Wednesday, 13 January 2010
KOH SAMUI -- Six of my favourite restaurants, places and attractions
Sorry about the lame headline ... it's just that I don't know what else to call this selection of random favourites of mine; little inside tips that will hopefully help you to enjoy Samui as much as I do.
In no particular order, here we go ...
1/ SAMUI GO KART
Had too much of just blissing out and your body is in danger of forgetting how to produce adrenaline? A day at the races should sort you out. While Pro carts are available, unless you're Michael Schumacher on holiday, I suggest taking the regular carts which can do up to 80 km/h. If you're a really nervous driver -- which you might be after a short spell on Thailand's roads -- take the Fun cart option (suitable for kids as well, as they tootle along up to 40 km/h). A 10-minute session costs adults 600 baht, or 500 for kids. If you think that doesn't sound long, wait till you've pushed yourself around several laps at full tilt in the heat, and been extricated from the tyre barricades a couple of times (believe me, you will lose it on at least one corner -- these things are fast, combined with the fact that traditional features such as grip on the tyres apparently come as an optional extra).
A great track combining some tight corners and sweeping bends and punchy straight. Located on the main ring road at Bo Phut, north of Chaweng.
2/ CHARMING RESTAURANT
Yes this restaurant is charming, but the Thai proprietor is equally, if not more, so. What's ironic is that Khun Whatisname (I think it's Noi or Noong, something like that) is brilliant at remembering everybody's name first time. Amazing, given that he can have a hundred guests on a busy day.
What's so special about this place? Well, it doesn't look much from the road (all corrugated tin and wood) but it's right on the beach. You can choose to sit at tables under cover or out in the open. Or even deck chairs where the incoming tide will lap at your feet. Menu covers basics such as sandwiches and burgers at one end, but they really come into their own with their Thai seafood. Steamed fish, grilled fish at 50 baht per 100g, musells at around 35 baht per 100 gram. Try the steamed fish with ginger, lime and chilli or red duck curry. Heavenly. Most specials in the 250-400 baht range. The smoothies are good too. If you want beer, no problem. Even bring your own bottle of wine, no problem.
The music is courtesy of the tattoo/massage place right next door. (I highly recommend the massage place for a herbal oil session on the left of Charming as you look out to sea .)
Situated at Chaweng Noi beach, on the ring road on the left hand side just past the Impiana Hotel if you're coming from Chaweng. You'll see the big white sign saying 'Charming'.
3/ SABEINGLAE restaurant
When you find a place full of locals you know you're onto something good. This big seafood restaurant has live seafood tanks and is spread over a few nicely lit wooden pavillions. But my tip: walk all the way down to the plastic tables on the sand -- it's quieter there, and you can watch the squid boats on the horizon.
Lots of fried seafood on the menu. The battered calamari is sensational. They can also grill pretty much anything you want if you prefer (try the red snapper). Service is not perfect as they're run off their feet in high season but they try their best so it's hard to get frustrated.
On the ring road on the left if you're going from Lamai away from Chaweng (clockwise in other words).
4/ ASADOR BBQ Steak House Restaurant
Built up a king sized hunger after a day of diving, temple-hopping, swimming, shopping or whatever? Have I got the place for you ... a carnivore's paradise! How about unlimited free-flow refills of barbecued chicken and ribs (no, not chicken ribs, they're pork I presume) for 390 baht. Or for 850 baht, a platter of two steaks, 2 kebabs, 2 chops, 2 pieces chicken, and corn and veggies. Most of the steaks seem to be good imported stuff from New Zealand, Australia, etc.
You'll smell this place before you see it, as they cook everything outside on the coals. Mmmm, I'm dribbling at the recollection of it now. Lost or want to make a booking? 077-230-622.
It's on the main Chaweng Road (near the Library hotel), just where the two way traffic becomes one way traffic at Moo 2.
5/ JUN HOM Restaurant
A quiet stretch of beach, with virtually no one on it. Beautiful views of sunset over Anthong. And fresh seafood. Who could ask for more? (Well, you can, of course, it's a restaurant after all ...). This place is not fancy -- notice a trend here? -- but it's plonked right in the sand facing Koh Phangan.
Full range of local and western fare, and a seemingly endless supply of Singhas (don't ask, I just know these things from 'research').
On the ring road from Chaweng look out for their sign on the right side after OK Properties and Coconut Grove estate on the right and Santhithani estate on the left.
6/ FORTUNE TELLER
I'm not usually one to go in for wishy-washy stuff like fortune tellers (except for that one drunken night at Newton Circus in Singapore, but that doesn't count). Visiting Big Buddha I noticed this big sign in the car park: 'Fortune Teller 50 baht'. Two bucks, can't go wrong. Well, you can -- one of the zeros had fallen off his sign for a start. OK, 20 bucks can't go wrong, right? Over the next 25 minutes I learned to avoid Wednesdays, ride at 120km/h instead of my customary 240 km/h (hell, this guy is good!) in February and September otherwise I'll be going too fast for the gods to protect me. May is going to be a good month. October onwards will be auspicious for business for the next five years. And, after consulting a couple of different charts and books, he declared a big love for me started last September. True! He also said north, central and south Thailand is fine for me, but east is best, namely Pattaya, Chonburi and Rayong. Don't know, never been there yet.
Then, and this is where I got my money's worth, he launched with dead pan face into a warning: 'Stay away from Thai foxy lady in bars and nightclubs. They will suck you like Dracula.' With that he became animated, his fingers clawing away at his own throat to illustrate the point. ' He repeated it for good effect: 'Dracula'. I laughed my ass off. He was deadpan. 'Stay away from Thai foxy lady.'
So if you want to pass some time in the midday heat or on a rainy afternoon, check this guy out at Big Buddha. I don't know whether he's any good or not. We'll see. But it's damn good fun.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm just going to check out Pattaya, Rayong and Chonburi on Google before I move there ...