Monday, 8 November 2010

Fisherman's Village -- Catch of the Day, and Night.

I’ve been visiting Fisherman’s Village for about 13 years now, a tiny enclave on the water near Bo Phut, nestled off a corner of the main road out to the airport.

It used to be a bunch of old wooden Siamese style wooden houses, a few ramshackle beach bars, and one or two fine seafood restaurants.  A very traditional Thai fishing village in the main, where colourfully painted boats rocked at anchor in waters overlooking Koh Panghan and the Big Buddha promontory.

Gradually its reputation grew from satisfied diners, especially from the many expats on the island who dropped in here regularly for the delicious blackboard specials at the Happy Elephant, or a beer and sunset at the former Rasta Bar.

The Village now has a large gateway sign welcoming visitors, and dozens of restaurants, cafes and cuisines from nearly every corner of the world: Indian. Japanese. French. Italian. (Australia is represented  the Billabong Beach Club where you can ‘drink between the flags’.) A new specialty teashop, Namcha Samui, is about to open its doors. And super-funky chill lounges have capitalized on waterfront locations along … along … what the hell’s the name of that road?

‘No name for the road, it’s just Fisherman’s Village,’ says Khun Nok, who owns the Carpe Diem Hotel further along the eastern end of the strip. She picks Just A Pizza as her favourite local haunt. ‘You’ve got to try the spagetthi,’ she says. ‘And they cook a pizza with kua kling, like kapow, so hot and spicy even I can’t eat it!’ she laughs.

Leslie McPherson, an Australian who grew up in Southeast Asia and owns Villa M along the same stretch also fell in love with Fisherman’s Village. ‘It’s the last remaining village with that original Indochine feel.’

Locals and tourists on scooters putter around at about 30 or 40km/h thru the village, giving it a cruisy languid feel ...

Having been here dozens of times, I only felt it has really come of age this time around. And real estate prices now reflect that. ‘The price of land is same as Silom Road in Bangkok,’ says Nok. ‘Crazy!’

What is crazy is the Friday night walking street market. Barricades are thrown up from 5pm, and people gradually filter out into the street. All the vendors put up stalls, spruiking specials, be it fashion, food, jewellery, you name it. A long queue forms up outside Namcha for its fresh Vietnamese spring rolls. And punters take a seat outside Carpe Diem to enjoy Khun Ake’s special Mojito recipe. Then a bunch of musicians start up the serenade … and ... and ... fire jugglers who walk a tightrope ...

So make sure next time you’re in Samui on a Friday night, head for Fisherman’s Village.  The only downside is remembering where you parked your scooter at the end of the night. They all look the same after a few of Ake’s mojitos, jing jing.

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