Dog days in Ko Samed-A A +A
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
WHEN I die, I want to be reincarnated as a dog in Ko Samed (or Samet Island), about 220 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, Thailand.
The Thais are kind to dogs, but in Samet, they are well-loved and not subject to unreasonable demands, such as working for a meal. The dogs roam freely after getting fed—presumably by the many restaurants that line the coast—and sleep all morning on the white sandy beach under the shade of trees until their next meal. This may sound normal in the Philippines (for many humans, not dogs), but most Thais do not enjoy this much luxury as they are seldom idle.
I always envied the life of a dog; they just wag their tails to give the impression that they are devoted to their humans, and get a tummy rub and a treat in the process. They are not expected to clean up after themselves and, by simply pulling their ears, get forgiven for any misdemeanor.
In Samet, located in the Rayong Province, this inequality among species is most apparent. Let me count the ways:
• Dogs don’t pay for anything in Samet. Foreign tourists who visit the island pay 200 Baht each upon entering the nature park.
• Dogs get free meals, humans pay. Here, though, humans have some sort of advantage as they can always ask the cook to lessen the chili in the dish, that is if they can get the message across. Dogs have to make do with what is handed to them.
• Dogs don’t need sunblock even if they lie all day on the beach, under the sun’s glare. Being one of Thailand’s driest areas, Samet is often sunny even while the northern part of the country is drenched.
• Dogs travel light. Humans bring luggage everywhere (and I’m only referring to physical ones), even in Samed where one can go to dinner half-naked.
• Dogs can go anywhere without getting accosted for trespassing. Humans are obliged to order food to use the loo at a restaurant. The Thais, though, are not very strict about this as my uncle was able to use the shower and get a freshly laundered towel from some resort we passed by.
• Dogs have no need for transportation on the island. Humans, who tend to get out of breath when hiking up the island’s uphill roads, have to pay 50 Baht each for a ride on the back of Samet’s taxis, which are really pick-up trucks.
• Dogs are not obliged to tip the fire dancers who perform at different resorts at night. Fire dancers, however, expect the oohs and aahs from humans to be converted into the currency of choice.
Being a dog in Samet has many other advantages, but they involve a lot of sniffing and are not fit to be published in this paper.
If you want to verify these observations, check out Ko Samed and enjoy the island’s white sandy beaches that face the Gulf of Thailand.
Most of the action is on Hat Sai Kaew, which is filled with deck chairs and tables.
But the place can get too crowded and noisy during weekends and holidays as it is also a favorite destination of many Thais.
If you want to be at a safe distance from the crowd, Tubtim Resort in Ao Tubtim is the best place to be. It has basic but tidy wooden cottages for two for 600 Baht and a white sandy beach. Tubtim is within walking distance from other resorts and restaurants so you need not worry about missing the other attractions on the island.
To reach Samed from Bangkok, get a bus at the Ekkamai Station to Ban Phe. From Ban Phe or Nuan Thip pier, board a ferry to Samed.
Oh, and don’t waste time negotiating for a lesser taxi fare on Samed. The price is “same, same” as the Thais will tell you.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 24, 2013.