Bang Po! We are here on the north coast of Koh Samui, the exact opposite point of the island from Promtsuk Buri – just about at the extreme north west corner. This part of the island is relatively undeveloped compared with the rest of the island; there are a few resorts and bungalow operations on the beach, as well as lots of small and large holiday homes, but compared with the east and south coasts, it’s very quiet – no girlie bars, no night clubs, just small local Thai and seafood restaurants and a few shops.
However, that’s not to say that the beach is deserted – the holiday homes and bungalows take up almost every square inch of beachside land. Bang Po beach is a strip about 4 kilometers long; compared with Lamai, say, it’s not as nice; lots of seaweed and crap is thrown up by the waves onto the sand. The downside of living local is that the beach is not groomed. At Promtsuk Buri, the workers were out every morning about 7:30 am with their rakes and garbage bins picking up all the junk that had rolled up onto the beach over night. Here, only a few people bother to rake the beach in front of their homes – I guess they think it’s pretty much a losing proposition, given the strong waves this time of year.
Most of the properties along the beach are raised slightly, with either rock or cement walls to keep the land from being inundated. However, the tides have been high and the weather stormy this past month and as a result, the waves have broken over many of these barriers. Several of the less well-kept places on the beach have been smashed. All of the beachside restaurants have sandbag perimeters but it’s clear that, with the rising waters of global weather change, many of these places will be flooded in the not too distant future.
Every morning there’s a constant parade of people walking up and back along the length of Bang Po Beach; I joined them yesterday and met a couple of people. One, Jeanette from Sheffield, has lived here for five years and runs a book exchange in Bophut. As we were walking along talking, we came upon a guy washing his water buffalo in the ocean – just another walk on the beach! Later that morning, in the heat of the day, I took another walk, this time almost right to the far end of the beach where it meets the next town, Mae Nam. During this excursion I met Ken and Donna, originally from Florida, now resident in one of the beachside bungalow compounds for the last three years. With them was a beautiful brightly coloured small parrot. Donna is the “Hoop Goddess”; she hoola-hoops on the beach most afternoons, teaches hooping, and sells goddess wear. I will go back one of these days and join her in a hooping session with lights and music.
We have a small wooden chalet on the beach, consisting of one largish bedroom and a tiny kitchen and bathroom. It has a deck with outdoor dining area, a small garden with sun loungers, and is right on the beach. Next to us are our hosts Dave and Janet from the UK who have lived on Koh Samui for a year. Along with them are two cats and a maltese puppy dog named Maisie. It’s nice to be able to enjoy the company of beasts again! On the other side of us is Dr Yai from Bangkok, here for a few days, who invited us to join him at his daughter’s restaurant before he leaves, passes us baked goodies over the fence, and serenades us with old rock tunes played on what sounds like a grand piano.
A few doors down is a very local restaurant in a family’s front yard, with a few tables and chairs and a white squirrel named Spunky in a cage. As we walked by, the family flagged us down, presenting us with drinks and many good wishes for the New Year. There, also, we met Roland, a Swiss guy formerly in the army who has lived in Thailand for the past 12 years.
Other than that, both of us are getting over head colds and taking it pretty easy. We’re enjoying meeting the local people and love our little chalet; it reminds me of my aunt Ingrid’s summer place on the water near Pender Harbour which my family used to visit when I was a child.
ps again this morning a water buffalo appeared, this time strolling on the beach right in front of our place.