a bit too much (and not safe enough) for Lucia to contribute in a meaningful way.
  • Brad splurged and went to a man-made and stocked fishing lake on the island.  The lake is filled with a variety of fish – many of them huge (some over 200lbs).  They also guarantee that you will catch something.  Brad was able to catch two 60lb fish- he described reeling them in as trying to drag a microwave through the water.  He can’t, however, lay any particular claim to having any talent in the actually “fishing” part.  This was a “full service lake” – the guide does all the baiting and casting for you; he also coaches you when trying to bring the fish in.  If you are struggling to catch something he will even launch out ‘bait bombs’ into the water around your hook to draw the fish in…..or if required the guide will actually paddle a small boat and drag your hook out and personally drop the hook straight into some of the best fishing holes in the lake.  This strategic placement is followed up by dumping a bucket of chum in to further draw the fish in.  It felt a little strange to watch the whole process happen….but it was a memorable experience to land and hold fish of that size….WITH or without help.
  • Around Thailand they have multiple “Fish Spas” available for use.  Essentially these are large aquarium-like tanks of water filled with hundreds of a certain variety of small fish.  You put your feet in (or entire body in some spas) and the fish essentially “attack” and nibble off all the bits of dead skin.  It is a very strange feeling and a neat experience to share as a family – all four of us with our feet in the tank.  The girls were giggling as the fish tickled their feet and Katharina howling with tickle-induced laughter loud enough to draw a bit of a crowd.
  • A “Daddy Daughter” night out at a Muay Thai fight.  For some reason the girls had gotten it in to their head that they wanted to see a Muay Thai fight (Brad declares that he has no idea how that idea got there). Leaving mom behind for a night of relaxing, Brad and the girls went out for a late evening (the fight doesn’t start until 21:00hrs).  On the way to the arena Lucia piped up from the back seat – “Daddy since we are kindish partying….could you please turn up the music on the radio.”  Music up, and windows down. they cruised down the main drag of Chaweng Beach  in search of the Muay Thai stadium excited in equal measure by the prospects of an exciting few fights and the bucket of popcorn.  The girls were very excited as the fights started and seemed enthralled by the experience. – at least for the first hour.  The girls could only make it through half of the six fights before they needed to pack it in and head home to sleep shortly after 11:00.
  • Brad was recently out for a final run with the Hash House Harrier group.  He found the run very interesting, as the scurrying sounds heard in the bushes during the run were cast in a very different light after having watched the Snake Show only days before.  He was walking through one area looking for the “lost trail” when all of a sudden he felt a large number of burning “strikes” along both legs, and then a large buzzing sound close to his ear – which culminated in his ear being bitten.  It was like someone had splashed acid on his legs and punched him in the ear. Whatever it was – it got his attention as his legs began to burn in 12 different locations and his ear was throbbing.  Talking to some of the locals they think that he either stepped on a wasp nest, or ran into a branch that had a number of ants on it.  Some ants here spit an acid (yes acid) that stings a lot (yes a lot – it was like being shot with BB pellets along the legs.  What was interesting was that the stings all happened almost at the same time in a coordinated way).  In the words of the expat fellow runners, “If you aren’t having trouble breathing by now you are fine…nothing a beer won’t cure!”  The next day Brad developed a bit of”Cauliflower Ear Syndrome” as his ear swelled up by about 40% sending him running to the pharmacy for some antihistimines.
  • For those that are interested – you can check out the “Fruit Video” that Lucia did for a Grade 1 Class project.  http://youtu.be/z00oasksD74.  Not sure if it will work – can’t cut and paste with our tablet.
  • Photo’s are at   http://www.flickr.com/photos/simpsonfamilytravels
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2 Comments
  1. Martin permalink

    Another great report! Thanks guys! And Brad, you have to mention the fish species you caught. Come one!

    • I wish I knew for sure…

      I think he is of the Genus “Big” and with subspecies designation of “Sucker”…commonly referred to as “Big Sucker”. 🙂

      Sent from my ASUS Pad

      The Simps

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