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Sawadee Ka

ImageSkidding down the steep, eroded hill I was wondering if we should have forked out the extra money for a four-wheeler ATV. Sure the old scooter was $40 cheaper but how much would the medical bill be when these dodgy brakes failed. Up ahead, our friends had developed a new plan… As Sait pulled the bike over the broken bitumen drops, Emily got off and walked along beside. I decided to follow suit.

We were at Koh Samet, Thailand. A small island approximately 200km from Bangkok airport, an easy long weekend from Hanoi. The previous day we had sped into our cove, lined with palm trees and small hotels, ready to enjoy the sandy beaches, warm water, and many meals of fresh seafood and Pad Thai. Despite the rainy season the weather was lovely; refreshingly cool after Hanoi, which was getting too hot and humid to enjoy time outside. With two full days we decided to first explore the island on scooters before spending a day snorkeling off shore.

ImageDespite the (literally) rocky start on the scooters, the day picked up when we “discovered” a stunning clifftop lookout with views down the coast and out to the sparkling blue water. This side of the island, less sheltered than the cove where we stayed, had a small surf and the day passed in a salty, sandy haze of eating and playing in the waves. Emboldened by our relaxing afternoon we jumped back on the scooters for the 15 minute drive home. An hour later we had driven in a circle, twice. Thinking we would try a different route home, my confidence in my directional capabilities had gotten us lost.

ImageEnergized by our adventure we decided to catch a taxi to a nearby restaurant – the taxi turned out to be a pick-up truck with benches nailed to tray. Tightly gripping the sides and trying not to swallow too must sand, we barreled along dark, bumpy roads before arriving at a quiet, rickety restaurant built on stilts in the sea. Watching the water lapping through the floor boards I ate the best Thai meal I have ever had – vege spring rolls, addictive fried rice, aromatic curry, fresh fish, and, in Sait’s case, more fried rice. In desperate need of exercise after such a meal we stumbled home through the headland forest, following a woman who sprang across exposed roots and outcropped rocks, invisible in the dark until we nearly tripped over them.

ImageThe following morning brought more adventure and as we started out in a speedboat ready for a day of snorkeling, black clouds began to gather on the horizon. The sheltered geographic location of Koh Samet means that it gets very little rain in the wet season and throughout the day we watched as dark thunderheads, flashing with lighting, passed around us.  Swimming over small coral reefs in the glowing aqua water, we watched small fish, some with noses as long as their bodies, dart around sea anemones, and schools of transparent fish float by, unconcerned by the many spectators watching their progress. Although the rain didn’t reach us, the wind did. Speeding between islands, the boat crashed through the choppy water, airborne for a moment before slamming back into the waves, jarring us all and sending up shrieks among some of the passengers. I loved it and the ride reminded both Zack and I of when we would take out the speed boat in Gambia.

Our final evening we walked along the beach to watch a wedding at a neighboring hotel. As the wedding guests sent sky lanterns (like mini paper hot air balloons) in to the inky sky we danced in the sand to the cheesy love songs played by the wedding band.  The next day we woke to rain on the roof of our small cabin, making it easier to leave. On the journey home we were already planning our next beach holiday… where to next? Image

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