Yesterday, 13 April 2010 was the Thai New Year Celebration also known as Songkran. I had heard so much about the festival from friends and acquaintances that I was really looking forward to it and finally the day had arrived. The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water. Thais roam the streets with containers of water or water guns (sometimes mixed with mentholated talc), or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench each other and passersby. This, however, was not always the main activity of this festival. Songkran was traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends and neighbors.
The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder. Among young people the holiday evolved to include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100°F or 40°C on some days). This has further evolved into water fights and splashing water over people riding in vehicles.
The water is meant as a symbol of washing all of the bad away and is sometimes filled with fragrant herbs when celebrated in the traditional manner.
It was with a buzz of excitement that I woke yesterday and rode my scooter to drop off my girlfriend and then to my place of work. I had not yet gone 500 metres before I saw a group of children by the side of the road sizing me up and preparing for the inevitable drenching they would give me. My girlfriend who had to work said something in Thai to the youngsters so they relented and let us pass without incident. On my way home after dropping my girlfriend at work I again had to pass these water totting youngsters - this time I was not so lucky. As I rode past a minimum of 5 litres of water was hurled at me thoroughly drenching me from head to toe, the youngsters thoroughly pleased with their efforts.
After stopping at home in order to get ready to meet my friends at my place of work I was determined to get even with the children by the side of the road. I loaded my large water pistol and headed out for vengeance. As I approached my adversaries I took aim and let fly but again I came off second best and drove off to the sounds of laughter and cheers for my little foes. My place of work was only another 1000 metres away yet I was drenched a further 3 times before I arrived.
Preparations were well underway but the time I had arrived at my place of work - Tropical Easy Travel. Buckets filled with water were set out in front of the office, the hose brought forward, the BBQ lit and the fridge stocked with beer & various foods for the days celebrations. Within a few hours traffic had increased on the main road and the festivities were in full swing. We threw water at each other, passing vehicles and scooters - it was a blast!!! many of the vehicles passing by had added ice to their water buckets making their water ice-cold and a drenching from them a little more refreshing. After a few hours of the water fights, drinking beer, eating and general merriment I was thoroughly exhausted and headed home. I was doused with water a few more times on the way home and arrived with a smile and a sense of satisfaction that I had given as much as I had taken.
I can honestly say that my first Songkran was all I hoped it would be and more. This was a fantastic way to spend time with family and friends - I would recommend it to everyone. Make Songkran a feature in your next holiday to Thailand.
Fondest memory: What I miss the most about Koh Samui when I am away is the friendly nature of the locals, the beautiful beaches, and of course the many friends I have made in my time there.
This Pagoda and temple is impressive but the 360 degree view of Chaweng,the airport and surronding area is quite spectacular.
You can see a hell of a lot if Samui from up here.
Fondest memory: Watching the Bangkok Airways planes take off and land from this viewpoint is worth a look as it is such a busy little airport and you can see them fly directly over the Big Buddha and out to sea.
From here you can also see Lake Chaweng, Chaweng Beach and the mountains around Lamai.
A great viewpoint and an interesting temple and pagoda.
Good luck if you are on a small bike!
Mine made it up there but only just. ;-)
We arrived in Koh Samui very early in the morning without reservations.However at the airport they provide hotel booking service. Some of the hotels that they show you in a bok may be booked out ,however there is always something available at check out time at noon.It's always good to book ahead but don't worry if you don't.
Fondest memory: Got a bungalow near the beach easily.
It is hard to say whether September is good or bad. I have been staying in Samui for three years (since March 2005) and I have seen one bad September and two good ones. The worst time of the year is November but November 2006 was truly an angel - it hardly rained at all.
Typically September is occassional rain but these days, it is truly hard to predict. Like recently - with the cyclone in Burma, we had bad rains in almost all of Thailand - which is not a norm.
Favorite thing: If you are lucky enough to be there during the full moon there are boats leaving several times daily from Big Buddha Pier (Bang Rak) and Maenam to Ko Phangan (Haad Rin beach)where the party is held. Just book your ferry ticket in any travel agency on the island, or directly on the pier. You can also go by a speed-boat from the Bo Phut or Maenam piers on the North of Koh Samui.
Favorite thing: There are lots of girly bars around Chaweng - normally around the backstreets near the Reggae Bar and Green Mango. These bars are full of young Thai girls whose main aim is to attract the men into the bars to spend their money.... Although not strictly just for men, me and my friend were almost dragged, and I mean literally dragged, into some of them!!
I guess the main difference on this trip to my first, was the fact that I travelled alone.
This did give me the chance to meet many people (local and tourist) and enjoy new and many of the same experiences.
Again the Reggae Pub provided much of the night time entertainment, but a few new pubs/bars added something new. Most days were spent on or very near the beach just relaxing, as well as chatting with various people that I met.
Fondest memory: I would have to say on this last visit, that the first time experience of travelling alone and meeting so many new people, is the highlight that I will miss the most.........until next time.
