The second stage of our little island hopping adventure with Charlie and Becca, had us heading back towards Krabi on an early morning minibus & ferry from Koh Lanta. In classic S.E.A fashion, our stop in Krabi involved a previously unmentioned, 2 hour delay before transferring to another minibus. After another few hours, a handful of podcasts and countless 7-11 snacks, we arrived in Surat Thani. Being dropped off at an office that was still miles from the coastline meant another 30 min wait until a coach pulled up to take us the last 60km to Donsak Pier.
The 2 hour boat trip from Donsak to Nathon pier in Koh Samui was very straight forward. A calm crossing and half empty boat meant the time flew by as we swapped more travel stories and planned out the super chilled week ahead. We jumped in a nearby public taxi (Songthaew – 100baht pp) with four other travellers heading to the east side of the island and within 15 mins, were in Lamai. Andrei, the extremely friendly Russian and owner of our Airbnb, met us at the end of the road and was kind enough to give the girls a lift to the property on his scooter while Charlie and I carried all the bags. Chivalry isn’t dead and neither is jealousy! 😒🛵
The Airbnb was as amazing as the photos suggested. A 2 Bed apartment within a private complex, shared only with Andrei and his family, although they were only around when needed and made it feel like we had the place to ourselves. For the price we’d normally pay for two private rooms, we had our own kitchen, living room, outdoor pool and BBQ. Backpacking is tough work!!!
The family were really friendly and despite only speaking Russian and German, managed to give us loads of advice on we’re to eat as well as repeatedly helping us light the BBQ. 😇
That night we checked out the Sunday night street food market after the family informed us they too we’re heading that way. It reminded us of the Wednesday night market in Chiang Mai but with a little less space for a similar size crowd. The food was great and after a tough day of relatively easy travelling we treated ourselves to Bao buns, grilled skewers, Thai sausages, noodles, waffles and shakes. Done ✔️
The next morning we hired two scooters and drove to the fisherman’s village in the north of the island in search of the “Bamboo Rooms” tattoo studio. Owned by resident artist Keng, the studio is one of many traditional bamboo style tattoo parlours on the island but we found out that his back story was a little closer to home. Having established a successful business in Thailand, he then headed across to the UK to set up a similar studio in none other than our very own Leeds. He and his family spend their time between Thailand in the high season and Leeds in the low season. We were the first to arrive at the shop for Becca’s consultation and despite having to wrestle with the growing crowd of people arriving to book, managed to grab a 3 hour slot for 2 days time. 💉
On the drive home we stopped off at Makro and the biggest Tesco we’ve seen since home, to stock up on all things delicious for the week. It was bulk buyers paradise but we managed to keep within a budget, leaving with enough meat, beers and snacks for the week ahead but requiring two trips to get it all back to the apartment.
That night (after some homemade chicken & bacon pasta😍) we hit the catch-up road hard, cracking into and eventually finishing our weeks beer stash, as well as the Vodka we’d brought from Cambodia. In classic Stratford fashion, the card games lasted until 5am, conversations covered all categories and I remember nothing. Oops 🙊
I can’t say a lot about the next morning, or afternoon, or early evening as I seem to have missed them entirely. Becca, Charlie and Ella spent that time feeling very hungover, lounging around the pool, while I slept the entire time. 😇 (younger me would be ashamed)
Much later, when we started to feel human again, it was time to crack out the old favourite, homemade sausage and mash. We lined our stomachs before floating around the pool until our skin looked as pickled as our new jar of cornichon.
It was a refreshing change of pace to wake the next morning, not wishing for death, and after a quick breakfast of bacon & egg sandwiches, we were back on the scooters heading north for Becca’s tattoo appointment at Bamboo rooms. Despite our little 125cc engines taking ages to carry us across the island, we got to the studio 25mins earlier and so decided to leave Charlie and Becca to get set up, while Ella and I picked up petrol and some other bits from the nearby “Big C” supermarket.
By the time we got back, the tattoo was almost done. Although traditional Bamboo tattooing is supposedly less painful than using a machine, the look on Becca’s face suggested that being repeatedly poked for 3 hours is not pleasant regardless of the instrument.
Extended agony aside, the piece came out amazingly and so we celebrated with a glorious BBQ, consisting of home made burgers, skewers and potato salad before sitting down to watch “Okja” which had just premiered on Netflix. No irony lost here! 😅
We also had a good go at trying to recreate popular instagram photos.
That night we also had a knock at the door from the Thai postal service. In that moment, our foursome became a fivesome.
The next few days were a mix of blissful afternoons spent enjoying the pool, quiet evenings with fantastic food and early nights because we’re all too old to party!
We did venture out on one night, to a small bar at the other side of Lamai. Rock bar is a small reggae bar, hidden away on the edge of the coastline, overlooking the bay. We enjoyed the seriously chilled vibe, shared a few Changs and toasted our successful week of RnR.
I can say with absolute certainty, that I haven’t had a relaxing week like that in a very long time. A welcome break from feeling constantly on the most move but after 6 days of chill, we were all ready for the next adventure.
Tomorrow we grab an early ferry to Koh Phangan, where we’ll attempt to relive our youth. I’m already terrified! 😳