Seduced by Samui: Beaches, Streets, and Vibrant Skies, Koh Samui Thailand

Roughly painted blue and white row boat on a flat wet beach.

Morning on the Beach.
Ang Thong, Koh Samui, 15 June 2009.

We are having property management problems yet again.

Our little holiday cottage, which sits perched on a quiet beach in Koh Samui, Thailand, has been orphaned once more. The situation is not as serious as it was 18 months ago, but it is still distressing to try to deal with agents and cleaners and bills when we are a couple of oceans and continents away. We keep thinking we should off-load our tiny white elephant.

After all, Koh Samui is far from perfect!

It sits in the Bay of Thailand, where the beaches collect all the flotsam that passing freighters and fishing boats can offer. Over the years, the hillsides have been overdeveloped with condos and resorts, exacerbating preexisting problems with regular flooding. Chrome and glass shopping complexes have gone up everywhere, with apparent disregard for the lack of infrastructure around them. The financial proceeds from the various development projects go directly to the mainland, and it seems as if none of it comes back to improve island roads, water, or electricity. There is a brand new, expanded International Airport – but once you are out of the car park, your life and that of your vehicle are in the hands of the fates. The roads are narrow, congested, in disrepair, and often under water. Getting from the airport to anywhere else can take an eternity.

So, why would you bother?

View over sand flats towards Na Thon Pier and Ferry Terminal, Koh Samui, Thailand.

Breakfast with a View
From our balcony, we watch the morning ferry coming into Na Thon Pier, 13 June 2009.

A quick look at a couple of old photos (above and below) might give you a clue. Once you are out of the main resort towns and off the patchy main road that circumnavigates the island, everything is quiet and down to earth. Local people farm the land and fish in the sea. Going through some old albums and the remaining pictures from our last trip cheered me up, and reminded me why we persist in trying to hang on to our island escape.

Expanse of rippled sandy beach with a thin layer of water across it.

Low Tide
It can be very quiet on our beach! 13 Jun 2009.

View from The Cliff, Koh Samui: concrete path leading down through palms to turquoise waters.

The Cliff
Each visit to Samui, we drive around the island to enjoy lunch with a superb view, 22 August 2011.

Bushy palm tree on a beach, against a blue sky.

Palms on the Waterfront
13 June 2009.

Weathered Thai spirit house amongst weeds and grass.

Derelict Spirit House
20 April 2012 (iPhone)

Close-up of a small Iguana with a long tail on a rough tree stem.

All sorts of lizards and geckos hang around our cottage, 19 April 2012.

The last time we were on Koh Samui, the island was playing host to an international Triathlon. During the cycling leg, under a searing sun, we watched as the competitors breezed up our hill from their start at Nathon, many smiling for the camera.

Female cyclist on a topical highway in white heat. Koh Samui Triathlon, 2012

Triathelete, still smiling under the midday sun, 22 April 12.

Panning shot: Smiling male cyclist on a tropical highway. Koh Samui Triathlon 2012.

White-hot, but still smiling, 22 April 2012.

Cycling up long, hot hills was well beyond my energy levels! Although we did pass several delightful days sailing around Koh Phangan and spent one afternoon zip-lining through the jungle canopy, most of our time was occupied in more everyday pursuits like browsing the evening markets. One afternoon, I met with a friend for a walk through her neighbourhood, where we could have been light-years from the modern world.

Water buffalo in green fields and coconut palms, Koh Samui, Thailand.

Travel a short distance away from the main road, and you are in true Thai countryside, 24 April 2012.

Fresh hands of bananas on a table.

Fresh from the tree to the table, 24 April 2012.

Pigs in a concrete pen.

One yard houses pig pens; we assume these animals are slated for the local market, 24 April 2012.

A thai boy helping mum cook on an outdoor burner. Koh Samui

Helping Mum
Off a small street in Mae Nam, a young boy helps mum with the cooking.

Elderly Thai man sitting cross-legged on a wooden platform.

