Koh Samui: Stormy Night Nathon

Travel Period : 9th June – 13th June 2011

{ Previous Post: Laem Sor Pagoda }

Driving along Route 4170, we headed west before hitting a bend to go north towards Nathon, a town located along the west coast of Koh Samui. This town, unlike Chaweng and Lamai, is not a popular spot for tourists and is a town better known to the locals. Still, we read that the town has a weekly ‘Walking Street’ event like the Fisherman’s Village, and theirs are on Saturdays, which happened to be the day we were on.

Taling Ngam Beach 

Along the way, we stopped by the Taling Ngam Beach to see if we could catch another view of the sunset before the sun went down completely, since we were at the west side of the island. The scenery didn’t turn out to be what we had expected though as we saw large dark clouds looming over the skies, a sign that a storm was soon arriving.

Disappointed, we got back to our car and drove on. As we got into a more populated area, we spotted a busy wet market on our right and decided to stop by to take a look, since it looked interesting to us. When we checked our map, we were still at the southern edge of Nathon.

Night Street Market 

This market was split into two sections, the inner areas selling poultry, fish, vegetables and stuff we normally see in a wet market, while the outer area was a dry area selling packed titbits and freshly cooked food.

Over at the wet areas, each stall had an interesting ‘device’ in what seemed like a spinning fan but with cloth or plastic bags attached to it. We soon realised that their purpose was to drive away the flies from their produce. How innovative!

Meanwhile, a ‘satay’ stall at one end of the dry area aught our attention as we had wanted to taste something localised and unique to Koh Samui or Thailand from the street vendors. One particular type of satay seemed very popular among locals as we saw several of them came by and bought them.

Unsure of what they were made of, I checked with the vendor to find out if they were made of chicken meat, which he quickly responded ‘Yes, chicken!’

Satisfied, I decided to purchase two sticks (I couldn’t remember the price but they were cheap than our local satay), one for each of us. After taking a closer look however, we realised that they looked somewhat different from the usual satay we eat in Singapore. They were shaped irregularly and when I took my first bite on one of them, well, for one, they were much tougher than I had expected from a piece of meat. As I chewed on, they started tasted weird to me.

At this point, I knew I wasn’t eating chicken ‘meat’ but probably some of their organs instead (I later found out that these were probably their kidneys). We weren’t the type who would eat organs so after my first bite, I was already thinking of giving up. Still, knowing that these were edible (at least by the locals), I persisted a little more but ultimately, still decided to throw the rest away before they started doing funny things to my stomach. Guess that wasn’t the pleasant first experience with their local ‘delicacy’ which I had expected.

At this juncture, we noticed that the skies were turning very much darker while we felt a drizzle outside. We quickly got back to our car which was parked on the opposite side, taking much caution when crossing the road since there was no traffic light in sight with many vehicles passing us by on both sides.

Nathon 

As we drove on further northwards, the rain began to pour as we finally arrived at Nathon. Similar to the road structure of Lamai, there was a long stretch of an one-way street. Perhaps these one-way streets of each town were there intentionally to ease their ‘Walking Street’ events?

We were surprised soon to find out that there was no restriction of vehicles along these streets and we didn’t come across any so-called street vendors lining up along them. Was it because of the heavy rain that the event had been cancelled? Sigh… Was it a wasted trip? (though I did get to taste something local earlier…)

From the car, we could see the ocean on our left, which would be the perfect spot for a sunset if not for the storm?

We did spot a few street vendors selling food at one of the car parks but didn’t check them out due to the bad weather. Also, we had expected a bigger ‘Walking Street’ than this, if this was really supposed to be part of the weekly event.

After we left Nathon feeling disappointed, we decide which direction we should be heading. We were at the western side of the island then and so we could either drive Northwards to pass by Chaweng or Southwards back onto the route we had come from to Lamai.

Driving In Heavy Rain

Hoping that the rain would stop by the time we reached Chaweng so we could visit the town again, we decided to take the former route.

Unfortunately, while we drove on, the downpour got heavier and the visibility from the car was very poor, forcing vehicles on the road to be moving slowly. We knew the risks involved when driving under such circumstances so didn’t really mind the slow speed. Anyway, since most of the roads here were single-lane, we didn’t have a choice but to match the speed of the car in front. As a result of these factors, it was a long and slow drive for the next hour or so.

Along the way, there were roads that were built just next to the roaring seas, which was a bit terrifying, especially after the news of the Japan Tsunami.

By the time we finally reached Chaweng, the rain was still pouring and we were all tired and hungry. During our journey earlier, we had changed our plan to head straight back to our resort for our dinner which was already bundled with our package but looking at the state we were in then, we just wanted to take a rest from the car ride and fill our stomachs while in Chaweng.

As such, I decided to stop by ‘Big C’, a large shopping mall in the area. I had thought that there would be a good selection of restaurants to choose from in there, giving its scale.

When we got in however, we were once again disappointed due to the lack of choices available. We thus ended up having our dinner at a food court on the second floor. In order to buy from the stalls there however, we would need to purchase a card with cash value. Fortunately, a full refund would be available after our purchases so we wouldn’t be losing out, though it was still troublesome for us tourists.

We ordered several plates of chicken rice for ourselves, since it was the only familiar foodstuff we saw at the food court. Unfortunately, we were once again disappointed with the food as the chicken meat was cold and hard, even for Cat’s fried chicken rice. Nevertheless, we didn’t want to waste food and so just accepted it.

Dar enjoyed himself as he started to self-feed while we busied with ours. Although we knew he had learnt to self-feed from his CC, we seldom let him have the opportunity to do so at home or when we were dining outside, as we were worried that he might be making a mess of the place or be eating too slowly if we were to allow him to dictate his pace.

Through this meal however, Dar had proven us wrong as he steadily held the spoon in his hand as he ate, and was eating quite fast with one scoop following another. Thus from that day onwards, we have been letting him self-feed as much as possible.

After that, we left the shopping mall without wanting to explore further, since it was already quite late (it was 9pm+ and shops were already closing) and we were all feeling tired after a long ride.

Along the way back and just outside Chaweng, we came across this landmark huge rock which was just along the road (there was even a ‘Big Rock Restaurant’ beside it) where part of it had recently fallen, causing traffic to slow around that area. Besides thinking that this landmark might gradually disappear due to the weather and natural causes (becoming ‘Small Rock’ instead? ^^|), we also couldn’t but help to think what if part of the rock fell when we were driving past? Looks like the natural hazards when travelling in Koh Samui are indeed very real and present.

After we finally reached our resort, we unloaded our stuff and headed back to our room to have our much needed rest.

It had been a wonderful experience driving around the island over the past two days. We would be returning the vehicle early the next day as we wouldn’t be needing it any more. Based on our plans, it would involve exploring the Lamai Beach and Town!

{ This post was written in 2011 after the trip }

Next Post: Lamai Beach