Samui Wining & Dining
The sights, the sounds and the smells of Chaweng beach


When you look out across Chaweng Beach, it’s just like you see in the holiday brochures. A long strip of soft, white sand with beautiful blue seas stretching out in front of you. As you look to your left and right you can see rows of sun loungers lined up in front of the various resorts along the coast, and people strolling lazily along the shore, holiday smiles firmly in place. But let’s face it, Chaweng is not the place you go for peace and quiet. There is always something to do along this popular section of coastline, and exploring the sights sounds and smells is guaranteed to overload your senses.


Ah, the tropical island sights. Palm trees swaying gently in the breeze; topaz coloured, white crested waves lapping gently on the beach. And as you look out to sea, a few jet skis darting around, splashing up plumes of water behind them. You join a few other holidaymakers walking along the beach and take in more visuals. A little bamboo shack is selling very reasonably priced cocktails. The friendly bartender is shaking but not stirring, and judging from the queue of people waiting, he shakes pretty well. A few chairs have been laid out in front of the bar so you can sit down and take your time with your cocktail. After all, island life can’t be rushed.


As you settle into your deck chair, sipping iced pineapple and coconut bliss, you notice the vendors. They are really easy to spot - they are the only ones on the beach covered from head to toe in long-sleeved shirts, trousers, scarves, hats and even gloves - they aren’t taking any chances being in the sun all day. And who could blame them, it is hot and you do have to be careful. You spray on another layer of SPF50 and relax and close your eyes.A DAY AT THE BEACH You can hear talking and laughter, the jet ski still darting around in the distance, and people are splashing in the waves. You can hear ice in the cocktail mixer behind you and someone saying, “Shopping”?


You open your eyes to find a vendor standing in front of you, a board hanging over her shoulder with what seems to be hundreds of bracelets, necklaces and other jewellery. She is smiling at you and you feel obliged to look but you politely shake your head and say no, and she carries on walking. You lie back and relax after sipping more of your pina colada. The fresh air smells so good, slightly salty and… you sniff again … tinged with coconut? You sit up and sure enough, the couple next to you are making the most of the sun by smothering themselves in coconut oil. Ah, a true tropical island smell.


But there is something else you can smell, delicious grilled chicken. And just upwind from you, another vendor has set up his little kitchen directly on the beach. Lumps of chicken on skewers, basted with sauce and grilled on his little barbecue carried inside a basket - one of two which he carries over his shoulders. The smell is driving you crazy, so you leave your deck chair and quickly-evaporating drink and head over to buy something. Barbecued corn, chicken and pork pieces on skewers, fruit, donuts, ice cream and all sorts of goodies are available to buy, so there is certainly no need to go hungry. Walk just a short way up or down Chaweng Beach and you will also pass many little beachside restaurants, either independent or part of the many beach resorts.


Another vendor approaches, this time with table-tennis bats, rubber rings and small rugby balls, but he seems to be targeting the men this time. The vendors are friendly, eager to sell but all understand the word ‘no’, so don’t be afraid to chat with them and admire their goods.


Your drink is finished and you decide to explore further and head down the beach. The holiday spirit is strong here, some children are building something which vaguely resembles a sand castle on the beach, people are playing ball in the sea, and the rest are all sunning themselves in various chairs, sun loungers and deckchairs or sitting on the sand.


Here you will see bodies to die for and bodies that will make you want to die. People in all shapes, sizes and colours, all brought together to enjoy what this lovely beach has to offer. You hear talking, laughing, giggling and suddenly … A DAY AT THE BEACHloud music. Ah, this is a popular spot on the beach. The deep base music throbs as people lounge around the pool or directly in front of the bar itself. Some have even started dancing on the sand. This place has a huge plot of land and it is made up of a restaurant, a bar, a pool and seaside sun loungers. Judging from how few free loungers there are, this is the place to be.


Walking further along the beach, you discover another bamboo bar serving fruit smoothies. The music you just heard before sounds far away, and now you can hear the waves again. Directly in front of this little bar are a few chairs. You decide it’s time for another drink so you sit down and order your mango smoothie. You lie back and close your eyes and wait for the sea to cool your sandy feet. Listening to the waves and the happy people, smelling the delicious food as vendors walk past, you now understand that Chaweng Beach has a lot more to offer than you originally thought.


 Colleen Setchell


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