Just got back from four great days on Koh Samui. It's changed hugely from when I first went there in 1998, but it's still a paradise, particularly if you avoid the high season and get away from Chaweng, the main beach. Although Chaweng's beach is genuinely fantastic, with its fine grain white sand, etc, the town has gone much the same way as all the other main resorts in Thailand, such as Phuket and Pattaya, i.e. completely overbuilt and with lots of raucous, noisy tourists everywhere. How different from a decade or so ago, when I remember the place was half empty and the town wasn't even fully tarmacked!
Anyway, I stayed on Lamai beach, just down the road. It's slightly smaller, but just as beautiful, and much less crowded (see video). I also rented a motorbike. The automatic ones seem to be the craze now, and I must admit they are easy to ride. In fact, they seem to have some built in function that stops you gathering momentum as you go downhill, which can't be a bad thing! If you take either the south or west routes, you can get right away from it all, particularly if you're willing to venture off down the side roads, where you can still experience the idyllic rural life of old.
I stayed in a bungalow with no hot water, air-con or TV. Can't say I really missed any of them very much. In fact, it was good to get out of that habit of switching on your TV as soon as you get up in the morning! And even though temperatures went up to 35 C in the day, it was surprisingly cool at night, about 26 C. So just a fan was enough.
Anyway, back in Bangkok now to continue working on my diploma. It sure did me a world of good getting away for a bit, though.