September 28, 2012

A Samui story

I flew to Koh Samui on Sep 22-23, 2012, making the trip my maiden visit to Thailand. It was also my first time flying alone—and the experience is amazing; liberating; independent. It set a precedent. Here on, I want fly solo.

From KLIA, I boarded Bangkok Airways’ Airbus 319 to Samui International Airport. And I noted the pronounced difference of my emotions in reaction to the distinct atmospheres of the two airports. In KLIA I was feeling like a lost little girl in a big, big world. But in Samui, the sun’s smile was imprinted on my cheek, the breeze tugged at my hair and tickled my face, and the coconut trees—there were so many of them—waved their leaves in welcome.

Speaking of inaugural events, I never had to meet a stranger at an airport holding up my name on a placard. But there it was…‘Ms. Jolyn New’, written with blue marker on a folded piece of white paper. I was tickled and all buttered up at the funny, flattering gesture. No one thinks twice about this method of announcement and rolls on the floor in hysterics (or in my case, hysterics breeaking loose internally, while  the face remains stoic outside), do they? But then no one is as self-amused about silly things in life's ordinary routines as I am...and can get.

That was Krit. Then we were picked up by his colleague Passapong and headed out on a top-to-bottom Samui exploration. It was an eye-opener watching them interact with other people. Complete strangers; yet so amiable, good-natured, and sincere. Our party received an ample helping of the humble wai—the traditional Thai greeting of head slightly bowed towards clasped palms clasped—and dulcet “Sawadee ka/krap”. It's incredible; a culture shock, to me at least, because in Malaysia no one is that friendly. You could try pulling your lips open towards both sides of the ears but all people deliver in return (usually) are cold stares and turned heads. Maybe I'm dipping into unfair sweeping generalisation, but I've lived in Malaysia long enough... Anyway, I guess that's why they call Thailand the Land of a Thousand Smiles.

I only stayed for a night and two days and that’s not enough to comb the island. My opinion: if you want to get to know this beautiful tropical paradise, please stay longer. I wish I had extended my stay now.

I’ve written a fuller piece on Expatriate Lifestyle’s website.

I truly miss Samui—the sights, the charming little shops, Chaweng’s activity, the seafood, and of course my two new friends. Hopefully someday I will be able to plant more footprints on the island’s coconut-fringed paths.
Samui International Airport. Where it all began and ended

Lamai Fresh Coconut Ice-cream.
A mobile kiosk that either parks in Lamai or Chaweng beaches

Coconut ice-cream with sticky rice and pineapple toppings

Me at Lamai lookout point. Deb's said I looked like a happy camper

A coconut candy seller. At the Hin Ta-Hin Yai site

Grandfather Rock

That's Great-grandfather Rock at the back

We stayed at InterContinental Baan Taling Ngam. It's gorgeous

My room at InterContinental. Room 421

Thai vermicelli noodles with fish curry

Same as above, but a variation. And spicier

Vegetables for the vermicelli
Thai iced tea. It's fragrant and sweet.
Tastes different to our own because of use of a different kind of leaves

Bakubung Cafe. Heard the coconut cake here is good

Passapong + Krit. But only their backs