Our arrival in Samui was fairly easy – the bus and boat connection was dead easy – but once we were on the island, we were in the hands of the local transport mafia. Transport in Samui is notoriously expensive for foreigners, and the minibus operators and taxi drivers were asking 2-3 times what you’d expect to pay on the mainland. Eventually we got into a taxi to take us to our guest house – but unfortunately the driver had no idea where our guest house was in the town of Mae Nam (a beach strip about a mile long). We didn’t know either, but as it was directly on the beach, we thought that it couldn’t be that difficult to miss! After driving us right along the main road, the driver then asked for more money if we wanted him to find it! We said that the 200 Baht should get us to our guest house directly, and that perhaps he could ask somebody where it was. He clearly wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered about where he dropped us, and in the end he dumped us on the main road, a mile from the centre of town. After a debate about money (I wasn’t going to pay for a taxi ride to nowhere, and to be dumped on the street with no idea where we were), he roared off without his money, and we were completely bewildered and lost. (Tired and irritable after a 19 hour journey? Hmm, what do you think?). So we just crossed the road and had a soft drink in a small shop. Fortunately, the owner knew exactly where we wanted to go, and got his son to drive us there in his pickup (it turned out the taxi driver had driven straight past our guest house, and had dumped us a mile away). What a fantastic bit of hospitality, and what a relief!
We’d booked The Florist guest house over the Internet 6 months ago, so that we could make our joint arrangements with Caroline and Peter. It was a little tricky finding the right kind of place, as we were looking for somewhere economical (ie cheap!) and they were looking for somewhere suitable for a two-week holiday from England. We were all flexible, and had all agreed that we would all want a swimming pool and air-conditioning as a minimum. In Bangkok we’d got exactly that for 960 Baht a night, but on Koh Samui we’d ended up looking for ages, as few places with a pool were affordable for us.
When we arrived, we discovered that it wasn’t as beautiful as the photographs showed – the approach to the hotel was literally through a half-demolished garage, and between two bungalows – although the rooms were as good as they looked on the website. Panicking that our friends would hate it, we hired a jeep and scoured the island from top to bottom to find an alternative. We got back to the hotel at 8 o’clock exhausted and disappointed. We’d seen a few lovely places (Zazen Bungalows, for instance, were just beautiful), but most were well outside our (desperately-extended) budget – most were around 50 Pounds a night. We’d found just two suitable places, but neither were tropical paradises. We went to bed feeling grim and hoping things would be better in the morning.