End of the Month Roundup - July 2013

I’m glad that I finished posting about my short but enjoyable trip to Koh Samet Island in Rayong Province of Thailand. One big bulk of Thailand travel series down and more to go.

As I had said previously, I truly enjoyed our short stay in Koh Samet Island. Good place and good company collided to give me a good time.

I posted a lot about Koh Samet Island and I believe that anyone who wants to know about this “wonder island” will find my posts very useful So, for those who want to read everything that I wrote about this island should read this tag: Koh Samet Island.

I took a lot photos, as usual, and some of them I consider good.

One photo that I like is this blurry image of the sky lantern:
Lights in Koh Samet Island

This photo reminds me of abstract paintings.

The photo of my footprint looks good too.

Footprint on Koh Samet Island

But the best photo that I took on Koh Samet Island will be that of the sunset during our first day on the island.

Sunset in Koh Samet Island

Well, photos of sunsets are quite hard to beat no?

I posted on my other blogs as well. For the month of July, I posted some useful articles about BPI Express Online. One is about transferring funds from one BPI account to another, and the other is about enrolling new accounts in BPI Express Online.

I also posted in my “satire” blog, Ampalaya News, where I featured Pia Cayetano’s backless (ewwww) SONA attire, the awarding of best fiction writer to Noynoy and the Human Ban Ordinance of Erap and Isko.

Isko Moreno and Erap Estrada showing the Human Ban Ordinance
Isko and Erap declaring that human beings are no longer allowed in Manila.

In my serious blog, Tome of a Layman, I posted my commentary about the immodest fashion trends for little girls’ clothing. The post is my entry for Filipinos for Life July 2013 blogging event, which is about the deadly fruits of Sexual Revolution.

July 2013 blogging event of Filipinos for Life

Some of you might have noticed that I’m starting to post about our wedding preparations. For this month, I posted about SM MoA’s The Venue and my reaction to high wedding expenses. It is quite shocking.

Expect to see more blog posts of our wedding preparations as we go nearer to our BIG DAY.

Wedding Prep: SM MoA's The Venue

My Beloved and I are starting to get busy for our wedding preparations. We already booked the church (located somewhere in Pasay) and the photographer/videographer. We also did our first visit to Divisoria to hunt for a good but affordable seamstress for her gown, my suit and the entourage's attire. We found one very eager seamstress but we still didn't book her yet. We still want to scour the Divisoria for a better deal.

Another thing we worry about is in finding the venue for our reception. I read in some wedding sites that the bulk of wedding budget goes to the reception expenses that include reception venue, food and miscellaneous items like lights and music.

Our search for the reception venue brought us to The Venue, located within the Two E-com Center of SM Mall of Asia (MoA) complex.

Two E-com Center of SM MoA
(Source: SM Land website)

My Beloved wanted to check The Venue out because she liked its brown stairs going up the Prism Plaza. I believe that she plans to have our photos taken, together with our families and friends, on those stairs.

Brown stairs of Two E-com Center, SM MoA
(Source: Greenhushbie19)

The fountain on Prism Plaza is good for photos too.

Fountain at Prism Plaza, SM MoA
(Source: Philippine Wedding Scenes)

The stairs and the fountains are good but the best view that The Venue offers is the famed Manila Sunset. SM MoA was strategically placed to have a very good view of the setting sun.

The Venue offers two halls for rent. Hall 1 can accommodate 180 guests (banquet arrangement) while Hall 2 can accommodate 100 guests (banquet arrangement).

Sample setup in The Venue, SM MoA
(Source: Mix Meetings)

It was our first time to inquire for our wedding venue and my jaw dropped when I heard the prices. The Venue's marketing staff told us that the weekend rates for Hall 1 is 39,200 pesos and for Hall 2 is 33,000. The rates already include taxes.

That's not the end of it. I still have to pay 20,000 pesos as security deposit. Sound system and other add-ons are not included in the rates.  We have to pay 5,500 pesos to have the basic sound system.

The Venue also recommends us to hire one of their accredited caterers. We may hire non-accredited caterers but we must pay the venue corkage fee of 20% of the total catering price.

The location of the venue is truly great because it offers a great view of Manila Bay. The bad news is that The Venue admin prohibit anyone, who wants to have a good view of the sea, to step on their lawn.

