How many ways are there to get around Samui Island?
Those with strong legs and an in-born immunity to humidity can walk. Those with daring can ride a motorcycle. Those who are nostalgic can take a tutuk taxi, while those who want a "shaking" good time should head for the jeeps.
By foot (not recommended!)
In a land where licences are unnecessary and free enterprise and looking cool are prided, it is indeed a sad soul who resorts to walking.
On our first day, we chose what was in our minds the easiest, cheapest, and -- mind you -- the healthiest form of transportation to get from our bungalow south of Chaweng beach to the beach of Lamai. Since our landlady happily proclaimed that it was ‘very near’ -- only 500 meters -- we gamely wore our sunglasses and trekked into the blazing blue skies.
We walked and walked, round curvy roads and uneven rocky ground, and still saw no signs of the beach. We risked being sprayed by muddy water set in motion by zooming vehicles over the puddles left from the past week’s rain. One moment, we were singing about how planting rice is never fun, and the next moment, we were standing in a muddy rice field! Strike out walking.
After waiting 20 minutes in a blazing hot afternoon with rumbling stomachs, my travelling companion and I gave in to the temptation and hopped onto a taxi motorcycle to Chaweng beach. Despite the lack of safety precautions, it was the cheapest way there, at only 20 Baht each, and we smiled for joy even as we hung on for our dear lives.
This is the mode of transport we always associate with Thailand. It is safe -- a whole lot safer than a motorcycle -- convenient, as there were lots of them, and not that expensive in the daytime. These tuk tuks are colourful, covered trucks for people that plied the route from Chaweng to Lamai to Natheon and back. To get on, you just had to flag one down, and sometimes it is safer to ask or bargain the price before climbing up the vehicle. When you wanted to stop, you just pressed a buzzer, got down, paid the driver, and you were there, right at your doorstep.
Adventurous people (mainly blond-haired German or European types) rent motorcycles to get around the island. At 120 Baht (SGD$5) a day, it’s probably the most value-for-money form of transport. But being the safety-conscious Singaporeans that we are, we opted for a less dangerous option: the jeep.
The landlady at our bungalow happily procured one for us at 750 baht (SGD$35) a day. No licence required, and it had no insurance, so she reminded us to "drive slowly." Once we got into the jeep, we had trouble reversing out of the ditch it was in, but once we got the hang of it, off we went. Gassed up, we had a blast driving around the small island, through tarred roads and recently carved-out sandy ones. By the time we returned the jeep in the evening, we were all "shook" up, tanned, and happy about a good day out.