In stark contrast to the busy streets of Bangkok, Koh Samui, the third largest Island in Thailand, offers a beautiful hideaway framed by turquoise waters and swaying palm trees. From here, the Four Season’s Resort Koh Samui promised my husband and I a week of pristine luxury and tranquility. It was a splurge worth every penny and for seven days, time slowed down until it almost stood still.
Situated in a quiet corner of the island, the resort appears effortlessly scattered across a lush green hillside, its elegant villas peeking shyly from the tree tops for a spectacular view of the sea below. Nestled into the landscape near the top of the hill, our private villa was tastefully decorated in calming shades of blue and green with high ceilings, an extravagant bathroom and an infinity pool that seemed to bring the ocean to our doorstep.
Most mornings began with friendly greetings of “Sawadee ka” from the kind resort staff and a buggy ride up the hill to Lan Tania, an open air restaurant perched on the highest point of the hillside. The food and the service at the resort are among the best I have ever had and breakfast is no exception. Homemade oatmeal with bananas and dates, coconut coated french toast with mango, banana waffles, eggs benedict, Thai-style omelettes with shrimp. We lingered here each morning with a cappuccino in one hand and the newspaper in the other, tasting as many dishes as possible while enjoying a stunning view of the Gulf of Siam.
I quickly realized that my willpower was no match for the tempting food at the resort, so some days we dragged ourselves to yoga first. While it did little to combat the effects of my indulgence, making my way to the little hut by the beach every other morning was worth the effort. The inner peace and strength our yoga master radiated with every word and movement was an inspiring way to begin the day.
Weighed down by breakfast, we’d spend the rest of the morning soaking up the sun by our pool before wandering down to the beach in the afternoon. Sometimes we would go paddle boarding or kayaking. Other times we would float in the pool by the beach, lounge on the soft white sand and nap for a little while. The beach is as tranquil as the rest of the resort and sipping a tropical cocktail in the shade of a coconut grove is about as relaxing as it gets. That is until a lovely Thai woman with a big friendly smile stops by to give you a massage. Then it is as relaxing as it gets!
Eventually I would be hungry again, or perhaps just craving the delicious Thai food that was always readily available. Pla Pla, a lovely restaurant by the beach was the perfect place for a light lunch. The menu offers a bit of everything but we stuck to the local Thai favourites and were never disappointed. Green Mango Salad with Soft Shell Crab, Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Sticky Rice and Thai Grilled Calamari Salad with Lime and Roasted Cashew Nuts were among our favourites. Just writing this down makes my mouth water in anticipation.
On a couple of occasions we chose to to attend an afternoon cooking class and make lunch for ourselves. The small interactive classes were hosted by one of the talented local chefs who taught us how how to make traditional dishes like Green Papaya salad “Som Tam” and Banana Fritters. Another activity that was worth the effort.
We chose to spend most of our time relaxing at the resort but there are plenty of things to do and see around Koh Samui. We agreed that our vacation wouldn’t be complete without going diving so the resort arranged for us to spend the day with The Dive Academy Koh Samui. It was a good decision.
The underwater world is effortlessly enchanting. There is something magical about floating weightlessly as coral reefs come alive in rays of sunlight and schools of brightly coloured fish pass by. I was momentarily lost in their world when I heard a metallic “tap tap”, the signal used to get a diver’s attention. I raised my gaze towards the surface, and was shocked to see the sunlight suddenly disappear behind a huge whale shark as it passed over me only a couple of metres away! Once I got over the initial panic (lost regulator and all) I was able to watch it swim by again with awe. I now know why they call our dive site “Shark Island” and that a hint of fear makes life under the sea that much more enchanting.
That day and most other days, we happily returned to our private pool. With a glass of white wine and sweet tropical fruit that was left in our room daily, we watched the late afternoon sun turn shades of pastel pink, orange and purple before sinking into the horizon. The sunset in Thailand is gorgeous.
So far it may seem that most of our vacation was spent eating and drinking. Well, that is probably true and we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet, dinner. I absolutely love Thai food but I have now learned that nothing can compare to Thai food in Thailand. Most evenings we ate at Lan Tania, sampling the fresh spicy salads and rich curries that filled the menu. One evening, having gotten to know the food and beverage director over the course of our stay, he suggested that the chef cook us a traditional meal that is not on the menu. Of course, we accepted his offer and when asked if we are okay with spicy food, we said “Sure.”
We started with fried beef, garlic and basil that resembled one of the authentic dishes we tried in Bangkok, followed by a main course of spiced prawns and an inviting red curry adorned with birds carved out of carrots and radishes. The food was unlike any curry or prawns I had ever tasted and was much spicier too. Never have I been so thankful for cucumbers and carrots! The wait staff seemed amused by my watering eyes, especially when I guiltily ate the carefully carved carrot bird to cool my tongue. Still, the food was delicious. My compliments to the chef.
After a blissful week, I would definitely visit Koh Samui again. The island was beautiful, the staff and service at the Four Seasons were exceptional, and my encounter with the whale shark will not soon be forgotten. I left Thailand feeling completely relaxed, and thanks to my brief love affair with Thai food, a few pounds heavier.