We went to Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo this afternoon. Although it’s at the opposite end of the island to Baan Pimalai, near Ban Harn, it’s a great drive and a nice way to see the island. To be honest, it’s an expensive visit at ThB 750 per adult (we seemed to benefit from some sort of family deal) and we missed the 1.30pm tiger show but the kids enjoyed it and there are some big sharks, turtles and wrasses there, which I suspect would have been released into the wild in other aquariums. After the aquarium, you get to see tigers in their compound (although the wire mesh separating us from so much orange tiger flesh didn’t fill me with confidence and knowing how much daughter 2 can annoy the cat at 20 paces, we moved on fairly quickly). You can have your picture taken with a fairly sleepy (tranquilized no doubt) full size tiger – again we prefer our tigers further away. You can walk through a garden with cages of parrots, otters, monkeys and various squirrel-type animals to the beach. There is a little cafe with a great sea breeze and we even saw someone taking their buffalo on a walk along the shore. After a brief activity of shell-collecting, it was time to head back … along the other half of the ring road.
With a day to spare and some nice sunny weather, I went diving to Koh Tao. Koh Tao is around an hour and half away by fast boat and is a very very popular island for diving.
I booked my trip with Easy Divers, at their shop in Bophut – Fishermans Village. Cost was 4500 ThB, that included pickup from outside Coconut Laguna, breakfast, all equipment, lunch, snacks, two dives, dinner and return to Coconut Laguna.
There were eight of us on the boat plus four instructors/divemasters. The majority of the divers were Russian. One dive instructor was Russian, two Germans and a Thai lady.
First dive was at White Rock, a relatively nice and easy dive with plenty of pretty scenery. It was also clear how popular Koh Tao is, as there were 13 dive boats there. Visibility was around 8 meters or so, and max depth didnt get much past 16m. Dived with a shorty wet-suit, but could easily have dived without, the water being soooo warm. Second dive after lunch was at Mango Bay. The depth was around 10 meters and the dive was parallel to the shore swimming along the edge of the coral. There were some spectacular scenery. Again visibility was around 8-10 meters. Below are some photos from Mango bay dive.
It would be wrong to visit any part of Thailand without visiting a temple or “Wat” and Koh Samui has an impressive one for you. The Wat Phra Yai temple on the north east corner of the island is home to the Golden Buddha. This 12 metre high golden statue was built in 1972 and is visible from the air as you approach or leave Samui by plane. As you arrive at the site, you will notice lots of stalls and shops trying to tempt tourists with souvenirs, food and drinks. Climb the staircase up to the temple, note the Nagas (a type of Buddhist mythological serpent) on the handrails and make sure you look at the view from the top. The monks are raising money for a new shrine hall and to re-paint the Buddha so you can buy a roof tile or one of many religious artifacts. It’s a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, take your time and try to appreciate the calm. Please remember that this is an important Buddhist temple and you should respect it, dress modestly.
Lots of visitors to Koh Samui find themselves in a spa during their stay. There are many excellent ones on the island but if you’re looking for something a little special, book yourself into the Tamarind Springs.
This award-winning spa, located just past the yacht club heading south, is totally in harmony with the nature of Koh Samui. The spa itself offers massage training courses so you can guarantee that your massage (Thai yoga massage, prakop, lymphatic drainage, hot/cold stone, head, back, shoulder, neck, classic oil or reflexology) is top class. The treatment itself is unhurried and ultimately relaxing and takes place in one of a group of salas or open-air treatment rooms at the top of a hill in the Samui jungle. Your overlook the tree canopy during your treatment and the relaxing music that plays is accompanied by the croak of frogs.
The cherry on the cake though is the pre-treatment spa. Tamarind Springs allows you to use their facilies for an hour and a half prior to
your massage and I advise you to take full advantage! The spa is set in the jungle but among granite boulders that form natural waterfalls, caves and pools. There are two steam caves, wafting clouds oflemongrass and ginger steam to cleanse pores and induce a zen-like feeling of total relaxation. The three rockpools are cool and fed by waterfall, the perfect contrast to the steam caves. There are also natural ginger and tamarind scrubs on offer as well as outside relaxation and refreshment areas.
Tamarind Springs is the perfect holiday relaxation spa in traditional Thai style with top class treatments. Reservations through their website are recommended.