Koh Samui is a big island and I can’t say I saw much of it. We (me, Amy and Maite) stayed on Chaweng Beach and didn’t leave that area much. Most of our days were spent in true beach bum style – getting daily massages and sipping the juice of fresh young coconuts (and I’m now expert at getting the pulp out of one) – just passing the time and enjoying the clear, warm waters in the Gulf of Thailand. As Maite put it, the ocean there is “total bathtub” – warm, calm, and shallow.
All those 300 Baht (about $10) massages got me accustomed to the crazy acrobatics you’re put through in the name of relaxation. But that first massage on the beach (in a bikini with only a hand towel as extra coverage) was honestly a bit nerve wracking. I kept wondering whether my bikini bottoms were still in the right place and whether I’d end up injured by the pretzel poses my therapist pulled me into. Fast forward a few days and we had all gotten comfortable with the process, often stripping down behind makeshift curtains to change into the massage-wear provided by some places (usually fisherman’s pants – like the hot pink ones I bought (photos later) – and a traditional cotton smock).
Amy was getting her dive certification, so I joined her for the last day of her open water dives. I hadn’t dived in 8 years – since getting my open water certification on the Great Barrier Reef – so my first time going under induced a brief freak-out, similar to what happened my first time going down in open water all those years ago. I’m sorry but a refresher in a swimming pool does not prepare you for going under in the ocean! So Amy’s super chill instructor ending up spending our first dive of the day working to make me comfortable as much as helping Amy with her last few underwater skills. I swear there is a separate training on patience and comforting that comes with being a dive instructor, and for that I am grateful. The second dive of the day was much better. I quickly got past the initial “I’m going to drown” feeling and remembered that I needed to accept the feeling of having water up my nose the whole time. Overall the diving was good but I now realize that I was completely spoiled by starting on the GBR. The clarity of the water, the colors, the amount of sea life, it’s amazing there. We did see some eels, avoided a run-in with a trigger fish, and see a huge sea anemone garden off Samui. And I again pushed past my fear, which is an accomplishment in itself!
One thing that is everywhere here are Buddhist spirit houses. My tuk tuk driver on Koh Lanta finally told me what they were. Here was my intro to them on Samui: