Ko Samet, Pattaya, Bangkok
February 2011
Part I

If you want to skip directly to the next part, then just hit
Part II


This is an abridged description of a trip to Thailand in February 2011. The intention is just to give a firsthand personal experience of how we, Joy and I, traveled to and around that place. This time I booked in advance not only the flight but also the first night accommodation in Bangkok, because we arrived midnight.

Since this is not only a travel report but also a personal memory album so don't complain that Joy is often standing or sitting in the way while taking the photos.

Sometimes, I slip into a writing habit: It's like a tic, I can't help it. If you won't read it, then just leave it and take the liberty to skip my silly poetry.

How to get from Berlin (or Frankfurt or Manila) to Bangkok

There are many ways to get there. It all depends on whether Thailand is the main destination for the whole trip or part of an itinerary.

For us it was just a short hop from Manila to Bangkok with the Cebu Pacific Airline. I booked the trip online for Joy and me. My roundtrip fare was 95 Euro but for Joy it was 122 Euro (by taking the exchange rate of 60 Pesos for 1 Euro), because Philippinos are charged a travel tax. Don't ask me why. Maybe Philippinos should spend their money rather in the Philippines or the government thinks if one of its citizen can afford to travel abroad they also can a little be extorted.

If you come from Germany, then look up the internet for cheap flights. I recommend to book the flight with
Kirschner Reisen
Apostelnstraße 11
50667 Köln
Tel.: 0049 221 9201 9201
Finally we left Manila on time at 8:45 p.m. without any problems. But before we did eat enough for dinner at the airport, because there is none being served on the plane, though you can buy some ready mix soups or dry sandwiches.

Arrival in Bangkok

We arrived at the Bangkok International Airport 20 minutes before the scheduled arrival time at 11:30 p.m. Not a very convenient arrival time. Still many people were around, but Passport Control was swift.

I withdrew 20,000 Baht from an ATM in the airport. With my Visa Card I did get 41,50 Baht for 1 Euro. But they charge an extra amount of 150 Baht, that's 3,60 Euro for each withdrawal. I couldn't find an ATM of another bank without, like in the Philippines. So try to withdraw as much as possible with one go. There are ATMs with a maximum of 5000 Baht for each transaction. So for 20,000 Baht you would have to pay 14,40 Euro for fees.

Arriving at the Hotel

Actually, we did not need any money for transport from the airport because I had ordered beforehand via email a van from our hotel to pick us up at midnight. And that was for free. After around 10 minutes we arrived at our
BS Residence Suvarnabhumi
836/1-2 Ladkrabang Rd
Bangkok 10520
Tel.: 6627371997
which we booked very well in advance through Our Private Double Room did cost 27.70 Euro per night for the two of us. Only a 10% deposit had to be paid in advance but no service charge.

It turned out that we had chosen the right accommodation. Look up the comments at the hostelbookers site. First surprise about the price: breakfast buffet was included. And not only that but also a free lift with the airport shuttle van to a public bus station close to the airport.

Getting to our Island in the Sun

There we boarded a bus for Rayon which was scheduled to leave at 10:40 a.m. but left half an hour later. The fare for one person was 3 Euro for the three and a half hours trip. For the 20km from there to Ban Phe we took a taxi for 6 Euro. The local transport, called Sawngthaew, would have cost 0.60 Euro per person, but then we may not have reached the last boat leaving from the jetty. But by taxi we did get there at 3 p.m.

At some stall at the harbor we asked for a boat and to book a resort. They named outrages prices: boat for 14.50 Euro per person and a fan room for 36 Euro. We left speechless and walked to the end of the pier. And we were lucky: a speed boat with already 12 passengers were ready to leave. The price: 7.25 Euro per person. A slow regular passenger boat would have been much cheaper. After a terrible half an hour speed boat ride without any shock absorber we reached our island: Koh Samet.

Click the small picture to get it enlarged

Shall we wait for the slow boat? Better to take a speed boat
We did get off the boat in the middle of the Hat Sai Kaew beach. Where to go? To the north or to the south to find our resort, which I have already picked to take a look first. Neither way. That resort in question was just in front of us. It's the
Saikaew Villa
Saikaew Beach
Ko Samet
Tel.: 6638-644144-8
It's a huge complex, despite it sounds small because of the name "Villa". So there was a better opportunity to get a room. It was said that all the island's accommodations may be fully occupied during holidays and weekends. When we actually left on Sunday the Saikaew Beach Resort was really fully booked.
Which resort should we stay What's available and not far away
And we were lucky. They had several double rooms with fan for 19.30 Euro. But they were located in the back of the complex and pretty dark. So we asked for a more expensive aircon room. And that was a nice and pretty bright and new one on the first floor. It had television and a fridge. The rate was 36.20 Euro (at the harbor in Ban Phe we were offered double price for the same resort).
Also the backyard was all nature Here and there a nice sculpture
All the cottages and rooms are in the backyard, though with many trees, plants and decorations like sculptures and fountains. And that's valid for most of the other resorts, with a garden or not. Instead of sitting in or in front of the rooms you rather rent a beach chair in front of the beach where you can also order anything to drink and to eat.
Either staying in our room upstairs in the cool air Or relaxing under an umbrella on a hot beach chair

Our Beach

This is the beach where you cannot escape the crowd. But it is interesting to watch the people lying and walking around.
Some girls like it really hot But maybe not this hot dog
The beach with its white sand and the rather clear water is clean and it is fun to swim and frolicking in the waves. For the swimmers, though, it is not that much fun avoiding the many speed boats.
Better cooling off in the sea It's refreshing as you can see
Also lying down and relax Let the waves do the rest
No tsunami to fear. But if in doubt then just get out
The infrastructure is almost perfect. There is always something for everybody to cater for. Rubber turtles and crocodiles for the kids. Sweet indulgence for the teeny weeny.
Lazy to swim. Rent a rubber turtle or croc Need more energy? Ask the pancake cook
One thing is missing, though: Screaming banana boat rides and roaring jet skis with young wilds.

The Sai Kaew beach is packed with one resort after another. It stretches about one kilometer from the rocky spit in the north to a single rock in the south, with a huge mermaid and a flute player on top.

There is a fairy tale behind that, of course. The mermaid helps the prince to escape a lovesick female giant to the island of Koh Samet and the prince then defeats that female giant by playing his magic flute.

After these sculptures starts the Hin Khok beach, half the size of the Sai Kaew beach, but more idyllic with some interspersed rocks and fewer set-back resorts.
The north of the Sai Kaew beach The south of the Ao Hin Khok beach
Only divided by a little rock with sculptures on the top

Our Beach in the Night

So, our beach is a relatively quiet place during the day. And in the evening it can boast with highlife. But without high pitched Thai singers and bass beats of a ghetto blaster; just decent music at some places. But more so colorful illumination all along the beach, which makes this place very romantic, especially while sitting on one of the many cushion seats directly on the beach.

But before we relaxed we had to eat, of course. Every restaurant offered some barbecue. We chose to stay in the restaurant belonging to our resort. We had grilled fish with vegetable, one salad, two rice, one beer, one watermelon shake, all for 13.50 Euro.

We didn't need money to pay right away, because we could bill our consumption to our room. That was very convenient. Most valuables we left in the safe at the reception, which was for free.
Shall we eat meat Better is fish to eat
Enjoing our healthy dinner Relaxing with a drink after dinner
So many seats are still available Which one is more comfortable?
Joy cannot resist the pancake Also the Russians must like that

Good Morning

Next day early morning we had an American breakfast for 2.40 Euro each. Then we had a massage on the beach for 6.00 Euro each.
Next morning: Blue sky over white sand Getting a massage by a skilled hand

Trekking along the Coast

Since Joy rather wanted to continue to relax, I went on my own exploration trek half way down along the island's east coast. And what I found beside really beautiful sights was also some spoiled sites. The following photos will explain themselves.
A sewage to the sea and a garbage dump How much longer will the tourists come
This is the end of Ao Hin Khok, which is more laid back Actually, the whole island is supposed to be a national park
Yes, the whole island has been declared a national park in 1981. But that actually didn't keep investors from buying land, who expected a similar development as Phuket or Ko Samui, more so of its proximity to Bangkok. Also here graft and corruption played a significant role.

Yes, it is all about money. Even the National Park Division charges 200 Baht (4.80 Euro) from each foreign tourist. I ask: what for? I did not see anything worth to be protecting. Or is it the "highly valued" firewood from the cajeput trees for which this island was famous for?
This part has more nature still abound Also some tranquility is still around
A leftover hippie from the sixties stringing a bead And selling the finished necklaces and bracelets on a red sheet
This looks like a hippie joint Ready for the nightly joint
Too many joints to become a skinny mini? Or maybe just from some strange poetry?
That very wide beach with the thin lady is called Ao Phai. The next part of the coast consists of wild rocks so I had to continue through the woods. And there I passed an old hut with an open door, inside some mattresses but nobody was there. So, this island has a wide range of accommodations, from none to three stars.
I wonder who lives here I can image to live here
Next comes a secluded beach with golden sand But this beach, supposedly Phutsa, is not the end
Over wild rocks you reach another beautiful beach
This beach is supposed to be Ao Nuan So secluded you can lie down half nude
An abandoned house. What a pity With a fantastic view if you cut down the ugly tree
Next beach is not so nice. It's called Ao Cho You can see a sewage pipe with the color blue
A nice view over the altar from a new resort An ugly view over trash to the same resort
Then Ao Wong Deuan beach I reach, my last The forest areas of some of the resorts are vast
A cottage of another resort from the front side And that's as it looked from the back side
A beautiful garden design at least One of the many beautiful trees
No nature they want to see but rather drive around with an ATV
Ok, that was my trekking tour. Not quite finished though, because I neither did take a car nor a boat to get back to my honey but walked by foot the way I came, so it also was a good exercise. I would have spent too much money otherway, because there were no other passengers so I had to hire the whole car or boat, i.e. to pay 10 times the regular fare.
Shall I go back to my home beach by a taxi pickup? Or rather take the boat and being all shook-up

