April 11, 2017
This is a part of the world we visited on our world cruise in 2015-2016 so there is lots of information to be found in the Itinerary 1 posts. If you are considering a visit or just want to read more, look on the side navigation and go to Asia, then look for the post from last time.
Today we joined 6 fellow passengers for the “Island Safari”. Sonia Gelman booked it and along with her husband Boris, the other explorers were Erin and Mui, Rob and Shary and us.
It took quite a while this morning for the ship to be cleared by the local authorities. We gathered in the lounge before 10 so we could get tickets for the first tender ashore. We didn’t leave the ship until about 10:30 and it was almost a 30 minute tender ride to the dock where we would meet our tour guide. His name was York and he was very willing to be flexible with the itinerary to be sure we would get back to the ship by the last tender at 5:30.
Ko Samui is quite small and is one of 80 mostly uninhabited islands here. We rode in a kind of safari truck. There were two benches along the inside facing in and a bench seat above the cab of the truck. Since we only had 8 people, the bench on top was not used. We saw other vehicles later in the trip that had people sitting up there and we all agreed that we wouldn’t be the ones to do that!
Our first stop was the Namuang Waterfall, a spectacular sight surrounded by rocks and with a quite deep pool of water at the foot of the falls. I was the only one game for taking a dip in the pool and it was really refreshing on such a hot day.
We then headed for the Baanchang elephant trekking experience and what an experience it was! We love these gentle creatures andYork assured us that this place treats their elephants well. We had a long ride with our mahout and then he asked if either of us wanted to “drive”! Of course, I am all about every experience I can get so I enthusiastically said yes! He got down (the elephants lower their heads on command to let the mahout down) and I moved from the seat where I was sitting with Norm to just behind the elephant’s head, with my hands on her head. Her name was Anita, by the way, and she was 25 years old.
Here are some shots of our experience. Our mahout also took a video but of course I cannot upload it here.
Later, I was talking to one of the elephants when she put her head right next to mine. Norm bonded with them too. What wonderful animals.
Our next stop was at the Blue Stars Mountain restaurant where we had a delicious lunch. The air was cooler there. We had traditional thai food, Norm had a Chang beer and I had a glass of their marvelous mango juice.
After lunch we headed to to see the monkeys harvest the coconuts – they are trained to do this and it is much more economical than using manpower. Again, I took a video but it will have to wait till we are home. We visited this place on our last trip to Ko Samui.
We went to the Buddhist temple where the mummified Monk Phra Khru Samathakittkhun, is in a glass enclosure. He is wearing sunglasses! The story is that he knew when he was going to die and after he did die at 79 years and 8 months, his body did not decompose so his wishes were followed that he be “buried” in a sitting position as a reminder to Buddhists to follow the teachings.
We visited the Grandmother and Grandfather rocks – Hin Ta and Hin Yai – a reminder that mother nature does have a sense of humor! The water here is so clean and beautiful.
The last part of the day was the reason we were in these 4×4 vehicles and why we would have never wanted to ride on the top. We went up very bumpy dirt roads to 650 m above sea level to see the big Buddha on the mountain. It was a hair raising experience especially when other vehicles were coming down at the same time. We had to really hang on and if you had any kidney stones this would have for sure shaken them out of you. The site was beautiful and so was the surrounding scenery. You can see the winding road with the switchbacks.
The animals of the Chinese zodiac surrounded the Buddha and since I am born in the year of the tiger, Norm took this shot.
It was a fun and memorable day. Then, for dinner, we went to the terrace for a Thai buffet which was excellent – the lobster pad thai was just scrumptious. We were greeted by Cate, one of our favorite servers!
You are very brave!!!
You sure did have varied but wonderful day,,love the elephant pictures and it should be framed with you and Norm riding it.. laughed at the mother nature rocks,
All that good food makes me hungry