Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ko Samui

Ko Samui

21 - 23 November 2008
Decided to go on a weekend getaway. Choose location, steady, go.

21 November 2008
@ Changi Airport Terminal 1
So excited... Bangkok Airlines... Boeing 727-200; one aisle, 3 seats-a-side... Cozy plane.Accommodation was IMPIANA RESORTS & SPA, one of the three 4-stars rating hotel along Chaweng Noi, an idyllic stretch of beach south of the more populated Chaweng Beach.
Bed was up to expectations and the amount of pillows and cushions provided was generous.
Explored the resort grounds and found the way to the pools. The pool-side was romantically dim-lited and very windy. The beach was just a stone-throw ahead and I could hear the splashing of the waves from where I was standing.
The calmness of the pool water was inviting; the water overflows to the edge and overlooks the sea. The night-scene at the pool-side was marvelous, yet the photos captured by my camera does not gave it sufficient justice. You really got to see it with your own eyes. Its beautiful~

22 November 2008
Complimentary daily breakfast; selections were standard-fare international style. Bread, cold cuts, sausages, eggs, bacons, cereals, pancakes, etc. Didn't eat alot. Was perhaps subconsciously saving my stomach for a more sumptious meal later.
A yellow-cab ride from the resort front to Chaweng Beach costs 200Baht flat. Was a rainy morning and the town was still asleep. The entire shopping n' restaurant belt runs parallel to the Chaweng Beach, and stretches some 3km - 4km long.
Best thing to be doing in the morning is to hop in to one of these massage palours. A 90min Back & Feet Aromatherapy package only cost 600 Baht. Back massage was done upstairs. Had my back arched and bent and stretched by the masseuse, Thai-style. Skill was great, and service was sincere.

Such massage palours are aplenty along the stretch of Chaweng Beach. Best thing about them is no advance bookings required, and the rates are cheaper than the high class resorts spa services. Only downside is the lack of privacy.

Downstairs, the feet massage continues. I sanked into one of these huge bamboo chair and felt like a King as my feet gets a good rub down. Tipped the masseuse 400Baht and she went over the moon. (GDP per capital in terms of purchasing power parity of Singapore and Thailand is $49,000 and $8000 respectively - CIA Factbook 2008).
Took a stroll along Chaweng Beach. Best period to be at Ko Samui is between March - October. I could imagine how beautiful this place is during April... will surely return to Ko Samui for its beach.
For the beach-lovers, do remember to wad past the coral-shells belt in the water closer to the beach and you'll find yourself standing on very smooth sea-floor that stretches very far out to the sea and yet the water only reaches your waist. Go frolick in the water and catch the very strong waves~

Ladies in bikinis, do tie your strings tighter, else you'll find yourself topless after a couple of splashes. Lunch @ a seafood BBQ cafe. Service was excellant; the waiter put in alot of effort explaining and recommending the food in Thai-style English. Had Mango-shake...
and ordered a seafood platter... an approx. 500gram lobster, a crab, 2 prawns, and a calamari, with a half a corn and a serving of potato salad... 1200Baht only
Back at the resort, bedsheets were changed and the room reinstated.
Was back at the resort for the in-house Aroma Therapy Spa and Massage. Made an appointment the night before. Top notch service and facilities, with showers attached, and all privacy you need. Resort guests recieved a 50% discount off the package. Paid approx. 800Baht for a 60min session.
Oh, for the adverturous type, you can deposit your passport and rent a 100cc motorbike at only 150Baht for 24 hours, comes with half tank of gasoline. Dirt cheap!
Automatic gear; just open trottle and go~ No licence, no helmet, no insurance (just dun fall down or get involved in an accident).

The fella at the rental insist I top up the gasoline back to half tank when I return the bike. I gave him back a FULL tank... only cost me 48Baht... wahahahaha~
Ideal for exploring the stretch of Chaweng Beach shopping belt and the vicinity. Saved me the trouble of walking up and down the street and the money for taxis. Just ride slowly, enjoy the breeze, view the shops, stop anywhere I like and hop into the shops. I can literally park the bike anywhere along the stretch of road (but park cleverly la~)
Just a couple of things to take note while riding the bike. Road users at Ko Samui have a habit of tapping the horn when over-taking. Also, certain roads along Chaweng Beach are "one-way only"; I stumbled into such one-way streets on my bike a couple of times... hee hee hee....
Rode back into town (Chaweng Beach) after the late afternoon Aromatherapy Massage session. Parked my bike at a roadside and strolled the shops.
Past a Grill and BBQ restaurant and was pretty much impressed by this whole-pig over the fire. Was looking for a nice place for dinner. Marked this place down and moved on.
The shopping n' restaurant belt parallel to Chaweng Beach comes alive from 3pm onwards, until 12am midnight. Its brightly lited on both sides of the street and very much safe to stroll down alone. Restaurants are mostly seafood-based; all fresh catch of the day. Retail shops were generally repetitive after half a Kilometer walk - clothing, scultures n artifacts, souvenirs, DVD/VCD shops, scuba-diving shops, vehicle (trucks, cars, bikes, ATVs) rental shops, painting shops, coffeeshops n eateries, cafes, massage palours, bars n' pubs, swimwear shops, tailor shops, optical shops and convenience stores. If there are a couple of things you can do the moment you set foot along Chaweng Beach:

1) Get your presciption spectacles done in one of their optical shops. Ready to collect on the last day before departure. It will definately be cheaper there.

