Sep. 10. 2015
Essay
McKel Hill

McKel Hill

MS, RDN, LDN, Dietitian

KOH SAMUI, THAILAND

NAVIGATING KOH SAMUI, WHILE LIVING WHOLE AND EATING WELL

I shared the first of several spots we traveled too in Thailand, in part I Bangkok, part II in Chiang Rai, and today I’m sharing the last location and my favorite, Koh Samui! All of Thailand was incredible to explore, but I’m truly at home in water and by the ocean- I can’t help it, I’m a Cancer. It was a great way to end our busy and exciting trip, a way to relax and sink in the resort away from it all. Fresh fruit, activities like zip lining hundred feet above the ground, snorkeling, and swimming; made this place that much more memorable.

STAY.

I stayed at Conrad Koh Samui. If you’ve ever stayed at a Conrad resort and are familiar with them, then you can only imagine what this place was like. If you haven’t, here’s why I laughed when I first entered my room. Every room had not only a view of the ocean, but a BREATHTAKING view of the ocean that you could take in while swimming in your own infinity pool. Yes, every room on the resort had an individual infinity pool. I laughed because I thought, how in the world am I here right now? How is this place real?! I lost my words, breath, and all I could muster up was a laugh of gratitude at the experience and overwhelming beauty. The view overlooked the oceans with several surrounding islands, but the best part was being able to see the “5 islands” famous for housing the birds nests that make up the Thai dish, birds nest soup. I learned from our guide that no one lives on these islands and they’re completely shut off from the public other than the farmers who climb tall mountains and trees to cultivate and utilize birds nests (without the birds in them of course) to make this soup/dish- I didn’t try this recipe but we saw it everywhere on Koh Samui.

Like the other resorts we stayed at, they had beautiful accommodations, but this one in particular was my favorite, by far. The island was in sight at all times, the smell of the ocean, sea salt in the wind, and access to any body of water within minutes made me a very happy camper. They had a great little fitness center which I took advantage of every morning and lifted some weights and did HIIT circuit routines! It felt amazing getting in a workout before even having breakfast and starting the day off right. Conrad Koh Samui also had a lovely large infinity pool, which you can see some pictures here, with a bar/drink station right next to it. I told you all I grabbed fresh young coconuts at ANY chance I could and this resort was no exception- I even took them into the pool and ocean with me, couldn’t.get.enough. Getting around the resort was fun because you had to get a golf cart to go up or down, the resort and all the rooms are literally built on the side of a mountain so walking up roads to another room or restaurant on the resort resulted in increased heart rate and massive sweating, haha, fine for a workout warm up but not great for when you’re all dolled up. It was so easy to get around on the resort though, just a phone call away and one of their helpful staff members took care of you. I can’t recommend this resort enough and definitely want to come back here many more times! Like all places and locations in Thailand, there are so many places to stay and affordable opportunities in the heart of the city- Conrad was about 30 minutes from downtown Koh Samui, so definitely a more relaxed vibe.

EAT.

Just as in Bangkok and Chiang Rai, I gravitated towards the tropical fruit in the mornings and really filled up on that- I was trying to soak it in as much as possible! Right now, even writing and thinking about all that fruit I miss it so much. The resort itself had a couple restaurants which were incredible, especially JAHN. JAHN was an incredible modern take on traditional Thai food- I mean, way modern. The chef created a deconstructed Tom Yum soup with gelatin cubes that held the “broth” and flavorings, then once the hot broth was poured out of a tea kettle, it melted and dispersed. It was an incredible meal including all the senses. The chef made the entire meal, all 5 courses, gluten and dairy free for my lifestyle and it was sublime. I felt totally taken care of and felt great after eating all that food!

I promised myself something before leaving for Thailand. I had to try durian. For those of you who don’t know what durian is, it’s a fruit native to Asia, it’s incredibly smelly and has a serious cult following- the haters and the lovers. I’ve always been so curious, what’s all the hype? I get it now! When passing markets we would routinely see and smell fresh durian (which is the very spiky green fruit that is the size of a large football). Everyone tastes durian in a different way; I thought the smell was a combination of onion, garlic, sulfur rich foods, cheese, guava, pear, and the gym… all rolled into a wickedly unique creamy, mushy, soft flesh. It’s intense you guys. I used Snapchat to live that experience which I’ll link soon on YouTube! I was confused when I first tried it, the smell wasn’t pleasant at all, but I actually enjoyed the taste and the texture. I had a million ideas of how you could actually functionally enjoy durian, but here in Nashville we don’t have access to the fresh kind, bummer! Try durian, mission accomplished.

DO.

Koh Samui, literally means island so there was of course swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, and just relaxing on the beach. There was a huge added bonus that you could drive downtown, take a 1.5 hour speedboat ride to neighboring islands…this is where it’s at! It was so fun exploring other islands full of young tourists, I met so many people (hi, to the group of my new British and German friends!) and everyone was incredibly nice and just happy to be alive- such positive vibes and atmosphere. This was the part of the trip where I truly felt balanced in playing, relaxing, and working. It was beautiful. Fresh markets and temples are on Koh Samui as well and like Bangkok and Chiang Rai, we experienced those. I have to say, out of all the locations, the temple experience I had in Bangkok was by far the most memorable and the one that sticks.

Snorkeling was my jam. Like I said, I’m most at home in the water and felt ‘free as a bird’ swimming around the depths of the clear blue, yet sometimes completely dark, ocean. I used my GoPro underwater and took some videos (will upload those soon on YouTube!) of the little fish and other marine life I saw, it was heaven. Fun fact, I was first a marine biology major hence my passion and feeling of oneness with the ocean. I saw multiple barracudas and call me absolutely crazy, I really wanted to see a shark. BUT that didn’t happen and I guess I’m okay with that too.

You guys picked so I did it. I zip lined hundred feet above the ground… no big deal? It’s a huge deal for someone who doesn’t take well to heights, but I wanted to shake myself up, challenge my fears and go for it! I was basically shaking the entire 1.5 hour activity, holding on to my friends, and nervous laughing the whole time haha! It was crazy, awesome, challenging…and I probably won’t do it again. If you love these types of adventures, then I HIGHLY recommend it because the view was incredible, we were literally in the thick of the jungle with monkeys zip lining; can’t get any cooler than that.

Have any of you tried fresh durian? What was your experience? Was I the only one washed with confusion haha! I hope you all have an awesome week ahead,

xx McKel

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A huge thank you to @ThailandInsider with #ChooseMyThailand made this trip possible.