Living the Island Life
The old man we helped paddles his boat along the coast at sunset, collecting his net.
For more calm and relaxing photos of Thailand, click here.
Babes, beaches and beer. Three Bs that can instantly relax almost any man. The beer on Koh Samui is priced roughly equal to some American bars, but the babes and the beaches come complimentary with the price of a room, though only the beach can be slipped into easily.
Our arrival was a welcome one, our simple wooden bungalow left waiting while we dove into the tide, my sexual frustration washed away in the sweet surf along with the funk from the bus and the 17 hour journey from Bangkok. Here was the island paradise we’d been promised, complete with a brilliant lilac sunset and rows of tanned and toned visitors splayed across the brilliant white surface leading to the water.
Lamai beach isn’t the main beach of Koh Samui. It is, rather, the secondary beach; a long stretch of white sand lying in a cove beyond the southern outcrop of the main port. Though still playing host to many tourists, I am told Lamai is far less crowded than the main drag. The majority of resort goers seem to be Italian or Israeli, a smattering of Aussies, French, Brits and Germans mixed in for good measure. Matt and I, however, seem to be the lone Americans.
We wandered the coast from our distant corner of the beach down to the center of the cove and back. Restaurants offering overpriced meals and drinks litter the beach front, each with its own massage hut promising relaxation never before had in this earthly realm. Jet skis ready to peruse the deeper water number in the teens with at most a half dozen flitting about at once. The occasional boat slides softly by, rocking gently in the light waves.
The sands play host to leathery folks in their forties, complete with their entourage of children and spouses, as well as myriad young couples perfectly built and looking as though they lived at the beach and for the beach their entire life. Every cute girl seems attached at the hand to a boyfriend or a clique of three to five other attractive young woman. Like any collection of Europeans, the enticing curves of a topless sunbather grab the eye every once in a while.
SIDE NOTE: There’s a definite irony to topless sunbathers and nude beaches as a guy. On the one hand, you hope to see breasts, beautiful and supple, hanging out there so lush and inviting. On the other hand, you’re nearly guaranteed denial of service if you choose to look or approach at one of these glorious conventions of feminine curvature. In all honesty, bare breasts lack the same allure than a carefully clothed set mammaries offer unless they’re been bared for your personal use and inspection. I’m not about to pop a chubby and gawk simply because some buxom beauty is wandering about topless, let alone under such innocuous circumstances. There’s certainly the allure of voyeurism, but when you’re part of the scene, it’s simply not the same. And though all this is true and I don’t find any sexual gratification in topless sunbathers, I still find myself hoping to see one as I lay idly on the beach, that moment of disappointment spurned for the same childish hopes I know are false.
The beach here is lovely, its soft white sand sinking perfectly between the toes. Footprints litter the length of habitable zone, an area damp enough to find solidity and dry enough not to stick to the feet like clumps of wet clay. The water quickly slides from ankle deep to easily six feet after only a handful of steps, the occasional mossy rock or piece of coral offering a foothold as I wade out. Like all the beaches of the South Pacific, the water is warm, inviting, yet cool and calming if needed.
We collapsed into bed shortly after the sunset, our sleep deprivation catching up with us. I attempted to read, but found my eyes drooping with regularity, my mind setting sail on pleasurable dreamscapes with or without my permission.
I had hoped to awake with the sun, and it may have happened, but I chose to ignore my waking for extra sleep on multiple occasions before rising and planting myself on our porch, the sea visible in the distance, the beach hidden behind two rows of bungalows in front of us. I tore through the remainder of my book before Matt woke and joined me (I’ll post reviews of all my travel reading at some point, but for now, I’m 6 books in and will likely finish the batch with me before leaving Thailand).
I packed a backpack and we headed toward the beach to discover breakfast. Wandering in the other direction, we soon found ourselves at a large rock outcropping, no obvious path over. Me in my cheap Filipino flip flops and he in his heavily worn Tevas decided to brave the rocks and made our way over. Midway, we found that no true path reached across, save a small slippery ledge winding along the wall. Rather than climb back around, I chose to swim.
I leapt into the water, the deep ravine offering several feet between two large rocks, sharp barnacles lining each wall like razor wire splitting the dry from the wet and keeping it that way. I soon found my hands and feet line with small cuts dripping blood from the rocky edges I swam past.
As we rose above on the other side, the large penis shaped rock caught our eye. Apparently a destination to those people who believe in the aphrodisiac superstitions of the islands, the rock is a regular watering hole for people from all corners. Beyond it laid more beach and jungle, none of which looked too inviting.
We turned up the road in search of food, winding our way back up the coast inland. A small general store and a few strange restaurants jumped out at me, but the one place that interested us was closed, so we continued on. We passed travel agencies, bike rentals, tattoo parlors, and even what appeared to be a strip club before planting ourselves at a small restaurant whose prices were half what the beachside resorts were asking.
Returning to the water after lunch, we cut though a fancy resort hotel, its marble floors and koi ponds on redoubling the image that Koh Samui is a tourist paradise that could someday rival Hawaii. We relaxed beachside, letting the food digest before finally dunking ourselves among the waves once more.
The joy of floating in the ocean is one that I cherish. The utter feeling of weightlessness, the juxtaposition of the cool water and the warm sun, is all so incomparable to anything else in this world. I’m not a lap swimmer, but just floating there brings me eternal joy.
While we dried off and chatted on the beach under an umbrella, an old man and several Thai women slowly dragged a boat down to the water. Matt and I looked at each other, both of us knowing that we should help. We rose and, with a smile, grabbed the boat and ushered it quickly down to the coast, the others having difficulty with our rapid pace. The old man thanked us and one of the women offered us discount pedicures, which we declined.
We sat there enjoying the sun and breeze until the full moon began its rise over the distant horizon, my stomach rumbling at the mere thought of cheese. We ate a lovely dinner at our resort, high price and all, before playing a few games of pool and falling into bed anew.
The trepidation I felt on the ferry has apparently eloped with my tension and worry. There is no greater joy than the purity and the beauty of true relaxation. That’s what Koh Samui is; true relaxation.