Monday, March 17, 2008

Random Adventures in Ko Samui

If your idea of a good time includes:

a) elephants playing harmonicas
b) a mummy monk
c) curry goodness
d) coconut-pickin’ monkeys
e) gorgeous beaches

Or any of the above…you’ll need to get to Ko Samui for your next vacation. Often called “the island of coconuts” since it produces over 3 million a month, Ko Samui utilizes monkeys to perform the brunt of this manual labor. We couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see monkeys at their day jobs and we found them hard at work...skittering up tree trunks and twisting coconuts with their tiny paws. I would imagine this is a pretty large profit margin for the humans since they don’t have to actually pay their employees and I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking the monkeys get a pretty raw deal. Does PETA know about this??? We also visited an elephant camp where these gentle giants played harmonicas with their trunks and dunked baskets better than Michael Jordan. I will refrain from commenting on the little “Thai Massage” trick they’ve taught them – better see it for yourself in the video below.

Wat Kunaram houses the mummified body of Loung Poh Deang, a Buddhist monk who passed away while meditating in the lotus position over 30 years ago. We visited the temple to view Deang’s body which was never embalmed but miraculously shows little sign of decay. The one exception is his eyes (which have been thoughtfully covered up with a pair of sunglasses to hide the exposed sockets) which makes Deang look the part of a hipster monk in a pair of Ray Bans and his saffron robe. Afterwards we drove north to the Big Buddha temple where I received a holy water blessing from one of the Buddhist monks.

Hungry from all the touring, Matt and I stopped in at the Nora Beach Resort for a Thai buffet full of curried duck, fried noodles, fresh fish and sticky rice with mango. Sitting at our seaside table we took in the aqua ocean and golden sand with a few Tiger beers and fell in love with the tiny beach bungalows (complete with outdoor rainhead showers). Although tempted to stay here and meet the ship somewhere in India we headed back to the ship amid promises to someday come back. Ko Samui is full of surprises – some good, some just…random, but the beaches are gorgeous and the exchange rate makes it affordable.

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