Getting to Ko Samui was more difficult than I expected. I took a bus from Takua Pa to Surat Thani, which took longer than expected and dumps everyone into the hellhole that is the Surat Thani bus terminal. I wanted to either get to the pier and take a boat to Samui from here, or to catch a ride to Ban Don for a shorter boat ride.
Surat is basically designed to rip off foreigners. The bus station is oozing with touts, but there isn’t a real counter anywhere to get a normal bus. It’s just travel agents selling minivan/boat combo tickets. There are no legit people to talk to at all, at least that I saw. I talked to a couple of touts, and to a couple other people looking to ride the regular bus, but in the end I bought a rip-off combo ticket too. While I was at Ban Don pier for my boat to Samui, a normal public bus arrived, filled with locals.
Samui itself, however, was just what I was looking for. I stayed in Mae Nam, a quiet beach. I had a decent little bungalow steps from the sand and solid wifi, so I was good. Mae Nam reminded me a bit of Ko Lanta, but there were more people around (not a lot, but more) and the beach was much better.
For being a low key, quiet place, I ended up more social than I expected to be. I met a couple of German girls that loved whiskey and Yahtzee and Stevie Wonder, so I hung out with them for a couple of nights. I also met up with a group of three Danish dudes around my age at a local bar.
It was Saturday, and it was their last night in the islands, so we ended up having a ridiculous night out. We went to this sketchy karaoke joint down the road from the bar. Groups of girls in short dresses (and panty hose, which is kinda weird in Thailand) would badly sing terrible Thai pop songs. The place kind of looked like an abandoned barn built out of concrete and sheet metal, with acoustics to match. We bailed out after one beer and caught a taxi (which was more the back of a pickup truck with a camper on it) to Chaweng, the largest city on Ko Samui and apparently party central.
After a crazy ride where one of the Danes crawled out of the truck and went Styles on the camper, we jumped into the Chaweng club district. We were hounded by kids who wanted to gamble on games of Connect 4, but we made it to the Green Mango Club. The Green Mango put any club that I had seen in Phi Phi or Phuket to shame. It was huge, and it was packed. We stayed until late and then repaired to a nearby McDonald’s, where the Connect 4 kids still hung out. I ordered a chicken and ham pie because it was cheap and it was something new. Bad move. Turned out it was a hot apple pie style crust filled with meat. Not delicious.
Overall, Ko Samui was one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip so far. Like Krabi or Cameron Highlands, I felt like I rolled into town at the perfect time trip-wise, mood-wise, and weather-wise, and that I stayed in just the right accommodation for the right amount of time.
I headed for Ko Phagnan. Being a world-renowned party island, I had no intention of staying on the quiet side of the rock.
Scooter number 3 for the trip. Coolest one I’ve had so far. Ko Samui would also prove my biggest challenge riding so far. Twistier roads, much more traffic, steep hills, but it still had a fairly good shoulder to ride on in most spots.