Travelogue (Part 6)
As Bangkok Airways flight PG 0906 approached Koh Samui International Airport, I looked out the window and could see emerald hills covered with palm trees, groves of bamboo, and various manner of flowering plant life.
The landscape was dotted with clusters of bungalows with terra cotta roofs. The skies and seas were azure. And not a high rise in sight!
“I think I''m going to like it here,” I thought.
The airport itself – with its open air terminal – had “tropics” written all over it. My suitcase was among the first to emerge on the conveyor belt. I had no problem finding my driver, who was holding a sign with the words “Michael Taylor” written on it.
Arrival at Absolute Sanctuary
I breathed a sigh a relief as I got into my van and headed through picturesque Koh Samui to Absolute Sanctuary, where I would be spending the next nine days and eight nights. Koh Samui is an island. Measuring 21 kilometres at its widest point and 25 at its longest, it is located off the Eastern shores of the Southern Thai mainland.
The hilly limestone and granite interior is covered with forests. The shores have countless palm-lined bays and beaches. The most developed are Chaweng and Lamai on the island's Eastern seaboard.
The beaches in Northern Koh Samui have yet to be discovered by the maddening crowds, offering respite to those preferring solitude to wall-to-wall humanity.
There are shopping streets, fishing villages, shrines and temples – the list goes on. Natural attractions include several waterfalls, the coral reefs off Laem Set and Tong Tokien, and the Phallic Rock outcroppings that can be found at the Northern end of Lamai Beach.
Accommodation runs from modest hostels to luxurious five-star resorts. A handful of smaller islands are located in the nearby waters. Full Moon parties are held once a month on Koh Pha Ngan, some of Thailand's best diving can be found at Koh Tao, and the Ang Thong National Marine Park – an archipelago of small and mostly untouched islands – can be explored by kayak.
If Koh Samui has a downside, it's the cost of getting there. Because the airport is owned by the airline, there is a monopoly. As a result, my 50-minute flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui cost roughly 50% more than my two and one-half flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok!