The village is comprised of three main streets and a section of the main ring road that circumnavigates the island, Highway 4169. A crucial locale is Gai's Pharmacy & Grocery which is really a general store, carrying everything from eyedrops to fresh fruit, bottle openers to breakfast cereal. It is run by Gai, who speaks great English, knows everything, and posed proudly for me with the faded photograph of her receiving her pharmacist's diploma from King Bhumibol in 1979.
On the second day of my stay, I was unknowingly in for a treat, as Ban Maenam has instituted a "walking street" on Thursdays during the season, from 4 to 11 PM, where merchants display their wares in the streets, and Thais and tourists alike hunt for bargains or a bite to eat.
|Couple tee-shirts--they're not just for Koreans!|
|Stuff for the kids ...|
|... including helium balloons. Wait, should a helicopter need helium?|
|A satisfied customer.|
|A great memento--I kick myself I didn't get one!|
|Petrol for sale|
I met a couple of Canadians who work the manual trades in the tundra during the warm months, and spend four or five months on Koh Samui during the winter; an English teacher from California who muddles through without computers. or air conditioning, with fifty students per class; and an eleven-month-old daughter with his Thai wife; and a really tall Dane who complained about everything, from the cost of plane tickets to the fact his resort was filled with Germans.
The bungalows I stayed at had a group of Germans, too, and I admit it irked me that they took over all the lounge chairs in the courtyard with their towels, but only spent a few hours each day actually using them. One or two British families arrived with small children, and I caught one decent photo of them playing with some Thai locals:
As you can see, my stretch of beach was thinly populated, with the vendors who traveled up and down its length seeming to equal if not outnumber the sunbathers: