Koh Samui – getting way too touristy

We stay in Koh Phangan for five nights before we take the boat to Koh Samui. Samui is by far the most popular of the three islands among tourists and I am still not quite sure why I have chosen to come here. We take a songthaew to get to our hotel. I have chosen the cheapest one I could find on the internet and it is in the epicenter of tourism on Chaweng beach. I choose this particular beach because I have read on the internet that there is a huge fresh market and lots of street vendors where we can get cheap food and fruit near our hotel.

To A’s delight our hotel has a small indoor pool. She immediately moves into the pool and stays there most of the time while we stay at Chaweng. I wash our clothes in the sink and hang it up in our small bathroom. We have little lizards in the bathroom and I talk to them as I wash our clothes happily musing on what A might be doing. She has become an excellent swimmer and I am not worried about letting her swim in the pool unattended. We visit the beach every day and it is the first beach we come to that has nothing but sand on the sea ground. No need to worry about sea urchins, dead corals or sharp rocks. We splash around, swim and dive and look for little shells.

A is adored by all the locals we have met so far and here is no exception. They ask her what her name is and how old she is, shower her with attention and snacks like chips and candy. And A is happily chatting to everyone we meet. Especially the women and especially the ones who do not seem to think it’s okay to just grap hold of her and pull her clothes in an awkward embrace. That gets too much for her. Today we meet two young women who invite A to sit with them on her blanket. I sit very close by and look at how they are all talking A gesturing with her arms whenever she can’t seem to find the right English words. They go out swimming together and A finds a small piece of seaweed she uses as a moustache which in turn compels her two new friends to do the same thing. They all shriek with laughter and so do I.

Chaweng beach in the morning before it fills up with water scooters and speedboats

I notice that Chaweng beach is nicest in the early hours of the morning. There is hardly anyone here and the beach hasn’t started to fill up with water scooters and speedboats. I am saddned by the careless way noisy water gadgets are being used here. With no regard for the marine environment. I know that it is owed for a huge part to tourists and I begin to think about how harmful tourism actually is and if I am being just as harmful by travelling around with my child the way I do.

I want to travel in the least harmful way possible but since we don’t hitchhike because I am not brave enough to do it with A and since it has been virtually impossible to find any couchsurfing hosts anywhere it still seems I am not being harmless enough. I ponder whether travelling with A and giving her a, hopefully, worldly and accepting view of our earth and all it’s inhabitants might make up for us not travelling in the least harmful way or if maybe it would be much better if we just stay at home. I think about how A is learning so many things from our journeys, how she is growing as a person and how I am growing with her. How she is gaining confidence and how I too am gaining confidence in myself and my ability to travel as a solo female with a child. I keep coming to the same conclusion: it is a good thing I am doing. I am showing A the world. I am giving her an opportunity to connect with humans and non-humans all over the world. This can only be a good thing.

A calls for me to come out into the water with her and I stand up and run into the sea water splashing up around me as I go. It is wonderful to be alive.

In Koh Samui I decide to do something really touristy. This is something I have been very hesitant to do because I am generally not wanting to support mainstream tourism. I decide that we go on a guided tour. We go with a boat that sails us into the Ang Thong national marine park. It is a beautiful tour. We climp up a mountain and we see a beautiful lagune. But the whole tour is very stressful. Our guides keep telling us to hurry up and move on and it really takes away a lot of the wonder of such a tour when you can’t do it at your own pace. A is not happy being ushered up the mountain so we decide to not go the whola way and instead climb back down to swim in the sea. We like to do everything at our own pace.

Ang Thong national marine park
Climbing back down the mountain

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