But certainly not a complete waste of time. We had three missions:
- Get 30-day visa extensions
- Buy a laptop for Colin
- Buy a lens for the new camera
The plan was to get in and out in one afternoon. On that we failed. Well, actually we failed at everything but the visa extension because the shopping on Samui consists solely of:
- Wooden knick-knacks
- Replicas of brand name watches
- “Armani” suit tailors
- Silk pillow covers
- Copies of DVD movies
- Shoulder bags
- Beachwear Thais wouldn’t be caught dead in
- Camera… film
- Copies of music CDs
We started in the capitol town of Nathon then took a sonthaew to the resort side of the island. We walked all afternoon, amazed at the phenomenon: at every 10th store the pattern starts over again with wooden knick-knacks. The Armani tailors were particularly striking. Each store had slick looking young men in suits outside who would shamelessly badger every person who walked by to come in and be fitted for a suit. We passed maybe a dozen of these places, and every one was named “Armani” something and had these guys out front. Two jackets, two shirts, two pants, two ties, all made to order, $149 USD. Armani
We also tried the “big tech mall” which turned out to be ten cellphone stores and the Thai equivalent of a Walmart (no, we haven’t seen any actual Walmarts).
Exhausted, and having missed our ferry, we booked in to a cheap room across the street from the $4000 Baht resorts on Chaweng beach, then went out in search of food. Here, we were finally successful! We found the most unassuming place with the most glorious food: the Chilli restaurant. By unassuming I don’t mean down a little alley and populated by Thais; I mean it looked like crappy tourist fare: on the busy street, well lit, bad decor, menu out front boasting five wildly different food genres beside a half oil drum filled with ice and raw seafood.
But the prices were better than most on schmancy Chaweng beach, and we were right starving. And one of the five genres was Japanese – sushi! Now… we’d been burned by sushi back in Chiang Mai; drawn in by the incredible decor and Japaneseness of the place, when we should have been looking at how far Chiang Mai actually is from the ocean. It had been expensive and not very fresh, so needless to say we were wary.
But, the waitress had suggestions for what we should order, and as you can see from my thumbs-up here it was as good as it looked. So good in fact that we had seconds, and thirds, then ice cream and espresso. The staff were great and the sushi was amazing. Huge chunks of crab and the most delicious fresh wasabi I’ve ever had. Some fish that were new to us too; new and tasty.
The next day of course we were back to failing our missions; we waited for a computer store that didn’t open, then missed our ferry due to some miscommunication with a travel agent and ended up bumming around Nathon town for five hours taking pictures.
We’ve decided, screw this island stuff; if you want to buy something in Thailand, you go to the place that has it all: Bangkok.
We’ll let you know how it goes. ;)