I was shocked with the cost of renting a venue for the reception of the wedding. Actually, I'm shocked of the cost of everything.

Young couples are complaining that it is expensive to get married nowadays. I agree. I experienced it firsthand.

My Beloved and I know that we don't need an expensive wedding. What we need is the Sacrament of Matrimony. Other aspects of our wedding, aside from the ceremony in the church, are just add-ons and not really needed. That is why I like what I read from an invitation card sent to me by Ate Diana:
“The reception will be a simple lunch plus a toast and a couple of songs. It will be short and sweet – no fuss no frills! We want the wedding ceremony to be the highlight of the occasion. Also, we're sure that we'd all be quite tired by then, so we hope to give everyone a chance to rest as soon as possible.”

This is in the invitation card of Ate Diana's friend. I like it because it convinced me more to make our wedding as simple as we could. I believe that we could have a wedding that is not expensive but classy.

It is very unlikely that we choose The Venue as the reception for our wedding so our search is still on.


Contact Details for SM MoA's The Venue

The Venue can be contacted through the following means:

Telephone No: (02) 857-0100
Cellular Nos: 09174573232 / 09174573234
Email: thevenueprismplaza@gmail.com

Beach Hopping on Koh Samet Island

There are moments that I wish to last forever or for a long time at least. Alas, not all wishes come true because our last day at Koh Samet Island has come.

Our second day at this beautiful island is also our last day. Because of this, our group decided to go beach hopping before we finally ride a boat back to Rayong. So, we packed our bags and said good bye to Sai Kaew Beach.

Koh Samet Island my footprint
Yes. I left footprints in the sand. :-)

We just crossed the rock of the Koh Samet Island mermaid to reach Ao Phai Beach.

Ao Phai Beach of Koh Samet Island

There is not much difference between Sai Kaew Beach and Ao Phai Beach. The two have similar type of sand and the same salty water. The only difference, I guess, is that Ao Phai Beach is less crowded than Sai Kaew Beach.

There are beautiful houses at the end of Ao Phai Beach. I thought that it is owned by a Thai celebrity.

Guest house for the guest of Koh Samet Island

I was wrong. The house that we saw is part of the Samed Villa Resort.

I bet that an overnight stay in that house will be very expensive.

Walking along the coast of Koh Samet Island is risky because of the steep cliff. Good thing that there is a trail through the forest.

Trail to Ao Nuan Beach of Koh Samet Island

The forest is thick and I lost my companions. The trail is hard to follow too. Fortunately, there are guide posts along the way so I wasn’t lost inside Koh Samet Island’s thick forest.

Gate to Ao Nuan Beach of Koh Samet Island
Ah...the magical door! I'm saved! I'm saved!

Ao Nuan is a small beach located between two steep cliffs. Its remote location made it look like a private beach. There are very few people here.

Ao Nuan Beach of Koh Samet Island

This is where I made my last dip in the sea of Thailand. I savoured every second of it. ;-)

Take note that there is no entrance fee for Ao Nuan Beach but the tables and chairs in the area are for rent. What we did, so we can use a table to place our things, is to buy a bottle of beer. Tables at Ao Nuan Beach are for use by paying customers.

Lunch time came very quickly while we were having fun. We had no choice but to leave Ao Nuan and climb to the cliff to reach our next destination: Ao Cho Beach.

Cliff of Koh Samet Island

Ao Cho has more visitors than Ao Nuan but few people were on the beach since it was midday and it was very hot.

Ao Cho Beach of Koh Samet Island

We took our lunch at Tongta Pah View. The food there is good! Most of the dishes that we ordered are seafood. I enjoyed eating fresh fish meat and shellfish.

Our last destination was Ao Vongduen Beach where we rode the ferry back to the mainland.

Ao Vongduen Beach of Koh Samet Island

I enjoyed our beach hopping trip along the coast of Koh Samet Island. Now I can say to my friends that I visited 6 beaches in Thailand.

My two-day stay on Koh Samet Island is one of the best trips that I had in Thailand. I enjoyed my stay there because the place is beautiful and my companions are fun to be with. Too bad that our vacation to this “Wonder Island” is very short.


Planning to go to Koh Samet Island? Please read my post on how to travel from Bangkok to Koh Samet Island.