Old Man with a Story
In the shade of a shelter, an elder tells his stories, 24 April 2012.

Group shot: Young woman with a camera, showing a picture to an elderly Thai man, as another looks on.

My walking companion shares a photo she has made of the older Thai.

Thai temple window with a golden standing buddha.

Every neighbourhood has a temple…

Seated golden thai Buddha in a glass enclosure.

… and every temple has several Buddhas.

Long row of colourful Thai stupas.

“When I Die”
A long row of stupas guards the ashes of neighbours past, 24 April 2012.

A Siamese kitten on the steps of a thai temple.

Temple Cats
This temple houses countless sick and homeless cats and kittens, 24 April 2012.

Richly decorated Chinese Dragons outside a temple.

Chinese Dragons
Not far away, a Chinese Temple stands in ornate contrast to its Thai counterpart, Mae Nam.

Basket of gold offerings in a Chinese Buddhist temple, Mae Nam, Koh Samui.

Basket of gold trinkets in the Chinese Buddhist temple, Mae Nam, 24 April 2012.

As we walked past the same Chinese temple that I had photographed after dark a few nights before, I reflected on one of Samui’s true simple pleasures: relatively inexpensive, fabulous fresh food, served up al fresco, and accompanied by glorious sunset skies.

Electric blue sky with touches of pink over an ornate Chinese Buddhist temple Sunset, Mae Nam, Thailand.

Temple Sunset
Night skies over the Chinese Temple, Mae Nam,19 April 2012.

Delicate blue and yellow sunset over calm seas and rocks, Ang Thong, Koh Samui.

View from our outdoor dinner table, Ang Thong, Koh Samui, 18 April 2012 (iPhone4S).

Dark blue and pink sky over calm sea with two people silhouetted.

Night Fishing
People on the beach, collecting small animals, Ang Thong,18 April 2012.

Night view over Bo Phut from Dr Frogs, Chaweng Noi, Koh Samui.

View from Dr Frogs
Night view over Bo Phut from the hill in Chaweng Noi, 22 August 2011.

Dark night scene: Small wooden boat beached on a low tide, Koh Samui

Blue Velvet
Quiet seas and an inky sky make for calm dining, Maret, Koh Samui, 14 June 2009.

Text: Happy TravelsIt is these simple pleasures that keep us coming back. We still have hopes of retiring there one day…

IF we ever slow down and IF we can keep the place managed in the mean time.

Here’s hoping! Happy travels.

  • Guava - January 31, 2013 - 10:43 am

    Nice series of shots, Ursula. Although I tend to agree with your assessment of the current situation there. I was always a regular visitor to the Island, and spent months at a time there, my brother has lived on Samui for over 20 years. But my last visit was around 4 years ago and I doubt very much if I will return. My brother is planning to move his business to another location, maybe even onto the mainland, as he is not enjoying the Island life anymore (the last power cut with days without electricity being the final straw) 🙁ReplyCancel

  • rand carter - January 31, 2013 - 7:38 pm

    Thanks for the nice photos Ursula. I met my wife on Koh Samui 8 years ago. We still enjoy the island, but are dismayed with the excessive 5 star hotel constructions.

    We have found that Koh Chang has not, as yet, suffered the fates of Phuket or Samui. We will consider living there when we move back to Thailand.

    Rand & NokReplyCancel

    • Ursula - January 31, 2013 - 9:25 pm

      Greetings, Guava and Rand!

      Samui certainly has its challenges; that last power cut was something!! Still, Thailand has many beautiful places – you just have to look harder these days.

      Thanks for your visits.ReplyCancel

  • gabe - February 3, 2013 - 9:05 pm

    Enjoyable to read and lots of good memoriesReplyCancel

  • Patrick Gallagher - March 15, 2013 - 8:16 am

    Another nice set of photos, Ursula. Thanks. From them I can see why the place attracts you.ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - March 15, 2013 - 9:04 am

      Hi Patrick! So glad you enjoyed the set. Samui does have its moments. 😀ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *