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Thailand -2005


Our trip to Thailand in March / April 2005 was, once again, organised by Premier Holidays, following their exceptionally good service on previous trips. We flew Eva Air, Evergreen Deluxe, for the international flights (once again extremely good) and Bangkok Airways for our internal flights to and from Koh Samui. Premier Holiday's service was, once again excellent and we were very impressed with the internal flights on Bangkok Airways.

We, once again, took a deluxe corner room at the Landmark in Bangkok, spending three nights there and meeting up with friends, prior to going down to Koh Samui for 13 nights, over the Easter period.

Deluxe Corner Room - Landmark Bangkok

Deluxe Corner Room at Landmark Bangkok

In Bangkok, we spent most of our time with friends who had come up from Hua Hin and were staying close to our hotel. This was excellent as it meant we could get some local knowledge, travelling on the canals as well as on the Skytrain.

Over the next couple of days we toured the klongs, visited the Royal Barges museum, the Vinmanek Teak Palace, and innumerable sights and wats, dining in excellent and reasonably priced Thai Restaurants and being introduced to the nightlife areas. We were astounded by how well and respectfully we were treated, even in Soi Cowboy bars. We were able to introduce our friends to Suda (see Thailand 2004), which they never knew existed and where they were impressed by the authenticity of the food and prices.

All too soon we were saying our goodbyes to our friends. Bangkok is an interesting and vibrant city and we were all convinced that we would return!

Outbuildings - Teak palace
Royal state carriage - Carriage Museum

Outbuildings - Vinmanek Teak Palace

Carriage Museum

Koh Samui, Chaweng and our hotel, were something of a letdown - Koh Samui (and Chaweng in particular) was not to our taste at all. We were fortunate in the location of our hotel. Our research proved correct and we were on a very picturesque part of the beach, away from the noise of the main town.

We stayed at the Chaba Cabana, but this was spoiled somewhat as they had closed one entrance to the hotel and were developing on the South side (not mentioned when booking). A consequence of this was that they were using the minor entrance for all traffic and this caused rubbish trucks at 3am to park behind our "deluxe villa" to pick up the garbage, awaking us every night.
We complained bitterly but there was another problem in that the hotel was seriously overbooked. This meant that they were lodging people in the hotel next door and other places, so we were unable to exchange the room for 6 nights!

They eventually gave us a very nice junior suite (which unfortunately suffered two air-conditioning, water leaks) for the last seven nights and provided a SPA foot massage and Thai massage (so different from the ordinary Thai massage) and a free dinner each. The Spa was (in my wife's opinion) one of the better ones and compared favourably, at much lower cost, to those found in Bali.

Unfortunately the overbooking meant that all facilities at our Hotel were overcrowded, as the people lodged elsewhere had to use the pool and other facilities in our hotel. This resulted in insufficient tables for breakfast and no sun-lounger availability around the far-too-cramped pool area. The "swim-up" pool bar consisted of a concrete bar and a bell, with which to summon a main bar waiter!

Following the Tsunami which had devastated tourist areas on the West coast, this overcrowding problem was common to most hotels, even Poppies. We had dinner one night at Poppies restaurant and, although the food was extremely good, we were pleased that we didn't stay there. The service was not particularly good and everything seemed "cosy" and squashed in (probably because on the number of people) - perhaps worse even than where we stayed. Chaweng main strip also seems to run all the way down to the front of Poppies now. Samui seemed way past its best.

Another problem was that the Samui Thai locals seemed to be very greedy (possibly because of the extra tourists) and very grasping. We found Samui to be very expensive, by Thai standards, for poor service.

Chaweng Beach
North Chaweng Beach

Chaweng Beach - View to South

Chaweng Beach - View to North

We will probably not go back to Samui and this made us consider a change from Thailand altogether. A beautiful island spoiled by over commercialisation and, unfortunately, by tourists. Naturally there were some great local people - but there was the constant feeling that everyone was out to get as much money as quickly as possible. We would NEVER visit or recommend Chaba Cabana.

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