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!
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.
Top || Skirt (vintage, similar) || Flipflops
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! ;)
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?
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!
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…
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.
^^ Top knots all day every day, otherwise I wound up looking like Monica in Barbados. ^^
^^ 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… ^^
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.