Day 12 – Last day in Kaohsiung

Started my day with a coffee and vegetable omlette in pocket bread at Louisa Coffee shop. A lovely and relaxing way to start the busy day I have ahead of me!

While I was having coffee l managed to get in touch with the people I met last week, Prudence and Toms. We made arrangements to meet at 12 noon for lunch. In the meantime I went back to the apartment and called for a taxi do take me to Xin Zuoying (HSR) station. Turns out I can get a high speed rail train directly to Taoyuan Airport, so instead of leaving at 12pm, I don’t need to leave until 3pm. With the train due to arrive at 4.30pm, I have half an hour before I am due to check in – which is at 5pm for an 8pm flight.

After that I went to do some shoe shopping but ended up at the same shopping. l took a look but I have found the while most things may be slightly cheaper them in Australia, it’s minimal and so not really worth buying as something special to buy overseas. Even the mobiles and activity trackers did not seem to be particularly cheap.

With time getting away I headed off down the escalators. As I rode down each level a woman was heading down also but on a different escalator. We crossed at about the midpoint and typically ignored each other. On the second level the same thing happened and we nodded and smiled in acknowledgement – but on the third time we gave each other a big smile and said “Ni Hao”. The amazing thing was that for a fourth time we crossed over again and we both laughed out loud. We both started to speak and I said ‘have a nice day’ to which she switched language and said the same thing to me in English. After that I continued down but the lady went her own way. It made me think though, that lady was able to repeat what I said; I could not make out any of the sounds much less try to repeat a greeting like that. The Chinese language is so foreign to all my senses – spoken and written. Yet in Australia we have the nerve to ask newcomers to our land and for that matter our Indigenous peoples to speak and read only English. How hard must it be for them; all their senses are assaulted with the sounds and the alphabet script of English while adjusting to the cultural upheaval of coming to an understanding of Anglo-Australian culture. Here in Taiwan people continually make allowances for my ineptitude with the Chinese language. Even the French guy I met spoke to me in English. There is so much more I could muse on here especially in light of recent senate voting in Australia but this is a travel blog. I do think that recognising a place of privilege is something we all need to do. It’s not about trying to be ‘other’ but insuring that we recognise the bias privilege brings when thinking about and acting on concepts of inclusion, equality, merit, power and justice…

Now back to the day!

Lunch with Prudence and Toms was wonderful. I really enjoyed meeting them last week and today was mo different. They took me on a journey through foods they enjoy. The restaurant was named 地糖仔. It’s a Cantonese dim sum restaurant.

And the food was absolutely delicious.

Well if I am honest, the main course was but I think next time I will forego the desserts. But I did try them. I had four of the deep fried gluttonous rice balls and I ate a whole egg custard bun.

We talked about Kenting as they had also been there recently with friends from Hong Kong and we talked about some of the travel they hoped to do in Taiwan. Turns out they haven’t been to Hualien or Taitung. Prudence has also traveled quite a bit when she was single – including Australia and New Zealand.

I have been very blest by the people I have met throughout this trip.

After lunch I decided to get some shoe shopping in but this time in the local streets. Turns out most shopping areas sell the same kind of thing like one street might do jade, another might do clothes. This one did shoes and I was not disappointed. After visiting every shop along the street, I made my choices but ran out of time to get back to the first shop. But I did manage to grab a snack to tide me over until tea time.

Hailing a taxi, I returned once again to Maggie’s Wax and Spa. This time I was getting a two hour facial and yes it was fabulous. My face feels absolutely wonderful and so soft. I loved going to Maggie’s place. Maggie, herself was just lovely and the tea you drank at the beginning and end somehow completed the package and it was so much more affordable than in Australia.

Finally I returned to the apartment where Gene had prepared tea for our last night together. Oh my gosh what a meal! It was beautiful – lettuce tacos, freshly cut fruit and a dish with tomatoes, cheese and balsamic vinegar. All accompanied with a glass of wine.

I will miss Gene when I return. She has been a wonderful host and looked after me with so much care. We had so much fun and riding on the back of her scooter was just the coolest thing – given how used to the roads she is. Gene is also a dedicated and highly professional teacher and her students are lucky to have her as their teacher.

