This will probably sound kind of snotty, but I was totally prepared to dislike Koh Samui. It's one of Thailand's larger and more touristy beach islands, with an international airport and super high-end resorts, and I figured it was just going to be totally bleached of any semblance of "real" "authentic" Thailand.
Turns out, in a stark contrast to Koh Tao, WE LOVED IT.
We holed up at Harry's Bungalows, near but not on Mae Nam Beach, and spent the week lounging, exploring markets, and scootering our happy way around the island.
Harry's had great toilets.
But unfortunately, no infinity pool.
I think the thing that made Koh Samui so wonderful was that it's big enough to absorb the tourism while still doing its own thing. There are tourist areas, sure, but it's easy to get out of them. Also, the range of accomodation is great; everything from cheapie non-a/c bungalows up through stunning places with exercise rooms overlooking private beaches.
The other great thing about Koh Samui is the island's markets! Almost every night, Logan hopped on our rented scooter and made a dinner run to a nearby covered building, where people set up tables with all sorts of prepared foods.
Curries and soups simmered away in enormous pots.
This woman had an array of fire-roasted vegetables that she would pound into a quick dip for you to eat with sticky rice. My favorite is the eggplant.
We ate like kings in our hotel room; I had some of the best fried chicken of my life.
Of course, the markets had lots of non-prepared foods as well, and we ogled the meats and sniffed the vegetables like the good tourists we are.
Good god, there's nothing like a nice fresh curry paste!
These are tamarind leaves; we found them later in a coconut milk broth with squid. They're nicely sour, just like the fruit, but with a slight bitter edge, too.
I drank a LOT of coconut water. Gotta stay hydrated.
And who would have thought the seafood on the island would be so pretty and fresh fresh fresh? (Me. I would have thought that.)
We went out to eat a few times, too, including a dinner at this roadside joint that served grilled fish and lots of unidentifiables out of cauldrons.
We overordered, because we didn't know that many of their offerings were soups. Soups made with lots of offal and pork blood. They were definitely good, but STRONGLY flavored. I preferred the super-spicy papaya salad and the grilled snakehead fish.
We also lunched out and about. I am a big fan of tom kha, a spicy/sour coconut milk and galangal soup.
What is there to do in Koh Samui? Well, there are tourist bar areas in a couple of towns, and probably discos, and dinner and a show places, but if you are in search of other entertainment there's:
(we didn't go)
(we also didn't go)
Next up, we leave behind the slow island pace of Koh Samui to see the city lights of Kuala Lumpur!