Swim start is here (this is during the sunrise)
A small group of us went to Koh Samui from 22 April to 25 April 2011, even though the race had been cancelled. We hereby provide general info on the race and the island of Koh Samui which we hope is useful to those who are thinking of doing the race next year.
Race date: 22 April 2012. We understand the course will be the same as that provided on the official web-site.
Swim start and T1: Anantara Hotel, Bophut Beach. Anantara is quite a famous hotel there. Its name is on the airport trolleys, ha ha. Bophut Beach is such a lovely place. Early in the morning, the water is pancake flat (see photo). Later in the day, the water becomes choppy (we would be on our bicycles by then).
Ibis Hotel. There are a lot of nice hotels on Bophut Beach. We stayed at Ibis Hotel. Ibis Hotel is an immaculate place. Clean, modern, lovely breakfast and all that. The rooms are a bit small, so I don't think they will allow bicycles in the room. Got to put bicycles in the store I think. The pool is small, so warm up in the sea. There is no gym. If I am able to make the race next year, I will stay at Ibis, its a lovely place overall. There is a mini market in front of the hotel for our sports drinks etc. There is an ATM by the guard post. Simple or expensive places to eat are a short stroll away. Massages are available right on the beach (what a tough life).
Award winning Zanzen Resort and Spa is right neat door (expensive I suppose).
T2, Finish and Pasta Party: Nathon ferry pier, car park is actually where all the race action happens.
Nathon: Nathon is the only official town on the island. The ferries come here and its a harbour for the fishing boats. Government offices, banks are located here. Most of the locals live around Nathon.
Nathon is one option for Triathletes to consider staying as the race centre is here. But its not a beautiful location. Even Gerald (Race Director) suggests that Bophut is a better place to stay.
The Bike Route: Frank Hass a very charming Triathlete from Paris, cycled the whole bike route on 24 April 2011 (Sunday) and declared that the road was "ok / good, a few short steep hills". Frank by the way is vying for a spot on the French National Cycling Team - Amateur.
Gerald informed that there will be a three meter wide cycling corridor on the left side of the road. The corridor is not down the middle of the road, which is the better part of the road in general.
I only saw a small portion of the bike route, yes, by and large the road is OK, but:
- There are many cracks (some very deep) and gratings in the cement road around Bophut, Big Buddha, Airport etc. Our tiny tyres can very easily go into these cracks.
- Many sharp turns (even 90 degrees) and the road is narrow around the Big Buddha and Airport
- Whilst the road is super smooth around Chaweng Noi, it has steep ups and downs and is winding. The good cyclists will find this bit exhilarating, though.
- The road is very congested during the weekdays (the race is on a Sunday).
- There's development and people throughout the portion where we stayed. I wonder how traffic and people control will be on race day.
I reckon the route is doable but need to stay alert the whole way (can't go to sleep like at Ironman China).
Chaweng Beach: Chaweng I think is the most touristy part of the whole island. McDonalds, Starbucks, Foot massages all kinds of shops are here. Its just like Kuta (Bali), Patong / Kata (Phuket).
Moving around: Getting around is sort of expensive (not as expensive as Bali though) due to the high cost of gasoline. Tut-tut rides is THB50 per person. A whole taxi will start from THB 300. We more or less need to use them every time.
Koh Samui Airport: My favourite place on the island I think. Its just nice, immediately makes one feel on holiday. No touts at the airport. Take the official airport taxis / van to your hotel. There's a restaurant pedestrian strip. The departure lounge has a "Courtesy Corner" serving FREE pastries, pasta, hot drinks, cold fruit juices and free internet.
The Thai People: The Thais are the warmest people I know. They glow and smile easily. I married a Thai and its a happy union.
Weather: It is super HOT. On the first day (Friday), I found the heat unbearable even at 5.30 p.m. local time. But, we got used to it on the subsequent days. By the time we left on Monday, I didn't feel the heat. Thus come early to acclimatise.
OK that's all I know. See you there hopefully.