Koh Samui Viewpoints
Samui is a very simple island - geographically, anyway. Around the outside there is a flat bit with a beach and a palm-fringed perimeter. And in the middle there a big lump, that is ...err ...quite high.
Nobody seems to know for sure but the upper parts of the mountain seem to be somewhere between 355 and 635 metres above sea level, depending on which authority you subscribe to, even though Google Maps informs us that the average is 17 metres!
Whatever the figures, the fact is that there are lots of places on the island that have been designated "viewpoints" - ie, you get a really great view.
But don't jump into a taxi right away. Most of the time the view is of absolutely nothing. Yes - you can see for a long way, but all there is is sea and sky.
This is true even of those beach resorts that boast panoramic seascapes. A whole window full of sky and nothing else is not much to write home about and utterly impossible to photograph. But there are several places around the island where it all falls into place. The foreground sweeps dramatically away, reducing in scale as it goes, with the tiny islands below being dwarfed by the sweeps of the arms of the bays, with all of Chaweng (or Lamai) floating dreamily in the background.
Or you're gazing down the mountain with acres of coconut trees dissolving into all the bays of the east coast with tiny white sails like dandruff and islands like confetti. Now these are viewpoints! And there's not so many of them.
The most accessible are on the road between Chaweng and Lamai. Here the ring road has had to be gouged out of the rock-face that tumbles downwards to the sea. There are several restaurants and small resorts perched on this view and all of them well worth a visit.
And then there's the 'mountain' itself. It's a real trek to make your way up to a high-point but it's worth every 4 wheel drive moment.
The most savage ascents are from the island's north coast - it's a 45 degree climb. Better to try from the other side. The inland roads around Nathon and Lipa Noi are much gentler.
But when you finally get to the top, the entire land mass of Samui is at your feet. There are several family-owned restaurants perched up there and they all offer basic accommodation for the night. And, when you are watching the sun drop into the sea, way down below, with everything spread out in front of you, then you'll understand why!
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