Chinese New Year holidays were upon us and we were off to Koh Samui, Thailand to escape the fireworks, cold weather and air pollution.
In true fashion, I had left it quite late to book this trip at one of the busiest travel times in China. So, we ended up returning to Thailand – Koh Samui this time, and taking the kids out of school 2.5 days early. So on Monday January 27th we set off for Shanghai airport to enjoy 12 days in the warmth, sunshine and clean air of Thailand. We flew into Bangkok to connect with our flight to Koh Samui island and were totally amazed to bump into Sheila O’Neill who was checking in for a girlie getaway! We only know 9 people in Bangkok, so to see one of them at that particular time was funny! We had a quick catch up before we left for our different flights.
We were picked up at the airport by a lovely man driving a very luxurious, spacious van. A good omen for a great holiday! A short 15 minute drive from the airport and we arrived at our Villa at Kanda Residences at the north end of Chaweng Beach. Owen had researched many places for us to stay and had picked a fantastic villa for us. A 3 bedroom place with a private pool very close to the beach, in a facility that had a good restaurant and a couple more communal pools, plus a private beach.
We quickly unpacked and then all collapsed into our beds. The last 3 or 4 months have been incredibly busy, stressful and tiring for me. The last quarter of our year is always busy with major sales cycles coming to a close, a major customer event, plus planning for 2014. I felt like I had not had a chance to take a breath and enjoy life or my family. The year had also started in a crazy fashion with our sales kick off, year end reviews, bonus calculations and settling down organization changes. I was exhausted! I spent the first couple of days frantically closing HR and bonus issues before I finally was able to relax and completely switch off. This is a rare time of year where China shuts down and I knew that I could decompress because everyone else would be off too. So, for the first time in a year, I did not feel under pressure to check email or follow up on anything – it was bliss.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I slept late, worked a little and chilled by the pool. The kids loved our pool and were perfectly happy to be entertaining themselves with endless hours of swimming and games. Owen was exhausted from his trip to the UK and slept and read alot too. We found a Tesco and stocked up on supplies so that we could enjoy our paradise cocoon. I did not realize how stressed I had been as I could actually feel it lifting as the days went by. I was sleeping better and enjoying the simple pleasure of being with my family with no itinerary and no agenda.
We booked the resort Spa experts to come to our villa and pamper us all. The kids experienced their first massage (a “baby” massage – but didn’t tell them that is what it was called!) We all had our treatments in the Sala by the pool. They both loved their experience! Owen had a lovely foot massage while I had a relaxing body massage. How wonderful to experience that while chilling in the warm weather.
We went into Chaweng Beach a couple of times. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the market stalls. We bought a couple of bedside lights for the kids – made out of coconut and shaped into animals. Isabelle’s is like an elephant and Oliver’s is shaped like a buffalo. Oliver also got a lovely pair of Foakley sunglasses (that is Fake Oakley!) We explored the wonderful beach by the villa. It is very private (there was no-one else there when we were there) and a mix of interesting rock pools and small pebbles. It is not a beach for swimming because of all the rocks. But, it is a children’s paradise for finding things!
We poured over the island information brochures and told Isabelle and Oliver that they could pick 1 thing each that they wanted to do. Isabelle chose Quad Biking (separate post) and Oliver chose Coco Splash – a water park (separate post), Owen and I chose a private boat charter (separate post). We booked the boat charter for Saturday February 1st, the water park for Monday 3rd and Quad biking on Wednesday 5th. This was a perfect combination of planned activities and then days with nothing to do except relax, swim, eat, drink, read and play.
Our first meal out was to the Spirit House Restaurant. We had asked our resort concierge for some recommendations for some good Thai food. Owen and I both love this cuisine and were eager to eat authentically. We had a lovely meal in a lovely location (but not sure how authentic it was, especially after our Quad Biking day!!).
We bought some Chinese lanterns from a beach vendor and let them off by our pool.
A lovely meal out was at Tree Tops in the Anantara Lawana resort. The tables are set on raised stages in the trees. It is a molecular cuisine which particularly pleased Owen as this is what he is studying at the moment! I had ordered a lychee martini cocktail that was made at the table and then served over dry ice – the kids thought this was really cool as my drink was surrounded in smoke!! Owen’s cocktail was also made at the table but was not as visually stunning as mine. A unique feature of our meal here was a Salt Guru/Sommelier. She brought over a selection of different salts and then gave Owen and I a couple to try with our main meal. It was a very nice meal.
We ate at Eat Sense after our day at Coco Splash. This was a lovely beach side restaurant with some wonderful Thai food. It was very busy the night we were there and I was glad that we had placed our order before a massive group of Chinese people arrived. I had to laugh at the table next to us – it was a table of 12 and ALL of them were on their smart phones. One of their group was obviously upset by this and made them all hand them over to him. He wrapped them all up in a napkin and put it under the table! Then, all of a sudden, the conversation started to flow, laughing and animated for the rest of their meal. I guess some things are universal and you don’t need to speak Mandarin to understand that whole interaction! I was pleased to see this – we have a “no technology” rule when we are eating too!
The Wet Bar at Akaryn Samui Resort and Spa was upscale Pizza night for us all. 82 different pizza’s on the menu and we were spoilt for choice. This was another fantastic beach side table in another lovely resort. Our table was right by the ocean waves crashing on the sand – so soothing and relaxing to eat with the music of Mother Nature playing behind us.
After one particular hard afternoon of shopping, we realized that it was getting late. As we walked down the main strip, we were debating about getting a taxi, when Owen saw Red Snapper restaurant across the road. We did a quick Trip Advisor look up and saw that it was rated high so headed in for our dinner! Owen and I both had yummy flank steak followed by limoncello spheres for dessert. This restaurant had some very colorful lights behind the bar.
Our last night in Koh Samui and we ate at Coco Rock. This restaurant is located in the Coral Bay resort very close to Kanda. It was a beautiful location and the evening light was fantastic for some good photos. The menu had a combination of Thai cuisine and International favorites. Owen and I both chose Thai options – Phad Thai for Owen and Massan Chicken curry for me – yummy! Owen finished off with Tiramisu, Isabelle had ice cream. Oliver and I were too stuffed for dessert!
After our wonderful day on the boat, we decided to eat at the restaurant in Kanda (Rockpool Restaurant). They had some interesting evening entertainment serenading us to help celebrate the Lunar New Year. Owen and I were not sure how many of the group were ladies or if they were all part of the famous Thailand lady boys that often entertain tourists. Either way, it was a pretty average performance!!
Isabelle and Oliver liked sitting up at the big bar table overlooking the ocean at Rockpool restaurant. Owen took this cool shot of the wind capturing her hair!
Even though we were in a private villa, we still had some of the amenities of a hotel/resort. When we returned from dinner on Lunar/Chinese New Year, we each had a fortune cookie and a delightful little colorful purse with a shiny new coin in it. A very nice touch from the resort!
Thailand is a beautiful Country. The food is delicious, the people are welcoming and friendly, the air and the ocean are clean (relatively!!) and the pace of life is relaxed. We all enjoyed a very relaxing holiday here and will definitely try to return to visit another area of this wonderful part of the world.