2) Get a business suit tailored there. Rate is at 2 sets of business suits for 150 Euro only. Definately cheaper to get it done there.

3) Walk into a paint shop. There are plenty of talented artists there. Have your photo taken, and they will paint your portriat. Regretted not asking for a quote. But I actually had the impulse to buy up to some 5 set of art-pieces I spotted there. Very stunning pieces of drawings there.

4) Buy bikinis. Lotsa bikini shops line the shopping street. Gave me the feeling that intense-competition-drives-prices-down.
Bank outlets and ATMs are aplently along the stretch of road, so you need not worry about running out of cash.

Shopkeepers standing outside their shops are ever-friendly to strike up a conversation with you. I've people saying "Konbawa" (Japanese for Good Evening), to "你好吗?" (Mandarin for How are you?) to me when I walk past them. Friendly people.
International brands also found their way there. McDonald's, Burger King, Adidas, Puma, Haagen Das, Swensons, Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Family Mart...

I entered an Adidas outlet. The Polo T-shirts there are approx. S$30 cheaper than what I paid for in Singapore.
This McDonald's building is one prominent landmark at Chaweng Beach, because shuttle buses will drop tourist from nearby resorts opposite here.and as usual, long time rival Burger King will always be just a stone-throw away.
Found a nice place by the beach for a candle-lit dinner... (yes, my table and chair was on the sand at the beach and the waves was just about 10 metres away). Didn't drink a lot though... (ya, I did lotsa illegal stuff while at Ko Samui; I rode a bike without licence, without helmet, without insurance, and I was on alcohol...)Service was great. The manager at the resort restuarant came out to ensure the table settings were done up properly and ensured everything was satisfactory before taking his leave.

Food was great! Dinner was Grilled Chicken Quesadillas, Deep Fried Softshell Crabs, and Pork Satay. The quesadillas were well into my expectations. The softshell crabs were mildly warm by the time it was serve, not piping hot. However, it wasn't soggy and tastes comfortably great in the mouth. The pork satay was even better! The meat was tender and sweet! The pork was skewered with the stem of some leaves instead of the usual satay sticks; so environmentally friendly.
The evening continued with more shopping and finally a rest over at Haagen Das for a couple scoops of ice creams~ yum yum~~ waiter at the Haagen Das was well trained.

Bought a couple of local made silk scarfs for mum and sis. 200Baht for the smaller pieces and 300Baht for the bigger ones.
and a fridge magnet for 120Baht...
Oh and I got one of these duffel bags for 700Baht. Was going at 800Baht initially, but the shopkeeper offered a discount without even me asking for one. Keke...

Got a15-litre red colour one...
Then its a cooling ride back to the resort. I had already pretty much gotten used to riding the motorbike I rented. Didn't rode very fast... some 30-40kmph. It was a cool evening, and riding the bike made it even colder.

Head back to the resort and soaked in the cool waters of the swimming pool... overlooking the sea.... ah~~ enjoy~~~

23 November 2008
Woke up early for breakfast. Its the usual international cuisine. Below's the beach in the morning.
The swimming pool in the day...
Poolside suites.
Rode the bike out to explore the nearby village. Was searching for this horse ranch. Wanted to have a horse ride along the beach. Finally zoomed in to near 50 metre of the site, but the locals there told me the ranch closed down already. Unfortunately.
Then visited a rifle shooting range... but it only opens from 4pm onwards... well I had fun riding up and down the streets though~

Ended up returning to Chaweng Beach for a third round of aromatherapy massage. Chose a palour with better facilities and privacy. Had a warm leg bath and a good round of full body massage. Back at the resort for checkout and lunch.
The restaurant overlooking the sea...
I love orange juice.
Ordered Fish n' Chips. Splendid taste. Fish was thick and sweet. The batter was just nice. One of the best fish n' chips I've had in years.
Then its this dessert... Sushi Sticky Rice with Mango n' Caramel Sauce. I tell you... I rate this dessert at 99.9 points out of 100! The missing 0.1 points being not-enough quantity.

The sticky glutinous rice had mango filling, like that of a typical sushi. Its interior is soft and sweet with the mango, and its exterior is baked crispy, covered with sesame seeds and sprinkled with sweet cinnamon powder.

Its so fragrant, crunchy, and sweet at the same time! And then you dip it into the extra sweet caramel dip.... HEAVENLY~~~ Not forgetting the half-slice of mango there... sweet to the core!
@ Samui Airport...
the letter "O" got stolen...
Samui Airport was pretty much open-concept. Checked in and then strolled around the airport grounds.
Could already see the runway from afar...
The inside is another stretch of road with shopping and cafes on both sides...
Decided to take a rest away from the afternoon heat in Swensons.
Had Firehouse Happy Birthday... a 3-scoop ice cream serving with a lited candle. This particular ice cream was having a promotion. Customers gets to have a polaroid photo taken on the spot.
The interior setting of the Swensons there actually faired better than Singapore's. Even the menu looks visualling more appealing.
After the ice cream dessert, its to board these trams that will take passengers to the foot of the plane.
Ko Samui is a great place for a getaway. Had a wonderful and exciting memory there. Will return there again.

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