A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Koh Samui, Life at the Beach!

Before heading back to Bangkok to prepare for the end of our month in Thailand, we headed with Stephen and Thoom to Koh Samui. The kids had been there before and they thought a few days on the beach would be an ideal relaxing change of pace for Mom and Dad. Except for the rock we encountered on a motor scooter ride that sent us through a briar patch on the side of the road, it was a pretty accurate assessment (No serious injuries...Roger got a bruise and some cuts on his shin and Suzanne jammed a finger which required a splint to allow it to heal properly)

Koh Samui is Thailand's second largest island (aprox 24 x 24 km) and rests in the Gulf of Thailand among a group of about 60 smaller islands. It's year around population is about 50,000 and until the late 20th century its mainstays were fishing and coconut farming. It did not even have a road connecting its villages until 1970. Today, it is Thailand's second most popular tourist destination (behind Bangkok)with tourism traffic that surpasses both Chiang Mai and the more renown island of Phuket. Warm azure waters, beautiful beaches, coral reefs offshore and a beautiful mountain jungle core all contibute to the attractiveness of this island. Situated just 9 degrees north of the equator, it is a tropical monsoon climate with only a one month dry season (February. It's rainfall, however, is much more limited than Phuket and most rains are of short duration and at night. The Yazells almost went to Phuket but Koh Samui won the airfare battle and that turned out to be very fortunate. Phuket had incessant rain and some street flooding for the entire 4 days we spent in the Gulf while Samui had only some brief showers!

The island reminded us a lot of Kaui in the Hawaiian islands. Inner jungle beauty rimmed with villages, beaches, spas and resorts. Both had unique decor airports but Koh Samui's was almost worthy of a coffe table pictorial book with a tropical trolley shuttling arriving passengers to baggage claim and departees from their gate waiting area to their planes. It also had beautiful gardens, open air refreshement lounges and even a giant aquarium above the urinals in the men's room (Clarke, eat your heart out!) Both have an assortment of tourist shopping and dining venues and both islands economies are are almost totally dependent upon the tourism trade. This traffic creates a melting pot of both visitors and residents. We met tourists from down under, most neighboring Asian countries, western and eastern Europe, South America, the Middle East and South Africa.

One of the things we will remember about Koh Samui is that you can do virtually everything on the beach. Walk by vendors will sell you almost everything and that includes jewelry, fine Thai silks and foods of every sort. You can probably stroll less than a 100 yards to a nearby tent offering a menu of Thai massage. (The oil massage is highly recommended by Suzanne after a stessful morning of beach lounging!) We even had a family dinner by torchlight on the beach. The restaurant we dined at had set up tables surrounded by potted palms within 10 yards of the surf. A waiter, maitre d' and wine steward then proceeded to guide us through a delighful, delicious and enjoyable dinner in one of the most exotic ambiances imaginable. Launching a lucky balloon and setting off fireworks as we enjoyed dessert probably enhanced the memory as well. Oh,and it didn't hurt, at all, that the cost for all four of us in this wonderous setting was less than a typical casual dinner for two with wine that we used to enjoy back in the states.

Food will be among our memories as well. While traveling the road that circumnavigates the island, we stopped at a restaurant with a wonderful view from its coastal terrace. I was just as impressed by the sea bass luncheon I had..absolutely the best sea bass I have ever consumed! The aforementioned dinner on the beach also featured the best duck ala orange I have ever had. Cuisine is varied and in many, many cases quite excellent on Koh Samui!

We also won't forget the traveling VW microbus that picked out the junction of a seldom used sidestreet with the main drag and set up there as a streetside cocktail bar. It was complete with sidewalk tables and sound system that poured out grooving oldies from the 60's and 70's. A stop there almost made this old retiree want to grow his hair long again and wish the world peace and love.

If you love the beach, Koh Samui is worth a visit. It provided us with warm days, warm waters and even warmer memories as we headed out to continue our travels juntos en el camino de la vida.

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