From Ranong to Samui

After the storm an amazing sunset.
Cat in Temple.

Ko Samui

At first glance,Koh Samui could be mistaken for a giant golf course floating in the Gulf of Thailand. The greens are perfectly manicured, sand traps are plentiful, and there’s a water hazard or two thrown in for good measure. Middle-aged men strut about donning white polo shirts that contrast with their cherry-red faces, while hired lackeys carry around their stuff. But Samui is far from being an adults-only country club – a closer look reveals steaming street-side food stalls, 2am jetsetter parties, secreted Buddhist temples, and backpacker shanties plunked down on a quiet stretch of sand.

Ko Samui is very much a choose-your-own-adventure kinda place that strives, like a genie, to grant every visitor their ultimate holiday wish. You want ocean views, daily massages and personal butlers? Poof – here are the keys to your private poolside villa. It’s a holistic aura-cleansing vacation you’re after? Shazam – take a seat on your yoga mat before your afternoon colonic. Wanna party like a rockstar? Pow – trance your way down the beach with the throngs of whisky-bucket-toting tourists.

Beyond the merry-making machine, the island also offers interested visitors a glimpse into local life. Chinese merchants from Hainan Island initially settled Samui and today these unique roots have blossomed into a small community that remains hidden beneath the glossy holiday veneer.




Wat Plai Laem Temple . Wat Plai Laem is a Buddhist temple compound on Samui's north-east coast of Samui, featuring a striking white 18-arm image of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. Close to the Big Buddha temple, Wat Plai Laem offers visitors a view into Chinese-Thai beliefs as well as some elaborate Buddhist-themed art and architecture. Wat Plai Laem is a living and active temple, where devotees come daily to pay homage to Guanyin and the Buddha, who is also depicted in a number of statues and murals around the temple. This is a relatively new temple but the art techniques used in its creation are centuries-old and based on ancient beliefs. Adding to its feel of tranquillity, the temple is surrounded by a lake, which is teeming with fish. Visitors who make a donation to the temple are given a bag of food to feed the fish.
Big Buddha Big Buddha temple sits majestically on a small rocky island off Koh Samui’s north-eastern corner. Known locally as Wat Phra Yai, its golden, 12-metre seated Buddha statue was built in 1972 and remains one of the island’s most popular attractions. Set on Koh Faan, Big Buddha temple is reached by a causeway that connects it to the main island. The Big Buddha can be seen at a distance of several kilometres and is often the first landmark people see when arriving to Samui by air. The Big Buddha sits in the Mara posture, with the left hand’s palm up resting on the lap and the right hand facing down, the fingers hanging over the knee and grazing the ground. It depicts a time during Buddha’s journey to enlightenment where he successfully subdued the temptations and dangers thrust at him by the devil-figure Mara by meditating and remaining calm. The pose is a symbol of steadfastness, purity and enlightenment.
On the ferry from Samui to Surat Thani.
On the ferry from Samui to Surat Thani.
Sitting on the new grass catching up with Angela, my buddy from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Catching up with my "parallel" buddy Ronnie... When I met Ronnie on Phuket a couple of years ago, we started chatting and found out we had an amazing parallel life. He grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland and moved to Australia when he was young (as I did) & now living in Thailand ( as I was). I asked him to come for a drink for my birthday in July. He said "you are a Cancer, me too" what day? I said 7th of the 7th and he said "my birthday too"...

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