It is now 2pm on the day I am due to leave. I am so ready to go home but I have loved Taiwan. I hope to return in the next year or so.

With 10 mins to spare I made the HSR train; met a beautiful Taiwanese couple from Houston, Texas and spotted a curious label in the elevator!

Farewell Taiwan. It has been a wonderful holiday!

Day 11 – walking to Kenting; returning to Kaohsiung

After returning to my room last night I turned on the TV. Big mistake!!! Ended up watching the end of a Mission Impossible and the full length of The Kingsman – which I thoroughly enjoyed. Needless to stay I was awake until about 3am. Hmmm so when I did get to sleep I slept through till about 8.30am and turned the TV on again and started watching The Princess Diaries. As I did I packed up and by 10am I checked out.

Staying at the Yo Yo Hotel was wonderful. It was very comfortable, I loved the artwork on the walls and the staff were so friendly, helpful and warm.

I decided that today I would go walking to find a place to get coffee as I had missed brunch from next door.

Walking as I did, I was once again amazed by the beauty of this place. I know I seem to love everything about this place but it really is breathtaking.

I made a realisation last night that the wind turbines were located near to a nuclear power plant. It’s funny how you can see but not always recognise.

From my room I hadn’t realised what the weather was like. It was perfect beach weather – bright sunshine and no wind. I did contemplate going back to have a swim but I couldn’t be bothered cleaning up afterwards so I continued walking. The sun was hot but I kept wondering what was around the corner.

As I walked I noticed some interesting looking trees and combination of trees.

The view of the ocean and how the shoreline was used was intriguing.

I was particularly taken in by the mountain of rock that protruded up towards the sky. As I walked I kept trying to get a better picture.

I did wonder when I would stop walking but decided I would keep going and when I reached the end I would call a taxi. Each corner beckoning me to keep going. I even contemplated going up the hill to the Kenting Visitors Centre, as that would be an easy place to get a taxi – but what was around that corner…

At one point I saw a very tall tower that was painted purple with gold writing. It said “chateau”. I thought to myself that it was a funny thing to write on what looked like a water tower. As I walked, however, the next set of buildings was called Chateau and it was a beach resort. It’s funny how concepts in different countries can vary so much.

Mind you it’s a bit like going into a souvenir shop only to find that everything says either Aloha or Hawaii. Turns out the owner is from Hawaii and it is a shop that only sells things from Hawaii! Just not what I expected to find on Taiwan.

As I walked into Kenting I was looking for somewhere to get a coffee when once again I was distracted by checking out the ocean…

..only to spot another interesting looking road to the right where yes I discovered the Hawaiian shop but also found a series of places to stay. Some of them appeared quite elegant and classy looking. However my favourite, from the outside, was this one that had decorated it’s building and features with these beautifully colored tiles.

Then I spotted what looked like a building from the Greek Mediterranean.

Finally I spotted a taxi and for NT$200 he took me back to Bossa Nova where Gene and I enjoyed our final lunch. I ate the shrimp wantons and peach cheesecake while Gene enjoyed the swordfish. A couple of other interesting things I spotted was the calamari and the dragonfruit smoothie. What a great color!

We also found out that Clare’s 11yo son came 3rd in his surfing competition. What an amazing achievement when competing against an older competition.

One thing I have to comment on is garbage pick-up. When I was in Hualien I could here this strange music and it turned out it came from the garbage collection truck. It turns out that there is no ‘garbo’ running around emptying peoples bins. Rather, the music lets everyone know the garbage truck is coming and they race out to throw their garbage in the back.

The drive back to Kaohsiung was easy with very little traffic congestion. We decided, however to go to the massage place for a body massage and yes, it was wonderful. As luck would have it, I ended up with the same guy who gave me the foot massage the previous Sunday when I arrived in Kaohsiung.

After that we had dinner at Cafe 303 – actually it was almost a repeat of last Sunday!

After dinner it was home to unpack and for Gene to get organised for school.

