18.08

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Without doubt one of my favourite things about the island was the greenness of it all. Most evenings, before heading out to dinner (or sometimes staying put for dinner, when room service called), Jason and I would stretch our legs with a walk around the grounds, so that we could soak in the experience of being somewhere so beautifully tropical.

The hotel was set on a hillside running down towards the sea, so we’d meander up and down the sloping pathways between thick hedges and tall palm trees and flowerbeds thick with the sorts of plants and flowers you’d only see in the most well-appointed of greenhouses back home.

The fauna was as much of a draw for us on these walks as the flora though, truly. There were so many lizards skittering around the place that we even ended up with one living inside the bathroom of our room (he was maybe 2cm long at the most- I’ve seen bigger spiders here in the UK!), and a far beefier gecko we watched slowly shedding his skin over the course of our stay. And that’s not even to mention the fist-sized snails that appeared from nowhere each time it rained, and the frogs we had to step over on the deck outside the front door of our room, and the families of semi-wild cats who knew that being extra-affectionate was a sure fire way to get fed the handfuls of sliced ham and fish I’d squirrel away from breakfast each morning.

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On this particular day’s walk we headed out a little before sunset, with the intention of working up an appetite for the meal we’d been looking forward to all trip long- dinner on the beach. Our hotel offered the opportunity to eat dinner at a candlelit table set up right on the sand just once each week, and we’d jumped at the chance as soon as we arrived.

As we walked that evening, I mentioned to Jason that the light was so strange I’d had to adjust the colour settings on my camera to compensate. The air was so very thick I could feel it on my bare legs and feet as we walked, and was so still and heavy it felt like walking through soup.

We should really have guessed, then, that a storm was brewing.

Wrap dress || Flipflops

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We wandered on, pausing to marvel at the boldness of this spiny lizard and to take his photo just in time before he dashed off and was lost amongst the greenery.

Isn’t he a poser? (The lizard, I mean, not Jason…)

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By the time we’d finished our walk we had half an hour or so to kill before heading down to our much anticipated dinner on the beach, so we popped back into our room to drop off my camera and pick up hair pins because for the life of me I couldn’t once manage to eat a meal without needing to knot my hair up on top of my head. And then, just as we went to leave and began to look for the room key we managed to lose at least once each day without fail, the heavens opened and the first raindrops began to fall fast and loud on the little pool outside our living room window.

It turned out to be the most spectacular thunderstorm we had the whole time we were there, and so whilst dinner on the beach, under the stars and by the light of candles, didn’t quite happen, an evening of room service and watching ‘The Life of Pi’ to a soundtrack of thunder rolls and heavy rainfall did, and it was so very lovely I’m not sure I would’ve had it any other way.

~ ~ ~

And that’s a wrap from Koh Samui! It was the most amazing place to spend our first couple of weeks as a married couple, and we couldn’t have been happier with our beautiful hotel. Now if only we could just work out a way to make annual honeymoons a thing, that’d be perfect…

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13.08

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Jason and I had this running discussion the whole way through the honeymoon about whether or not it was a sensible idea for us to hire a moped, and spend a day driving it round the island. He was all ‘This is a great plan! It’ll be fine that we don’t have travel insurance! Stop being such a worrier!’, whilst I fired back at him all the horror stories I’d ever heard about people having to hand over their passports as a deposit for bikes and then struggling to get them back, and burns caused by the bike engines, and ‘what if we crash and die and then we’ll be one of those newlywed tragedy stories you read about in the news?!’ Is it clear now which of us is the more adventurous spirit?

We went back and forth for days and could never quite make up our minds either way, until eventually, we compromised! By hiring a lovely sensible car instead of a bike! We’ve got this ‘meet in the middle’ marriage thing down to a fine art already ;)

We hired the car via a rental company who had a little stand set up at our hotel, and were able to collect and drop off the car we hired (a Toyota hatchback something or other, I can’t remember the name) right outside the lobby. We paid about £30 for both the car hire and enough petrol to get us round the island, signed a few forms, and off we went!

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Instead of making a schedule of places to visit during our day of exploring, we decided that we’d just follow our noses and see where we ended up. And seeing as I was in charge of navigating and I’ve admitted more than once what an appalling sense of direction I have, that plan was probably for the best!

