The Ruminator

Come on up and grab yourself a beer.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Islands in the sun

Well, it's yet another beautiful day on Koh Samui, in the Gulf of Siam.

I've been here since Monday, as a final relaxing stop before going back to work next week. (Wow, that sounds really strange.) I'm staying on Chaewang beach, which is the most developed of all Samui's beaches. That does have its down side, as the street is quite noisy and has some crappy bars, and on the beach you have to deal with people selling souvenirs (like, really, how much money do people carry in their swimmers?) On the other hand, the reason it is so well developed is that it's a nice beach, and the plus side is you are never more than a few metres from a masseusse or someone selling fresh fruit.

My hotel is quite small, but nice. Right on the beach, and surprisingly quiet given the location. Hotels here are comparatively expensive, but naturally still very cheap by Australian standards. And the room is clean, ditto the swimming pool, which is all you really need.

A lot of my time has been spent, as planned, swimming, reading, eating, and getting a couple of massages. I did however, get energetic enough to spend a day kayaking and swimming in the Angthong Marine Park, which will be familiar to anyone who has seen The Beach (which I haven't, but that's what everyone says.)

It was a really lovely day, and the islands were just stunning. We paddled underneath overhanging rocks and into a lagoon only accessible through a tunnel in the rock (a somewhat exciting process as the tide was quite high and you had to lean back to avoid hitting your head on the rocks, and the tunnel was so narrow you had to lay the paddles in the kayak and push against the sides with your hands.) We also saw the Green Lake, which is a completely enclosed salt water lake, refreshed by underground tunnels from the sea. The water was beautiful so in the afternoon we jumped off the boat to go swimming for a while before heading back to Samui.

After all that unaccustomed exercise I was a little sore, but the army of masseusses came through with a great Thai massage. I really will miss cheap massages when I go home. Traditional Thai massage is a full body experience - for the masseusse, who uses not only hands and forearms, but feet and knees, to get the right pressure in the right spot, or to pull you in several directions at once. It's very effective, but can be a little disconcerting at first, especially the audible cracking sound from my spine the first time someone knelt on the back of my thighs, put the heels of their palms in my back, and pushed. But I feel much better now :-)

So it's back to Bangkok tonight, and flying back home on Friday night. I'll see some of you soon, possibly when I get over both the sleep disturbance, and the shock of finding myself back at work.