It was in the year 2012, that we went to Thailand, to Koh Samui, and to Bangkok. Those were years of inexperience and in-exposure. What one would identify as callowness. I was relatively young to travelling, the few and the far between, new to marriage and motherhood. My son was just six years old and still prattling in his childish treble. Thailand was my second journey abroad, the first being to Singapore and Malaysia in 2010. I sometimes return to some of the images Koh Samui brings back to me. I was not much keen on photography then; Souvik took most of the pictures. Thailand and Koh Samui did not succeed in revealing themselves to their fullest capacity in the beginning. In fact the slides were flung far behind my consciousness, and many had succeeded in their place. But recently, a few images haunt me, and my old pen-drive reveals some very interesting photographs which tell an amusing story.
It must have been around eight in the evening. Somewhere, we could hear music – western (American), familiar, loud, clear and ecstatic. We had set out for our evening stroll. Nothing would quite function around before that time. In a beach island such as Koh Samui, there are only leisure activities and people believe in spending their leisure quite seriously. Hence, they begin around eight in the evening, party till one or two in the morning, and then again resume activities not before twelve, the next day. That was the usual routine. If one would look for food or any other activity in the mornings prior to that time, one would be seriously disappointed, as one would find most shops and even houses bolted from the inside. Only the hotels and resorts would cater to their tourists.
So we set out at eight in the evening. The shops and stalls had opened, advertising wares in all their variety – beach wear, hats, bags and other gewgaws. The restaurants, most familiarly McDonalds and others, had lifted their shutters and sprawled in all the gaiety of the evening. There was a pleasant breeze and people were parading the one street that was, lining behind our resort ‘Weekender’. It was a clear night sky, and suffusing the spirit of the evening was the lilting sound of Madonna. And as we advanced, we could see a lady pole-dancing in all the gyrating sensuousness of Madonna and her melody. It was surely an overdose of adrenaline, and where we had only planned a harmless mug of beer, we watched spellbound and tapped our feet to the lilting melody, which seemed to split the skies. To me, it seemed that the whole island had turned into a huge club and there were no limits to the spirit of the carnival. It was exhilarating. There were CD shops, and an expansive spread of street food.
Having a six year old child with us did not really give us the license that we craved for, but we had our fun. While we ensured that our little angel had a more ‘organised’ meal at one of the regular restaurants, we dived into an unknown array of street food, consisting a variety of chicken and rice – chicken with basil, chicken with lemongrass, and what have you. There were fresh fruits too – mangoes of different varieties, bananas of unknown species, papaya and pineapple. And there was the unique Thai dessert of sticky rice. We had interesting dietary adventures. The crown, however, was taken by the papaya salad, made of raw papaya, all kinds of sour sauces and lemon grass. I had never tasted something quite like it. It was delectable to say the least!
We did Koh Samui all by ourselves. Another family was supposed to be with us, but they couldn’t join in due to some unforeseen circumstances. Looking at things now, it seems a little creepy, especially with a little child, but then, what is youth all about? We chose all possible means of transport to make the trip really adventurous. It was an Air Asia flight that took us to the Suvarnabhumi Airport of Bangkok (from Kolkata) at around dusk, on a particular June evening. It was a hugely busy airport; we were to stay the night at a hotel before taking a 5 o’clock morning flight to Surat Thani a small, neighbouring town. To me, Bangkok seemed to be one of the busiest and fastest moving metropolis at that time. This idea would be re-inforced, when we would stay a few more nights in the city later in our trip. And it was a city that never slept. So when we set out in the wee hours of the morning with a sleepy child in tow, it was an amazing view of the city and its life that we had. And there was a creepy sense of fear as well. We were told to be ‘careful’ about our belongings and especially our money.
Even from the airport portals of Surat Thani, we boarded a bus for Don Sak, from where we were supposed to board the ferry to Koh Samui. The bus itself had ticket facilities and after a rain soaked romantic bus ride for about an hour, we reached Don Sak ferry station.
From here to Koh Samui would be a two hour journey, across several islands in the Gulf of Thailand. It was a cloudy day and therefore the ride was rather foggy, giving the islands a misty appearance.
Another small bus ride actually took us to our resort in Koh Samui – the Weekender Resort, a sprawling property opening out to the sea, tranquil and spelling out holiday bliss.
The first thing that struck us was that the sea was kept at the rear of the line of resorts. This would give the tourists all the privacy that they need. One could spend practically the entire day between baths and sunbathing and just relaxing without being disturbed. There were massage enclaves of the resort even on the beach.
The sea rushed by undisturbed – deep, tranquil, and so blue that one could not differentiate between the blue of the sea and the sky! Its waters soothed and beckoned like no other and one wanted to make a bed out of it – so comforting and soothing it seemed!
We reserved a day for a day-trip in and around the island of Koh Samui where we went to temples of Buddha, visited other rocky fountains and also lounged about desultorily with monkeys and ice creams!