Koh Samui | Thailand | Couchsurfing with Alex

I only planned to spend a few days on Koh Samui to a shoot a wedding, but a few days turned into a week.

I’ve couchsurfed all over now, but my first time was in Europe, 2005. I fell in love with traveling. I am still in awe of each place I go, but nothing like your first time traveling solo in another country. And couchsurfing was a amazing way to make it all happen.

Through couchsurfing, you can find other people who love to travel and stay with them instead of getting a hotel or hostel.  In Lusanne Switzerland, for example, had my own room overlooking Lake Geneva. In France, I met Sophie and had a magical weekend in the countryside with her, her partner,  and her friends. (We’ve since seen each other two more times). I had a free boat tour and private scuba diving excursion while couchsurfing in Australia with Meg. I met Alison, who took me on a road trip along the Great Ocean Road. The list goes on. Couchsurfing is not only a way to experience culture and meet new people, it is, for many people, a way of life, a philosophy, a value system.

Some couch surfing hosts go above and beyond, and Alex was just one of those guys. I was immediately comfortable in his home and his presence and he was excited to show me Koh Samui  Alex moved to the island from Russia, after a friend encouraged him to pack up his bags and live on the beach. He works as a translator, and since he works mostly from home, we had a lot of time to explore the island on his motorbike and widdle away hours at his favorite beach spots. We spent our evenings shooting pool at a bar up the street.

Our mornings were lazy, but eventually, we’d cruise into town to one of his various favorite coffeeshops. We also put away a lot of pad thai and Tom Kha Gai soup at Alex’s favorite food places. “This is the best soup I’ve found on the island, and I’ve had a lot of soup.” Tom Kai Gai is a traditional soup that I’d had many times but not like this. This was, as Alex affectionately called it, magic soup. Where does one find this soup? A German sports bar of all places, owned by a German/Thai couple whose daughter prepares the soup. It doesn’t have an online presence yet, so you’re just going to have to ask around for directions to Baden Sports Bar.

alex + the magic soup

During one of our post-swim motorbike adventures into the hills, Alex and I stumbled upon this hidden cafe with spectacular views. We drank coconut shakes while we talked about life and looked down into the valley. If anything, I find solo travel an opportunity to reflect on gratitude and truly enjoy moments as they are happening and other people’s company without tons of distractions of routine, job pressures, and relationships.

Alex is someone I know I’ll stay in touch with and memories of my time in nature, talking to locals will not fade anytime soon. And I’m glad that through photographs I can share with you one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen. The place is called Nathon Pier and it is an amazing place to spend an evening having drinks at the outdoor seating with some good conversation.

view from the hidden cafe…

post-coconut shake bliss

the beach

morning coffee

my attempt at this didn’t go as well, so i’m not including the pictures!

and so begins one of the most epic sunsets i’ve witnessed…

from darkness to light.

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