JBR - Well not quite, got back two weeks today and have hated every cold freezing day since I have been back in Mebourne, even turned up the heating at home so I could walk round the house in shorts and singlet just like Samui, my appologies for the resulting increased greenhouse emissions.
This time we went via Singapore and stopped 3 nights there instead of the usual Melb-Bangkok-Samui. The short flight from Singapore was good but the 8 hour stop over in Singapore on the way back home means we be back via Bagkok in June 2013 - sounds a long way off, probably cause it is.
On arrival in Samui we transferred to Koh Phangan for a week at the Anantara Rasananda - I will post a separate JBR for Koh Phangan and also do a review on the Rasananda. After 7 nights in Phangan we transferred back to Samui and straight to our home away from home - Anantara Bophut. I will do separate review on the Anantara but this place is brilliant, stayed in the same one bedroom pool villa that we had last year. Manish and his team do a brilliant job running this place.
Made arrangements for additional accommodation for one of our sons that we had not seen for a few months as he is currently based in Karratha and was great to catch up with him and his girlfriend and show them why we love Samui so much. Between them they had been to Bali and Phuket before and after 5 nights there they wanted to know when we can meet up again in Samui and thought that Samui was better than both Bali & Phuket.
We mixed our days up between doing absolutely nothing other than in and out of the pool, reading, cocktails and heading out at night to taking the kids round and showing them Samui We had previously done a Mr Ung's Safari and loved the variation of places we went and saw but there were a few things we wanted to skip over so I booked a private tour which meant that the 4 of us had the jeep to ourselves and went where we wanted and stayed as long or as little time as we wanted. A lot of the road that was unmade a few years ago now is concrete heading up the mountain / hill, meal on the top was great for lunch. Stopped at a fairly commercial park wiith elephant ride, elephant show, photos with baby tiger, monkey climbing, and crocodile show etc etc. Really glad they stopped doing the monkey show a few years ago where they dressed monkeys up and make up etc, wasn't right. Still sceptical about the crocodile show though. Surely they have to be sedated, can't believe that I went out and was sitting over one them holding its tail getting photos taken. Driver for Mr Ung was very good, safety conscious, polite and informative and would recommend them highly.
Staying in Bophut we had the benefit of the bars and restaurants close by spent most nights before dinner in the bean bags sitting on the beach at the Coconut Bar having cocktails looking over to Koh Phangan watching the sunset. They make a great bloody mary and maitai (spelling?) Out of all the places we ate we would have to rate the Happy Elephant as the best and ate there a number of times with the kids.. Friday night walking street was great and picked up some good bargains of wood carvings to decorate the house and remind us of our paradise.
Also went into Chewang a bit at night and recommend a restaurant called Spago, great food and service, both Thai and western food.My son had a suit and shirt made up at Timmys and I had some shirts made up. As always, good service, fair and reasonable price and always on time.
Also had a go on the gocarts in Bophut with my son,bit of fun, not overpriced but suggest that the go carts had seen better days. The kids also wanted to have a go shooting so drove them to the shooting range, quickest 1200baht I have seen them spend ! 6 bullets between them - 3 each - a real rip off ! but at least they said that it was something that they really wanted to do.
Called in one night to what was known as the Coyote (owned by the same people as Tropical Murphy) but had closed down and reopened under another name with a more American theme, now has a bar outside and different decor can't think of the name of it, think it started with B, think it might be Bubbas or something similar. With Coyote no more gone are the great Marguritas they used to have and food, had a snack to see what the standard of food was like but couldn't get out of there fast enough, live music was pretty ordinary there also.
Also hit the night clubs including The Ark Bar on Wednesday night, a word of warning here, there was a middle age person(not Thai) stalking young girls here lookingfor easy targets who may have had one too many buckets and making innapropriate suggestions to them, watched him for about half an hour and it was quite obvious what he was doing and we found out first hand what he was saying and suggesting.Took ages to find security, but I ended up finding the duty manager and he got security and had him thrown out. Lesson to be learnt though, especially if you are a young female, stay in groups, report anything that is not right, always watch your drink and always come and leave in groups. After the Ark Bar, we headed off to the Green Mango, think we ended up back at the hotel about 4.00am, thanks for headache kids, but boy we had some fun !
Went to the Icebar and from what I read a few years ago, they seem to have relaxed the rules and prices and we were able to take photos of us in there, bit of a novelty and fun.Had to go back a second night though cause I forgot to put the battery back in the camera after I had charged it.
After the kids left we went a few more nights into Chewang and caught up with some live bands, the band playing at the Bondi Aussie Bar were quite good but had a terrible reminder how dangerous the roads can be sometimes as we sadly saw the aftermath of a terrible accident between a car and a truck early in the morning on the way back to the hotel.
My wife, son and his girlfriend all went to the dentist in Bophut just down from the Anantara, they had everthing from teeth cleans, whitening, fillings and tooth chip repairs done. The surgery was spotless (better than many of the dentists in Melbourne) also at a fraction of the cost in Melbourne. The dentists was excellent and explained everyting that was going to be done.
Whilst I was waiting at the dentists for my wife I was reading an article about the number of fatalities in Samui each year with the high proportion of them being tourists and the majority of those being on scooters. I really don't know why people who would think twice about getting on a scooter at home suddenly think they are indestructable when they go on holidays. such a waste of life, people really need to think about the risks and their own ability to ride one in unfamiliar surrounds and conditions. As Clint Eastwood used to say....mans gotta know his own limitations.
We hired a car again whilst we were there, as recommended by others, always have an international drivers license, only rent from a reputablehire company, suggest where possible via your hotel with a drop off and pick up and make sure that you document every mark and scratch on the car before accepting the vehicle.
Sadly 2 weeks of Phangan and Samui was over in what seemed a flash but with it came some more more happy memories, reinforcement of what beautiful people the Thais are and how much we enjoy Samui that gives you the opportunity to do as little or as much as you want to.
Reading through the countdowns each day now I see so many people getting closer and closer to their time to go and hope that each of you will treasure each moment and take photos as lasting memories to tide you over untl your next visit.
I was so hung over with withdrawl symptoms and missing the place as my tan slowly fades in Melbourne with weather that resembles the Ice Bar in Samui, the only thing to make me feel better was to book again. Now booked again to fly out 6 June 2013, this time back via Bangkok, with overnight at the airport hotel, then fly to Samui next morning with transfer to Koh Tao for 5 nights, then 5 nights at Koh Phang and then 6 nights at Samui. Only about 340 days to go!
Sorry if I have rambled on a bit or for any typos, checked a couple of times but wish you could do a spell check with TA.
Further posts on Koh Phangan and Singapore to follow or should I say the land of SSSS.......lol!