Two Backpacks

home in Ko Samui

Chapter 20 - Sheltering from bad weather in Ko Samui

           To escape the tropical storms bearing down on Vietnam, we fly first to Kuala Lumpur, where we stay in Air Asia’s travel hotel, Tune. It’s the first time we’ve used an overnight stop at the airport, and we’re impressed by the hotel and the convenience of being a short walk away from the Departure Hall early the following morning. From Kuala Lumpur, we fly first to Phuket and then to Ko Samui.

            It’s good to leave the plane and feel the warm sunshine on my skin; we’d seen little sun while travelling in Vietnam.

Most people visit Ko Samui, drawn by its gorgeous beaches, lush forests, historic temples and sensational scenery, an island paradise. Maybe ten years ago, Ron and I would have been drawn to all-night parties and tourist trips around the island, but now, all we want is a chance to relax, unwind and, more importantly, unpack for a while.

            The ten-minute taxi ride to Chaweng takes us south. We arrive outside the gates to Baan Kao Hue a little after two in the afternoon, tired but delighted to find that our new home for the next few weeks is – modern, clean and well-equipped. The terrace provides us with views of both the town and the ocean beyond.

            ‘This is just what I’d hoped,’ I say, glancing around at the modern furniture and gadgetry in the galley kitchen.

            ‘Come and look at this bathroom!’ Ron’s standing in the doorway; I edge past him. With floor-to-ceiling glass on two sides, our bathtub takes pride of place in front of the windows.

            ‘Oh! I can’t wait to try that out tonight, Ron. Fancy sharing?’ ‘This is going to be fun!’ I snake my arms around his neck and kiss his cheek.

            ‘But there’s no curtain. Someone might see us.’

            ‘Not if we turn off the lights. Come on, where’s that romantic Scot?’

            ‘There never was a romantic Scot, just me, you know that.’

            We explore the remainder of the apartment, testing the bed and then walking out onto the terrace.

            ‘I can see the beach. Fancy a walk into town for supper?’ If I’m hungry, then Ron must be too.

            Leaving the unpacking until our return, or possibly the following morning (the possibility of a soak in the tub still in my mind), we wander the dusty streets searching for somewhere to eat.

            I’m disappointed many cafes and shops are closed, and the beach bar area deserted.

            ‘I suppose it’s the quiet season, what with the storms around at the moment. Looks like I’ll be doing most of the cooking while we’re here. I wonder where the market is? We’ll have to ask when we get back to the apartment.’

            ‘We can worry about shopping tomorrow. Let’s find something to eat. I’m starving,’ moans Ron, quickening his pace.

            Ahead of us, I can see lights twinkling in the fading light. Ron’s seen them too and is making a bee-line for a rickety building. A sign outside proclaims Green Sport Bar in vivid green flashing letters.

            Inside, everything is bamboo, from the small bar in one corner to the tables, chairs and stools; even the walls are bamboo. A bare electric bulb hanging precariously from a frayed cord provides light over the bar. We’re the only visitors on this humid evening. We pick a table near the entrance where a single candle flickers in a used glass jar.

            A sea breeze tugs at the flame as we sit. A young man in a t-shirt and shorts approaches with two menus.

            ‘Welcome. My name Way. Special tonight is Thai coconut chicken,’ he tells us with a lopsided grin. ‘You want beer?’

            Ron nods. ‘Two Singha, please.’

            Way walks to the bar and returns a few minutes later with our cold beers.

            ‘You want special?’ he asks.

            I sip the beer, the glass bottle damp in my hand.

            ‘Okay, two specials, please, Way.’ I look across at Ron, who’s trying not to laugh.

            Once the young man has disappeared to place our order in the kitchen, Ron smiles.

            ‘What’s up? What’s so funny?’

            Ron laughs. ‘It’s just his name. Way. Do you reckon it’s his real name, or is it Roy, and he can’t say his ‘R’s’? I remember an episode of Only Fools and Horses when that singer, the one with Rachel, performed Cwying.’

            ‘That would make you Won,’ I exclaim, catching on and giggling.

            We don’t have long to wait before Way returns with our meals. Large prawns peek from the plentiful portions of fried rice on two bright green plastic plates.

            ‘This looks great, Way. Thanks.’ I pick up a fork and tuck in. It’s delicious.

            ‘So, we’re here for a few weeks, Way. Are you open every day?’ asks Ron.

            ‘We always open. But most bars closed. Weather bad,’ offers Way. ‘Maybe you like food and come back?’ he asks hopefully.

            ‘Sure. This is great.’ Ron spoons a mouthful of the delicious rice into his mouth.

            We finish our meal, thank Way for a great evening, pay our bill and head home.

            ‘We’ve still got dessert to look forward to,’ I whisper as we climb the stairs to our apartment.

            Ron looks at me quizzically.

            ‘The bathtub,’ I say, taking his hand.


            The Green Sport Bar becomes our local most evenings. Way manages to get English soccer for us on the television attached to the bar’s back wall. We spend most of our days walking along the beach, exploring the island and relaxing in our apartment.

            The month flies by. Before we realise it, it’s time to pack again. We’re off to Vientiane, in Laos.