PROOF THAT ORGANISED FUN IS THE BEST KIND!

Who said travelling is just rest and relaxation?

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Several hours later we watched from the nearby bar as tourists took turns to pose with our masterpiece. We thought one girl was about to commit sabotage but instead she just added this fitting contribution:

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Architects in the making,

Charlotte & Tate x

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VIKASA YOGA RETREAT

Yoga in Koh Samui was at the top of our must-do list, so when we became friends with Betti, a yoga teacher on the island, we had the perfect opportunity. Originally from Germany, Betti trained in India when travelling around Asia and now works at one of Koh Samui’s prestigious yoga retreats. Hearing that we’d been doing some yoga back home, Betti invited us to join one of her hatha flow classes for free.

We jumped at the chance and whilst we’d had to check out of our hostel at 8am to make it to the class, had got lost and then turned up very sweaty with our big rucksacks, Betti had us finding our inner poise pretty quickly, aided by the sounds of the waves as we overlooked the ocean.

We cannot recommend this class highly enough. It’s suitable for people of all abilities and Betti offers variations for more advanced students. If you have the time and money, the resort itself looks beautiful and is an absolute sanctuary.

20130227-144857.jpg This is where the yoga classes take place, overlooking the water…

We met up with Betti the following evening at Bo Phut Farmer’s market where she was very amused to see the effect her class had had on our out-of-practise limbs; she definitely encourages you to push yourself to the best of your abilities!

Find out more about the stunning Vikasa Yoga Retreat, here.

Charlotte & Sarah x

THE FOUR CORNERS OF SAMUI

Koh Samui is the island for us. Just a bus ride from the pier to our hotel was enough time for us to be completely smitten with the place. Firstly, it’s beautiful. There’s the mix of jungle and beach that is prevalent throughout the Thai islands, but with the curving hills and shadowing cliffs, a postcard view is almost guaranteed with each twist of the road. Yet alongside the flora and fauna is a modern city vibe. We’d have hated this except that Samui has maintained a very Thai feel and appearance. The island offers the luxury of boutique shops, bars to suit every type of crowd and urban coffee shops, whilst with a knowing turn in the right direction you can be amidst the local market throng, engulfed by percussion music.

Even in the busiest areas of Cheweng the beach is still clean and stunning, whilst the capital, Na Thon, offers quality clothes and food markets. The many yoga retreats that you pass are a constant reminder of the serenity of Samui, but if you ever fancy a party, you need not look far. Our friends who live here explained that their love for Samui stems from its mix of characters, religions, scenery, amenities and lack of judgement, describing it as ‘a place to be who you are’. There seem to be fewer scams around and everything (except the taxis) is more reasonably priced.

Just to confirm, it’s love. We’ve ended up staying in total for 10 nights, enamoured by each region of Koh Samui…

Na Thon: Retail Therapy

As the main pier for Samui, Nathon sees hundreds of backpackers travel in and out, but rarely stop, as they head straight for the Chaweng party scene. It’s a small town but the main attraction for us were the affordable markets full of patterned trousers and elephant shaped trinkets. Whilst staying with a couch surfing host, we saw a Chinese festival take place, where the streets of Nathon were full of performers who danced, threw fireworks and pushed metal spears through their cheeks! We also had a full body massage that left us sleepy for the rest of the day, before we feasted on fantastic Thai meals whilst watching the sun disappear into the sea.

Na Thon Sunset

Na Thon Sunset

Chinese celebrations - we stumbled upon these just walking through the centre on Na Thon around Chinese New Year

Chinese celebrations – we stumbled upon these just walking through the centre of Na Thon around Chinese New Year

Chaweng: Entertainment

Chaweng, though the main tourist area, had us returning again and again; the brightness of the beach, the bars and the souvenir shops drew us in like magpies. There are world class resorts side by side along the front of the bay, but affordable hotels are also easy to find along the main Chaweng Beach Road for about 800 baht a night (between two). The main side street had clubs with dancers on different levels, creating waves of pumping bodies. We spent an unforgettable night dancing around, a drink in one hand and our fake Havaianas flip flops clasped in the other. Continue reading

COUCHSURFING IN SAMUI

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We’d been told about couchsurfing by some fellow backpackers who couldn’t speak highly enough about it, couchsurfing being their favourite way to travel. For those of you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a concept whereby people let travellers stay for free in their home. These people are the hosts, and the person visiting is the surfer. It’s an amazing way to meet local people and experience a place beyond the travel guide – and of course it’s a great way to save money.

The couchsurfing community is full of like-minded travellers and generally those who surf will also offer to host people when back in their home country. It’s a way for people with limited funds to travel and experience the world. In some areas where people have little money and cannot travel out of their home country, they can host someone from another country and still have the experience of meeting people from different cultures, practise their language skills and learn about other places. Many hosts take part, however, to meet lifelong friends and to offer support to travellers.

We were pretty excited about our first couchsurfing experience and were unsure what to expect. We set up our profiles on couchsurfing.com and started searching for people in Koh Samui. We saw a host with loads of brilliant reviews and the most beautiful, glamorous home. As first-time couch surfers we had no reviews, and as there were two of us we were slightly more awkward to host. We also acknowledged that this couple were likely to get loads of requests from surfers on a daily basis, so when we sent our request we didn’t hold out much hope.

We could not believe it when we received a response asking if we were available the following weekend, as they’d be able to host us, and if the weather held up ‘we could go out on the boat’. Our only reservation was that it seemed too good to be true…

Our host's beautiful garden

Our host’s beautiful garden

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A ROCKIN’ VALENTINE’S DAY

Not feeling particularly romantic and acting as each other’s dates, we decided to mark the occasion with a visit to the Grandmother and Grandfather rocks in Lamai, Koh Samui. These naturally-formed genetaila-shaped rocks provide endless amusement to the tourists and Thais alike. The occasion was however made slightly more romantic by us visiting at sunset…

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Charlotte & Sarah x