Monday, 18 May 2015

A Market In Koh Samui

   On Fridays the entire Koh Samui comes alive in Bo Phut beach  with the weekly walking market in Fisherman's village. While on other days you can ride or drive through the street flanked with shops, restaurants and bars, on Fridays just park your vehicle and stroll around the stalls that the vendors line up on the streets. You can't miss it. Ask anyone and they will guide you to Fisherman's village on a Friday evening. I shall leave the story of the lively market here for a short while. Let me begin the travel story from the top...
                                                           Fisherman's Village Market

       Hunched in front of the monitor for hours till the body refuses to straighten up; scouring the internet for the best options; zeroing down on the probables and then long distance discussion at length with the hubby to close a deal; is our idea of planning a vacation. Painful? Ah! But we like to know exactly where we are going and where will we be staying. And yes,our most important discussions take place over the guessed it, that's when they( husbands) are most attentive. If I need to be heard, I wait for him to leave and then make a call. Voila! He is all ears! But I digress.

   Destination  was Thailand. And we were not interested in a Bangkok-Phuket-Pattaya-Koh Phi Phi etc etc. After trawling the travel blog posts for days we finally agreed that Koh Samui would be a good place to unwind. From the many beaches there, it was Bang Po that caught our eye although Chaweng and Lamai are the most popular ones for their powder soft sand and shaded teal water. Well! Actually, it was the wooden cottage bang on the beach that nailed it and the prices. It's not rocket science to comprehend that a tourist infested area translates into shelling out more. however, it was love at first sight for me, the price tag came in later. If you look at the picture you will know what I mean. I fell hook, line and sinker for it. And once there I realized I'd found my ideal holiday accommodation. I would have traded my house keeping skills for a life long stay here.


Coconut Paradise Wooden Villa

Adorable Kitchen

   We were contemplating the most cost effective plan to reach Koh Samui from Bangkok, considering that  the baht is double the rupee, when a friend, Mike, chipped in with his advice. He should know for he, an ex army officer, organizes biking tours not just in Leh, Western Ghats, but also abroad like across Northern Thailand through his Victorianz. Koh Samui does have an airport but it is the expensive Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways that flew in and out. There are overnight trains and buses that ply from Bangkok to Surat Thani. Since we were travelling with senior citizens, we opted for the easier option. He suggested we check the Nok Air, the low cost domestic airlines. Nok Air flies to Surat Thani and from their the passengers are taken by coaches to the pier and then on by cruise to Koh Samui. All  this was inclusive in the return Nok Air fare which was around three thousand Thai Bahts approximately per head. The travel time is roughly five hours from the Don Mueang airport in Bangkok to Koh Samui. Despite the many halts and changes in transport, the journey was  hassle free and easy on the pocket. We just had to board the waiting coach and the waiting cruise.

   Koh Samui let us  relax and soak in the moments of the salt laden breeze and the gentle lapping of the waves at Bang Po. The sand is coarser than the much sought after Chaweng and Lamai white beaches but it is quieter. No touristy crowd, touts and vendors taking up every space on the beach and shops lined up to distract you and lighten your pocket. Since we had a fully functional and an adorable kitchen, grocery shopping took us to a fresh market that had us surprised. A flippant remark from my father " if you are going out, get me some tamul paan" like he would, back in Assam ask for the areca nut and betel leaves, had us replying " yeah! sure!".
Picking up some eggs at the fresh market I suddenly jumped," Oh My God! Tamul paan!"
Stacked neatly in packets were green betel leaves and the nuts to go with it, complete with lime and tobacco! The Burmese vendor was so happy to know we were from Assam that he added an extra egg to our lot.

  There are many activities to keep you occupied in Koh Samui like island hopping to Ko Phangan, Ko Tao, snorkelling, scuba diving, water sports and so on. Since we were there only for three days, rushing around was not our idea of a holiday. Setting aside one full day for scuba diving, we generally soaked in the Koh Samui air, lulled by the gentle waves on Bang Po and refreshed by the lush tropical flowers and foliage heavily scenting the evening sky.

  One such evening, our last on the island, happened to be a Friday. Fisherman's village in Bo Phut, is where the action is with hundreds of lights brightening up the place. An array of food on skewers grilling and roasting, fill the air. Between the many eatery stalls are those selling curios, mementos, garments,spices, packed Thai food to carry back home, accessories, aroma oils. From five to eleven in the evening, this little place in Koh Samui show cases all  that is Thai mingled with the expat trends.

