My month on a Tropical Island

Not everyone can say they have lived on a tropical island for a month but that’s exactly what I did earlier this year.

When my plane came in to land on the small island of Koh Samui, in the Gulf of Thailand, it brought tears to my eyes. The blue seas, the palm trees, the jungle, it was beautiful.

Being collected from Koh Samui Airport’s runway

My emotions were a bundle of happiness, apprehension and excitement.

For 4 weeks, I woke up each morning and saw the palm trees waving gently outside my window and the sun shining brightly. Wherever I went, I always stopped to look at the sea. Looking out and seeing all the other islands reminded me of where I was – Thailand.

Koh Samui is a relatively small island although it was bigger than I expected.  I hired a bike for a month (Cost 3000ThB / $98 / £61) and it took me around 4 hours to drive the ring road around the island.  I was always amazed by the number of palm trees on the island and how many coconuts there were on each tree. Apparently the coconut industry used to be their main industry but that has now been taken over by tourism. There are over 3 million coconut trees on Koh Samui and between them they produce over 2 million coconuts PER MONTH!!!  That’s a lot of Pina Coladas…

Coconuts, coconuts everywhere

My accommodation was at Grandma’ House holiday cottages. (Cost: 10,000ThB / $327 / £204 for 4 weeks, a fully furnished 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom/shower/toilet, lounge, kitchen (with fridge and stove) and balcony. Towels and linen provided) Around 16 pretty cottages hidden amongst lush gardens overflowing with flowers, trees, palms and fruit trees.  The friendly owners really look after you and were always readily available to help you (even if it was just to find out where to do things on the island).  The cottages were clean and fitted out with good solid furniture and kitchen utensils.

Lounge and kitchen area of my cottage

My bedroom in the cottage

My cottage at Grandmas House

The beaches were beautiful and I never got tired of pulling my bike over to take in the gorgeous views.

Beaches of Koh Samui

Beaches of Koh Samui

Beaches of Koh Samui

Beaches of Koh Samui

Beaches of Koh Samui

Beaches of Koh Samui

The green ‘jungle’ covering the hills, the sprawling white sands of the beaches and the multitude of palm trees made you feel like you were really living in paradise.

The Reggae Bar near Big Buddha Temple, became a regular haunt.  A bar and restaurant made out of bamboo and seemingly anything and everything.  The main restaurant, which consisted of 3 tables, sits at street level but on the lower level you can sprawl in little bamboo shacks on the beach and enjoy the sea views or watch the fire show every night at 8pm.  On the island, the son of the owner and his trainer are no. 2 and no. 1 respectively and what they do with rods and strings on fire to music is absolutely breathtaking, sometimes unbelievable but always entertaining.

Fire show at the Reggae Bar

Fire show at the Reggae Bar

The resident pet squirrel at Reggae Bar

Enjoying the Reggae Bar

The food I ate on the island was beyond words.  I loved the chilli, lime, ginger, lemongrass flavours and I never tired of trying new things.

Stir fried rice, pork and a fried egg

Penang Curry

My absolute favourite – Som Tum or green papaya salad

It had to be done – eating deep fried grasshoppers

Deep fried grasshoppers and wood grubs – available as snacks at local market

Spicy seafood stir fry on rice

I absolutely loved the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course that I did with Samui TEFL.  Rosanne, the owner and instructor, has a wealth of experience and she ensured that each student worked to the best of their abilities.  The 4 weeks flew past and even though I was nervous for my first practical teaching lesson, all in all I had a great time, met some great people and learnt a lot.

Teaching a group of 8yr olds at Plai Laem Temple School

Teaching the kids at Sooo Fun Nursery

I passed my TEFL course with an A (got 100% for all my theory exams)

The temples on Koh Samui are well worth visiting.  I find the Thai temple architecture so intricate and beautiful.  Plai Laem Temple was just around the corner from my cottage and I visited it often.

Plai Laem Temple

Plai Laem Temple

The laughing Buddha at Plai Laem Temple

I also had the opportunity of sailing around Koh Samui on the beautiful ‘Naga’, a 30m wooden yacht with a spacious sun deck, open air covered deck and the internal saloon. You can lounge on the expansive decks or enjoy a drink while taking in the gorgeous island views.

Enjoying time on the ‘Naga’.

Braving the sun…

1…2…3… go!!!

I had a fantastic day eating chilled fresh fruit, delicious Thai cuisine and drinking cool drinks (all included in the price).  We even went snorkelling around on the of the other islands just south of Koh Samui (all equipment provided on the boat and also included in the price).