Day 10 – relaxing Nanwan Road, Hengchun

This morning was another slow start to the day. But that might have been somewhat self-induced! Needless to say I was up and ready to go by 9am in search for breakfast and coffee.

Yet again breakfast was another adventure in and of itself. Next door to Yoyo Hotel is the Dar Ban and they serve brunch.

For NT$150 (AUD$6.82) I savoured a yummy breakfast of fresh bread, blueberry jam and butter, juice, coffee and a plate of egg, salmon, ham, salad and orange. It was all delicious – and yes I did remove the dried fruit. I’m not that adventurous!!!

Just as I was finishing my main course, the waiter came over and asked if I would like dessert. Yes here they offer dessert. I thought he told me it was cherry tea and I shrugged and said that I have never eaten it before so yes I will try it. After he had brought it over he suggested that I try it with some milk.

Turns out it was ‘jelly’ tea and the milk was an improvement. I took one bite and yes it tasted like tea jelly. Unreal what they do with tea here! I have learnt that I need to have more than one taste of something especially when I find the texture confronting so I ate about a third. It’s actually okay but just not my cup-of-tea!

It is beautiful sitting here overlooking the trees that hide the beach. The sun is shining and the wind is quite gusty. I can probably get an electric scooter but I might also go for a walk…

…so I went for a swim.

The beach here is beautiful but rather treacherous. The shoreline is not a gradual gradient down but dips into a deep shoreline trough. This means that within a few metres you go from being knee deep to shoulder deep within a couple of steps. On top of that, the sand and stones that you are walking on remain soft and your feet sink as you walk in or out; you cannot get a grip. The tide seemed to be coming in and the waves when they broke were pounding on your legs as you walked over the softest part of the sand into the water. Needless to say I was the epitome of elegance today as the waves washed the ground from under me and I landed on my butt! The funny thing was, though, it was like landing on a ball of cotton wool – so soft!!! With as much dignity as possible I clamoured further into the ocean and enjoyed floating and paddling in the water.

With the break so close to the shore, the waves came in large swells which made it next to impossible to stand in the water. It was only in the trough of the wave that it was possible to touch the ground but when I did it was smooth sand like back home.

Gene joined me for a swim this morning and we had a lovely time paddling, floating and chatting. The water is beautifully refreshing and almost warm. Mind you today the wind was blowing so ferociously that if you got too close to the beach you would be splashed by the spray of the breaking wave and lashed by the whipping sand. So we stayed out a bit in the deeper water.

Time to go in and I knew I would need all my strength – and I was right. As I tried to find my feet and stand tall a wave crashed over my legs with one whack I was down. Knowing I needed to be patient, I took a deep breath and braced myself for the following wave. Survived. So I made an attempt to get up again and ‘dump’ I was now an Olympic gymnast doing my floor routine!!! Hahaha. The beauty was I didn’t panic – although by this stage Gene was charging towards me to help. With steady nerves, I picked myself up and made it. Heaven knows what the scene looked like but I survived!

Walking back to my hotel, I took some time to soak in what I was seeing.

After showering I went down to Bossa Nova to meet Gene for lunch. Today I wanted chicken and chips and it lived up to expectations! I sat there enjoying a coffee or two and blogging.

Feeling tired I wandered back to my room and promptly fell asleep. Next thing I know it is 5.37pm and the sun is setting. Quickly I race down to the beach to take some photos of the sunset before I meet Gene for dinner at – you know where – Bossa Nova!

It has been such a relaxing time here. I could imagine a week or two of this although as you can imagine there is part of me itching to get back using my brain more productively. The rest though has done me the world of good!

Tonight we sat outside to eat. The weather is exquisite – warm with a lovely summery breeze – even if it is autumn here and heading towards winter. Tonight I ordered the swordfish. It was cooked perfectly and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Gene ate the beef rendang.

Dessert time and I ordered the chocolate and caramel delight. Gene ordered the chocolate slice with caramelised nuts. Turns out mine was more like what I recognise as caramel slice and Gene’s was more like a chocolate mousse. I tasted both and they were delicious. The caramel in my dessert was a chewy caramel that contrasted fabulously with the fudgey, ganache-like chocolate.

