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Winter Vacation Part 1 of 3

Koh Samui, Thailand
Hi Everyone,
I am sitting in a jungle cabana about 80 feet away from the Gulf of Thailand with the air conditioning running after a very relaxing day.
First, however a quick update about how we got here and what’s happening.  In Shanghai right now is new year.
Twin jia kwy la !  Shin ya how!
Those are the two expression to wish someone a happy new year in Mandarin.  Shanghai is warming up but still very chilly and Happy New Year means fireworks all night long.  So the concept of getting out of Shanghai for over two weeks was very appealing.  We have close to a month off so we took five days off to decompress and we will have almost a week off when we get back from our 17 days in Thailand.
We left for the airport and took a taxi to the mag lev train.  Honestly, the taxi fare would have not been that much more expensive than the mag lev train.  As well, we were not in a hurry.  The mag lev reaches speeds of up to 400+ km/hour.  Without a doubt we wanted the experience of traveling thru rush hour at that speed.  Although the train topped out at 307 km per hour we weren’t disappointed in the least.   In fact we plan on taking a mag lev train to get back when we return.
We were delighted to get out of Shanghai.  Honestly as an asthmatic, the smog levels this past week have been critical.  Some days I just have to keep in doors.  We were so pleased to arrive in Bangkok, but greatly disappointed to find it is just as smoggy as Shanghai.  With a population of 11,000,000 people this was no surprise.  We did a whirlwind visit with only two nights there seeing a number of Bhuddist Temples, the floating market and the King’s Palace.  All very groovy!
Kim and I at the Buddhist Temple.
Our boat that took us thru the Floating Market.
A vendor on the floating market. She was the life of the party.
A home in the jungle
Kim made me laugh so hard.  We went to bed early to catch our early flight to the island of Koh Samui in the morning.  She went to the bathroom to brush her teeth and turned off all of the lights.  It was very dark.  I told her to hang on and I would put a light on for her.  She told me not to worry that she had great “Night Vision”. Then she proceeded to stub her toe on the bed.  I try not to laugh when someone is in pain, but sometimes it is very difficult.
After a quick one hour flight we arrived on the island of Koh Samui.  Everyone seems to refer to it just as Samui.  Koh means island.  This place Reminds us a lot of Maui, but nowhere near as expensive and much more of a jungle setting.
We celebrated the start of our vacation with a fresh mango smoothie.
As well, the tourist base is very different.  Virtually no Americans or Canadian tourists here.  This is a rough breakdown by my estimation:
50% Russian tourists
20% German
20% Asian (China and Korea)
15% French and British
5% Spanish speaking ( not sure from where)
5% Sweden, Norway, Scandinavian countries. (btw no IKEA here)
5% Arab, Americans, and two lousy Canadians.
Some of you math geeks out there may have noticed that this adds up to 120%.  Who cares!  I’m on vacation.
The Thai people seem to love us as we usually tip and it is not required here,  we smile lots and we take time to talk to all of the vendors and people who work here.  The Thai people are so beatific in every way.  They are alway smiling, friendly and helpful.  Even if we don’t buy their stuff.  They are such a beautiful people and it really irks me that most of Other tourists are just rude when it comes to dealing with them.  We both want to say something, but Kim and I are greatly outnumbered.  So we are extra nice and have made friends with many of the beach vendors.
This is Rak and her daughter.  Rak cooked for us right on the beach every day.  The word Rak means “love ” in English.
Everything is sold on the beach, souveniers, food shirts, bathing suits, underwear and sandals.
Our first dinner here was on the beach at a table with white linen table cloth and napkins,  we ordered the bar b que  special for two.  This consisted of four giant prawns, fish, chicken, beef tenderloin, a delicious salad with both greens and some fruit in it, a baked potato, mussels and a cold beer (a mohito for Kim) .  In front of us on a little stage was a five piece band that played xylophones and all sorts of drums and percussion instruments. Very island.  Then five or six beautiful Thai girls came out and danced one or two numbers, left for a costume change and returned to dance again.  This went on for about thee hours.  What a great introduction to Thailand.
Today we got up at 8:30 and wandered down to our breakfast at the restaurant on the beach.  They serve a delicious buffet complete with amazing fresh pineapple, bananas, mangos, papaya, watermelon, the list is long.  The breakfast comes with the room.  After eating an omelette, a few croissants, some,French toast, a small mound of bacon and a Thai expresso coffee and a fresh guava juice, Kim and I made our way to the beach and secured two lounge chairs under a giant palm tree.  We spent most of the day swimming, sunning and reading our books.  The water is azure blue here and very warm, like Hawaii.  You get out of the water because you want to rest, not because you are cold.   Our favourite beach cooks, which consists of 3 generations, a mom, her daughter and the grandmother cooked us a delicious lunch  of chicken skewers done with a Thai chili,sauce,  spring rolls, plantains and lichee nuts.  The whole lunch was 100 Thai Bahts.  ( $3.44).   It was delicious.  About 3:00 we decided to go for a quick dip in our pool, and then have a a one hour oil,massage ($12).  Both Kim and I spent a little too long in the sun and figured a massage might hurt a little.  We will go for the foot massage tomorrow and be ready for a full body massage in a couple of days.
We did a little reading about Koh Samui and discovered two interesting facts; first with a population of 55,000 people on this island it boasts of having the most ATM machines per capita in the world.  Unlike Shanghai,  everyone we used accepted my visa mei won ti! No problem.  Truly, this island is all about servicing the tourists.  Secondly, we learned That there are on average two motor scooter fatalities every day.  Over 700 fatalities a year.  We were thinking about renting scooters and decided against it.  The tuk tuks and cans are quite cheap and very dependable.
For dinner we took the Samui public transport down town to the Fisherman’s Market.  Most people might assume public transportation is a bus.  Not so here.  We climbed in the back of a pickup truck.  It has benches along the two sides, there is a covering over the top and lots of places to hang onto.  If you are real adventurous, you can hang off the steps at the back, much like a fireman on the back of a fire truck.  Fisherman’s Market is about 5 km long of street vendors, restaurants, shops selling pretty much every thing.  We met a couple of she male Thai massage boys who look like females.  Very strange to see these beautiful young feminine boys with a deep voice. You really have to look twice.  They are all very friendly and willing to haggle and offer you special deals for their services.  Kim and I will likely get all of our massages here at the resort.
A tuk tuk in Bangkok
Dinner with Greg, Chan and Mac on the beach.  Greg Corry is also a principal in Shanghai.
Again we ate at a fancy restaurant that served us while we sat on the beach.  It was another affair with white linen table cloths and fine spicy food.  This is a lot more pricy than the beach BBQ stuffed we buy at lunch, but still less than  half the price of a nice restaurant at home.  The service here was not quite up to the level at our resort.  We are so spoiled there.  Our waiters and waitresses, did not speak English very well.  This was my favourite of the many conversations we had tonight.
Kim:  Do you have a washroom I can use?
Waiter: a washroom?
Kim: Yes a washroom, or a restroom.
Waiter:  (just looking very confused)
Kim: is there a toilet I can use?
Waiter: oh a toilet!  Yes there is.  (and the waiter leaves)
Part 2 coming in a few days….. Stay tuned!

One comment on “Winter Vacation Part 1 of 3

  1. Hi Kim and Bruce – glad you are having a great time. Sounds way more relaxed than our holiday. Could you send us some photos of your cabana – we are thinking that might be the way to go next time. See you in Shanghai!

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