I loved my time on Koh Samui – the Thai language sounded like singing and the people captured my heart. I taught the cutest, brightest children in classrooms with no desks or a cardboard box with a cat nursing day-old kittens.  I toured around the island, stopping to take in the sweeping white beaches and their towering palm trees. I pinched myself every day because I couldn’t believe I was there.  I was blown away by the incredible food; the fresh, crunchy vegetables; the savoury fried rice; the stir fries and the fresh fruit. I’ve eaten street food for ridiculous prices that made my tastebuds sing, I’ve even eaten grasshoppers and worms.

I laughed when I first saw how many people the Thai’s can fit on a motorbike.  I’ve seen up to 4 people or 2 people and a dog.  I’ve seen a man carrying a huge flat screen TV while sitting on the back of a bike; I’ve seen a young man texting while riding down the street; I’ve seen a girl on the back of a bike eating her breakfast; I’ve seen a small dog perched on the back seat or sitting comfortably in the basket on the front of the bike.

Enjoying my rented bike (no TV’s and no animals on this bike)

I took some Thai lessons and was amazed at the reaction I got when I attempted to speak Thai.  I learnt how to ask the little smiling man on the street corner for some fresh, sweet pineapple, which he cut up and placed in a little plastic bag with a wooden stick for easy eating; I learnt how to ask the kind lady in the local shop how she was; I even learnt to tell a chef that his food was delicious and when all else failed, I was able to say that I only spoke a little bit of Thai.

My local street on Koh Samui

It was an amazing month and I will forever remember my time on the island. I met incredible people, learnt a lot, ate a lot and experienced a lot – a truly life changing month.

Thanks to Rosanne, my TEFL course instructor for starting this whole process. Thanks to Jurie, Katie and Jake, Billy, Marie and Mike, my fellow TEFL course participants, for making the course so entertaining.
Thanks to Christine, who introduced me to the Thai language with huge enthusiasm.
Thanks to all at the Reggae Bar for being one of my best memories of the island.

If there’s anything you’d like to know about Samui, just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it.


If you would like to do a TEFL course on the beautiful island of Koh Samui, contact SAMUI Tefl. Rosanne is friendly and approachable and will advise you accordingly regarding a career as an English teacher.

Would you like to sail around the islands around Koh Samui?  Contact Boutique Yachting for more details.

Grandmas House has modern, clean and comfortable cottages for rent.  Contact Tan for more details.

Koh Samui official website

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11 Responses to My month on a Tropical Island

  1. Tom says:

    Hi, really emjoyed your post as my family are about to spend a month on samui…. And will also be staying at granmas house !

    Until now i have not found any reviews or anything on the net about this place?

    Can you swim in the sea anywhere close to granmas? How far do you have to walk or drive?

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the feedback and you’re very welcome. If there is anything you’d like to ask, if I can’t answer, I know people on the island who can. You can actually get the beach from the grounds of Grandmas so depending on which bungalow you’re in, it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 seconds to walk there. There are other beaches within walking distance too. Tan can organise bike rental for you through a reliable contact too so DO hire a scooter and whizz around the island. Have fun – it’s an awesome place and Tan and his staff are really friendly.

  2. Tom says:

    Hi thanks for your reply.

    We were wondering if the beach is for swimming?
    We have a four and two year old so would love to have access to a swimming beach.

    Cheers tom

    • admin says:

      Hi Tom

      The water around that part of the island is very calm but there ARE a lot of broken rocks and bits of coral. If you head around to Choeng Mon, it’s better. Tan can direct you. It’s about 1.5km from Grandmas.
      Samrong Bay is VERY nice and about 1km away. You walk from Grandmas along the road to get there and it’s an easy flat walk. Nice resort close by where parents can enjoy cocktails while kiddies enjoy beach :-)

      Not swimming related but make sure you visit the Reggae Bar which is a short walk from Grandmas – their fire shows are amazing (all free as they use it for practising for their big shows). Again, Tan can direct you.

  3. Kirin says:

    Hi, I am so grateful for this post. I am going to Thailand in April to do the exact same thing you did yourself. I have booked to do the course with Rosanne and I’m staying at grandmas house as well. While I’m out there my family are concerned about my safety so I just wanted to ask how safe grandmas house and your experience as a whole was.

    many thanks

    • admin says:

      Hi Kirin
      That’s great news!!!!! You’re going to have an absolute ball!!! Please feel free to ask any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them for you.
      Best of luck… :-)

      • Kirin says:

        Thank you. What was the security like at grandmas house like? Was it a safe place to stay at?


        • admin says:

          Hi Kirin
          Absolutely. Everything locks securely. I had laptops, iPads and everything in my cottage and all was fine. Theft is VERY frowned upon in Thailand, I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but it’s certainly not the ‘norm’ like it would be elsewhere. I loved staying at Grandmas. If you would like, friend me on Facebook – I have a photo album there for Koh Samui and you can see some of the pictures :-)

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