Again we shared more stories about our lives. Clare and her son both made it into the finals of the surfing competition they entered today so all are looking forward to another day of surfing tomorrow.

Day 9 – A bus ride to Hengchun

Well the plans of mice and men can change in an instant. One minute my plans are sorted and my task this morning is to take a taxi to Kaohsiung Zili Bus Station but the man in the lobby says that while I can do that it is better to catch a bus at Kaohsiung Station. As he is trying to be very helpful I agree to take his advice. There’s an element to traveling where I just have to go with the flow. In some ways I don’t seem to get so anxious here or when on holidays because there is no rush and I don’t have to do anything. That said, there is still an element of planning that I do and when it gets ‘adjusted’ like this feelings of anxiety do bubble up. However the man in the lobby told me the taxi driver would show me exactly where to go and he did. Now I am sitting at Kaohsiung Bus Station waiting to catch the 9188.

Now I am on the correct bus, excitement about another new adventure about to begin. However it seemed that I was on a stopping at all stations bus rather than an express so I sat back and just went with the flow. Again leaving Kaohsiung I was once again blown away by the beauty of the mountains that for the centre of Taiwan. The other side of the road for a good part of the way was ocean; incredibly beautiful.

Along the way I messaged my kids and received a reply. It was great to hear from them. The different chat formats are a great way of staying in touch with family and friends. It’s also great to hear that some are following this blog too. While I write mainly to capture my memories of what I was doing and my impressions of the different encounters I experience it is also great to know that I don’t have to repeat it all over and over when I get home; I can give the short version!

I wasn’t sure where to get off but managed to find the exact spot with the help of Google Maps. I do wonder how people managed in the past but technology has been so helpful especially for this journey where I have no idea of where I am going nor any common language.

First step when I arrived was to drop off my suitcase and then go and have lunch at Bossa Nova. Wow! What a fabulous place to eat and spend time in. I also felt very safe because this is Gene’s favourite place here and the only place she eats at when she is here. The staff were wonderful and friendly and the main waitress seems to speak perfect English.

Gene is friends with the owners after many years of visiting and so when I asked the main waitress if she was Clare she said no but was delighted to hear that I was Gene’s friend and that Gene would be here tonight.

The cafe claims to be a menu of world foods and it certainly is. I enjoyed a beautiful chilli con carne and coffee for lunch followed by a most delicious peach cheesecake.

Next to find a scooter. Turns out I can hire an electric one but it only goes for about 50kms. I’ll think about that tomorrow. I also checked out the beach. Oh how beautiful!

After walking for a bit I returned to the Bossa Nova to try an iced tea. Not my favourite drink but it did kind of grow on me.

After blogging and filling in some time there I was able to check-in to Yoyo Hotel. It really is beautiful insde and the staff are just lovely. One of the guys offered to try to find a petrol scooter for me – but as I found out later, he too had no luck.

Once in my room I unpacked and put my togs on. I realised that as much as I would love to explore this area it’s a perfect place to veg-out and just read a book, swim in the ocean and wander.

Just been for a swim in the ocean. Haven’t quite worked out if it’s the Pacific or South China Sea or close to where they meet. The water is beautiful and clear, although the sand is made up of washed stones; so nothing sharp but one minute they’re all small and gritty and the next there’s a smooth stone under your foot. A tad nerve wracking for someone who is wary of sea life nibbling toes!!! All that said, this place is like a piece of heaven. Here I am floating in the sea that is lined by golden sand with a backdrop of mountains. Yes there are some buildings and people in between and that’s life. Can’t wait to go swimming tomorrow.

Once I knew that Gene was close to arriving I returned to the Bossa Nova and managed to get the window table I’d had at lunchtime. While I was waiting I decided to start with a Bossa Nova cocktail that consisted of vodka, peach brandy and cranberry.

It was delicious and when Gene arrived we went again and this time added some corn chips and salsa.

Apparently Clare cooks steak beautifully so I went with Gene’s suggestion of steak and it was beautiful. At the same time we opted for a red to go with our meal. Marco, Clare’s husband was the wine connoisseur and we were delighted with his selection of a Spanish red.

