We just got back from Ko Samet. It was so cool, the nicest place I've been in Thailand so far. The whole island is a national park so it doesn't have that touristy feeling that you get at some beach towns with the big hotel resorts. The one bad thing is that you have to pay an entrance fee to get on the island...only 40 baht for Thai people (or anyone who can pass as being Thai) which is about $1 and 400 baht for foreigners (anyone who is white). This is pretty standard for living in Thailand, "farangs" end up getting charged more because they can charge us more. We didn't have any hotel reservations so once we got off the boat we were kind of at a loss at where to stay. We decided to just get in a sung taew (basically a truck taxi that has benches in the back of the truck) and take a look at some of the other areas of the island. It felt like a jungle safari cruise because the roads weren't paved and we were bouncing around like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. None of the beaches looked quite right so we stayed on till the end of the route and luckily we ended up at a nice stretch of beach with some nice looking bungalows.
The beaches were beautiful, with white sand and clear blue green water, just what you would imagine a tropical island would look like. In fact, the water was so clear that while we were swimming we found 1,100 baht in the water. First, I found a 100 baht bill laying at the bottom of the sand and thought that was funny but then I realized that there was probably more and when I found the 1,000 baht bill we couldn't believe our luck. We figured it was just a little birthday gift from the sea gods. :D
Another great thing about the island was there were lots of friendly dogs and cats frolicking around the beach. It was such a nice change from the mean, tough animals of Bangkok. The cats would actually let you pet them and one of them even came and jumped up on my lap in the restaurant. I realized that when I die I want to come back as a cat on an island like Ko Samet with nothing to do but sleep and get fed by tourists.
We hung out at the beach, got some dinner and then decided to go walk out on the beach. It was low tide so the beach looked totally different then it did during the day. While we were walking we noticed some funny looking balls in the sand and lots of other intriguing things but couldn't see what was causing them because it was so dark so we went and bought flashlights at the minimart and went exploring. We saw some crazy stuff. Turns out the little ball things were crab eggs. Thousands of little crabs laying millions of little eggs. We saw these piles of sand that look like little turds or brains or coiled up snaked. It took us a while to figure out that they were caused by these tubular worms deep inside the sand that was pooping out the sand. Sea cucumbers, puffer fish, shrimpy things...it was so entertaining!
I'll try to upload the pictures tomorrow, the internet cafe I'm in now doesn't allow uploading files.