11 December 2012

Koh Samui Oct 2012 Part IV - Spa Spa

In this final instalment of our Koh Samui trip, the highlight is SPA! Spas and massage palours are very common in many parts of Thailand, but it seems that the "Tiger Balm" massage is unique to Koh Samui. Basically, Tiger Balm is used together with massage oil during a massage and it's a very soothing and warm sensation, especially when massaging the back, shoulders and neck.

This time round, we noticed more spas and massage palours have sprung up in Chaweng area. Usually there is no need to make appointments as the spas have more than enough staff to cater to the patrons. But it does get crowded nearer to midnight, perhaps most people wish to have a massage for a good night's sleep?

Anyway, while we were at Chaweng, we just randomly picked a relatively new and big-scale spa. The therapist will wash our feet first before start of any treatment.

These comfy chairs are for foot and shoulder massage.

This is where we had our Tiger Balm full body massage.

I think this is for pedicure.

In terms of skills and service, we weren't very impressed. The first time we went in the afternoon, service level was better (not many customers around) but the therapists try to upsell us to a more expensive Tiger Balm with oil massage which was double the price. Tiger Balm massage was 400 baht, whereas with oil is 800 baht. We didn't mind as the oil seemed to blend better with tiger balm.

The second time we went, it was close to midnight and the spa was very crowded, we had to stand and wait for available massage chairs, and the therapists seemed to be rushing through each job.

Our last day at Samui, we discovered this Peace Tropical Spa which was about 5 minutes (on bike) near Hansar Samui. We decided to go for a one-hour massage with the two hours we had before departing for the airport.

Iced Bael Fruit tea was served with a cold towel.

The spa was sprawled over a lush garden. This pavilion is for thai massage, I think.

One of the massage villa.

Our spa villa came with a large bathtub but we didn't have a chance to use it.

Spacious massage room at the spa villa.

We liked the sturdy wooden massage bed. Both of us opted for the neck and back massage that came with Tiger Balm :) The skills of the therapists were not bad, and service level quite good too.

The massage cost 1300 baht per pax; much pricer than those smaller-scale spas we went to at Chaweng. But still cheaper than the upscale spa like the one at Hansar Samui, where an hour massage cost 2500 to 3000 baht. Didn't have the chance to try the spa at Hansar Samui, partly also because of the price. I was happy and satisfied with the cheap cheap good good tiger balm massage :)

Ahhh, I miss the tiger balm massage already.

That's all for the trip, hope we could return to Koh Samui soon again!

06 December 2012

Koh Samui Oct 2012 Part III - Food Glorious Food

Yeah, this is the most delicious part for it's all about food we had at Samui :)

One of the main reasons why we love Koh Samui is because of SabiengLae Restaurant. Crazy it may seem but we really like the food there. Will talk about the dishes at SabiengLae later.

Breakfast at resorts is also something I eagerly look forward to :) I guess it's rare for us to have such sumptuous spread of breakfast back home. So I always make it a point to wake up for breakfast, unless the spread is bleah or food quality is mediocre. I must commend most of the breakfast spreads at Thai hotels and resorts are pretty decent, so much as that I always over-indulge and had to eat lunch at a later hour or skip the meal altogether!

Breakfast at Hansar Samui is served from 6.30am to 10.30am (although I saw people still eating after 10.30am), at the main restaurant. Both upper and lower floors are open during breakfast, with the same spread.

Not a very big spread but they focus on quality rather than quantity. The self-service bars serve fruits, cereals, breads, cold cuts, cheese, hot food like porridge, stir fried noodles, fried rice. Items like eggs (all methods of cooking) and waffles could be ordered from the kitchen.
Fresh juices; I love the thai orange juice.
Cereals, and some confit I think.
Bread station.
The hot food like stir fried noodles, fried rice, porridge etc.

Impressive selection of condiments for the porridge.

Deli items like ham, cheese, with crackers and nuts.

During our first breakfast, we were initially seated alfresco but someone next table started smoking. Lovely weather and marvelous view but we didn't want smoke-infused food so we had to shift.

Omelette which I ordered from the kitchen. The eggs were cooked to perfection, slightly fluffy, smooth and runny.

More food for me :p The hashbrown was overcooked - disappointing. Other than that, the fried rice, stir fried noodles were yummy!
In fact, both hubby and I were very impressed with the stir fried noodles. There was another impressive dish which I didn't think much of, but blew me away, the stir fried chicken with basil.
Hubby's porridge. Surprisingly good as well, the broth was flavourful with pork yet very light on the palate.

Our much anticipated lunch at Sabienglae Restaurant. We rented a bike and the ride took us about 45 mins from Bophut (to Lamai).

To our pleasant surprise, the restaurant has underwent some renovations and expanded even further towards the beach area. The seating capacity is like double than before.
It was much too hot, otherwise would be lovely to sit right next to the beach.
Our favourite appetizer at Sabienglae, the Prawn cake, must eat with the sour plum sauce :d~~~ otherwise won't taste as good.
The prawn cake was crispy on the outside and tender inside, great combination of prawn meat, fish meat and perhaps some sotong meat as well, with a hint of spices.
The Tom Yum Goong was very spicy and sour (I couldn't help but salivate just looking at the photo), with strong notes of lemon grass. A tad too spicy for me but perfect for hubby. There were generous servings of prawns, sotong and mushroom inside the soup, actually a little too much for just the two of us.

