One of the perks of living in this neighborhood is the regional travel. There are islands, beaches, and endless places for cocktail-sunset photo ops. I went to Koh Samui last week, and it’s one of the prettiest places I have seen .
I had heard a lot about the island since moving to Phnom Penh. It’s flush with yoga retreats and is a prominent stop on the backpacker trail. Honestly, I was worried that Koh Samui was going to be a sweaty party island full of 19 year old Australians, eat-pray-loving their way across Asia with white dreads. (Sometimes I’m judgy.) Turns out, Koh Samui is amazing if you go to the right places, which I did.
Normally, when I travel around SE Asia, I stay at mid-range places with pretty views and rumors of a good breakfast. This time, I was traveling with classy company, so we turned it up a notch (or 12) for a few days. We landed at the Intercontinental Koh Samui last Friday. The property is gorgeous, and gigantic. So big, in fact, you have to take golf carts around the place, unless you are really into walking uphill for an hour in 100 degree heat. The view from the lobby is something out of a sexy scene from a James Bond movie, or a car chase scene from Fast and Furious (depending on taste). The staff is organized and kind and patient, and they give out welcome drinks! I love welcome drinks.
The rooms were silly gorgeous. We had a bungalow with a private pool that looked onto a bigger pool, that looked onto the ocean. This kind of thing does not get old to me, the same way having a pillow menu or parma ham at breakfast doesn’t get old. The shock of the fanciness never left me, and I still don’t feel like I am grown up enough to stay in such a nice place. (I realize I am bragging now, and there is really no way around it.)
We went snorkeling one day, because it’s Thailand, and if you don’t snorkel here, you are doing it wrong.
On the second night, we were treated to a fire-dancing show on the beach. I have seen a few of these before, and I usually spend the entire time worrying about kerosene fumes, making sure I am not on fire, and repeating “so unsafe, so unsafe, so unsafe” in my head. This was better.
The thai cooking class on the third day was a high light for me. One of the hotel chefs took us to a local market, explained all the ingredients we didn’t recognize, and put together a delicious menu that we got to take credit for. I made friends with a street dog, who I named Kevin, and I miss her every day. We made chicken laap gai, pork pad see ew, morning glory with garlic, green peppercorn prawns, and 3 penang curries with lobster, sea bream and steak. It was way too much food, and no one was sad about it. We finished it off with fresh local fruit and a nap.
We spent most days between the pool, the beach, snorkeling, eating everything, drinking piña coladas (I lean into stereotypes), and sunset time. Sunsets are pretty everywhere, but they are certainly better with salty skin and sand in your toes.
This wasn’t a typical vacation for me. It felt like I tripped and fell into something that I wasn’t supposed to see and people were going to find out that I snuck in and kick me out. But the staff was welcoming, helpful, kind and made everything special.
As a side note, I am not being paid for this piece. I just had a really lovely time.
All photos by Caitlin Decker.
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