Girls Night Out in Ko Samui

When the sun goes down in Ko Samui, all the party people come out to play. Despite feeling over-the-hill (more me than Franzi), I headed out to explore the nightlife in Chaweng Beach. Together with Franzi, I might as well enjoy a bit of a Girls Night Out.

To start the night off right, Franzi and I headed to Henry Africa’s on Soi Green Mango. The drink specials were pretty good and the atmosphere seemed okay. There were several pool tables going, so if that’s your thing you’d definitely want to be here.

The bar’s patrons appeared to be older foreign expats who often frequented the place as the waitresses seemed to know their names. When fresh meat walked in (for once I’m talking about guys), the Thai girls sidled up and got their flirt on.

As I watched the scene unfold, I felt uncomfortable for both parties. Sure, girls need to earn a living and working at a bar (and all that entails, especially in places like this) probably makes them a decent wage. But, it still made me uneasy to see 30-, 40- or 50-year age gaps between male patrons and female staffers.

Another awkward scenario is when guys just want to get a drink. They’re unlikely to find it here as the girls swarm around before they can even place their orders. After a bit of touchy-feely action, the guys end up buying the girls a drink. Once that happens, I seriously doubt they’ll make it out without dropping more cash.

Our next stop was Ark Bar, a place that’s reputed to have a lively nighttime vibe. I’m pretty sure we got there too early, even though it was after midnight already, because the music wasn’t as pumping as I’d heard it would be.

The crowd was considerably younger and hipper though, so Franzi and I took a seat on some pillows that surrounded a Thai-style table near the pool and ordered a drink. As we people watched, we saw many of the same people who had lounged through their hangovers earlier in the day.

In the end, we headed back to Soi Green Mango and checked out the clubs that lined the lane. Most of the places played t0p 40s, dance and techno music. One place, my favorite, actually played some decent hip hop and R&B.

But, the largest venue of all was The Green Mango Club, which housed two huge rooms of music. The place was packed and people seemed to be having a really good time. The music wasn’t that bad in the end, or maybe the drinks I’d had earlier were finally beginning to work? In any case, I’m glad I came out with Franzi because we ended up having a good girl’s night out.

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Filed under Attraction, Nightlife, Thailand

Lazy Days at Chaweng Beach in Ko Samui

After such an arduous journey to reach Ko Samui, I finally arrived the following day and was happy to see the place. I comforted my growling tummy by having a bite to eat at an old favorite – Nando’s. Somehow seeing this New Zealand staple in Thailand calmed my scattered nerves.

I messaged Franzi to tell her I had arrived, but she was already lounging on the beach somewhere. I walked around the area and checked out the shops. It was your typical beach-side fare so nothing really caught my eye. I noticed that there weren’t many tourists about, but I suppose the heat kept most people indoors or near a decent-sized body of water.

For the next few days, Franzi and I spent our time at Chaweng Beach. The water was shallow, like most of the beaches in Thailand, and there were plenty of coral formations that didn’t make for easy swimming. People congregated in the scattering of sandy spots just trying to cool off. Some tried their hand at tossing a football around, but the humidity kept activity to a minimum. Mostly, Franzi and I people watched  and our entertainment consisted of those trying to sleep off their hangovers on the beach loungers or those flaunting it as they walked up and down the beach. Either way, it was pretty amusing.

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Backpacker’s Worst Nightmare

One of my worst nightmares about traveling alone is turning up in a new city late at night with no place to stay. Thus far, I’ve been able to avoid this by making sure that my transportation (be it plane, train, bus, van or tuk-tuk) arrives during daylight. Unfortunately, sometimes fate takes the matter out of your hands and you end up living a backpacker’s worst nightmare.

I booked my transportation from Ko Lipe to Ko Samui through my accommodation like I’ve done many times before. The journey would be long, but the all-inclusive ticket would take me literally from one side of Thailand to the other via long-tail boat, ferry and minivan, several times over. It seemed understandable that the length of my trip would be upwards of 8 hours, especially when so many modes of transport had to link up.

If all went well I’d meet up on Ko Samui with Franzi for dinner. Too bad the travel gods saw it fit for me to experience the backpacker’s worst nightmare. Midway through the journey, the minivan broke down. This left us stranded at a roadside shop for hours in the heat. I’m thankful that we even made it to the small store so food, water and toilets were available. It would’ve been much worse if we had to pull over on the dirt shoulder and pee in the bushes.

After what seemed like ages (the heat really messed with your mind) of watching other minivans come and go, our relief transportation finally arrived. We piled into the new minivan and sped off trying to make up for lost time. As we drove, the afternoon’s setting sun greeted us with brilliant colors.

In the end, it was no use. When we reached Surat Thani, it was nearly 9 p.m., and they dropped me off near the ferries stands for the islands. Unfortunately, no ferries leaving from this dock went to Ko Samui, and the next boat for Ko Tao didn’t leave till after midnight.

After wandering aimlessly looking for someone who spoke English (who didn’t want to sell me a ferry ticket), some guys finally pointed me in the direction of a hotel. I was beat after such a long day and just wanted a shower. According to the locals, there was a hotel a few blocks away from the water’s edge, so I headed off into the dark night in search of shelter.

I don’t mean to make this sound so dramatic, but after the day I had, I was really on edge. Normally, I’m not so suspicious of the locals, but I was obviously not from around here. Maybe they were leading me astray? Maybe someone would jump me once I hit the darkened streets leading to the “hotel?”

It was a scary three-block trek during which time I constantly looked around. My eyes and ears were hyper aware of everything around me. After all, a single girl arriving in the middle of the night in a strange town is an easy target, eh? Finally, I reached what seemed like a major street. I couldn’t really tell which way I was supposed to go. All the signs were in Thai, of course, and totally undecipherable. I approached two women leaving an ATM and asked if they knew where I could find a hotel. They pointed down the street, and I hoped they were right.

Eventually I found a very Western-looking hotel lit up in bright lights. I fumbled through check in as the front desk staff didn’t speak much English. I assume the hotel was used for local business travelers and didn’t see many backpackers. When I got to my room, it was like I was in heaven. The hotel offered modern amenities and everything was sleek. It could easily have fit in any major U.S. city but probably cost only 20 percent of the price.

After such a long day, I had a hot shower to wash off the day’s dirt and grime. The air conditioner blew hard and cold and quickly relieved me from the effects of Thailand’s humidity. I plopped on the bed with Thai TV softly playing in the background and happily rewarded myself with a small tub of ice cream. Not such a nightmare after all!


Filed under Accommodation, Transportation, Thailand