We headed West away from our hotel (which was set on the North-Eastern most tip of the island) and after about 25 minutes of driving along the main road that hugs the North and Western coastlines of the island, began to follow signs for Hin Lad waterfall.

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Top || Skirt (vintage, similar) || Flipflops

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The road down towards the waterfall finished in a dead end, so we parked up and headed towards the sound of running water up ahead. Almost as soon as we left the road we found ourselves at the base of the waterfall, where the stream flowed down the hillside and widened out into a rocky river. The water was thick with fish (all jostling together in a feeding frenzy as other tourists through handfuls of pellets down from the bridge for them) and the air was hazy and heavy with humidity.

We didn’t walk right up to the very top of the waterfall (both Jason and I were in flip-flops, and the path was pretty steep and stony), but spent a good half an hour relaxing by the river, and enjoying watching the butterflies flitting past us in tiny flashes of colour. It was, for the most part, beautifully peaceful, except for the tension radiating off my husband (husband!) as he kept anxious eyes peeled for the snakes he was convinced were hiding in every tree we walked past! ;)

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We continued our drive down the West coast of the island, through tiny villages and past patches of tall palm trees dotted with buffalo, before turning off away from the main road (which in reality was tinier than even most B roads back home!) and heading towards the sea.

The beach we’d been aiming for was called ‘Five Islands beach’, but to be honest with you, I couldn’t tell you whether we found it or not! I mean, we found a beautiful beach- crystal clear warm as bathwater sea, white sandy beach, hazy islands on the horizon, the whole bit! But was it Five Islands? I guess we’ll never know…

Still, pretty idyllic, isn’t it?

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The beach was littered with empty shells, all of which were being fought over by tiny hermit crabs looking to upgrade their accommodation. I could’ve happily stood watching them for hours, totally fascinating watching them switch shells in the blink of an eye!

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I had Jason pull over every 10 minutes or so as we drove, so that I could stop and take photos of all the beautifully arranged fruit and vegetable stands that lined the roadsides. I was so distracted snapping photos of those huge green bean pods (are they soy bean?) and tiny chilli peppers, that it took me a good few minutes to notice the stall’s owner sleeping under an awning just to the side of all the produce. We snuck away quietly so as not to wake him, after that…

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Since hunger was beginning to call (not least because we’d spent the past half an hour driving past those countless market stalls stacked high with ripe mango and rambutan and dragon fruit), we parked up on the roadside in the first town we came to, and set out on foot to find a likely looking restaurant.

More people than I can count recommended to us that whilst we were in Thailand, we absolutely must order Pad Thai at some small, family-owned restaurant, and that if we didn’t we’d be missing out on the true authentic experience. And so as not to disappoint our far more well-travelled family and friends, we did exactly that!

We found the ‘The Beach’ restaurant on the South Western corner of Koh Samui, and settled in with a round of lemonade (frozen for me, regular for Jason) whilst waiting on our noodles to arrive. And when they did arrive? They didn’t disappoint.

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^^ Top knots all day every day, otherwise I wound up looking like Monica in Barbados. ^^

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^^ Soft, peppery noodles, laden with vegetables and wrapped in a wafer-thin omelette. Delicious! Though the garlicky greens I ordered to go alongside my Pad Thai were even better… ^^
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The final stop on our little tour of tiny Koh Samui was here, the Big Buddha! We’d heard from cousins of mine that it was pretty touristy but worth stopping in to if we were on our way past, and since we *were* on our way past, stop in we did. There wasn’t a whole lot to see there beyond the Buddha statues themselves, *but*! If you do ever find yourself at the Big Buddha, you just *must* pay a visit to Leondardo’s ice-cream shop just to the right of the attraction. We were tempted in with the offer of a taster spoonful of (100% sugar free!) passionfruit sorbet, and even though I’d sworn blind just 5 minutes previously that I was too full to eat another bite of anything for the rest of the day, before you knew it Jason and I were tucking into scoops of mango sorbet, and mint choc chip and passionfruit and white chocolate gelato. All totally delicious (the white choc passionfruit flavour especially), and well worth a visit!

And with that, we hopped back into our air-conditioned haven of a hatchback, and proceeded to make approximately 20 wrong turnings before eventually finding our way back to our hotel.

If you ever find yourself in Koh Samui, I really would recommend hiring a car as a way of exploring. The roads on the island were pretty hectic and full on, but being in a car as opposed to on a bike felt so very safe and made carting along our obligatory luggage-load of cameras and suncream an absolute breeze.

