We have finished our amazing 30-day tour of South East Asia and now have some chill time on the tropical paradise of Kho Samui, Thailand. Our first afternoon on the beach was filled with thunderstorms, but the next day and the day after, and the day after that blue sky and sunshine was plentiful. We visit a few different beaches while we are here; there’s the long stretch of narrow yellow sand of Chaweng, the gorgeous little bay of Coral Cove where we snorkel with the stripy fish, stunning Chong Moi with its aqua sea and powdery white sand and the palm fringed ‘off the beaten tracks’ stretch of Mae Nam beach…..and that’s just a few to choose from on Samui. My daughter has come out to join us on this part of our trip and we go on a snorkel tour to the coral reefs of Kao Tao and Kho Nang Yuan. As the sun lights up the aqua blue waters we watch the rainbow coloured parrot fish munch on the coral and the sea slugs and crabs scuttle along the sea bed, we spot the silver needle fish darting along at the top of the ocean and swim amongst the shoals of brightly coloured fish. To finish off the day there is a cool and refreshing beer waiting and there’s plenty to choose from in Samui: Chang, Leo, Tiger or Singha. They all go well with the delicious Thai food.
I’ve been to Kho Samui before, more than 15 years ago, and it’s changed. The island now caters much more to the tourist, rather than the traveller. What’s the difference you say? Does it matter? There are plenty of organised tours to be bought and one can easily be swept into doing what everyone else is doing. For the traveller it’s more about the journey and the experiences along the way, and not just the destination itself. By not planning too much or too far ahead, one can be in the moment more and stumble across unexpected experiences. Being more of a traveller than a tourist (I’ve done the quiz and the results are in! https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/quizzes/are-you-a-tourist-or-a-traveller-quiz/ ), we try to break the mould and walk the 4 miles to Coral Cove and we hire a motorbike and explore the North of the Island, rather than sign up for the usual tourist tours.
So now as I sit on the flight back to Glasgow, I can’t believe it was 3 months ago that we set off on our adventures. This experience has been so rich and full of wonderful experiences, the memories of which will stay with me forever. We have experienced and learned about many different cultures and made some wonderful friends along the way. When we were in Goa for Christmas, I bought the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’, in a ram shackled Indian bookstore. I had never read it growing up, always meant to as an adult, but never quite got around to it. Reading it on the beach in Goa was magical and Alice’s remarks have stayed with me since, and sum up how I feel on this journey home. She said “I knew who I was this morning (when I left in November), but I’ve changed a few times since then”, and just like Alice I have loved every moment.