Original article appeared in travel360.com, Air Asia’s online travel magazine.
Koh Samui, Thailand is a feast for all of the senses! You can reconnect with parts of yourself that you may have not seen in a long time and even discover new parts of yourself that you may not have even known existed simply by being present and absorbing all that this tropical paradise has to offer naturally!
You feel like a child again spending your days barefoot in the sand or trekking through the jungle and discovering waterfalls and new flora and fauna. The temperature is appropriately hot for Southeast Asia and often humid due to geography and the dense rain forest environment. You can sometimes feel the moisture from the clouds on your skin even before you can see them rolling in from the sea or up from the mountains – you feel as though you are one with the atmosphere and truly connected to nature.
Your eyes are never quite sure where to look – do they ever actually focus here? There is so much to see in every square inch – new and old! Vibrant colors both of nature and man-made live side-by-side. The plants and animals live freely here and their happiness is evident in their spectacular displays of stunning colors and in the wide array of species, sizes and shapes. The people here also live freely and each smile you see is a beautifully contagious reminder that you are indeed in the Land of Smiles and you will find yourself smiling for most of the day even when you are alone.
You need not look further than up for entertainment because the sky puts on magical performances all day and all night long! Wake up just before the sunrise and you will see a sky of the deepest indigo splinter and slowly reveal glorious multicolored sunrises. Hang out on the beach during the day and watch the hues of blues change throughout the day and light up a turquoise sea. In the evenings grab a cocktail, find a perch and view magnificent life-affirming sunsets. Lie on the beach at night and admire a star-filled night sky free of light pollution; and you can clearly see all of the constellations you studied as a child emerge right before your very eyes and more shooting stars than you have wishes.
Birds, insects, dogs, geckos, chickens and frogs play their individual vocal cords in a beautiful symphony. The sound of the ocean harmonizes with the sounds of the passing bikes and cars and creates a natural, harmonious hum. Music of all kinds blares festively from almost every nook and cranny – live bands, popular Thai and Western radio hits, reggae and classic oldies provide an ever-changing soundtrack as you stroll through the markets in popular areas such as Lamai and Chaweng.
The popularity of Koh Samui ensures a dynamic stream of richly diverse tourists. One hears the native Thai language interspersed with and attempted to be spoken by people from all over the world. I’ve had the honor of making friends in Samui with travelers from Canada, France, Russia, UK, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Israel, Oman, Lithuania, Myanmar, Ukraine, Germany, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, Italy, Malaysia and Denmark just to name a few!
Frangipani trees are abundant in Samui and you often find your path sprinkled by their beautiful blooms and perfumed by their lovely scent! Amazing food is everywhere – the smells of garlic, citrus, chilies, fruit, fish, curry and coconut emanate from every delicious space! The scents tantalize, tease and confuse you and often make meal time decisions difficult because you can only eat so much at one meal.
Oh taste! In Samui you’ll find a wide variety of dishes with flavor combinations that provide their own unique experience! You can have a rich curry with pungent peppers that momentarily sting the tongue brilliantly coupled with thick creamy coconut milk which provides an immediate relief from the burn. In the tom kha, the burn of the peppers and fat of the coconut milk linger as the sweet citrus of the lime and salty sourness of fish sauce, not so subtly, battle for the right to remain on your tongue.
So many perfect textures for the mouth to enjoy! From crispy vegetables, some novel and some old familiar ones that are donning a new cloak (has cauliflower always been this good?), to meats and fish cooked to perfection. In the tom yum goong you can enjoy shrimp, slightly firm then delicate, giving a new dimension to the same flavor you thought you had just tasted in a tomato. Protein and vegetables have never lived so harmoniously. They each fight for the upper hand but there are no losers here – both are victorious in every luscious bite. Are they actually fighting or are they dancing? They perform a perfect tango – each knowing when to lead and when to be led.
One bite or one spoonful is enough because everything your mouth desires is contained therein but like a drug, one bite is never enough and perhaps one too many for it is almost impossible to stop once the taste buds have been ignited. It is not your fault; your hands and mouth have formed an unholy alliance and have sanctioned your stomach which has no say in the matter.
Koh Samui stimulates all of my senses and reminds me that I am alive! My heart smiles and feels at peace in Samui. My feet barely touch the ground, my mind sees the beauty of the world, my soul hears the rhythm of life, my lungs are filled with the sweet smell of freedom and I can taste the infinite possibilities of the universe. When I’m in Samui – I am home.
GETTING THERE Island transfers are available to Koh Samui from Surat Thani. AirAsia flies to Surat Thani from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. For fares and flight schedules, visit airasia.com.