An Island of Memories: Ko Samui.
For me, coming from Bangkok, Ko Samui used to be a place my family and friends went to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. An island where we could press pause on our busy and hectic lives. As I have gotten older, it has also become a place of nostalgia, a place where my high school friends and I can let all our stresses go, socialising during the night and adventuring during the day. Over the past couple of years I have vowed to take advantage of everything that Ko Samui had to offer. Every time I end up back on the island I find that each and every experience is an entirely unique one.
There are many places on the island that have become familiar to me now. The summer of 2015, for example, was characterised by the memory of dining at the same restaurant, Little Boat, for five days straight. We had meals there before and after our sleepless nights, eventually realising we’d tried everything on the menu. This restaurant was a place where all of us, friends for over 8 years, could all meet to share stories from the night before. It was the daily dose of good company and good food that we all took comfort in. We happily became loyal customers for the week, and the owner even recognized us when we returned to visit a year later!
Every time at Hin Yai and Hin Ta is a fun one. Also known as the Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks, these boulders are discernably created in the shape of genitalia by Mother Nature herself – a true comedian if I ever saw one. I’ve always been entertained watching first-time tourists as they walk into the area and see all the phallic structures. The water is shallow and stays in clear pools where fish and pretty shells reside. A dreamland for photography enthusiasts like myself.
The waterfalls in Ko Samui are beautiful. I always see photos on Instagram of other people’s cool adventures in caves and underneath giant waterfalls, wishing I were right there beside them. I am yet to end up in places that spectacular – but Hin Lad is a good dupe for now. No matter how many times I visit, I always think it’s worth the trip. We’re always so caught up in wishing we had other people’s lives and other people’s experiences, obsessed with exploring new places and often forgetting about those already around us. I think we should always just take the time to explore the places we could easily reach. We can so easily be surprised at the beauty we’re able to find if we just look up and around. If we just stop and be present for a while. Every time I’m on Ko Samui it always makes me so happy that, tucked away on a hill, there’s a place we can always visit to just relax in the midst of natures wondrous sights and sounds. We’d spend the whole day here just floating and getting out of the social media bubble we all live in. Committing to being one with nature is something I’ll always take pleasure in doing.
My favourite part of my many trips to Ko Samui is simply exploring the many beaches that surround the whole island. It’s the simplicity of just being by the water, with sandy feet and salty hair that is so joyous. The beaches, especially the less famous and untouched ones, are a gorgeous pearly white and consist of tiny islands that you can wade over to. The crystal clear water remains shallow for miles and miles. One summer, for hours and hours, all we did was just walk through the water and talk with no interruptions. It’s moments like these we could all share together, despite knowing we’d soon all go our separate ways. With hair soaking wet from a dip in the ocean and skin burning from the heat of the sun, we hopped on our motorbikes and just drove, stopping everywhere and anywhere. Clad in bikinis with backpacks strapped to our backs, we were screaming and laughing so much that we must have looked like we were in a cliché movie to everybody else.
The island parties are when everybody goes a little wild. No matter how much the island changes, the locals will never get rid of all the teenagers flocking over during the summer months. The year I left school there were over 20 of us from my graduating class in Samui, and we in doubly conformed to the stereotype. Our nights consisted of dancing until 4am, forgetting friends who had decided to take late night drunken swims in the ocean, and even running away from the giant – real! – Iguanas on display at the nightclubs. I’ve spent a few summers in Samui, and the nights are constantly full of reunions; I get to see people I haven’t seen in years, all congregating to this island for the same purpose: to celebrate our youth. It is the perfect time and place to meet people and feel like no time had passed at all.
I will always have a soft spot for Samui. For me, the island stands as a marker for many things: my childhood, the end of an incredible high school journey, beauty and nature, change, consistency, adventuring, partying, family and keeping amazing friendships intact (to name a few). I hope there will be many more adventures in Ko Samui, with friends both old and new.