Monday, July 7, 2014

Koh Samui's Secret Garden

In 1976, at the age of 75, Grandfather Nim, a durian farmer who lived in the mountainous interior of Koh Samui, decided to build a garden. Not just any garden, but a fantasyland celebrating Buddhist mythology, folklore and legend. For 16 years, he created over 100 concrete sculptures, artfully placed on rock shelves, on the banks of a creek flowing through his property, and amongst the verdant jungle; and as he approached the end of this mortal coil, he also built himself a mausoleum, so he could be buried in his beloved garden.

Deities and scenes from Budhhist folklore in the garden

Some of the bizarre sculptures in the garden

This lush jungle property, now known as the Magic (or Secret) Buddha Garden, is today one of Koh Samui's post popular day trips, allowing visitors to experience the island's interior as they wander through this rather bizarre attraction.

The road to the Magic Buddha Garden

Getting to the garden is half the fun. Located on a steep (though thankfully concreted) road accessible only by four-wheel drive, most people choose to visit as part of a 'safari adventure' day-tour with Samui Off-Road Mountain Tours, based at the Namuang Safari Park. 

Our group just did a garden visit with this company, who use 4WD open-backed trucks with bench seats, plus two seats atop for thrillseekers. I travelled up the winding road on top, through coconut and durian groves, wind (and the occasional branch) rushing through my hair and my nerves on full alert - it's seriously scary stuff at first!

The perilous top seat of the Off Road Mountain Tour

While the garden itself is a tranquil retreat, choose your time to visit wisely - we arrived at the same time as several tours, which meant we had to battle half-dressed Russian backpackers swimming in the waterfall, yelling at each other and generally getting underfoot. It was chaos - but once they'd left, the garden was a different world, serene and intriguing.

It's certainly a change from the beaches, nightclubs and bars of Koh Samui, and well worth visiting to experience an alternative side to paradise.

Sculptures galore...

Getting there: Secret Buddha Garden is found on a hilltop, just off Route 4169 (ring road) at Baan Saket. Follow the signs on the air force road leading up to Ta Nim Waterfall.
Cost: Entry fee 80 baht per person unless travelling as part of a tour.

1 comment:

  1. One of the beautiful place in Koh Samui! But most of all the beach resort, The calm turquoise sea, soft white sand of Crystal Bay Beach Resort, enormous granite boulders and backdrop of lush tropical jungle is a truly gorgeous