To finish the bottle we ordered a cheese platter which was soon followed by coffee and liqueurs!

Clare joined us as often as she could. She was participating in a surfing competition tomorrow! How inspiring! Anyway throughout the night we shared stories, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We were actually the last to leave!!!

As I went to bed I thought about the wonderful night I had! So much delicious food and wine followed by coffee and liqueurs, great conversations, moments to treasure and stories that brought laughter. I am very blest.

Day 8 – wet…then to Bophut Fisherman’s Village markets

Today l woke up to a thunderstorm and throughout the night it had just rained almost non-stop. Outside everything was so wet; water was flowing whenever it could and there was nowhere you could go and not get wet.

Today I was feeling a bit exhausted after yesterday and I thought it would be a good day to do some more reading and to get my blogs up to date. But first breakfast and yes today I broke with my usual breaky order and ordered French toast, banana and honey plus a glass of yoghurt, muesli and mixed fruit.

That was the beginning of my day and it continued in a similar vein – eating, reading, coffee, Crosswords, shake, Sudoku, eating and blogging.

With so much rain and stormy shorelines, there weren’t many people popping into the restaurant and the place was very quiet until finally the rain stopped long enough for people to feel confident to start walking about.

After a while Sue came to By Beach and we got chatting. Apparently they were all heading do Bophut, to the Fisherman’s Village markets. Sue was confident that the weather would hold out so I decided I would organise a taxi for myself and also go!

First I wanted to finish my blog and have another taste of the fried bananas. Who would have thought they could taste so good! But this time they were served with honey. I never realised how good banana and honey were together!

The drive into Bophut usually took about 15 minutes but tonight I was in the taxi for nearly an hour! I have never seen the road so busy; mind you I had actually not ventured out in Koh Samui at night either. Thankfully, my fee was a set fee of 400 baht regardless of how long it took.

Arriving at the markets it was clearly an extremely busy place so I took off in the general direction trying to skirt past the crowds so that I could purvey my surroundings before setting off properly. In the process I walked through this part that looked like an abandoned mall. As I came out the other side, I spotted a shop with the most magnificent materials and beading. The initial piece that caught my eye was 5000 baht (197 AUD). Yes, the stones were beautiful but I was not spending that much – especially not at the beginning of the night! That said, if you had the money, this would be the place to get yourself something very special.

As I kept walking, my senses were bombarded with loud music from the many restaurants and eating places. A cacophony of geese was more appealing! That said, again it started to rain and I briefly regretted not bring the umbrella Koi from the office at By Beach had offered me. The rain did not last long, but I was extremely grateful that I had elected to wear my sneakers and sports socks; there were puddles everywhere. Really it was just massive amounts of water lining the streets; so much so that I ended up just walking through and not worrying about how wet my feet were.

The shops at these markets were absolutely beautiful and the Indian man who’s shop was similar to the one I have just described, was somewhat more affordable but I still declined to make a purchase. After that I mainly focused on the stalls and they were just a visual buffet of amazing! Jade, pearls, trinkets, bags, cosmetics, clothes, mobile covers, sunglasses, watches, headphones and speakers, jewelry, scarfs, linen, material – it was incredible. The bartering was fierce and if you were luck enough to be a first purchase, then you could get a great deal. That said, there was a limit and sometimes I saw people calculating their profit margin if they accepted the price. This made me realise that while it is great to barter, it also needs to be conducted in respect for the seller as this is their livelihood and there is no minimum wage akin to what we receive in Australia supporting their everyday expenses.

The food along the streets was also amazing and I did enjoy eating some chicken kebabs of different marinades for only 20 baht each (less than $1). One novelty I did notice was that you could buy and drink cocktails while walking around the markets, like you would purchase soft drinks. I did not realise how accustomed I had become to the non-drinking of alcohol in public places. I also spotted a fabulous way of doing eggs – quail eggs no less!

But no, I did not try them as by this stage I  finally had the opportunity to try the ‘rolled ice-cream’. The process fascinated me, as you can tell and I did enjoy eating the ice-cream, although it was slightly icy!

