Friday, October 24, 2008

Ko Samet เกาะเสม็ด (Part I of II)

sa-wat-dii khráp - สวัสดีครับ (hello) from Thailand!

well i'm not in Thailand now but have just returned from a well deserved (well i think so!) relaxing trip there.
although i've been back in Hong Kong for a few days now i will want to say
khop khun - ขอบคุณ (thank you) in Thai to everyone. the Thai people are so warm and always say hello and thank you while doing the wai (like Ronald...). it's always so much nicer to be on the receiving end of such fine service.

it was my 2nd trip to Thailand but a first to arrive at Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi Airport.
although the airport's a bit too spread out (it can be a bit of a trek walking around), it's so better than the old Don Muang airport with a more modern feel to it and tastefully decorated with Thai art here and there.
i arrived at 9:40am, and after changing my HK$ into some Thai baht, i hoped on the free shuttle bus that runs directly outside the airport to the "public transport center"; about a 10min ride away.
from here i had planned to find an intercity bus going to Ban Phe or to Rayong.

Suvarnabhumi Airport

my destination you ask?
Ko Samet.
or Ko Samed... or Samet Island....or in Thai it's simply

Ko Samet is a small island in the gulf of Thailand known for it's white sandy beaches, crystal waters and relaxed environment....just what i needed.
i was hoping for a bus to Ban Phe which is where the ferry pier is located, but from the public transport center there are only buses going to Rayong
(ระยอง), the town beside Ban Phe.
lucky for me the next bus was at 10:40 so i was just in time. the ticket to Rayong was only 137 baht.
so off we went for the 3 hour bus ride in a warm...air conditioned bus full of local Thais.

after making a brief stop on the way, we finally pulled into Rayong's small bus terminal where i was bombarded with "you want taxi?". "you go ban phe?" "ko samet?" "cheap cheap!!"
cheap cheap my a**!
i wasn't gonna fall for their traps so after a bit of confusion i found a "songthaew -
สองแถว" (don't ask me how to pronounce this) which is basically like an adapted pickup truck or a shared taxi with 2 rows of seats in the back. Once full, and i mean pretty overloaded, we started on the journey to Ban Phe (about 15min)....under the blaring sun....
the uncomfortable ride (
i was sitting on the crack between 2 seats) was only 25 baht.

songthaew - สองแถว

finally we got dropped off at Ban Phe pier.
this time i had splashed out and booked a room at a luxury resort and was told there was a free speed boat ride from the pier directly to the resorts beach. i was soon given a ticket for the "speed boat leaving now!" with a price tag of 2000 bahts! what the *&"%!? that's like 14 times more expensive than my 3 hour bus journey! no matter how many times i said i had a free speed boat i wasn't getting anywhere so i asked for the standard ferry which most tourists & locals take to the island.
as it was "leaving now!" i paid my 200 baht (i think i got ripped-off) and walked down the pier to a ferry that was totally full with people, bags, food, chickens, you name it, it was on that boat. having nowhere to sit but on the side of the boat in 30 degrees something sunshine we jugged our way towards Ko Samet.

on the ferry from Ban Phe

just so you can understand what i'm talking about, here is a map of Ko Samet.

so i was staying at Ao Prao beach and the ferry i was riding was going to Nah Dan pier....great.
at this stage all i wanted to do was dive into the ever so inviting blue ocean!
at Nah Dan pier were waiting
more songthaews (not another one!) to take people to the beach of their choice. i jumped on the one going to Ao Prao with a few others. after about 1 minute we were stopped and all asked to fork out the 200 baht entrance free to the island. Ko Samet is actually a national park so all us "foreigners" pay 200 baht, Thais pay 80....
the road (read this as a path) was paved up until this point. after paying the entrance fee the road disappears and becomes a pot-holed, rain-washed, unkempt, gravel track.
ummmm, i wonder where our 200 bahts are being used....?!

but after a short ride (25 baht) i was greeted with the sight i had been waiting for.
Ao Prao resort. it was like paradise.

the small beach of Ao Prao is shared by 3 resorts (Ao Prao, Le Vimarn, and Lima Coco) with Ao Prao resort being at the end.
hard to image that 7 hours ago i was in Hong Kong's bustling city and now sipping a refreshing drink listening to the sounds of lapping waves....

Ao Prao

a perfect welcome


pascale said...

I wish I was there with my family~!

world of sekimachihato said...

* pascale
i think Ao Prao is nice for families too, the beach is definately safe for little ones; very calm.

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