I’m so glad too that we did get out and explore as much of the island as we could whilst we had the chance- beach days are great and all, but I’m certain that nothing beats getting lost in some picturesque corner of the world, and seeing what treasures you find along the way.

More from Koh Samui here and also here.

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09.08

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After a few days of being so very lazy we’d all but melted into our sun loungers, Jason and I decided it was probably time to get out and explore the island a little. We wanted to try and find a balance on our honeymoon between spending enough relaxing days at our hotel that we’d come back refreshed, but also making sure we didn’t waste the opportunity to explore such a beautiful part of the world!

Our hotel was set about a five minute drive away from Bophut fisherman’s village, and so we hailed a cab (and by that I mean the lovely team at our hotel called one for us, and gave us strict instructions that if we got charged more than 400 baht per journey, we were being quite literally taken for a ride!), hopped in and headed into town to spend the evening exploring.

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Our first port of call in the village was the main street itself- a chaotic collection of awning-covered shop fronts, restaurants sending wafts of incredible cooking smells out towards us, and endless tiny stands all claiming to be serving Koh Samui’s Very Best Pancakes! The whole place was pretty set up for tourists, of course, but still kind of charming too!

We made our way through one of the little beachfront restaurants and set ourselves up at one of the tables they had on the beach at the back, ordered ourselves a round of drinks, and settled down to watch the sun begin to set over the bay. The waitress brought over a Singha (for Jason), and a strawberry daquiri (for me), and we sat and drank them whilst having yet another (you’d roll your eyes if you knew how much we talked about the wedding on honeymoon!) conversation about The Big Day. It’s been amazing to us both how we had such different experiences of the same day- we kept saying ‘do you remember when this happened?’ and ‘where you here for this moment, or that moment?’, and having our memories jogged by the photos our friends and family put on Facebook.

If I’m being honest with you though, I secretly only half listened to Jason whilst we chatted that evening, because I was so busy staring out to sea hoping so much to see dolphins in the bay…;) We spotted some in the distance during a boat trip we’d taken the previous day (the captain shouted that a pod were swimming nearby, and I almost fell overboard trying to get a better look!), but I had this dream that perhaps if we were really lucky, we’d see some leaping in the bay. It never happened, but it didn’t stop me gazing out at the water all day every day, just keeping my fingers crossed…

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Once we’d finished our drinks (Jason just as clear-headed after as his final sip as he was his first, myself…not so much. It was POTENT!), we wandered down the sand to the next restaurant along, whose name, in truly unhelpful blogger fashion, I’ve totally and completely forgotten.

Whilst the name of the restaurant wasn’t at all memorable though, the meal most certainly was. We ate Massaman curry, steamed rice, spring rolls, and I know I’m forgetting things again because it felt like we had at least half a dozen dishes on our table. The curry was *so* incredible though- rich and warming and decadent, and with a glass of Merlot on the side? It was heaven.

What I wore ::
Camisole – Abercrombie
Skirt – past season, similar here.
Bikini top – Monsoon (similar).

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The real highlight of the meal though came halfway through, and wasn’t food related at all. I glanced up at Jason mid-way through taking my fifty millionth mouthful of curry and rice, and caught sight of the sunset I’d been waiting for all evening lighting up the sky behind him. Spoons were thrown down, napkins fell to the floor (well, the sand, since we were eating on the beach and all), and I grabbed my camera just in time to catch a couple of photos of the dreamy, violet-hued sunset below. Wasn’t it a good one?

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Next to come? A walk through the palm trees, & our day spent driving a lap around the island…

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06.08

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After the whirlwind day we’d had on the 17th, we needed a day to recoup before heading off on honeymoon. We spent the Saturday catching up with our nearest and dearest (who, ironically, we’d actually spent the least amount of time with at the wedding itself!), and, naturally, putting off the task of honeymoon packing until the very last minute. We also made the fatal error of leaving Jason’s car unattended around his brother and brother in law whilst we had a big family dinner at his Mum’s that evening, and so wound up drIving to the airport the following morning in a car covered in the sorts of graffiti that got us beeped at the whole way from home to Heathrow! ;)

I usually find flying pretty horrible (I’m nervous the whole time, and can’t ever seem to settle to sleep), but to be honest, after having had such a hectic few weeks leading up to the wedding, sitting down to a whole day of films and cat naps was actually pretty lovely!