Again, once the shopping was finished I went to find a taxi. As I approached the entrance to the markets, the traffic was still hectic and there where ‘lollipop’ traffic guys working hard to create space for cars to move into the traffic and for people to cross the road. Again, I took a taxi home and noted that the ride back for the driver was going to be horrendous as traffic conditions had not subsided. So after paying him the 400 baht, I gave him an extra 20 baht just to say thank you. I do hope he got to keep that for himself! It really was a lovely way to end the day after such a long day of doing very little.

Day 7- Scootering around Koh Samui

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!

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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.

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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.

Day 6 – a new adventure 

Still no internet! It still looks like more rain and nothing to do but read! 

While not actually a bad option I was starting to feel anxious that I could not contact my family nor they me. Logic tells me not to be silly but I was worried that they might be getting worried that they could contact me. I can hear my fried Rosie saying ‘it’s not all about you Janet!!!’

Anyway I went to have breakfast and Gene joined me. Again we had a lovely chat and decided that I needed to try her scooter to see if I might be able to handle it. Levi always said I would enjoy it but I knew I needed to have someone with me for the first time and Gene was it! Alas, just as we decided to go riding it started to rain. So we canned that idea and went back to our respective rooms.

As I sat there trying to start another book the thought occured to me that the two of us might like to go somewhere and share the taxi fare; if not for anything else but to access the Internet. Fifteen minutes later By Beach is buzzing! Janet has just hired a scooter, it’s bright red…

…and Gene and I are going exploring in the rain! Song and Sam, the restaurant staff thought we were mad because of the rain and Song was also worried about our safety. I was so excited. I had never ridden a scooter before (much less a motorbike) and here I was giving it a go! One of the guys called out “Come back healthy” and I quipped back, ” what’s the worse thing that could happen? I end up in hospital?”. We all laughed but on a more serious note, I knew that I was not going to try anything risky or travel very fast. I had also been watching the traffic as I walked and travelled by taxi and was aware of how the traffic moved. In any case, we turned right at the By Beach entrance and headed towards the quieter part of are island.

As we road out, I felt elated. Wow! What an amazing experience! Admittedly I did struggle a bit with corners at first until I remembered what it was like on my bike! A slight lean and the knee out and it was all good. Gene led the way and I was happy to follow. She kept an eye out for me and we rode for about 20 minutes or so until we found this port. Here we parked the scooters and walked around the street looking at everything. 

Down the end of the beach area we found this lovely cafe and as we sat down it began to rain. It was here that we were finally able to hook up to the internet. Phew! We were happy.

After we finished our drinks the rain had subsided and so we decided we would wander back and try one of the places we had seen earlier. Not five minutes into the wide and the rain began pouring down. By the time we had reached The Mud Restaurant we were both soaked and my glasses were fogged up! 

As we sat down the waiter bought as both a towel to dry ourselves and we then used it as a blanket to warm up a bit. As we sat there going through the menu, the rain began pelting down even harder. To be honest I began to wonder if it would ever stop!

Gene and I decided to share our plates and so we chose three dishes. Rice in coconut milk, vegetable green curry, chicken and lemongrass and fried pork a lime balls. The food was absolutely amazing! Everything was so fresh and the flavours in your mouth were magnificent! Even Gene’s jasmine tea was made with actual jasmine! By the end of all this we were so full.

By now are rain had stopped again and so we headed off again. But before we did we captured some shots of this amazing place which we found out when we got back to By Beach was owned by the same people. No wonder the menus seemed so similar.

This time Gene took his exploring down all these different roads in search of a nice place to have coffee on the beach. We did find some amazing places off the main road…

…and even came across a buddhist Temple. There was a lot of construction happening but the artwork was amazing! 

After that we ended up at Anna Kuhn’s restaurant where we both engaged a coffee and a juice within are beautiful ambience of a moat. 

Again it rained but lightly this time but we were able to make back to By Beach safely – and the internet was back on!

That night Gene and I also ended up having tea together and enjoying a couple of wines. She also showed me where she lined in Taiwan and it’s a beautiful place. Maybe that’s another place I can add do my travels!