Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December Holiday - Wednesday: Koh Samui, Thailand

After a intermittent night’s sleep for both of us (we think they were repairing a lifeboat outside our room at 1am, for the second night running!), we arose early - at around 7.30 - to give us time to get ready for our first trip ashore to Koh Samui in Thailand.

The ship had docked around 5.30am and it was clear that they wanted us all off the boat quickly through the enthusiastic tones over the ship’s tannoy system encouraging us to obtain our tickets in order to disembark as soon as possible.

After our in-room breakfast which took up about half the cabin space :), we were all set for our first adventure! We didn’t have to wait long before they called us, but unusually, they didn’t use the ship’s lifeboats to ferry us to shore, preferring to use a local boat - I think that’s a first in our cruising experience.
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Fifteen rather sweaty minutes later, we were ashore and playing ‘dodge-the-taxi-driver-who-wants to-take-you-on-a-tour’ game. This involved around 99% of the local taxis together with open top jeeps and some highly customised people carriers with triple spoilers on their roof and the obligatory garish colour schemes.
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Forty-seven taxi drivers later, we reached the town and opted to look at the ‘old part’. The most dangerous aspect of this area was the locals on mopeds who whizzed in an out of impossible gaps in the traffic. The other danger was the crumbling pavements, revealing massive gaps in the terrain. Putting all of that aside revealed a quiet, industrious shopping area, so quiet in fact, when we popped into a shop selling silk, the owner was asleep on one of the fabric rolls!
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We found small local market selling everything from fish to fans to fruit to fine garments - even birds in cages. Unfortunately for me, the market smell was overpowering! I’m not good with the smell of raw fish at the best of times, but combining it with the very sweet smell of ripening fruit, was a whole new experience, and we headed back to the ‘high street’.
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It was now even hotter, and with newly found sweat-glands, we were lucky enough to spot a modern looking cafe, The Green Onion - with air-conditioning! Sanctuary - we stayed for quite a whilst admiring the decorative pattern on Ann’s coffee and the hustle-bustle of the view outside.
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Suitably refreshed, we headed back via the tender and to the ship. Quite apart from soaking up the local culture, one additional benefit of going ashore, was that our Kindles updated themselves using the local mobile signal with the latest English newspapers, so there’s going to be a fair bit of catch-up reading to do
All-in-all, it was good to look round the local area. There was still plenty to explore, but the overwhelming heat - and the humidity - really go to us. We’re not beach-bunnies, so there was no point in heading n that direction - maybe next time?

Once back on board, we had a quick bite to eat and started our marathon reading session - a perfect day!

Tonight, we’ll eat in the open dining restaurant, but unlike last night (where it was a bit of a rugby scrum to get  table), we’re going to book ahead.

Tomorrow, it’s Laem Chabang in Thailand for a couple of days.