Koh Samui

Chinese New Year fell early this year (1998) - bad news for our vacation since the weather is a lot worse in January than in February in this part of the world. We visited Koh Samui, an island off the east coast of the isthmus of Thailand, in the Gulf of Thailand. We knew that the most famous beach was Chaweng beach on the east coast but we had read that Chaweng is very built up so we headed further north to a nice hotel/cottage resort called Tongsai Bay. It's a high class hotel that's just been renovated.

The beach is coarse sand and, with the windy weather and rough sea, the red flag was flying for the duration of our stay (one week), but the hotel has a saltwater pool and the neighboring beach (Cheong Mon) was better protected, with fine sand. Here's a view of the pool from our room (duh).

I suppose no trip to Thailand would be complete without a massage - here's Catherine getting the treatment.

On Chinese New Year's day we were treated to various dances at the hotel - these two were especially charming. As is usual in Thai dances, their hands convey much of the meaning of the dance - a million graceful gestures whose meaning is no doubt largely unrecognized by westerners like us.

We only went to Chaweng beach once - it didn't seem very inspiring at this time of the year - the wind had blown a lot of garbage up on the beach and the beach was probably not as wide as it would be later in the year. Yes, that really is an elephant walking along the beach.

Chaweng beach may be uninspiring but just take a look at the road running parallel to the beach - we couldn't understand why this, the most touristic part of the island, also had the worst roads - it wasn't even paved so it turned into a swamp every time it rained.

We rented a 4x4 for a tour of the island, which takes about 4 hours, but we didn't make any great discoveries - if we go back to Koh Samui it will simply be to relax at Tonsai Bay... and it won't be in January...