Island Hopping Tour

Next day, another day, another adventure? Let's try an Island Hopping Tour. There had been several on offer. We chose the one which last longer and where the description sounded more exciting. Actually, they were all the same: not only the price of 14.50 Euro for the "whole" days trip, also the things we saw. The extra hour on a boring island we easily could have skipped. You will know more while joining us now.
Let's make an island hopping tour Is this the right one, we were not sure
Our speedboat skipper with his pony tail Joy and I would have preferred to sail
Our first island: Koh Thalu Lots of people and not much to do
Relaxing in the beach chairs. That was one thing The other one: getting to the hole by only snorkeling.
This island was supposed to be clean and tidy But take a look at this: it isn't clean and tidy
And where are the turtles laying eggs on this "pristine?" beach, according to the tour description? Further: how could we enjoy fishing (no gear despite listed in the description) while the captain cooks up a "feast?" for lunch.
Ok, the lunch was not such a bad thing with kebab, rice, fruits and a soft drink
The island supposed to come next was Ko Kudee according to the advertisement, but that really was the last we visited. The two islands listed third and fourth named as Ko Plateen or Ko Kham we didn't get on at all. What was attributed to these two islands fits more Ko Ku Dee and vice versa, i.e. surrounded by coral reefs and marine life.

But it was not possible to see much of it, because we did not get ashore and I even couldn't get off the boat to snorkel around during the short time the boat stopped. The only thing we could see was striped fish because they were lured with food alongside the boat.
After lunch we "cruised?" to the island of "Ko Plateen?" Except for feeding fish there was nothing to be seen
Then we passed maybe Ko Kham island and finally landed on Ko Kudee island
This is proof now: it is really Koh Ku Dee where every foreigner has 200 Baht to pay
Was this the island attributed with white "dazzling beaches" and "lush tropical foliage"? Most of the island was surrounded by unsurpassable black rocks and the interior was sparsely covered with shrubs and ugly trees. Only one side of the island could be called a beach, but with too shallow water to be able to swim.
But here you can do many things Choosing between many swings
Hi, Joy do you want to stay here? But I am ready to get out'a here
Our boat is already waiting. For feeding us to the sharks? No, but to bring us to a fish farm where we can feed the sharks
Yes, that's the Mook Samet Fish Farm. But we couldn't see any shark. Not even a smaller reef shark (according to the advertisement). Thanks God. Some of the planks were so small that I almost fell into one of the tanks. Maybe I could have then seen and even caught a smaller shark with my hands.
Please honey, take me by your hand I don't want to fall into a tank
We survived. Now what to get fried? Fish of course. That was easy to decide
Ok, that was Ko Samet. It was not that bad. The following things were positive (all in my opinion, of course):

Only half a day trip away from Bangkok without flying. Transport is relatively cheap versus a flight to Phuket or Ko Samui. The water quality is still relatively clear and clean. You can choose the beach you like most: long and wide with high life, or small and idyllic with simple life. Walking along the coast with fantastic views. Good restaurants with a huge selection of dishes. No banana boats and no jet skies, no ghetto blasters, i.e. pretty quiet.

Ok, Ko Samet is not the typical tropical island dotted with a lot of palm trees, especially fringing the beach. I do not know why no one did get the idea to plant them if they have not been naturally growing there. For "The Beach" movie also extra palm trees had been planted to have it looked the way it should . So what's negative beside the missing palm trees?

Actually not that much. Only some nuisances like too many speed boats (some areas should be reserved for swimmers), some unfriendly waiters, not much English spoken (despite that this is a tourist spot), hardly any cottage with a sea view, the island hopping tours are not recommended (better stay on Ko Samet), some garbage spots and sewage pipes leading into the sea.

And last not least: almost everything is more expensive, whether accommodations, food or drinks. You may expect otherwise but just the proximity to Bangkok makes more people to come here, so there is no need to keep the prices down or to be more friendly. The tourists are coming anyway.

If you want to skip now to the next part, then just hit Part II

© WEW Tours

Created April 2011