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is this Hong Kong


									16 |                                       Thursday 27.08.09                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thursday 27.08.09 |   17


                 vietnam              Philippines                                                                                                                                                                                                              Malaysia


Go                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Go
where: Hong Kong                                                                                                                                                                                                                                where: Koh Samui, Thailand
CurrenCy: $1 is HK$5.35                                                                                                                                                                                                                         CurrenCy: $1 is 23.7 baht
Big MaC, cost: HK$13.3 ($2.45)*                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Big MaC, cost: 64.49 baht ($2.72) *

getting there: The ferry to                                                                                                                                                                                                                     getting there: Bangkok
Tung Ping Chau departs from Ma                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Airways flies direct from
Liu Shui pier, a 10-minute walk                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Singapore to Koh Samui daily.
from University station on the                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Flight time is 1 hour 45 minutes.
MTR line. Return fare is HK$90.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Tickets cost about $450.
    The one-and-a-half hour                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Thai boutique carrier
journey takes you to Cheung Sha                                                                                                                                                                                                                 has launched online specials to
Wan pier, where you’ll find an                                                                                                                                                                                                                  attract more visitors. For details,
eco map showing key places of                                                                                                                                                                                                                   log on to
interests around the island.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    *Source: McDonald’s, The Economist                                                                                       istock photo
* Source: McDonald’s, The Economist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         surviving on a
                                                                                                 is this Hong Kong?                                                                                                                                                                                      beach budget      istock photo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Premier destination                    can consider renting a motorbike
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Koh Samui can also be                  to explore the island — the most
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           photos karen teoh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         affordable, says Rachel lo             popular form of transportation
                                                                 S’pore expat KAren Teoh       small piece of land. Zoom out   you from one place to another         slug.Watch out for the urchins,     electricity or toilets, this is true                                                                                                   there. Make sure you have a valid
                                                                 finds shimmering magic        and the landscape is vastly     means that you are breathing          though, as their needle-point       outdoor living. For water, bring                                                                KoH samui’s popularity as a va-        licence, as traffic on the island can
                                                                 and a taste of the wild       different.                      fresh air, as far removed from        spines will sting. (but, given      along a couple of empty jerry                                                                   cation destination has increased       get rather hairy and motorbike
                                                                 on a remote island                 Many of the islands that   the trappings of the city as you      how fresh-from-the-sea uni          cans and fill up at a tap in sha                                                                by leaps and bounds in the last        accidents are common. or, you
                                                                                               populate the waters around      can imagine.                          is a favoured delicacy, perhaps     Tau hamlet just 15 minutes                                                                      couple of years, fuelled partly by     can choose to rent a jeep, which
                                                                  A bird’s-eye view of         Hong Kong are uninhabited             The most remote of the          it’s the urchins that should be     from the campsite.                                                                              the island’s airport expansion,        provides a safer ride on the un-
                                                                  Hong Kong yields a forest    or protected country and        islands is also one of the most       warned instead.)                         The shallow waters on                                                                      which can now accommodate              dulating roads.
                                                                   of concrete, skyscrapers    marine parks. That there are    enchanting places to visit.Tung             A walk around the island      either side of the campsite are                                                                 more flights and handle a larger             day tours are also popular
   Sea urchins are harvested for food.                         and highrises bursting from a   no malls or MTr trains to zip   Ping Chau is situated at Mirs         takes 45 minutes, during which      ideal for snorkelling, as you’ll                                                                passenger load.                        among visitors.Take a trip to the
                                                                                                                               bay, an hour and a half by ferry      you’ll see the coastal landscape    swim with shoals of small fish                                                                        recognising its marketability    Angthong National Marine Park
                                                                                                                               and north-east of the city.           shift from dramatic cliffs and      with coral, sea cucumber and                                                                    as a premier destination, the Thai     for a fun-filled day of kayaking,
                                                                                                                                     once inhabited, the 2km         rocky promontories to pebbly        urchins littering the seabed.                                                                   government recently approved           island-hopping and exploring
                                                                                                                               long, crescent-shaped island was      beaches.                                 After dinner, clamber                                                          rachel lo   a 900-million-baht ($38-million)       cave formations.
                                                                                                                               designated a marine reserve                 side trails weave through     atop the twin promontories                          (Top) Koh Samui airport                     plan to improve the island’s in-             Tour operators offer half-
                                                                                                                               in 2001 and forms part of the         wooded paths. in the spring,        on the eastern edge of the                                 is open to the air.                  frastructure — such as roads,          day or full-day snorkelling trips,
                                                                                                                               Plover Cove Marine Park.              wild sweet blackberries creep       campsite overlooking the sea                    (Above) Chaweng Beach may                       street lighting and a flood-control    while dive trips are available at
                                                                                                                                     As residents moved out          along branches, ripe for the        and enjoy the sight of a starry                   be the most popular beach                     system, especially needed during       dive centres across the island.The
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   with tourists but you can still find
                                                                                                                               to the mainland, abandoned            picking.                            Hong Kong sky that you can’t              quiet, peaceful restaurants on the                    the monsoon season.                    dive sites around Koh samui and
                                                                                                                               village houses fell into disrepair          As the sun begins to set,     get from the city.                                sand to have a sundowner.                           but even though the third-       Koh Tao are amazingly beautiful,
                                                                                                                               but a number have been con-           women in rolled-up trousers              out in the inky waters,                                                                    largest island in Thailand (after      with a good variety of hard and