Early Morning Thoughts

I woke up early, on our last day at Koh Samet Island, because I wanted to roam around a little while it is not yet hot. There were few people at the beach and many shops were still closed. I bet that many people were still asleep because they stayed awake late in the night.

Morning on Koh Samet Island

Early birds, like me, enjoyed the morning breeze. It is the perfect time to meditate. So, before my companions wake up, I decided to say my morning prayers on the rocks near the statues of the Koh Samet Island mermaid and her prince.

Sea of Koh Samet Island
Looking at the sea and sky.

The waves of the sea are soothing. Their coming and going has similar effect as the hypnotist's pendulum. It was a long time since I had this silent moment. I was alone most of the time but distractions are omnipresent. I have blogs to think about, activities at work, and anxieties for the future. Thoughts keep on buzzing in my head like aggressive bees.

I was praying the Holy Rosary and meditating on the Glorious Mysteries. I was also thinking of the current state of my life. I was trying to shed light on the road that I must take to so as to allow me to achieve some of my plans.

I was in the middle of my meditation when my companions saw me.

Praying on the rocks of Koh Samet Island

Oh well. Prayer time is over.

The Mermaid and the Prince

There is an interesting scene at Sai Kaew Beach of Koh Samet Island. The scene is set on a rock and consisted of statues of a mermaid and a man that seems to be peering through a telescope. I asked our Thai friend about it so she told us the story of the mermaid of Koh Samet Island.

The mermaid and prince of Koh Samet Island
The mermaid and the prince.

There was a prince named Phra Apai Mani who was driven away, with his brother, by their father. A giant attacked the two princes and abducted Phra Apai Mani. After a long time (and after fathering a child with the giant), Phra Apai Mani managed to escape from captivity. He was helped by a family of mermaids but the father and mother mermaids were eaten by the furious giant. The young mermaid, the sole survivor of her family, brought the prince to Wonder Island.

The Wonder Island, of course, is Koh Samet Island.

Our Thai friend told me that the prince is not holding a telescope but a flute. According to Wikipedia, Phra Apai Mani’s flute has the power to make people fall asleep and take their souls. This reminded me of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

There are many mermaid stories around the world and this mermaid story in Koh Samet Island is just one of such stories. In the Philippines, I also saw a mermaid statue somewhere along the coast of Atimonan in Quezon Province.

Statues at Koh Samet Island

It is good to know that there are other mermaid stories other than Disney’s Little Mermaid. It is also good that I heard a Thai story about a mermaid.


Parts of the story of the mermaid and Phra Apai Mani was obtained from Phra Apai Mani page in Wikipedia.

Our Koh Samet Island Nightlife

Our trip around Koh Samet Island didn't end after the sunset. Since the island is still awake during the evening, our group decided to stay awake also. We knew that Koh Samet Island has interesting sights during the night.

Restaurant beside the sea in Koh Samet Island

We saw empty tables and cushions on the beach during our day trip along Sai Kaew Beach. Well, the place is not so empty anymore during the night. Many tourists came to the beach restaurant to dine on some delicious Thai food.

Dinner Time at Koh Samet Island

Our Thai office mate wanted us to taste as many Thai dishes as we could eat so we ordered plenty of food. Here are some of them:

Seafood of Koh Samet Island
Squid dish with veggies.
Soup and Shrimp dish at Koh Samet Island
A bowl of soup and shrimp dish.

Fried fish dish at Koh Samet Island
Fried fish

I can't recall the name of each dish, all of which are seafood. What I can only remember is that each dish is delicious and we enjoyed our dinner.

We were happily munching our dinner when a group teens made a fiery appearance.

Fire dancer

The fire dancer performed amazing tricks. It is a show to behold. They even used fireworks during their dance.

Fire Dancer Blurry in Koh Samet Island

The show was free of charge. The fire dancers only asked their audience for donations.

Red dots near the moon of Koh Samet Island

Looking up the sky, we noticed some orange lights floating near the moon. We debated if those were stars, planets or even UFOs. We were wrong because those lights are sky lanterns. Of course we were excited to light a sky lantern.

Blurry lights at Koh Samet Island
Oooooops...blurry photo.

Lighting a sky lantern may look easy but it took us many minutes before we managed to fly one. Sky lantern operates like a hot air balloon. So, we waited a long time for the lantern to be filled with hot air.

