Today, I had decided that I was going to attempt to ride around the island of Koh Samui. I came down to By Beach Restaurant to have breaky and one of the English ladies from next door was sitting and having breakfast with her 2 yo daughter. The 2 yo was enjoying dippy-eggs and her mum was having what looked like a sundae but was in fact yogurt, mixed fruit and muesli. I ordered my usual and we sat and shared stories. Her sister-in-law, Sue, who was from New Zealand also joined us for a few minutes before they all left for their tour of the island. They had hired a mini-bus that would take all 13 of them. They were in for a big day.
After they left I too made my preparations, got on my scooter and started riding. Like when I ride my bike, there is a thrill feeling the wind on my face and watching the world go by. I was riding with more confidence now. The traffic is really accommodating. Nothing seems to phase anyone – just the occasional toot if you have forgotten or not realised they are behind you wanting to pass or if they think you have darted out in front of them when you should have waited – but none of the rage, frustration and intolerance that we experience back home.
As I was riding along, I noted the places we had visited the day before and on the advice of Sam, at By Beach the night before, I thought I would visit the waterfall. when I arrived this man showed me where to park my bike and indicated where I could find the waterfall. I wandered into this area where all I could hear was the sound of water falling. The sound was amazing and here at the bottom of the stream it was just beautiful. Over the stream, a bridge took you to a modest Buddhist temple and to the right you could walk over these large flattened rocks to get closer to the stream. As I wandered and took photos this black dog joined me and in some ways, seemed to show me where to go.
I was however disappointed not to find the waterfall itself or for that matter a path that led to the waterfall. I did find these lovely welcome statues and then headed back out. Mind you, I have no idea what the fascination is with sheep statues but they are everywhere!
As I came out the man asked about the waterfall and I said I couldn’t find it. He gave me diections for the path, telling me it was a 2km walk through the jungle. Well, I thought, that’s like walking around the lake in Shepparton! Wrong! It was nothing like the lake! Before I knew it I was climbing over rocks, boulders and massive amounts of tree roots up this massive hill…
…and feeling very much like a cooked steam dim sim!
I had to stop wearing my glasses because they were too fogged up. As I climbed I was very grateful for all the gym work I had done before Christmas. Although as I said earlier this week I really should have spent more time doing squats as much of the climbing involved quite literally lifting myself up and over steep step-ups.
The higher I climbed the more I questioned the wisdom of this venture given that I had no water or Aeroguard with me. While it felt like I had been climbing for ages, I was sure I had not even reached half way. There were signs that people had tried to inhabit the area even if only to set up a watering hole. However much of that seemed abandoned although it did seem that someone looked after the plants in the vicinity. The sea of pink as I approached was somehow reassuring.
Not long after that the climb seemed to be getting harder and again I questioned the logic of the venture and decided it was time to turn back. While I may not have made it, I was pleased with my efforts but absolutely exhausted. The climb down was just as tough; trying to avoid falling forward and slipping. At one point I saw a lizard scamper over the rock I was about to put my hand on. It was then I started thinking about snakes and leeches.
Once again I was reminded of the constant battle between humanity and the natural environment.
Needless to say I made it down safely but hankering for some water. When I saw the lady selling water I immediately said yes please when she called out. She laughed when I said I didn’t make it! And she proceeded to take me over to the big poster to show me. Again I said that I did not see it and then I showed her a photo of how far I got and she seemed impressed.
Then I turned around and saw the man who told me about the 2 kms. Still laughing from the conversation with the other lady I shook my finger at him and told him off for not telling me how hard the climb was. He laughed and indicated a smooth path. I shook my head and said no way and used my hands to show how squiggly and steep it was. He chuckled and used his hands to say that the climb would do me the world of good; help me to slim down! Well of course in typical Janet fashion I showed him an old picture of me. His eyes nearly popped out of his head and suddenly he was impressed with what he saw. So much so he started telling the other lady. It really was an awesome conversation of joking around with each other particularly given the language challenges.
Off on the scooter again and once more I felt the thrill of the ride and not knowing exactly where I was going. After about half an hour or 40 minutes I came across a beach so I stopped to explore and take some photos. It was beautiful and once again I realised how different the terrain was as you moved around the island.
I then noticed the heavy dark rain clouds coming in so stopped for a coffee. I ended up also having an early lunch as the rain continued to pour down. The Phad Thai was nice but the one I had at By Beach was much better.
Once the rain stopped I was off again. Following my nose took me yet to another beach and resort area. It just looked magnificent!
Then I was heading up, over and through amazingly lush green mountainous terrain. Then it was into busy traffic territory and the very popular tourist spot of Lamai Beach. Needless to say I just continued riding and negotiating the vehicles and the people. As you pass through Lamai you head into Chaweng. This is like the city hub of Koh Samui and there is traffic everywhere. Suddenly I pulled off to the side of the road. This was a photo opportunity that located my position. True, if I had turned right here it would have been like driving down Swanston St in Melbourne – and there was no way I was doing that.
I just got going again when I came across the French bakery – La Fabrique – I had spotted from my taxi rides. So quickly I pulled over and wandered in. Okay, so it wasn’t quite like les boulangerie or les patisserie of France, but I still decided to have a coffee and cake.
Well, I have to say, this lemon merinque was the best I have ever tasted! There was a light crispiness to the top of the meringue but underneath it was soft and marshmallowy. The lemon part was like a thick, tangy custard and the pasty just melted in your mouth. To top it off, the coffee was the best I have had in Koh Samui.
That was it, I thought. Time to fuel up and return to By Beach. Before I realised, however, I had passed some street markets that I had also seen from are taxi and decided I would turn around and go back.
The traffic to get back across the road was hectic so I did what I had seen others do – I rode in the scooter lane the wrong way! Such a non-Janet thing to do – but I did!!! It was only a short distance but I am so glad I stopped. It was a food market and there was so much food there that I had never seen before!
At one point I watched this man make what I soon found to be “desserts”. He let me try the different noodle pieces.
It was so different but the food looked absolutely amazing. I am so glad I stopped.
Finally I made it back. Tonight, Gene and I enjoyed another feast and ordered a bottle of wine. What amazed me was that when Sam bought the wine over he suddenly became this highly professional waiter, formally showing me the wine, pouring and waiting for me to taste the wine before he began do pour both glasses. I was so amazed to receive such ‘posh’ treatment here at By Beach because it is such a casual, everyday place where often guests are still in shorts and bare feet. Once again the food was delicious and we enjoyed an evening of much laughter.
Gene even showed me some photos of where she lived in Taiwan and I had never realised how beautiful it was. Another trip to add to my growing list.
Even now as I write this I still feel in awe of this amazing day exploring the island riding on a motor scooter.