Sunday, February 19, 2012

Koh Samui road trip 19–22 Jan 2012: Part 1

Wow! It's been MONTHS since I last updated this blog. Can't promise anything, but I'll try to update this from now on. All photos are straight out of camera, no editing. So pardon the tilted horizons!

This is a story of our road trip to Koh Samui, Thailand on 20 Jan. We spent a night at Anis' uncle's house in Kulim before we proceeded to the Bukit Kayu Hitam border check-point on the next day. On the way to the border, we stopped at a coffee shop to buy the compulsory RM30 3rd party insurance to drive our cars in Thailand. The shop keeper also assisted to fill-in a form to import our vehicle into Thailand for a fee of RM1. You’ll need at least a copy of your vehicle’s grant to do this.

Remember to keep the importing vehicle form and return it to the Thai customs at the border checkpoint before leaving Thailand. If you fail to do so, the fine is THB2000, failing to pay, your vehicle will not be allowed to enter Thailand. We found it out the hard way because we didn't return it when we went to Hadyai last year. The border crossing on that day was busy as usual, but we all managed to pass through in about an hour or so. It was already around 11:00AM Thai time.

At the border crossing complex. From Thai side

After we made the crossing, we were totally dependant on the GPS, which indicated about 400km to Don Sak, the port town to Koh Samui. Finding Halal food would be quite a hassle. Should’ve stopped at Hadyai which we have passed. We searched for the nearest mosque in the GPS. The imam directed us to a food stall, right next to the mosque. We had our lunch there, under a nice traditional wooden hut.

The mosque in the background

Andi and the shop owner exchanging phone numbers

Lunch under the hut

Preparing dinner

After lunch we continued our journey. Take note fuel in Thai is expensive relative to Malaysia. Close to RM4/litre And 95 is the highest RON available. If you drive a JDM vehicle, shots of octane booster may be helpful. Don Sak is a small town by the sea. But I think mostly it is just a stop-over before reaching Koh Samui. Had some difficulty finding our resort, which we all blamed the resort's signboard which was in Thai only! Total travelling time was about 6 1/2 hours from the border. Inclusive of the lunch stop at the mosque.

The next morning, we headed to Raja Ferry Port a short drive away. If I remember correctly, the fare was THB620, for the car, driver & a passenger. We were surprised that the ex-Japan (can still see some signs in Japanese) ferry is comfortable & spacious. Just hoping it is not past its intended service life! The ferry ride was about 90 minutes.

In front of the Raja Ferry ticket counter. And our Persona, our ride for the road trip! Winking smile

The entire group, minus me of course

Anis, with Che Wan and her husband, Andi on the ferry’s car deck

Better view of the car deck

The spacious & comfy passenger deck

Open deck area at the back of the ferry

Lift jacket?

Ferry time table between Akashi & Iwaya! I thought we’re going to Samui!

Another sign in Japanese

When we reached Koh Samui ('Koh' is island in Thai), we were surprised that it's a rather big island, more Langkawi-sized than Redang-sized island. Guided by a tourist map we snatched from the ferry port ticket counter, we drove to our resort, World Resort Samui in Bhoput area. There are tons of resort on Samui, they’re practically right next to each other. I would easily say, easily more than 200 of them to suit all budget & tastes.

Our chalet at World Resort Samui

The beach behind our resort

After a short rest, lunch hunting time, which is rather tricky on Samui. From blogs, people say there’s only one Halal restaurant on entire Samui. But couldn’t find it, so we guided by the trusty Garmin loaded with MFM map, proceeded to the sole mosque on Samui, in a Muslim village area. Sure enough, we found a Halal restaurant there. In fact the Muslim village it is a Malay village with about 100 families.

The Halal restaurant near the mosque

Economic activity at the Muslim village. Processing of ikan masin. They are mostly fishermen

Goreng pisang! We practically tapau-ed all of them

Sundry shop at Muslim Village


On the way back stopped by a Namuang Safari Park. For us Malaysians, the animals and jungle trekking may not be that attractive since we have those back home as well. But foreigners would enjoy the elephant ride & trekking through the rain forest. Quite expensive though, THB1700 per person for elephant trekking and animal shows. So we skipped it.

My mother in-law, with a fierce looking big cat! The 1-year old cat really is BIG!

On the tour map, listed Hinta Hinyai (Grand father & grandmother rock) as an attraction. We knew it's sort of a curiously shaped rocks, but we didn't know it's quite difficult to reach. Need to trek about 10 minutes up a rocky slope. Even then, we still did not manage to see exactly what it was. We only knew exactly later what it was from postcards! Google 'Hinta Hinyai' pics if you want to know about it.

Dodgy, hippies-themed B&B on the way to Hinta Hinyai. I bet they smoke crack here

We’re there already. But where’s the Hinta Hinyai? Apparently it’s the rock on the right most