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Koh Samui, Thailand...8 strangers and an Idea (Part One)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sailing to Koh Samui was such a spectacular experience. I remember looking down at the ocean water that surrounded the island and being amazed at how aqua colored and pure it seemed. We never had ocean water so clean in California. There were many storm clouds in the sky, but I had gotten used to this over the weeks of traveling in the tropics. It actually was kind of nice at times, to block out the searing sun that usually burnt me to a crisp. I tried to reach down and touch the water as we approached the dock in our small boat. Only a rope and a few feet were separating me and the perfect water.

Early morning, arriving by boat onto Koh Samui, Thailand

We stepped off the boat and you could see the amazement on everyone's faces. Mountains covered with mist in the background, along with a warm tropical breeze was all the greeting we needed. However, a number of local Thai people ran down the long pier in order to greet us, and of course, offer us various services on the island.

Early morning approaching the pier in Koh Samui, Thailand

As my buddy and I walked down the long pier into town, we decided to play it by ear. Where we went and what we were doing for the day was simply up to chance. It never hurt that I also say a small prayer before stepping foot into another country, simply for basic protection and hopefully an extra jolt of fun. It didn't take long before we saw the multiple cabs lined up along the small parking lot next to the pier. Drivers quickly rushed over to us and began offering tours around the island. Okay, I'll bite.."How much?", I asked. "$100" (U.S.) the driver said, (...LOL...I don't think so). This was one of those classic you have got to be kidding me moments. We walked away and headed for the shops that lined the street. The cab driver followed us quickly and knocked it down to $80 for the both of us. No way. You have to know that $100 or even $80 to be driven around on semi-small island in Thailand is WAY too much money. This was confirmed also by the other tourist who had just gotten off the boat and were trying to negotiate with the cab drivers. It was clear that a few of them had been here before and knew the drill.

At the end of the pier as we walked into the small town on Koh Samui, Thailand

There were a small group of use who began gathering next to a tourist shop which had flyers on the window. It was clear that most things they offered were elaborate trips to other islands, plane rides, etc.. I just wanted to simply ride around the island, see the waterfalls and so forth. Mr. Cab driver was still trying to talk us all into a ride, but no one was biting. I suggested to our small group of strangers, that we should get together and try to hire one of the vans for the day, it might be cheaper per person. We all looked at each other in agreement. I counted eight of us. A gentleman from Canada decided to take the initiative and go ask some of the non-cab drivers. To make a long story short, he ended up negotiating a deal with a man who was driving a small pickup truck, covered with a top and open windows.

A local in the small little town by the pier

Hmmm....we all looked at each other. There would be no air conditioning, no comfortable seats and what was the truck normally used for?? I was waiting to hear the over-the-top price that our friend from Canada had gotten for us....but I was shocked to hear that it was only $8 per person. Now THAT was a good deal, especially since it included a four hour trip around the island, along with stops. Okay, I have to admit, $8 seemed too cheap and I almost felt guilty, but heh, the driver seemed excited to get the business. Where it get's weird though is the driver had us sneak in the back, and wouldn't open the tarp windows until we were around the corner and away from the other drivers.

The only photo I have of our truck (which I took later during the day).

As I said, there were eight of us. The older Canadian man and his wife, The 30-something Australian man and his wife, the 30-something Hong Kong man and his wife and my buddy and I. Our Canadian friend quickly became our leader and decided to ride up front with the driver. His guidance and negotiating skills were quite helpful, especially since Mr. driver was trying to raise the price after we took off. The Canadian man's wife (sorry, forgot everyone's name) was in back with us and had a walky-talky to communicate with her husband. This couple was great, very bohemian. In fact, even though our little group was extremely diverse, it was clear that we were all going to get along well. Within moments of the truck taking off with us loaded in the back, we all began laughing as we realized that we were being bumped up and down harshly on the truck's metal seats. There was no tailgate, so it wouldn't take much for any number of us to be tossed out the back. However, I loved setting there and having a free view to the islands roadway as we bumped along at breakneck speeds. Oh, and the only sign we found inside the back of the truck was for a shooting range. P.S.: Don't be discouraged by the initial dim photos...this island is amazing! I will post more soon. Also, remember to use my "Search Google Maps" link at the top of my blog if you need help with figuring out where a country or place is that I talk about.

This is me trying to hold on with the video camera in the back of our pickup truck. No Tailgate, so I had to stop recording and grab the side.

To Be Continued.....


Robert said...

Excellent article Luther!
Found you on Lonely Planet. We're heading to Koh Samui in a few weeks from Canada.
Can't wait for the adventure!
Looking forward to part 2 !!

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