HEATHROW >> BANGKOK >> KOH SAMUI.

The very first thing that hit us, when we arrived at our hotel in the North of Koh Samui mid-afternoon on the 20th, was the scent on the air.

The base note was, of course, the smell of the humid air itself. A layer of warm and spicy incense smoke made up the heart, and then, finally, a layer of frangipani that was carried towards us on a breeze sent up from the sea. I’ve never been anywhere in my life where the air smelled so beautiful- if I could’ve bottled it, I would have.

We chose the Melati Spa Resort in Tongson Bay as our honeymooning spot because we’d hoped it’d be peaceful and relaxing- something of a retreat after such a busy few months of planning. And you know what? It hit the mark on every level.

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The grounds of the hotel were vast- thick with palm and banana trees, orchids, frangipani trees, and bird of paradise plants. A maze of pathways cut through the jungly gardens, paths I found so very confusing and difficult to navigate I honestly didn’t manage to get from our villa to the restaurant at the very top of the grounds without getting lost once the whole time we were there.

The villas all are totally self-contained and secluded, so much so that we didn’t see another soul (aside from the staff) that first day until we finally made it to the restaurant in the evening. Saying that though, the quiet might’ve had something to do with the colossal storm that hit shortly before the sun set! I’ve never known storms like the ones we saw in Thailand. In the space of 20 minutes or so the wind would go from non-existent to being strong enough to set the palm trees waving and bending and swaying, then the sky would grow dark and moody and the humidity would reach breaking point, and finally, all of a sudden the heavens would open and raindrops bigger than any I’ve seen before would begin to fall fast and hard. We loved those nighttime storms, with their huge flashes of lightning and colossal claps of thunder, even more than the warm, balmy evenings.

We spent our first night in the hotel watching the storm from the traditional Thai restaurant right at the top of the grounds, whilst eating a veritable feast of some of the most incredible food I’ve ever had in my life. I know we ate maybe 8 dishes between us (all light and fresh and delicious), but the green curry with vegetables and fried silken tofu was *so* fantastic, all the others paled in comparison! I couldn’t even begin to explain what the flavour of the broth was, it was so complex. Sweet and tangy and creamy and warm all at once, with little rounds of tofu so soft they melted away as soon as they hit your tongue. I could’ve eaten that curry every single day without getting tired, it really was *that* good!

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The days we spent at the hotel were as happily lazy as you’d imagine. We’d alternate between basking like lizards in the sun (either on the beach or by the peaceful, adults-only Sanctuary pool our room backed onto) whilst burning through our books at a rate of knots. And I do mean quite literally burning, since the sun was so very hot the binding glue on the copy of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro I was reading actually melted!

Our basking and napping and reading routine was punctuated with visits to the restaurant down on the beachfront, for both breakfast and lunch. We made it our mission to sample as much of the drinks menu as we could during the trip, not only in the name of hydration but also because every single one we tried was so outstanding, it seemed a shame not to taste the lot! Below is a banana, mango and yoghurt smoothie (my favourite!), and a lemon iced tea with sugar syrup that could be added to taste.

Special mention too must go to the fresh young coconuts that were available to order, served with both a straw for drinking the water, and a spoon for scooping out the creamy fresh. As a girl (should I say woman, now that I’m a wife and all? ;) who poured a the entirety of the first and last carton of VitaCoco coconut water she bought down the sink after taking and hating one single sip, the fresh stuff has me totally and completely converted!

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^^ Completely obsessed with red vegetable curries- the spicier the better! ^^

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^^ One particularly spectacular lunch for Jason- Northern Thai curry with fried noodles and chicken. ^^
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At the end of each of those first few lazy days, we’d potter back our room and I’d beeline straight for the outdoor shower, set in a tiny courtyard off the back of the bathroom and lined with tall banana palms. It was the very best place to rinse each day’s quota of salt and chlorine from my hair, all whilst pretending to be in one of those Herbel Essences ads of a few years ago ;) (anyone else remember?!)

There’s so much more I want to share with you from the trip (from our travels around the island, and the beautiful sights we saw along the way), but since I already feel as though this post will come out a mile long, we’ll regroup in a day or so…

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