Day Four in Koh Samet and our sunburns are starting to heal enough to really enjoy the warm ocean water again, though not without a good lathering of SPF 50. We haven’t really explored the island, and don’t really intend to, but we’ve walked out of the park to visit some local businesses. I haven’t mentioned before, but this beach paradise is part of a national park, which costs 200 Bhat to enter, so we keep our tickets with us to come and go. Drinks and some food are cheaper outside the offical park, and there’s an ATM at the 7-11 right at the park enterance – I swear those 7-11′s are everywhere.
We enjoyed sampling some local snacks which we can’t really describe, but were very tasty. Then we had lunch at a street-side barbeque that offered various meats on sticks and even a whole squid on a stick. The one we liked the best was the only one the lady couldn’t describe in english for us, but we think she said it contained at least some chicken. From a veggie stand, we picked up a fruit that we’d only been told about. It’s pink on the outside, shaped similar to a mango, but with green leaves partially jutting out the sides. Inside is a white jucy fruit with lots of small edible black seeds; very kiwi like and very tasty! Who knows what they’re called, but that doesn’t really matter. The locals speak English better than we speak Thai (gross understatement), so we can’t complain when we get good food.
Tina treated herself to a pedicure today for only 200 Bhat – roughly $6 CAD. Right on the beach, while lounging in her chair, they setup shop and did a great job. Now she’s got bright red toes and, as a bonus, they painted little black and white flowers neatly on each toe. They tried to woo me with a pedicures, manicures, and massages, but I’m waiting for our last day to go all out. Besides, it’s not like it’s very stressful here.
Today I met a Canadian ex-pat, living in Bangkok and vacationing on the beach. She gave me a good tidbit for shopping in Bangkok. Apparently, many of the Thai merchants buy their goods in Chinatown, so if you want the best deals for t-shirts, souvenirs , or whatever, the word on the street is head to Chinatown. We’ll be back in Bangkok on Sept 3rd so we’ll learn the hard way, but things are so inexpensive compared to home, that it doesn’t really matter if that’s wrong.
Now we thought we’d respond directly to a comment received yesterday:
I’ll be flying to Tahiland on September 2nd, for 20 days so your experience is really valuable for me. Thanks for sharing, and anything else you can recommend will be welcome.
First, thanks for your comment. This blog has been a fun experiment for us.
The best tip is to talk to other travellers along the way. They have the best information. We’ve met many interesting folks who’ve travelled all over the country many times.
There is lots of clothing for sale and for very inexpensive so you may as well pack lightly and replace clothes as you go. We learned that if you’re staying to main tourist areas, you won’t need a mosquito net. We haven’t seen enough mosquitos anyway, but perhaps we’ll use our on a future camping trip.
You’re free to check out the rooms a guesthouses and hotels before you commit your cash. We found the best deals just by wandering the area and checking everything out. We arrived here in Koh Samet very late and weren’t shopping around, and are now in a place that isn’t the best (although it’s just fine). If we had simply paid daily, we could come and go, but staying 7 nights did save us 150 Bhat per night.
There are ATM’s everywhere it seems, so don’t feel compelled to purchase travellers cheques or carry all your cash. You can easily use a debit card, or get credit card cash advances anywhere.
And one other quick note, if you have a choice between the public bus system (similar to Greyhound buses), and a private mini-bus/VIP bus, we suggest the public bus hands-down. Less hassle, cleaner, more comfortable, in-flight service, and an all-around better experience than the private busses. Cambodia was a special case though, but within Thailand, go public.
I was also pretty worried that my inability to speak a word of Thai would be a problem, especially in places like the bus depot, but so many people speak English that we’ve gotten away much too easy. Even most important signs are written in both languages. Where we’ve encounted a barrier, some smiling and hand gestures are all you need to get the point across.
When you get off the plane in Bangkok, avoid the flock/crowd/throng of people inside the airport trying to sell you rides and taxi’s. Right outside the front door (it’s a small airport, you can’t possibly get lost), look to your immediate right and you’ll see a line forming at a taxi booth. Just tell the person where you want to go, and they will write down the price to get there by taxi. You’ll hand it to one of the drivers who are right there and that’s what you’ll pay. It’s typically a fair price, or so we’re told. We paid 300 Bhat to get to Koh San Road. When we paid with a 500 Bhat bill, the driver insisted he didn’t have more than 100 Bhat in change. You can avoid that by having exact change (if possible), or check to make sure he has change before you leave the airport.
This is getting to be a long post, but I hope this helps you, and anyone else who’s looking for some insight into the unknown. Thailand is a fun, interesting, and somewhat dirty place, but I’m sure you’ll have no problem getting around. Have fun, and let us know about your trip.