Often it takes leaving the familiar, the normal, the comfort of your hometown to appreciate what you have. BC- you are beautiful, with your crisp air, fresh flowing streams, and your variety of everything. It could just be home to me, but I believe that we have a lot of beauty to share with the world. Thailand- we aren’t done with you yet. There is more to experience, new stories to unfold. Each day we are squeezing out every ounce of this jungle city.
A couple days ago we sunscreened up and rode to the other side of the island. We joined the hundreds of tourists from around the globe to see Waterfall 1 and Waterfall 2- the island’s greatest must-see attraction. This town really milked this natural sight for everything that it could be, offering pictures with tigers, elephant rides, and concession stands to all who would pay a pretty penny. Before heading up the mountain we had the opportunity to spend some time with an elephant. We’ve learned to not partake in the animal ridings as it supports an industry of cruelty and abuse, however, when we saw our first elephant, we couldn’t help but reach out our sweaty palms in hopes to feel it’s gray, wrinkled skin. Wide-eyed, we watched the elephant slap itself with palm leaves before stretching out its long rugged trunk for a piece of banana. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any fruit, and the large guy wasn’t letting us pull any fast ones on him. He swiftly turned to the next amused guest trusting them for a tasty treat. The shackles around his legs wouldn’t let him move far, but we were happy to see he wasn’t in his square pad for long. Off in the distance, on a jungle hill, the elephants had room to roam after working their 9-5. This sight was far better than the attraction that awaited us. After paying for an approximate twenty-five-minute hike up to the falls we stopped, looked at one another gypped and confused and proceeded to burst out in laughter. “This is it?”. The natural, picturesque view was far less amazing than even Maple Ridge’s classic Gold Creek. The water trickled down into a small pool and was masked by overgrown greenery. Tourists everywhere were gawking over this underwhelming site and all we could do was keep to ourselves that they have undoubtedly never been to Beautiful British Columbia. Thailand has many beautiful sights to see, foods to taste and culture to revel in, however, they can’t sell us on their watering can-like chute. Despite the disappointment, we managed to max out our day. We had lunch at a Jamaican restaurant on the beach, toured around Chaweng, played with a couple of local kids and capped off the night with some Italien pizza. As Matt puts it: “what else do you need in Thailand aside from Pad Thai and Pizza?”.
Our days and stomachs have been full. Yesterday we made our taste buds come alive at a cooking class in Bo Phut. Before we could cook up a storm, the most “Matthew” event took place at our hotel: The quest of the missing motorbike key. He’s successful, he’s bright but he is, in fact, notorious for losing all sorts of important items time and time again, yesterday, it was our mode of transportation. We spent a good hour and a half rummaging through his suitcase, flipping up every pillow on the couch, and scouring the brick paths in search of the key. We hit the point of counting our losses and felt down because we had built such excitement around the cooking lesson. Matthew had one final idea to ask the hotel beach restaurant to see if someone had graciously turned it in. Success! We were off like lightning, thankful that God answered our prayers and sent us on our way. In the living room of a middle age French woman, we cooked up three authentic Thai dishes. I know what you’re thinking, French woman… authentic Thai food… it doesn’t quite add up. Stephanie (our chef and market tour guide for the day) moved to Koh Samui three years ago from France after visiting a friend here in Thailand. She became jealous of her lifestyle, so she packed up her bags and moved here herself. After working in the catering business, she opened up her own cooking school and now runs the most popular cooking class operation on the island. She has hired a Thai chef that helps her fab up authentic dishes made with local, in season ingredients from the market down the street. They partnered with us to grind spices, cook meat and chop root vegetables. Over the course of a couple of hours, we made red curry with rambutans and marinated chicken, Thai spicy meatballs, and my personal favorite, curry puffs. We learned a lot about the local fruits, vegetables, spices and proteins during our tour of the market. A few days back, we noticed coconut cups tied to each tree along the jungle road. We thought maybe they were to catch insects, or provided some sort of electricity to the unpopulated part of the island. During our market tour, we were taught that they are there to catch sap to make coconut sugar. Apparently, there is a short window of time in which the sugar sap can be retrieved from the trees before it begins to ferment. Once the fermentation process has started, it can no longer be used as sugar but indeed makes a sweet dessert wine. Our French guide hasn’t understood why this local wine phenomenon hasn’t taken off as a successful business yet since it apparently tastes quite nice. Beyond wine, if it is left longer it can be used as a vinegar. We picked up a few bags of the sweet sappy sugar at the market and even after the lengthy harvesting process, it still only cost us a dollar. We returned to the market this afternoon for an inexpensive lunch, of what else but Matt’s favorite Pad Thai, after checking out of our hotel. I anticipate crafting up one of our recipes, made complete with pure Thai coconut sugar when we return home for those days where we want a little taste of Thailand around our kitchen table.
We head onwards to Phuket this evening. We await a busier city and younger crowd, beyond that we have minimal expectations for part two of our getaway. Koh Samui blew us out of the water. Paradise Beach Hotel was an abundance of beauty that we would recommend to anyone who wants to honeymoon it up on this utopian isle. We agree that there is no better way to see the island than on the back of a motorbike, you must indulge yourself in at least one tacky tourist attraction and finally, you must experience it all with someone you love, it makes it all that much better.