I love the steamed sea bass in lime sauce. The fish meat was very fresh and tender and perfect with the garlic, lime, chilli sauce base.
Stir fried mixed vegetables. The vegetables were crunchy and sweet!

We had guessed the meal would cost around 1300-1500 baht given that the fish was quite big, but no, it cost only 900 baht! Which is an impossible price to get in SG! See, now you get what I mean when I say the food here is good and reasonably priced?

Anyway, we were so full by the end of the meal that we skipped dinner altogether.

So we had supper instead :p We dropped by a random eatery along the road at Chaweng (on our way back to Bophut after massage), coincidentally the shop's name is called "Stop and Eat". It's opened by a foreigner and managed by locals. We ordered a braised pork knuckle rice and noodle soup.

Both were simple and nice comfort food, and cost less than 100 baht. Cheap cheap good good.

Another breakfast. This time, we had it at the ground floor. Similar spread.

I love the coleslaw and fruit salad here.
The dining hall overlooks an open-concept kitchen. Different types of sauces for self-service.
As usual, good variety of fruits.
I love these colorful petite plates of jam, nutella, peanut butter etc.
Bread and pudding and assorted muffins.

Interesting to see a honeycomb!
The puff pastry (apple pie) was not bad. I love the coleslaw and fruit salad.
As usual the stir fried noodles and rice were nice. The greens was actually spinach cooked in some creamy sauce, it was really really good!

The pomelo and pineapple were very sweet and juicy too!

Finally the last meal before heading home. We had a late lunch at the Samui Airport. Ok, we knew that it's usually not advisable to dine at the airport but, well we wanted to try.
Hubby had this bowl of beef noodle soup which was so-so only.

I ordered a Mango Salad and Pork sandwich and this came in. I didn't expect a burger at all! Anyway, it was yucks.

The saviour was the deep fried spring roll which was crispy on the outside with moist stuffings. The meal came up to 1400-1500 baht which was outrageous as compared to our Sabienglae meal in terms of taste, quality and price. *sigh* Lesson learnt, never dine at the airport.
This concludes the food we had for this trip. Stay tuned for the final part on spa and massage!

04 December 2012

Koh Samui Oct 2012 Part II - Bophut

This post is about Bophut, but it's very brief only because we didn't really explore much!

By the time we checked into Hansar Samui, it was already 10+pm. I was very keen to visit the Bophut Walking Street since it only happens every Friday night, luckily the stalls only close at close to 11pm and Hansar Samui Resort is literally a stone's throw away from the Walking Street.

The Walking Street is sort of divided into 2 zones (an L shape which is not connected to each other), 1 zone mainly clothing, accessories and ornaments; the other, mainly food with some clothing/accessories and entertainment (live band).

We went towards the clothing zone first, had to browse through very quickly as it was approaching 11pm and we wanted to see the street food section as well. "Luckily" there wasn't much too see (I only bought a bracelet and ring) and we were able to turn back towards the food zone after 15-20 mins. The food zone was rather disappointing with only a few stalls selling grilled meats, seafood, phad thai, drinks.

Hubby decided to try some Phad Thai (local stir fry noodle) cooked a la minute.
Tasted ok, the noodles were a little mushy (too wet) though.

We also tried a stick of grilled cuttlefish. Not bad, quite juicy and chewy but the chilli sauce was way too spicy for me and I had to gulp half a bottle of water to quench the spiciness.

There was a live band at one section of the walking street where patrons could listen to some thai rock music while drinking cheap mojitos.

Towards 11pm, most of the stalls starting packing up and we headed back to the resort. Overall, the walking street was a little disappointing. I had expected more stalls with more activities. And to our suprise, it wasn't crowded at all, in fact the whole Bophut Fishermen's Village was pretty quiet.
True indeed, when we re-visited Fishermen's Village the next evening, it was like a dead town! Such a stark contrast to Chaweng area. Most of the shops close early (perhaps due to lack of crowd), and we couldn't find any spas/massage palours after 9-10pm; unlike in Chaweng where most spas operate till 1-2am or 11-12 midnight.

The only Pancake stall that we found, unlike in Chaweng where you can find one such mobile store every few streets.
We got the Banana and Nutella Pancake which was delish! The pancake was very crunchy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside, served with generous amount of banana, nutella and condensed milk. Sinful but so good!

Beachside bar that looks so pretty! They only open from evening onwards. Oversized beanie cushions are laid on the beach for patrons to relax over drinks.

Apparently their house specialty is Coconut Ice Cream (besides all the alcoholic drinks). But when we popped in one of the nights after dinner, they were sold out. How could their house specialty be sold out? It must either be damned good or what? Rather disappointed as we had settled comfortably on the beanie cushions already. We don't drink and there weren't any other things that we could order unfortunately.

Our ride for the 2 days =D

Rented a bike to help us get around, especially to and fro SabiengLae Restaurant located at Lamai Beach area (taxi fare would cost about 700 baht). The rental shop is just a few minutes walk from Hansar Samui Resort. Cost 200 (or 250) baht for 24 hrs rental. Diesel cost is very minimal, 50-100 baht should be sufficient for 24hrs. The bike is reasonably new and well maintained. We didn't have to place our passport as deposit (a common practice for some places). We were late by 1.5hrs when returning the bike and didn't even have to pay any penalty or extra charges. Having a bike is really convenient as we could travel anywhere, anytime without the need to reply on taxis or tuk tuks.

That's all for Bophut. Wished I could have more time to explore the area, next time perhaps!

Stay tune for upcoming post on FOOD!