First of all we just want to say Happy Birthday to Jake. Katie, his mother (my sister) and Ben will both probably appreciate this mile stone more than anyone. It wasn’t that long back that Jake was struck down with an illness which could have killed him or left him completely paralysed. Standing at the hospital in Leeds and seeing my tiny nephew lay there lifeless was one of the most sobering moments of my life. Jake showed his strength as he fought off the illness whilst Katie and Ben grasped a maturity and strength beyond anything I have ever known.
Happy Birthday Jake, and to katie and Ben – Jake is lucky to have you as his parents. Also a mini shout out to our Brie and Jakes bezza and my other nephew Lewis xxx
Ko Samui is an island off the East Coast of Thailand, it’s not huge and the road which circles it is a mere 50km long. The East coast of Thailand is known as the Gulf Coast and in comparison to the rest of Thailand, including the Andaman Coast, it gets less rain. Particularly during the usual Asian Monsoon Season on Jun – Sept. The Gulf Coast of Thailand is at its high season during these wet months and temperatures rarely fall below 32 degrees and on the rare occasion that it does rain, the sun is back out again in no time.
So, after getting washed out in Langkawi it was a natural choice and to be honest one which id pretty much decided on anyway. There is actually quite a lot to do in Samui, it is a stunning island of natural beauty and there are plenty of places to catch wildlife including monkeys and even elephants (which I am sure were probably imported here during the Samui tourism boom of the 70’s) Samui is where people come on honeymoon, for family holidays, singles holidays and backpackers like us, the one thing we all have in common though, is that everyone who comes to Samui, comes for the beaches and some downtime.
I could quite easily sit here and say that we visited this waterfall, and that mountain etc, but I’d be lying. The reality is the only thing we have seen is some rocks called Grandmother and Grandfather rocks, basically one looks like a penis and the other a vagina. It was certainly reassuring to know that there wasn’t just me that found things like that funny. Particularly since a whole tourism thing has been built around these filthy, but funny looking rocks.
The remainder of our time has been spent doing very little.
Still, the story goes like this;
We are staying in an apartment at the South end of Chaweng beach and right opposite is a scooter hire place, we decided to hire a scooter for 2 reasons. Firstly public transport on Samui is ridiculous, I was quoted the equivalent of a fiver for a 1km journey in a taxi, the price would be around 20p on the mainland. And so knowing that we needed to get from Samui to a different Island I had to sort out the logistics. Also I wanted to see the rocks, obviously Charlie was keen too 🙂
The reality is that it is cheaper to hire a scooter for the day at only 200thb (£4) and with Samui’s roads been nicely paved it’s really a no brainer.
Days two and three are pretty much the same in that we did nothing. The whole idea behind Samui was to have some down time, to swim in the seas which are far too warm for comfort, though I’ve sussed it, if you swim about for a bit you find little currents of cooler water which is such a welcome retreat. The beach is white and the seas are turquoise and clear. It genuinely is something special.
We was going to hire a jeep for the day and just bomb about but I refused to leave both my passport and £100 deposit, though the cost was 600thb for the day (£12)
We have a lilo, beach toys and rubber rings and literally our time was spent lazing about in the sea.
Charlie wanted to do some snorkelling and so we went to a dive shop and I bought him a professional kit; Snorkel, mask and flippers, all top of the range and actually when I sat and thought about it, one of the few times I’ve actually splashed out on the kids. I am a BSAC Sports Diver (up to 35m) and know all too well the amazing sights and life that lay beneath our seas and so was more than willing to encourage Charlie to start off with snorkelling. It wasn’t cheap but the smile that I could not wipe off his face was worth every penny. He saw all sorts of tropical fish, crabs and jelly fish. Though Samui has crystal clear waters it doesn’t have a Coral Reef and so later in the trip when we get to Ko Tao he will really get to see some amazing things as the tiny island is basically surrounded by a Coral Reef teaming with underwater beauty.
We leave Samui tomorrow (Thursday) for Ko Phan gan. Not because we have had enough of Samui, but simply due to our budget. I keep a close eye on our outgoings and basically our outgoings have risen 75% since getting here. For example our apartment is 1500thb per night, our bungalow in Ko Phan gan is 500thb per night. Our meal tonight cost just short of 700thb (though it was nice) yet usually in Thailand we pay an average of 200thb.
We work off a daily budget which I carry over both positive and negative and each day we are still coming under budget but today for example we came within 1000thb (£20) So for example if our budget was £100 per day and we spent £60, then tomorrow our budget would be £160 etc. I know it sounds a lot but believe me the travelling evens it out. For instance we have taken 12 flights so far on this trip and only 3 were prepaid. Anyway, Samui simply is taking a bigger slice than even Singapore was. Now, just across the water about 2hrs away is another island made famous by the full moon parties and the movie – The Beach.
It has the same climate as Samui but is still occupied mainly by backpackers and not honeymooners, families or resorts.
With that in mind we leave Samui two days early, grateful for the memories, the little we did, the family time and seeing a rock shaped like a knob.
The photo is really just to illustrate our time in Samui, it was taken at about 10pm and still we were on the beach. As people boogied on down, let fireworks off and those beautiful lanterns we sat making the most of our ‘downtime’ and loving being a family at the other side of the planet on a small island off the cost of Thailand.
My dad was a farmer, a strong man both physically and mentally. He had the answer to everything and his word was the law. An old fashioned man, he held traditional values and he came from a flock of truly British men from an age where even the women were men. Throughout my childhood he would drag us off to Scarborough for the day, he would somehow take about 4hrs to get there, and I genuinely have no idea what way he went that could possibly take that long, but we would all sit in the boot of the car and trundle along to Scarborough. We always seemed to arrive there at midday where would eat jam sandwiches before heading off for the beach. Then would ensue my dad’s attempt at breaking the world record for sitting on a beach the longest. After about 6hrs we would start to moan about how there is only so many times you can dig the same hole, or that the sea was too cold and every time the response would be the same. It was basically that Scarborough beach was as good as it got and we should be grateful. I grew up thinking that Scarborough beach was as good as it gets and learned to love the simple British things.
I teach my kids to shoot for the moon but my dad taught me to appreciate what you have, however small. There was a reason for everything and I look back on our days out at Scarborough eating chips from a cone that were covered in sand – despite the fact you hadn’t put them nowhere near the sand. To having those funky ice creams that come out about three colours from the machine. Scarborough was great and still is, but dad, you were wrong. And whilst usually you were right, I am sorry but Ko Samui chins Scarborough on every level. Ok, there are no 2p machines, no 5p ice pops and the stench of cockles and muscles is not to be found. But Ko Samui blows Scarborough away. I will never ever go to any other beach destination for a holiday; from this day on our beach get away is Ko Samui, Thailand.
When my dad got admitted to hospital in 2001 for a brain tumour at the age of 54 there was hope that it might not be the end and I asked him if he could go anywhere on earth where would he go. He said Hawaii, and I promised that ‘when’ he got out I would pay for him and my mum to go.
That day never came and sadly the best my dad ever knew was Scarborough.
I try and show my kids the same happiness I had as a kid running along the beach in Scarborough all those years ago or trying to dig to Australia, or daring each other to go in the sea first. And I hope that in years to come they will reflect upon our time travelling and feel the same about their childhood that I do about mine.
You know, thinking about it, Ko Samui might be the best, but Scarborough is a close second.