30 Sep 2006
Koh Samet, My Secret Island!
Koh Samet, Samet island, lies in the Siam bay, like a pearl gleaming in the sea. It is so beautiful that I can't stop myself going there again and again.
Samet is in the province of Rayong, southeast of Bangkok. From Bangkok it takes about 2.5 hours on the bus to get to the port named Ban Phe and then a 20 mins boat trip to the island. It is not difficult to get there. Most tour operators on Kao San road offer "VIP bus" service, though not really VIP service, to the island now, but I still prefer using the public bus from Bangkok Ekkamai, eastern bus station, which is cheaper and safer.
I had a horrible experience with the Kao San tour operators last time to Koh Chang. Because we were lazy to sort out the ticket problems and wanted to save time, we decided to get "VIP bus+boat" tickets from Kao San travel agencies. Two friends of mine got their tickets later than us and paid more. (I should feel lucky not paying more) They tried to argue but got nothing. The agency said you either take it or give it up because they will not pay the difference. Then, we found out the "VIP bus" is just a bit better than the public one. It is very different from the VIP bus I took couple years ago to Krabi. We think maybe only the 10 hours or more journey can get the real VIP bus. Everything was fine for the first 2 hours, then we had to stop every now and then cause the driver had to check the tire and the break. Okay, good for all smokers! But the scary part came, after about 9 hours of driving, one sitting at the back smelled something burning and saw fire coming out of the tire! We had to pull over and put out the fire. The bus was really on fire! We were only like 30 mins ride to the port, so we decided not to continue the bus journey. The angency sent some vans to drive us to the port. We almost missed the last boat to Koh Chang. From bankok to Trat should only take about 6 hours, but this one took us 10 hours. We didn't get a real VIP bus but had to rescue the bus.
Back to Samet. I would suggest those who want to go there use the public transportation. You can easily get bus+boat tickets from Ekkamai. If you are interested in going there, check out travelfish website. On this website, you can also find accommodation information though most of Samet's budget bungalows do not offer online booking service. This is quite troublesome since most bungalows are full during the peak season. If you go there during the rainy season, you should be able to find rooms easily. Though this island is named the driest one in Thailand, it still rains a lot. I was there this June for 5 days, and I got only a half day to do sunbath! What to do for the rest of days? Massage, drinking, chatting with stangers, eyeing cute guys, and then having great party with everyone who got bored there.
To be honest, there is not much you can do on that island. It only takes you about 30 mins to go around the island if you are on a motorbike. I can ride both motorbike and scooter, but I would not do it on that island. Only 1/3 of the road is paved, the rest is rocky and bumpy. I go there to relax and enjoy my time at the beach, not to risk my life. By the way, the island is so tiny, and everything is grouped around the white sand beach. You don't really need a bike unless you stay on the other side of the island that takes about half an hour to walk to the lively area.
This island only got famous recently, it was mainly the spot for locals before. I still remember the first I went there, all I saw was locals spending their holiday with families. But this time, I was surprised to see VIP bus service to Samet from Kao San. My friend and I thought it would be easy to find rooms because of the rainy season, but we were wrong. Still we were very lucky to get our desired bungalow, the last one available in that resort. So lucky that we also got a very good bargain price for that bungalow. Though it rained almost every day when we were there, we still had a great time. Who will feel sad when you have the amazing sunset view right in front of your bungalow? Our bungalow was right in front of the beach, and we had a large porch where you can sit and do whatever you want, such as singing. (Beware of the mosquitos, they are huge and mean.) If I go next year, I definitely will stay there again. I hope they will not raise the room rates again. Samet is becoming more and more expensive.
There is a saying about the name of this island. I heard this from a friend who lives there now. He said that Samet island is cursed. If you are a couple spending passionate nights on that island, you two will break up for sure once you leave the island. I am not sure if this is true because I did not go there with a lover, but I really want to give it a try. The view and the atmosphere on the island are just perfect for lovers. Don't be sad if you are going alone. You may be very lucky to find one on the beach. For no reason, people natually become relaxed, sexy, and charming on that island. You see, this is the charm of the island.
Yes, I am planning to go there again next June. I am only hoping that the weather will be just fine, and I can still be lucky to get that bungalow I want. Next time I am there, I will do snorkeling. I read on the internet that good underwater view is only couple steps away from where I stayed last time. If possible, I hope all my friends can join me so that we can have a cool beach party there. Of course, a handsome and nice partner besides me would be an asset. I believe I can break that myth!