Temples, waterfalls, rocks, sand, mummy monks – the west coast of Koh Samui!
Ty, Maggie, and I were once more whisked off in Mai’s taxi down the west coast of the island to explore, cameras in hand. Our first stop, just past the “downtown” area of Nathon, the main administrative centre of Koh Samui and where the ferry boats from the mainland arrive, was Wat Chaeng, the elephant temple.
No elephants were in sight (perhaps the name is a throwback to the long lost days when there actually were wild elephants roaming in this area), but a large pack of temple dogs was.
As Maggie and I were wandering around the front of one of the temple buildings, we heard a huge hue and cry of barking and realised that the dogs were greeting Ty as he wandered out back.
These beasts, about twenty of them small and large, followed Ty as he explored the cemetery area behind the main building. While we were marvelling at the architecture, Mai took the opportunity to make an offering in the new white and gold temple. Wat Chaeng’s main function now appears to be as a school for elementary-aged children.
Further south along the main ring road, then a turn inland towards the mountain, through a residential area, found us at the Hin Lad waterfall and temple site, nestled in a forested area up against the hill.
Walking along a small bridge crossing the Hin Lad stream, we found a stark white temple building – very modern – and, behind it, the monk’s compound, a series of huts scattered throughout the forest.
Along with these dwellings are quite a few painted tile signs with various pithy sayings and proverbs hanging from the tree branches.
The only other place I’ve seen these before is the small temple on Koh Lipe, where hand-written wooden signs with similar injunctions were dispayed.
After a quick stop at Wat Khunaram for Maggie to check out the sun-glassed mummy monk and me to collect tamarind seed pods, we drove to the south coast to the extreme west end of Lamai Beach to see Hin Ta and Hin Yai, Grandfather and Grandmother rocks, so-called because they are the shape, respectively, of male and female genitalia. They’re part of a cluster of large rounded granite and feldspar boulders (so Maggie told me) that hug the edge of the south shoreline.
Read more about these rocks here.
Mai dropped us off at Lamai Beach and we made our way across the sand to the Bikini Bar for a feast of Jamaica jerk ribs (!) and then a little rest on the loungers next door.
The weather was changeable, though, and a couple of showers chased us under the grass palapas before we decided to head back north on a passing song thaew. The town of Nathon was the end of the line for that particular driver and we were deposited at the pier, from where we explored what turned out to be quite a nice little town.
Strangely, on a side street perpendicular to the pier, we found a shop selling all sorts of North American Indian paraphernalia, including carved wooden Indian heads, dolls with teepees, and a huge feather headdress.
It also sold alligator and snakeskin purses which were quite repulsive. Along the main drag here many of the shops have red Chinese lanterns hung out front, and golden Buddha replicas for sale, giving a really attractive look to the storefronts. We bought a couple of items, including some apples (which are very hard to find here), and rolled back to the ranch very satisfied with the day.
See more pics here.