Today – our first full day on Koh Samui – we decided to hire and moped to travel round the island. I made up an itinerary the previous evening (I’m so German…) and as it was pretty packed, the alarm was set, full of hope, for 7 am. Of course, we didn’t get up at 7. 1 hour and 45 minutes later (why are we so lazy?!) we finally managed to get up and enjoy some breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We hired our moped for the day, and off we went.
Our first stop was Wat Phra Yai (also known as the Big Buddha), which is, as the name suggests, a giant golden Buddha (12 metres high, 39 feet). As we were driving towards it, we could see the statue in the far distance and it was quite an impressive view. Unfortunately they didn’t quite think the tiled flooring around the monument through properly. As it was a very sunny day, the tiles heated up and it burned the bottom of your feet walking up and around the Big Buddha statue (in Thailand you have to take off your shoes when in a temple or sacred site).
Next stop: Wat Plai Laem. This structure consists of several mini temples and two giant statues, one showing a big smiling Buddha and the other one showing the minor Buddhist God Cundi; who has 18 arms arranged in a windmill around her head. The whole complex is set on a lake, making it a quite unique setting.
Out of respect for Buddha, in Thailand you don’t wear shorts or shirts with no sleeves in and around temples. Shoulders and knees must be covered, which makes it quite sweaty business on a sunny day like today (wearing t-shirt over vest and cotton trousers over shorts).
Soaked through we hopped on our moped, looking forward to a nice breeze, to drive to our next destination: Chaweng; one of the busiest parts of the island. We had a quick look around the Central Festival shopping centre, enjoying an ice-cream from our new favourite Dairy Queen. After getting annoyed at being offered a new suit every 5 metres, we moved on.
On our way to Hin Ta & Hin Yai, we stopped at a viewpoint which overlooks Chaweng bay. Hin Ta & Hin Yai, also called the Grandfather and Grandmother, is a series of large rocks right by the sea shore which, despite being pleasant to look at, was not worth the extortionate 10 Baht parking fee.
Next stop on our tour of Koh Samui was a dead guy. Or rather, a mummified dead guy. He still had some hair left and his sunglasses were remarkably well preserved! Mister dead guy is a former monk, who, after 50 years of happy family life, decided to devote himself to Buddhism and, upon his death, was then displayed sitting upright in his coffin where he still resides today.
Quite surprised that we hadn’t already gotten ourselves a huge sunburn, we continued upwards to the mountainous centre of Koh Samui and the 80m tall Namuang Waterfall 2. Promised a 20m wide waterfall with several bathing pools, we arrived to little more than a dribble. Sneaking along behind a German tour group, we learned that the waterfall around this time of the year (because it’s dry season) is pretty much non-existant. Well this definitely wasn’t worth the exhausting climb. (Tom: I hope the Germans didn’t pay too much for their tour!)
We finished the day by heading over the top of the mountain, taking in some spectacular views on the drive into the western coastal town of Nathon and back along the coast to our hotel.