Writing about a resort while you are there is a bit rigged: it is bound to be good, even if they spill a whole tray of assorted coloured tidbits on you. Not that this happened; just merely citing for sake of an exaggerated example.
This “rigging” starts at the airport itself which is itself more of a resort. The landing is akin to an
autumn leaf gently floating to the ground to find a resting place among the other leaves, in the shade. Think of it as a touchdown into nature – like a Willy Wonka airline with an Eco-quotient.
The green in fact is in shades everywhere you see. From the trees to the bushes, even the water. Some may argue that the sea is actually aquamarine or emerald or something but I limit my palette to 16 colours. Water is blue, or green. Emerald is a stone. Aquamarine sounds like a military rank officer who works underwater.
As I drove to my hotel, I was mighty impressed by the generally
uninterrupted skyline: the low-roofed houses, angular, colourful, cheerful. Waitaminute, is this Goa…or Kerala??? Either ways, this place is totally HARD KOH! Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Koh means island. Samui is the largest. Phuket used to be it, but with the bridge connecting it nice
and proper, it has been de-koh-ssified. OK, I gotta’ stop…
The journey to the Banyan Tree Villas is about a 15 leisurely minutes. Calm, winding, narrow roads. Along the stretch, one finds many little shrines: like roadside temples for very small people; they are really family spirit abodes. The dead are burned and then their spirit are believed to reside here. You will often come across families praying there, even leaving little things as offerings: from the departed’s favourite brand of cola to sweets and other stuff which probably killed them in the first place. These shrines are to be found all over Thailand, not just here on Samui. Drivers will often honk as they pass by these as if to pay homage and as a sign of respect. By that logic, Indian roads are one large spiritual sanctuary.
The island is small. 247 sq m. 21 kms X 25 ams with a 50-km ring road circling it. Five beaches: Three in the north. Longest – 7kms. Chewang beach. Also the most commercial. North has better sand. But the East coast has more tourists for activity, nightlife, n’ shopping. Receives a good load of over 1.3 million visitors/year. I was told this is the main access to other two islands. Judging
by some of the people I saw there, this was their only way to look cool with women falling over them, for a modest hourly ‘honorarium’ and a tray-ful of Tequila shots. 90% of the income comes from tourism. I think what they meant was that 90% of the income comes from tourists too ugly to get laid elsewhere. The “ladybars” are doing a service to humanity that can never be thanked enough. They take one for the team where the ‘team’ is women all over the world in general! Tourism aside, it is a calm place to stay. Good mix of ethnicity. And age groups: Working n’ retired people. And, a low crime rate; I mean, it ain’t ways to steal something if you can’t get it off the island…
The hotel is juxtaposed into scenery: every aspect looks onto it, gives into it…
Their beachside resto “Sands” literally has water on the doorstep. Sure they have to maintain a certain distance from the edge of the waters. There exist no private beaches in Thailand as a result anybody can access the beach, if not from the shore side, then surely from the sea side. This makes for a classless system of beach access. Unlike, say South of France, there aren’t really any exclusive beaches with limited access nightspots and such. If you can swim it, you can sunbathe on any stretch you like.
Back to Sands, it serves light bites: salads and pizzas mostly. Evenings are more about grills and barbecue.Great food for the ambience.
Coconut water is a must try. Like one giant bottomless fruit, I am pretty sure mine served up about five litres of pure coconut juice before i was scraping the bottom. Else drink local beer or chilled White wine. If you have the contacts, you may get your hands on local moonshine: coconut whisky. i didn’t try any but am told it is quite a cracker of a sip. Also, there is rice beer aplenty but that is more North of Thailand. Thai wine remains conspicuous by its marked absence, almost as unspoken of as the local hooch. This when the king loves wine and has probably written sax solos as odes to the stuff. That last sentence sounds somewhat disturbing as i read it again. hmmm…
And as I tap away, the gentle breeze playfully caresses the calm sea.
June July is the season, post which monsoons make it sultry, and not the good ‘Southern sirens of India’ sultry.
DINNER at New Star was lovely. Great original recipes cooked by a friend of the property, and she isn’t one to mess with for she knows her Thai fare well: lovely execution of the classics as also
superb handling on the fusion front. I find Thai food spiced but not spicy, and I have very low tolerance to such. Heat is present but the deliberate control is only too obvious here. With soft live acoustic music wafting in from the beach, this starlit table is a great romantic venue.
(*) Grandfather grandmother rock: natural conformation of how things should be. Natural formations of how things really are. Take your child there and that is one birds-and-bees explanation that you won’t really have to do in much details anymore. The Gramps rock appeared to be circumcised by a blunt, slightly rusty instrument.
(*) Monkey school: This is the old way of life, how things used to be – the monkey did the fruit gathering, the men went fishing, and
the women cooked. all has changed today. The monkey gathers fruit only if you feed him cooked food, the women fish around for well-past-their-middle-age foreign husbands and a shortcut to a European passport, and fat Aussie Sheilas take their pick of the local Mowglies to ride while on this ‘exotic’ vacation.
(*) Mummified monk: Buddhist point of interest. Creepy and yet riveting. A monk who died back in 1973 and still sits here in meditation, anaffected by time, untouched by decay, unfazed by the camera flashes going off all around him. Science and scientists remain baffled as to his preserved state, a study that I suspect is funded by the most cunning
hoteliers worldwide who are trying to find ways to make Saturday night’s special chicken last till the next week’s Sunday buffet spread without killing half their clients in the process. A fire once burned his hair away and it grew back. It was at this very point that I decided to walk away from this cruel act of jest by God which seemed rather poignantly pointed towards someone, like, me…
(*) Waterfall: The island has a fresh water source and this is it. When i went there, a model was
busy standing very close to the cascading stream, posing in all whites. Sweet Hallelujah!!
(*) National park: Marine park, a boat ride away. 1 hour by speed boat; a ride to shake the very foundations of your existence, if you sit up front. at the back it will only shake you like your better half does when she wants an opinion from you that she agrees with. Lunch at one of the islands. Cheap easy. Must try papaya salad. Deep fried papaya makes for a lovely textural contrast with the soft fish. Spicy though. Fried rice for THB80 makes it a well-priced stop. Food is mostly seafood and salads, and fresh fruits. Most picturesque beach, dotted with palms. Kayaks. Lazy music, lilting