    One of the stalls caught my attention with it's wrist bands, t-shirts and other accessories in red, green, yellow and black. Looking up I saw the legendary Rastafarian gazing out with contemplation from a fluttering banner. Bob Marley seemed to have found resonance in this island with many bars belting out his reggae numbers. Some included bars themed after him. Probably having arrived with the backpackers and the western tourists, the reggae icon just stayed on in the islanders'imagination blending with their life. We just strolled around checking out stuff, friendly bargaining and warm smiles all around. So a normal bargaining scenario after we quoted our price would be like;
"Oh! Cannot Madam! Cannot!"  with the most disenchanted look on the vendor's face. Then out comes a calculator and he or she quickly types the lowest selling price for us to see so there is no ambiguity left in the communication of the right figure. The figure quoted, in turn, horrifies us and so with a smile and a pulled look (practice this, really!) we utter,
"Can! Can! Oh! Please can!"
Thus the banter continues for another few minutes till the desperate one succumbs to the implores of the other. English is not exactly a  universal language we realize, even in Asian countries. There were moments of exasperation but it was fun. In any case it was far better than Bangkok where we were literally pulling our hair apart reaching nowhere with the language issue.

      Fisherman's market is not just another mundane market, it feels more alive with the variety of stuff, shops and stalls. If there are stalls with naked bulbs to light up the wares, there are also artsy corners for a relaxed evening with a drink. There is live music right on the road or a band playing in a restaurant. Some of these restaurants are beautifully done up providing a cozy ambience with greens hanging all around and the fragrant blossoms weighed down from the eaves. You can stroll around, pick your stuff, sit down with a drink,  ramble around again looking at the curios, pick up a skewer grilling on the fire, listen to some wonderful music to soothe away those tired limbs or walk into a cute restaurant.  That's what you do in the Fisherman's village market.

    The market is teeming with people and yet there is no jostling. And believe me, time just flies and it flies beautifully! When the last of the Pad Thai is scraped from the bottom of the urns, packing up the empty cauldrons and the last of the curios and fridge magnets laid into the cartons, attempt a last minute bargain. With a smile. Clutching your goodies, grab a bottle of beer and walk down to the pier and feel some far off music bouncing off the waves...Ah! Koh Samui ! The Chinese named it well..."safe haven"...




Colourful Knick Knacks

Frangipani Hair Clips

Skewered Seafood And Meat

Bob Marley Stall

Accessories in Rastafarian Colours

A Woman's Delight

An Artist By The Road

A Green Cafe

Fragrant Rangoon Creeper  Adding To The Magic


  1. Its been some time we went on a vacation save for our regular trips back home to India....The last we went was in 2013 March...And so now I am longing to get to that lovely place you have so beautifully described!Sigh!

  2. Do plan, Jaishree! You will get that much needed respite.

  3. This is so nicely done with pictures and ways to reach there. Just wanted to know the right time to go there?
    Delightful post. Bookmarked.

  4. It's a relief to know that there is someone like me. You plan a vacation like I do. I read every blog, surf till my fingers are numb, and yes, like you - I discuss on phone. :P Husbands I tell you.

    And that place is just wow. Now I will ask you if I ever plan to visit this part of south-east Asia.

  5. Lovely post! In spite of five trips I have still not been to Koh Samui! Waiting for more. :D

  6. Sounds so relaxing! I went to Koh Samui 10 years back and we had stayed at Chaweng… enjoyed reading about a different part of the island.

  7. I remember having the freshest, tastiest street food in Thailand. I just steered clear of meats I did not recognize :D

    Enjoyed reading your travelogue and going through the pics, especially the 'adorable' kitchen.

  8. Thank you Alka! It's a lovely little time would be between December to March.

  9. Saru, good to have great company!

  10. Thanks Mridula, and I am learning so much from your posts!

  11. Chaitali, isn't the Chaweng beach just perfect sans the crowd!

  12. Yes,the meat Purba! We had some fun time in departmental stores figuring out the source of a sausage or salami!

  13. Scrupulous homework before take off.
    Helicopter pilots live a zero margin of error life.

  14. The travel itself is so exciting. What with the waiting coach and the waiting cruise.
    A marketplace is the perfect place to gauge the people and their custom in that area.
    Love those artists by the roadside.

  15. Trust you to dig out secluded corners like that and enjoy to the hilt: can, can, can! Pictures corroborate your intriguing tryst with the fisherman's market redolent of reggae and Bob Marley.


Your words keep me going :)