I spent a lazy three day weekend in Ko Samet with my old buddy Scott. Of course, on this trip, the notion of a “three day weekend” is a strange one, as I was already on a 95-day and counting weekend. As Scott is not a fellow member of the leisure class and actually works, this was a holiday for him, and because my travel schedule has gotten more intense lately, I guess it was a break for me as well.
See, I drifted slowly north around the Thai beach islands until I left Ko Tao. All of a sudden, it was 10 hour boat/bus trip to Bangkok, 16 hour train to Chiang Mai two days later, 3 hour van to Pai after another couple days and the same again to Chiang Mai a couple days later, and a nasty11 hour bus trip back to Bangkok the following day. After Samet, it was back to Bangkok, fly to Yangon the next day, spend all day touring Yangon in the heat the following day, 12 hour bus ride to Kalaw, and at the time of this writing, I have a two-day 50 km trek starting tomorrow. Samet falling in the middle of all that was a good place to sleep late, eat overpriced white people food, aimlessly surf the internet, and drink beer on the beach.
Ko Samet is an island in the gulf of Thailand, and one of the closest beaches to Bangkok. Getting there only requires a 3 hour van or bus ride and a 45 minute boat crossing. The island itself is small and walkable. Because of its location, it was vastly different than the islands in the south. It is far less of a backpacker kind of place than Phi Phi or Pha Gnan, and much more of an island retreat for Bangkok residents, both Thai and expat.
Beach-wise, Samet lies between the larger resorts of Ko Chang and Pattaya. Chang is known for being more backpacker, as well as being more yuppie. Pattaya, the mega-resort and sex-pat epicenter, really needs no introduction. This dynamic makes Samet a solid middle ground place to spend a weekend, as the fisherman pants and dreadlocks set is drawn east to Chang and the old fat mustachioed German crowd settle to the west in Pattaya.
I don’t really have any stories or, for that matter, particular interesting pictures of Ko Samet, since we didn’t really do anything. Some people stick to the so called circuit, and some people try to get far off the beaten track to experience the culture. For me, I generally do what is done in whatever place I am. In Tioman I hiked through the jungle. In Melaka I ate a million times a day. In Phi Phi I drank buckets and passed out on the beach. In Phuket I played connect four with strippers. In Tao I dove. In Bangkok I took care of paperwork and shopped. In Samet, I followed the cue of the others on the island and pretty much did nothing.
Scott and I had a pretty horrible trip back to Bangkok. Strange how that works. The trip to somewhere is always a blast. An excitement develops around those on an outbound journey. Lots of joking around. Always a beer or two in a strange place. Always a good time. The return trip, however, it always sucks. It’s tiring. It took forever to get on the boat from Samet, boats kept filling up without us because of a byzantine series of color-coded tickets. The boat ride itself was terrifying. Big waves. Some Thai guys on the boat were wearing life jackets. An expat dude who lives in Rayong (the mainland city near Samet) said that he had never seen the surge so bad. I’m not one to get nervous while traveling unless the locals or experts seem scared too. I can handle turbulence until the point that the stewardesses have to strap into their seats. When a stewardess looks nervous, shit gets real.
Our boat didn’t sink of course, but once we made it to shore, our van took forever to get going. It was one passenger short of being full, so we aimlessly drove around Rayong for some time looking for a person who wanted a ride to the city. Then of course, post holiday-weekend, traffic into Bangkok was predictably awful. Fortunately, because of the nature of this trip, I don’t have too many bummer return trips to worry about.
Anyway, on to the scant pics that I have:
Like I said, not many pics to work with this time since we didn’t really do anything. I’ll close with some beach dog cuteness.