Koh Samui: Big Buddha & Fisherman’s Village

Travel Period : 9th June – 13th June 2011

{ Previous Post: Dinner in Chaweng }

Day 2 – Morning to Afternoon 

Big Buddha Temple

After finishing our breakfast at the resort as per our previous few days, we got into our car and started driving Northwards towards the Big Buddha Temple (in Thai – Wat Phra Yai) at the North-eastern side of Koh Samui.

This wasn’t originally in our plan as we had only wanted to check out the Fisherman’s Village at that area of the island. However, since the Big Buddha is located near there anyway, we decided to might as well drive a little in further to check it out.

The place wasn’t difficult to find as there was a huge gate at the corner of a bend, after we followed some signs leading there along the way. Passing through the gate, we had to drive through a bumpy road flanked by the ocean on both sides. Since this was the only way to their famous Big Buddha, why couldn’t the road be better maintained?

Crossing the road, we realised there were ample parking space so finding a vacant lot wasn’t a problem. That was probably also because it was the low peak season then and there weren’t many tourists around.

Besides the beautiful temples there, the one thing that easily caught the visitors’ eyes would definitely be the big golden Buddha statue located above a long flight of stairs. Comparing to the big Buddha statue Cat and I saw in Hong Kong some years back, this 12-meter tall statue wasn’t as big nor grand. Still, I felt it was worth driving here, especially since we had already rented a car anyway.

Upon spotted the long flight of stairs, Dar started getting restless and was eager to head for them. Seeing his strong enthusiasm, we began to stroll towards the stairs as he eagerly started his climb up. Once we reached the top, we took a closer look at the statue. 

Big Buddha Koh Samui
How huge it was, compared to us

Huge bells were hung along a covered walkway surrounding the statue, with wooden rods available freely for visitors to ring the bells using them. I got Dar the lightest rod I could find and got him to hit the bells a few times. He was interested in the first few strikes but gave up soon after by passing the rod back to me. It was probably still too heavy for him?

The scenery from here was pretty good since it oversees the Northern coasts of Koh Samui. Also, occasional planes would fly by at rather low heights since the Samui Airport is just nearby.

Instead of taking the stairs on either sides, we took the center flight while we were coming down. This was a mistake as the stairs along there were much slippery than the rest, so we had to be slow and careful while climbing down.

After we reached the bottom, we came across a row of fortune-telling machines to our left. From what I understood, visitors were to insert a coin (as a form of donation to the temple) to have their fortunes told at one of the machines. We had not expected the temples here to be so high-tech too!

We checked out the shops surrounding the Big Buddha and got Dar a Koh Samui shirt as memento. We also tried out their sliced mango and although it was tasty, they didn’t have proper plastic bags for visitors to take away so we had to finish the fruit first before we were to drive off to other places.

From my observations, I believe most of the shop owners actually used their shops as their homes too, since we saw furnitures and electrical appliances as we moved deeper into some of the shops, and several had pets in them. Many of these shop were also connected to the beach.

Fisherman’s Village

Moving on, we drove back the way we had come from to reach the Fisherman’s Village. From what we’ve read prior to our trip, this is quite a well-known place due to its beautiful Bophut Beach and dining and shopping areas.

Fisherman’s Village actually has a ‘Walking Street’ event every Friday, where vehicles are not allowed onto the streets and stalls will be set up selling food and many stuff. We had wanted to visit it the day before (it was Saturday now) but we had ended up at Chaweng instead. Anyway, it was raining the day before so I guess we had not really missed much.

We had to park our car on a vacant area outside the Fisherman’s Village as I it would be difficult to find parking lots in there. True enough, when we were walking along the streets there, we saw many signs stating that their available parking lots were either only for rent or for specific customers only.

Similar to the situation over at Chaweng, there weren’t many tourists here. We had planned to look for suitable souvenirs for our family and friends and so we stopped by a few stalls to check out what they were selling.

Earlier, back at one of the shops at the Big Buddha area, some exquisite hand-made soap in the shape of flowers had caught our eyes. We had wanted to buy one but unfortunately, the stall owner wasn’t around so we decided to try looking for them here instead, remembering that we had also saw them at Chaweng the night before.

Over at a stall along an alley, we saw the hand-made flower soaps again. Cat and I had decided earlier that even though we would be doing some bargaining when buying things from these stalls, we wouldn’t want to be too persistent and go overboard on the slashing of prices. We knew that most of these locals were only trying to make a living and although we might be paying a few dollars more for some of the stuff, we were actually helping these locals and supporting Koh Samui’s tourism industry by keeping their business alive.

Anyway, besides the hand-made soap, we also bought a small wooden elephant from the stall. The lady claimed that no other stores would be selling these elephants of her and true enough, we didn’t come across similar elephants for the rest of our trip. So like Cat had said to me, when you see something you really like, grab it on the spot instead of thinking we might be able get it later, since we might not be able to find it elsewhere again. The owner was really grateful as we were her first customer for the day.

It was already noon time then and we started to look for a place to rest our tired bodies and have our lunch. We soon passed by a restaurant by the name ‘Happy Elephant’ (read the review) and decided to go in for our meal.

After we left the restaurant, we came across some stone elephant statues at the end of a nearby alley. What a strange place to be showcasing these statues! As one of Dar’s favourite animals now is the elephant, he quickly went to check them out. Before the trip, we had ruled out taking him for an elephant trek here as we believed he would be scared stiff, based on our past encounters of him with real elephants.

With that, we felt we had seen enough of the streets here and decided to head back to our car and return to our resort to take a rest. Dar was noticeably tired and sleepy and we let him sleep on the car at the back with Cat while we took our journey back.

{ This post was written in 2011 after the trip }

Next Post: Lunch in Fisherman’s Village