Even though I have had a number of tips to this island, this was the first time I got the chance to go with my girl Kiki. The main things that I wanted her to experience was the beach and the Reggae Pub. Both of these turned out to be better then I expected after almost 1 1/2 years since my previous visit. I have always stayed on Chaweng beach and knew that even though it is nice, it also has it bad points. I decided that I would rather take her to a quieter area and it was also a place I had never been to myself. This choice turned out great as Maenam beach had everything that I was used to on Chaweng, but without all the noise and crowds of people. Besides, when we did go into Chaweng to go to the Reggae Pub, it was only a short taxi ride away. From here generally we did what I usually do, hang out during the day and party at night.... got to love it!!!
Fondest memory: On this trip to Samui, one of the first memories of going with Kiki was when we were coming in on the boat from Surat Thani. The sun was just coming up and I was at the back of the boat listening to my music, taking the girl I love to one my favorite islands to visit.
Favorite thing: Entry into Thailand is relativley easy. Almost every nationality obtains a visa for 30 days at the point of entry. Only a hand full of nationalities require a visa to enter the Kingdom. The 30 day visa however is very difficult to extend once in Thailand. The visa run – as people call it who wish to stay longer, means to return to the border and re-enter Thailand for another 30 days. Tourist visas issued at a Thai Embassy are valid for two months and can be extended once within the country.
During our lunch meal, we were happy to eat a little of the most well known dish in Thai cooking. Pad Thai is essentially Rice Noodles, which are cooked in a oil with egg, carrot, a few other vegetables and chicken or beef and then wokked.
I definitely like it, and as you can see, so did Sarah!
Koh Samui is a very popular tourist site, so there is always a concern for public safety. At no time when we were in Koh Samui did we feel unsafe, especially with plenty of law enforcement officers. Many were on motorcycles, or patrolling the ferry landing such as this police officer. It seemed as if this particular officer was used to the crowds, as he took time to smile for each passing tourist!
Say hello to the next one, and get a smile as you pass by!
Fondest memory: Important Numbers in Koh Samui:
Samui Rescue (Ambulance) 077-421 444
Fire Dept Nathon 106 ou 199
Police : Emergencies 191
Favorite thing: On my first trip to Thailand back in 99, I was so excited when I noticed that on cans and bottles of Sprite, the Thai word looked like Alison!! I am sure it is! So my husband took a pic of the Alison sprite and Tan coke cans! We are crazy I know!
Information extracted from Flags Of The World:
The flag is called the Trairanga, meaning Tricolour.
The story goes that during the 1916 flood the king of Siam (the old name for Thailand) saw the national flag - red with a white elephant - hanging upside down. A new flag was adopted that could not be hung upside down. Initially it was a red field with two white bands, but it was claimed that on 28th September 1917, the middle stripe was changed to blue to show solidarity with the Allies during the First World War.
Although not an official interpretation of the Thai flag, the prevailing view is that the central blue stripe represents the monarchy, the two white stripes the Therevada Buddhist religion, and the outer red stripes represent the land or the nation.
If you are travelling in Koh samui with 2 very young children (3.5 yrs & 15 months old) like me and my husband, you might found this tips helpful to you. We spent 13 days in Koh samui from Aug. 1 to 13, 2005 with our kids. And one day we were checking with our hotel receptionist to find out if there is any nursery or day care center that we could drop off our kids for one day so we can arrange the day tour to Koh Nangyuan & Koh Tao. And found out there is Jaree Nursery 5 mins before Nathon town is available. We rent a car to drive around the island and visited the place before to make our decision. And deside right away that this is the place we could leave our kids for one day instead of hiring a babysitter from the hotel cost around 200-250B per hour (which is maybe a house cleanning lady or a bell boy).
Ms. Jaree is the owner of the nursery. She runs the nursery in her home which is in a nice thai house with garden in the front door and the outdoor playground at the side of the house. Very nice view of the open beach from the back side of the nursery. She provides 2 snacks and lunch to the kids, and she has 5 teachers watch over the kids including herself. She can also pick up and drop off the kids to our hotel (we stayed at Bophut beach at that time which is not too far). It costs 900B for 2 kids including transfer and meals. We moved to Lamai beach later on, and contact her again to leave our kids there one more time before our leaving, so we can rent a motobike to go around and make some shopping by ourselves. I think it's very nice to have our kids meet other local kids and have some fun time together during our vacation. I am highly recommend Jaree Nursery, and would like to use their service again next time when we go visit Samui again. Be aware that their English is very limited, so I always ask my hotel receptionist to call her up for me. If you would like to get more info, please email me to email@example.com and hopefully this tip helps.
Favorite thing: Koh Samui is a small island and you could easily drive around it in a day. There's a motorway which goes around the island (50 km). The best way to arrive for the island is by plane. We arrived by bus and ferry and it wasn't a pleasant way of travelling. There is approximately 40 000 inhabitants in the island. Life in Samui is easy-going and relaxed.
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