You know when your booking a holiday, surfing the net and trying to decipher the photos from what the reality might be like. You don’t know the place your going to, you don’t know the location to stay at. You’ve gotten advice from various people about where to stay but your dubious, you still remember the time that you took the advice of a well meaning friend. No you won’t be making that mistake again. So you study the photos knowing only too well that it is the job of a photographer to lie, so you look for the seams and try to interpret them back to reality.
What is it you want from your accommodation? Are you planning to spend much time there or is it just going to be a dumping ground for your luggage? Our trip to Samui was planned to be a relaxing, hangout by the beach, do nothing holiday WITHOUT CHILDREN. A blissful holiday after the exhaustion of the last one where, as much as I loved it, snow and children, well it just ain’t relaxing. So this one was going to be a do nothing, chill, relax, regenerate, daydream, relax, and did I mention relax. So much expectation is invested into your holiday, planning, looking forward to it, etc etc, that you want it to be, you need it to be beautiful, and I’ve had the holiday that you just wanted to leave, to come home. You know, the holiday that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth long after you’ve finally paid it off the credit card.
Well this holiday wasn’t that. This holiday was perfect from the place, the people, the food to the accommodation. Even the airport was perfect, with it’s landscaped runway and buildings that looked more like the shacks on Gilligan’s Island than an airport terminal, dotted with orchids and lotus flowers.
When we got into our taxi and asked him to take us to Lotus Terrace, our accommodation, he just shrugged and said “I don’t know that one, I’ll drive, you look for it.” Well its a small island but… A tour of the island later and finally we spot it as we drive past it for the umpteenth time (thank goodness we’re on a fixed rate cab fair or we would have been suspicious, as it was we just relaxed and took in the scenes of the island). The villas were down a driveway off the main road, nestled right on the beach. Perfect, we knew we had picked well.
The lovely and very sweet Rosie, who will keep me in supply of coffee over our stay, greets us, takes our bags and shows us to our delightful rooms. Everything is beautiful and I look around thinking “I could get used to orchids on my bathmat if I have to,” as Rosie gives us the lay of the land, where to eat, cars etc. (When we leave we try to smuggle her with us- she just laughs, its an old joke, all the guests try to seduce her away from her island home when they leave- no surprise).
It’s late afternoon after our extended cab ride and we’re hungry after our mystery meal on the aeroplane. At Rosie’s suggestion, we trudge (such hard work) down the beach, and I do mean down the beach, along the sand, to the local restaurant on the sand. Part of the walk involves hitching up my skirt and getting my calves wet as we wonder which way the tide is going and whether our path home will be here later. I remember a similar situation on a childhood holiday which has taken on a childlike mythology and until recently used to visit me in my nightmares. But I’m on holiday and I don’t care about such things as the practicalities of being able to get home. When we find the restaurant we sit outside on the sand and order cocktails and local snacks watching the colours get softer. Sunset over our new adventure.
Back at our villa, we lay claim to “Our Spot” which will be our spot for the next week: a couple of deck chairs and an umbrella between the little pool and what we affectionately come to call the big pool (the ocean). We drink wine, listen to the waves and watch the sand move as tiny crabs scurry about. We get very comfortable.
My agenda for the week is simple, it is basically not to move much from this spot. I had planned to read and write, take a few pictures, but really the place is too peaceful, too calm. Our villas are, thankfully, on the other side of the island to the main tourist trek, so sitting on my chair under the umbrella there is not a lot to watch other than the rhythmic waves and the weather. Occasionally a local will wade out to see what the sea will offer up for lunch or check the nets in the morning, but beyond that, the beach is pretty much ours alone. It’s a beautiful beach with coral like sand that massages your feet and gets softer the further out you go until its like walking on a very fine sponge. The water itself is clear and calm, you can see the reefs below as you walk out far with its crisp and sparkly turquoise embracing you. The scene is soft and delicate in the morning, heavy with fog and gets clearer as the sun rises casting shadows of palm trees on the water. Sometimes the weather engulfs the mainland across from us and you can literally sit here and watch the storms move past as they dance along the surface of the water.
On the first morning we meet our hosts at Lotus Terrace, a gorgeous couple from Vancouver, who offer us the use of their Kayak and local knowledge. On their advice, we select the only tour on the island that we will do: The Five Islands Tour, which turns out to be perfect and a highlight of the trip (thank you). The tour involves being taken out in a traditional long boat by one of the local fishermen to cruise around the five islands off the coast of Samui, and then stopping at a deserted island to do some snorkeling amongst the coral and aquatic gardens. Did I mention that it was only the two of us on the tour. A fresh and cold coconut refreshes us as we race the setting sun back to shore. A quick shower and we are ready to sit and watch the magnificent light show of the setting sun from the best vantage point on the island, cocktails at hand followed by more delectable food than we can possibly muster the energy to eat. We look at all the beautiful food in front of us and wonder who else is coming to dinner.
We hire a car and head out occasionally to explore the island, but I am always keen to get back to Our Spot and continue on the path of nothingness. The seduction not to leave the place, to sit and stare at the scene is too high. I am happy only to move in search of the next exquisite Thai meal. When we do venture out it is easy to navigate around the island as most of it is on the exterior outer rim, near the water, why wouldn’t it be, and there is one main road which takes you all around the island and delivers you back where you started. Impossible to get lost on this island- all roads lead home eventually.
Most of our time was spent doing nothing and being surprised just how easy it was not to think about our lives back home, including the children (oh dear, am I allowed to say that aloud!?!). We ease our guilt by promising to bring the children with us next time, the location is perfect for children with its calm deserted beach and gentle waters. We sat quietly with only our own thoughts and the insistant waves, thinking of adventures in relaxation. We leave knowing only one thing for sure and that is that we will return to this idealic setting, to this beautiful place and tranquil pace.