Koh Samui reminds me of that song by Joni Mitchell ‘Big Yellow Taxi’: ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’. Since the island started receiving visitors in the early 1970s they have covered the coast with roads, resorts, bars and all manner of shoddy concrete buildings. The original visitors were happy with golden beaches and wooden bungalows, those who go to the island now seem to need an airport, big hospitals, hundreds of hotels and urban centers full of morally dubious bars. Such is the story of tourism as a commercial venture. It was with no small amount of surprise then that I went to visit a friend staying on Taling Ngam beach.
I was holidaying in Than Sadet in Koh Phangan at the time and so reluctantly I made the journey over to Maenam by boat and then caught a songthaew to Taling Ngam.
I had never been to the southeast of Koh Samui before. After Lamai the development got a lot thinner; by the time I got to Taling Ngam there were hardly any buildings to be seen other than the impressive Conrad Koh Samui hugging the rocks at the end of the bay.
Taling Ngam has a long stretch of white sand with an extensive tree cover that stretches back from the beach for quite a distance. Among the trees and along the beach are a few resorts, shops and a small fishing village. As a result, Taling Ngam feels very different to the main centers of Chaweng or Lamai. It is a place with space, nature and just a few people: full of the considerable beauty of nature.
I found my friends at Am Samui Resort. They had reserved for me a bungalow near the beach. Although the bungalow had more home comforts than the one I had just stayed in at Than Sadet it was not over-the-top. What was nice was the free wifi around the resort. The food at the restaurant was also good. I spent a very pleasant couple of days on Taling Ngam beach. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know what Koh Samui was like before the concrete arrived in massive amounts. It is one small part of paradise that hasn’t been turned into a parking lot!