by Dirk Baumgartl
Once a backpackers’ paradise now a trendy destination in the Gulf of Thailand – Koh Samui offers everything you expect from a tropical island. White beaches, a lot of palm trees and a buzzing touristy centre whose main attraction are the tranny shows at Christie’s Cabaret.
Everything is different when you are on holidays. You are rather relaxed, easygoing and probably more daring than at home. That is probably how it is for many straight men who let themselves be dragged into tranny shows on busy Chaweng Beach Road by glittering creatures of the night – and then find themselves on centre stage. This cheers up all the other lads who barely escaped to be dragged up on stage. Only girlfriends and wives seem to be a bit unsettled by the extremely good-looking competition and their tight skin, long legs and cup size C.
Ladyboys are a common feature in Thailand and it is not rare to see one of those “kathoeys” as saleswoman for cosmetics, service staff or as a flight attendant as on of the lastest developments. The “girls” on Chaweng Road are part of Christie’s Cabaret’s troupe, whose show ensures a full house every night. About 60 numbers in their repertoire make sure that you will not see the same show twice during your holiday. Package holidaymakers will not forget this experience so soon. Especially on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the island’s luxury resorts get into fierce competition to book the troupe to turn an ordinary dinner party into a spectacular event.
It is the relaxed contact with one other, the mutual respect and the tremendous friendliness of its inhabitants that make Thailand the most gay-friendly country in all of Asia. Decades of experience with tourists and the highest quality in accommodation, cuisine and service (at comparatively low prices) do not leave room for anything else to wish for. Or does it? E.g. a dream beach with soft, white sand, palm trees and some cute guys. On Koh Samui this beach is called Chaweng, is about four kilometers long and one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. Chaweng Beach can thus get quite crowded. The the central section around the Ark Bar is busy already in the afternoon.
Temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius, lounge music and cocktails provide a relaxing atmosphere. Koh Samui was an insider tip amongst backpackers 20 years ago and they still like to come to the island. Especially young Australians like to party inside and outside Ark Bar until past midnight before moving on to the largest club on the island, Green Mango. Many gays like to meet for a drink at Soul Café, bang next door, after the cabaret shows at half twelve before joining the crowd at Green Mango or even moving on to neighbouring Sound. But Chaweng with all its entertainment is only a small part of the 233 square kilometres large island. Think of Majorca and what you can discover off the touristy hot spots.
If you are looking for peace and quiet and want to relax for a few days, you can also find this on Koh Samui. The quieter beaches, Lamai, Mae Nam and Bo Phut Beach, are also beautiful and only 20 minutes away from Chaweng. Here you will find top notch accommodation such as Banyan Tree or Anantara. The latest addition is the super cool W Retreat, which opened in November 2010. Offering 250sqm villas (private pool included), an exclusive Japanese restaurant with only six tables and a spectacular beach location between Mae Nam and Bo Phut, the W is considered the most exclusive holiday retreat for all the rich and beautiful at present. This also applies to the staff, most of whom are attractive gay Thais. The fact that the trend brand of Starwood Hotels (“Sheraton”, “Le Meridien”) has opened its third resort here – after the Maldives and the Puerto Rican Vieques – shows the way the island is heading. The New York Times recently ranked Koh Samui third on its “41 Places to Go in 2011” list, despite the 24 hour flying it takes to get there from the US.
Koh Phang Nga is literally on Koh Samui’s doorstep and still exudes all the backpacker romanticism that Koh Samui did once as well. The boat trip from Bo Phut takes about 20 minutes. Those who prefer the more traditional atmosphere can spend a few days there. Other day trips take you to Ang Thong Marine National Park with its rock islands overgrown by jungle or up into the mountains in the heart of the island.
You can go snorkelling or diving with Rainbow Scuba & Diving. Englishman Adam Preston takes his guests in a traditional longboat out to small islands, where you can admire the colourful underwater world or simply doze in the sun on a deserted beach. The experienced diver also organises trips to Koh Tao, which has one of the most beautiful diving areas in the Gulf of Thailand, Sails Rock. If you are lucky, visibility is 40 meters under water and you can watch whale sharks, turtles, manta rays and many other fish. And for those who are not tired of colourful creatures at the end of the day, Christie’s Cabaret is the perfect place to watch the dazzling artists once again.
Official homepage of Thailand tourism board providing plenty of information on Thailand’s regions and an event calendar.
HOW TO GET THERE
Thai Airways offers twice daily departures from Frankfurt and a daily one from Munich to Koh Samui via Bangkok. Keep your eyes peeled for special offers on the airline’s homepage.
A taxi from Koh Samui airport to Chaweng or the Northern Coast cost about 500 Baht (13 Euros). You can also rent a scooter for ca. 150 Baht per day if you prefer your own vehicle. Just take care of your own safety (helmet, current insurance, etc.)
W Retreat (4/1 Moo 1 Tambol Maenam) The latest luxury resort on the island consist of large villas (including private pool), an exclusive Japanese restaurant and is uniquely located between the beaches of Bo Phut and Mae Nam. A free shuttle operating three times a day provides a link to Chaweng, www.whotels.com
KC Resort & Open Water Villas (166/98 Moo 2, T. Bophut) Luxury resort under German management on a hill on top the bay of Chaweng. Highlights are the over-water villas that have their private pools built underneath. The resort offers a beautiful view on Chaweng Beach and the islands further out at sea. A free shuttle teakes guests to the newly build Beach Resort on Chaweng Beach, .kchotelsresort.com
Amari Palm Reef (Chaweng Beach) Beautiful four-star resort under German management with direct beach access. Good value for manoey. The Amari is popular with many German tour operators like TUI or Thomas Cook. Across Chaweng Road is a quiet complex housing i.a. a large pool and Sivara Spa, www.amari.com
Wonderworld Samui Gay B&B (130/24 Moo 1, Soi Kaopra, Bophut) Gay BnB under German management offering rooms and one apartment at moderate rates, www.wonderworldsamui.com
Red Snapper (Chaweng Beach Road) Hard-to-miss trendy restaurant offering modern Thai cuisine, www.redsnapperbarandgrill.com
The Page (14/1 Moo 2 Chaweng Beach) Very good restaurant inside The Librabry hotel offering modern European and Thai cuisine and providing a nice view on the beach, www.thelibrary.co.th
Ark Bar (Chaweng Beach) You spend our days on the beach outside the bar, listening to lounge music, at night the party gets wild inside and outside the bar. Lots of young ones, lot of booze, www.ark-bar.com
Solo Bar (Chaweng Beach Road) This stylish bar on Chaweng Road is a good place to start the evening.
Christie’s Cabaret (Chaweng Beach Road) The best cabaret on the island is located next to a Burger Kind in a side street of Chaweng Road. The tranny show is glamourous, funny and entertaining. Shows start at 22h30.
Boy Zone (45/16 Moo 3) Bar with gogo boys and shows located in a side street of Chaweng Beach Road (shows start around midnight), www.boyzonesamui.com
Sweet Soul Café (Soi Green Mango) The gay crowd meets here for a drink after cabaret, www.thegreenmangoclub.com
Green Mango Dance Club (Soi Green Mango) The biggest and most popular club on the island for all tourists – if gay or straight, www.thegreenmangoclub.com
Gay tour operator Rainbow Scuba & Diving offers trips to the interior of the island as well as diving and snorkelling excursions, www.rainbow-scuba.com