Sky lantern at Koh Samet Island
Good bye sky  lantern.

Sky lanterns were blamed for the fire that razed some parts of Metro Manila last New Year's Eve. Sky lanterns are dangerous if lighted in the city. But I believe that they are safe if lighted at the beach because the general direction of the wind during the evening is seaward. Falling sky lantern will be extinguished by the sea.

Dinner was over but our night had just began. We roamed Sai Kaew Island to see some sights like this sleeping dog:

Black dog of Koh Samet Island

There are other restaurants too...

Restaurant on Koh Samet Island

..and other seaside vendors like at this small roti pancake stall.

Roti pancake stall at Koh Samet Island

We didn't see any night club like the ones in Pattaya and I like it. There are many times that an office mate invited me to go to Pattaya but I was hesitant because I don't want to see the “shower bars”, night clubs or other places where women (and even “sex-changed” men) are prostituted.

Our group ended our night by going to a bar dedicated to Bob Marley. The bar promised good music and good singers of Bob Marley songs. Too bad that they didn't made good of their promise because the singers are terrible. Well at least the beer is good.

Koh Samet Island - Leo Beer from Reggae Pub


Read my other posts to know about the beautiful Koh Samet Island. Read about our first day on this island and how we reached this place.

Day 1 in Koh Samet Island

We’re a little exhausted when we arrived to Koh Samet Island. It is because we woke up early and then travelled a total of 4 to 5 hours from our place north of Bangkok. Good thing that the beach of Koh Samet Island looks good that excitement immediately removed our exhaustion. The thought of lazing out at the beach soothed my mind.

Aaaah...beach paradise.

The ferry that we rode brought us to the Na Dan Pier located on the north coast of the island.

The beach is still far away so the easiest way to reach it by riding a pick-up car.

We paid about 20 or 30 Baht to reach the entrance to the beach area of Koh Samet Island.

Tourists should not worry riding these pick-up cars because the road is concreted and paved. Rough roads are found in the interior of the island.

Koh Samet Island is not just a simple tourist destination. The Thai government declared the whole island as a national park. It was named Khao Laem Ya – Mu Koh Samet National Park. There are park rangers who ensure that the wildlife on the island is protected.

Park rangers approached us the moment we went down the pick-up cars. They told us to pay entrance fees before entering the beach. Good thing we were accompanied by a Thai office mate who negotiated down the price of the entrance fee. Each of us paid 30 Baht instead of 100 Baht entrance fee for foreign tourists.

The sea is calling us but we ignored it because we need to find rooms where we can drop our things and stay for the night. Good thing that not all resorts on Koh Samet Island or of the high-end super-expensive types.

We avoided luxurious hotels and resorts not only because we don’t have enough money but also of the fact that we will stay more on the beach than in our rooms. It is good that majority of visitors to Koh Samet Island are Thais because many hotel owners offer room rates that are affordable to the locals.

Our Thai office mate found a room that costs around 800 Baht per day that have two beds. We rented one room for men and one room for the ladies. Traveling in group meant that we share the expenses so I didn’t pay the whole 800 Baht (which makes the penny-pincher in me smile).

Sai Kaew Beach

Our room is located in the Sai Kaew Beach area. The place has plenty of hotels and resorts. Souvenir shops and grocery can be found in this area. Beach side restaurants are plenty and one of the first things that I noticed are the tables and cushions near the sea.

Food is not yet served because beach restaurants are only open during the evening.

The sea around Koh Samet Island is still clean. Me and my friends enjoyed dipping in the seawater although I wish sometimes that the sea is less salty.

Sai Kaew Beach is just one of the many beaches of Koh Samet Island. There’s the Ao Prao, Ao Wai, Ao Nuan and so much more. We decided to take a peek at another beach and we picked Ao Prao.

We hitched a ride on a pick-up and passed a rough road before we reached Ao Prao Beach.

Ao Prao Beach is the only beach located on the west coast of Koh Samet Island.

Ao Prao Beach looks like a private beach resort because the resort in the area is of the high-end sort. Fortunately, the beach is accessible to anyone.

It is 5 years ago, somewhere in Davao Gulf, where I made my last dip in the sea. Such a long time, huh? That’s why I stayed in the sea of Koh Samet as much as I possibly could.