                                                                                                                               verted into hostels for local         from the eateries at sha Tau        luminous plankton trailing                                                                      Phuket and Koh Chang) is known         soft corals as well as abundant
                                                                                                                               tour groups.                          hamlet, five minutes from the       squid boats leave a wake of                                                                     for its abundance of resorts offer-    marine life.
                                                                                                                                     The island is serene in         pier, head to the rocks near        phosphorescence like shim-                       Saving in SaMui                                ing five-star services to travellers         if you are like me and crave a
                                                                                                                               the late afternoon and on a           the campsite to dig for clams.      mering green stars reflecting          1. Beaches such as Big Buddha                            drawn to its sunny beaches and         good massage while on vacation,
                                                                                                                               calm day, the water around it               if you are witnessing this    the night sky.                            and Chaweng offer a wide                              relaxed atmosphere, Koh samui          Koh samui is also an established
                                                                                                                               is surprisingly clear. Apparently     dusk-time industry, then you             Mesmerising sparklers                range of affordable accommo-                          is still an accessible destination     spa destination. on my recent
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   dation options, some as low
                                                                                                                               untainted by the runoff from          have missed your afternoon          above and below, that’s Tung              as under 1,000 baht.                                  to those keeping a close eye on        trip there, i splurged on a day of
                                                                                                                               the Pearl river, it boasts the        ferry back to the mainland.         Ping Chau’s answer to Hong             2. It is easy to get a cheap meal,                       their budget.                          spa indulgence at the acclaimed
           at Hong Kong happiness
                                                                                                                               healthiest and richest coastal              in which case, your choice    Kong’s neon lights. There’s               just eat where the locals eat.                              on beaches like Chaweng,         Tamarind spa.
                          Disneyland                                                                                           ecosystem in Hong Kong.               of accommodation would in-          plenty in stock, available ex-            Go to Pankbua Market, located                         big buddha and Lamai, where                  set in a tropical forest sur-
                 for FREE*
                Find out ho !
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   in Chaweng, for authentic Thai
                                                                                                                                     dip in the many rock pools      clude a village hostel or camp-     clusively outside the city.                                                                     accommodation and F&b op-              rounded by verdant greenery
            visiting UOB w by                                                                                                                                                                                                                      food. The popular Will Wait
             Booth 5H11 avel at                                                                                                around the island and you might       ing. Few visitors set up tents at                restaurant on Chaweng beach                           tions are aplenty, visitors can get    and towering coconut palm trees,
           NATAS Holid during                                                                                                  find yourself bathing with snails,    the designated campsite on                                                    also offers value-for-money                           a decent hotel room for under          the spa pampers guests with five-
                        ays 2009.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thai fare.
                                                                                                                               barnacles, crabs and tiny fish that   the eastern t ip of the island,                                                                                                     1,000 baht. These are often situ-      star service. A key feature is the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. Rent a motorbike to explore
                                                                                                                               nibble your toes and bottom.          so you are likely to have the             iSland hoPPing                      the island, but make sure                             ated just a road or two away           sauna, which is carved out of a
                                                                                                                                     if you’re lucky, you might      place to yourself.                        Hong Kong’s outlying islands        you have a valid motorbike                            from the beach, and some are           huge natural boulder and com-
                                                                                                                               even spot a nudibranch, or sea              With no running water,        offer a variety of activities. On         licence, or that you know what                        even equipped with swimming            plemented by a refreshing rock
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Chueng Chau, where time ap-               you’re doing. The traffic on
                                                                                                                                                                                                         pears to have stood still some 30         Samui can be a bit hectic and                         pools for hotel guests.                pool next to it.The massage was
                                                                                                                                   A nudibranch,                                                         years ago, you can cycle through          many tourists get into motor-                               For accommodation on the         also expertly executed.
                                                                                                                                  or sea slug, in                                                        the alleys of old villages and            bike accidents every day.                             beach that costs less than 2,000             Needless to say, stunning
                                                                                                                                the clear waters                                                         hamlets.                               4. Explore nature on a day trip
                                                                                                                                    of Tung Ping                                                             Best known for its seafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         baht, you can head to Ark bar          beaches, friendly people and ex-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   to Angthong National Marine
                                                                                                                                  Chau. This one                                                         restaurants, lamma offers some            Park, or island hop to Koh                            or Al’s Hut on Chaweng beach;          cellent service attitudes draw me
                                                                                                                                measured about                                                           of the freshest catch with tables         Nangyuan for some snorkel-                            Cactus bungalow on big buddha          back every year.
                                                                                                                                          20cm.                                                          overlooking the bay around Sok            ling in crystal-clear water.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Kwu Wan pier. At Yung Shue Wan,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         beach; or Magic resort on Lamai              recession or not, Koh samui
                                                                                                                                                                                                         you can explore trinket shops, a       5. Laze on the beach — it costs                          beach. during low season, the          has demonstrated its versatility
                                                                                                                                                                                                         book café offering excellent veg-         nothing!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         rates are very attractive and the      as a premier as well as budget-
                                                                                                                                                                                                         etarian fare, bars and restaurants,    6. Get a beach massage. It’s only
                                                                                                                                                                                                         and local markets set along the           300 baht for an hour-long full-                       beaches are less crowded.              friendly destination.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         narrow winding alleyways.                 body treatment.                                             Those who are adventurous

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