Time passed very quickly, especially when we are having fun. The sun began to set few minutes after we reached Ao Prao Beach. Our first day in Koh Samet Island ended with the orange ball of fire being swallowed by the sea.


Want to know how to reach Koh Samet Island from Bangkok? Please read the first part of this post series for info.

Some information found on this post was obtained from Koh Samed website.

Next Stop: Koh Samet Island

Some of you might have noticed that most of my posts about Thailand are about spots located on land. My only post about the sea and beach would be about the Bang Saen Beach where I didn’t even wade in the seawater.

The “dry spell” is over because I will now talk about the one and only beach in Thailand that I enjoyed visiting. That beach, of course, is located on Koh Samet Island.

My office mates invited me to join their Koh Samet Island trip. I immediately accepted their invitation because opportunity like this is so rare.

Where the in the World is Koh Samet Island?

When talking about Thailand beaches, the first ones to be mentioned are Pattaya and Phuket. Koh Samet Island is way under the radar of foreigners. Fortunately, Koh Samet Island is not that unknown. Thai people and some foreign tourists know of this place. My Thai office mate prefers this island over Pattaya because it is less crowded and less commercialized.

Thailand map showing the location of Koh Samet Island
Thailand map showing the location of Koh Samet Island.

Koh Samet Island is located about 200 kilometers south of Bangkok and in the Gulf of Thailand. The island is part of the Rayong Province and can be accessed by riding a boat from Ban Phe Port. Pattaya is nearer to Bangkok than this island that’s why few foreign tourists go here.

For a better idea on the location of Koh Samet Island, I suggest that you use this Google Map of the island:

Van Trip: Bangkok to Ban Phe Port, Rayong

Our trip from Bangkok to Koh Samet Island was easy. We just rode a Line 36 van going to Ban Phe Port of Rayong Province. The trip took around 2 to 3 hours.

Van going to Koh Samet Island
Van going to Ban Phe port.

You may also reach Koh Samet Island by following our “footsteps”. Vans going to Koh Samet Island can be found near the Rajavithi-Edwards Lifesciences Critical Care Training Center to the west of Victory Monument. Ask the people in the area about vans going to Ban Phe if you’re lost or you just search for this sign:

Sign for vans going to Koh Samet Island

Going back to Bangkok from Ban Phe is also easy because the Line 36 vans wait for passengers in front of the grocery store just across the road of the Ban Phe Port.

I can’t recall exactly how much we paid for the van ride from Victory Monument to Ban Phe. I vaguely remember that I pay around 150 Baht for the one way trip.

You can get more info about the vans going to Koh Samet by visiting the Line 36 van website.

Boat Trip to Koh Samet Island

Crossing the sea from Ban Phe Port is the last leg of our trip to Koh Samet Island. The island is already visible from the port of Ban Phe but the actual travel time is around 1 hour. The boat that we boarded is a small passenger boat, like the one I rode during my trip from Masbate City to Bulan, Sorsogon.

Boats to Koh Samet Island
Boats to Koh Samet Island

Our boat trip to Koh Samet Island is uneventful since the sea is calm and we didn’t encounter any problem in the middle of the sea. I’ve encountered rough seas in the past so this short boat trip doesn’t freak me out.

Ban Phe Port, Rayong

To ride a boat, you must first purchase the trip ticket from the Boat Service and Accommodation Office at the entrance to the pier. I can’t recall the exact amount but I think the ticket cost around 100 Baht per passenger.

Koh Samet Island

We got excited when we saw Koh Samet Island getting nearer and nearer. I knew that I will enjoy the beautiful beach that Koh Samet Island has to offer.

How to Go Back to Bangkok

Going to Koh Samet Island is easy and so is going back to back Bangkok. You will just ride any ferry boat or vessel going to Ban Phe Port and then ride the Line 36 vans located at the grocery store just across the road in front of the entrance to the port.

Van waiting for passengers from Koh Samet Island
Line 36 van waiting for passengers going to Bangkok.

Take note that the last boat trip from Koh Samet Island to Ban Phe Port is around 3 PM. The last van to Bangkok leaves around 6 PM. Just remember these schedules so you will not have a problem going back to Bangkok.

This is my initial post about our trip to Koh Samet Island. There is more to come so please stay tuned.


The map of Thailand was obtained from Koh Samed website. Photos of the Line 36 vans was obtained from their official website.