GETTING KNOTTED OVER HERE Coming here to get married? We look at why Samui has become one of Thailand’s prime wedding destinations.
MAKING A SPLASH It’s great to take a dip in the sea – but there are lots of thing to do on top of the water, too!
A Warm Welcome
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If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably got a contented smile on your face. Or the remains of a hangover! Either way, welcome to 2017. Samui is a great place to be at this time of year, with the last few showers of the rainy season freshening the air around the pool and the beach. The weather’s mild and pleasant, and there’s lots to do and see. But just when you were feeling pleased about your New Year resolutions, better hold on tight and think again – the festivities aren’t yet over! The Thai nation has a significant Chinese element, so make sure you’re ready and prepared for the Chinese New Year. This time around it’s the Year of the Rooster, and the main day with the colourful processions falls on Saturday 28th of January. If you’ve never been a part of this before it’s an occasion not to be missed, and Samui has several places to experience this colourful festival. But our little island never really stops. No matter what the occasion or the time of year there’s always something to engage you, from tranquil outdoor spas and treatments to all the excitement of extreme water sports. Plus, of course, you could always drift gently over to explore the untouched beauty of the nearby Angthong National Marine Park. You’ll see the brochures for some of these things in your resort. But there’s so much more besides – it’s the reason we made this magazine!
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Distribution at Bangkok Airport courtesy of Bangkok Airways. Reservation Center: 1771 Samui Chaweng Office: 0 7760 1300 www.bangkokair.com
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Mediterranean Cuisine Amidst a panoramic dreamscape that overlooks the pristine Crystal Bay, The Cliff warmly invites you to a truly unforgettable dining experience on Koh Samui.
Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2014, 2015 & 2016 2014
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"Thailand's Best Restaurants" 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014 & 2015
Reservations Essential For reservations please call 077 448 508 Bar daily 12pm - 2am
Kitchen opens 12pm - 10pm.
14 Making A Splash It’s great to take a dip in the sea – but there are
Chandra Boutique’s elegant garments really are timelessly classic.
28 The Secret Tour Want to see Samui off the tourist trail? Get to grips with our alternative tour of the island!
76 Enjoyably Effective Education
40 Visual Marvels
46 Edgy, Eco-Friendly Fashion
Life rushes by and all the world is mad – until you discover another world at Tamarind Springs.
New Touches, Rare Retrospective Now refurbished, The Page features not just international dining but a chance to taste Thai dishes from the kingdom’s past.
Dress for unique, long lasting style, comfort and concern for our environment, at Psylo fashion stores.
52 Another Dimension
104 Brendan and The Barge Why you should head to the edge of Chaweng and Nora Buri’s signature restaurant, The Barge!
Trail Trials Samui’s cycle champion takes to the hills and lives a life less ordinary.
116 Small in Size, Huge On Reputation Samahita Retreat is a premier lifestyle centre for yoga, detox and fitness.
122 Big Kids, Little Kids It’s party time at Manathai’s Waterline restaurant.
The Nature of Art There are a hundred places to buy gifts – but at Nature Art Gallery everything’s a hand-made object of desire!
Firecrackers, Dancing Lions, Pierced Cheeks Chinese New Year on Samui is big, bold, brash – and you’re invited to the party.
SCL International School’s reach now includes not just children, but adults too.
Awesome Airport From the day it was built, Samui International Airport has wowed those who pass through it.
Coming here to get married? We look at why Samui has become one of Thailand’s prime wedding destinations.
Luxury takes on new forms at Khwan Beach
Beautiful scenery and inspired food make Dr Frogs Bar & Grill a must-visit venue.
Call For The Concierge Confused by all the choices you face on holiday? Sit back and relax whilst Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui does the hard work for you.
70 Getting Knotted Over Here
34 Camping Gets A Makeover Resort Boutique & Gallery Pool Villas.
The Loft ventures through Southeast Asia to bring you the latest in interior design.
lots of thing to do on top of the water, too!
22 Lucky Thirteen
Party Party! Parties on Samui come in many different shapes and sizes. You’ll be surprised at what goes on.
T H E
H O M E
I N S P I R E D
I N T E R I O R S
Phuket 424 Srisoonthorn Rd. Cherngtalay Tel/Fax: +66 (0) 76 325 419
Samui 9/18 Moo1 Maenam Tel/Fax: +66 (0) 77 247 675
Chaweng’s main beach is five kilometres in length and is lined with 5-star luxury resorts, boutique hotels, budget accommodation and great oceanfront restaurants. Behind the resorts, the Chaweng Beach Road is filled with restaurants, bars, spas, shops, street stalls and mobile food vendors. The lake sits to the rear of them and is a wonderful place for an early morning walk or jog. Near the southern end of the lake is the Soi Reggae entertainment area which also has two Muay Thai boxing stadiums, a temple guarded by carved monkeys and the huge Laem Din market complex. All manner of fresh produce is delivered here every day and the adjoining Dow Seafood market is a hive of activity from the early hours.
Samui’s second most popular beach is around four kilometres long and the waters are perfect for swimming. There’s plenty of choice in accommodation, restaurants, bars, spas and health resorts. It also has a free Muay Thai event every Saturday and just off the Beach Road there’s a children’s water park. Wat Lamai is home to a cultural centre and museum that houses artifacts of Samui life before the advent of tourism. On Sundays there’s a ‘Walking Street’ along part of the Beach Road. And just outside of Lamai town on the ring-road is the famous Hin Ta-Hin Yai rock formations that has dozens of small local Thai restaurants around it. 10 l www.samuiholiday.com
Nestled on the northern shores of the island, Mae Nam Beach stretches for several kilometres and overlooks the neighbouring island of Koh Pha-Ngan. High-end resorts and beach bungalows are dotted along the coast and many visitors love it for its peacefulness, soft golden sands and wonderful views. It has seven side streets that meander into the mountains: from Soi 1 you can follow the road over the mountains all the way to Lamai; Soi 4 has a ‘Walking Street’ every Thursday from mid-afternoon and also houses an ornate Chinese temple overlooking the beach and a large Buddhist temple set a few hundred metres back from the ringroad; Soi 5 has a tree-top canopy adventure theme park a few kilometres into the hills; there’s a buffalo fighting stadium a couple of hundred metres off the main road between Soi 5 and Soi 6; an early morning market is also in Soi 6; an evening market near to Soi 7; and the world-class Santiburi Golf Course in the hills above Soi 7. There’re dozens of bars and restaurants in Mae Nam, many of which are on side roads that lead down to the ocean. And at the western end of the beach the Lomprayah ferry takes passengers to the neighbouring islands several times a day.
Island Insight An overall guide to Samui’s towns, villages, beaches and hotspots.
Samui is an idyllic tropical paradise. A blend of traditional Thai hospitality and remote island life has joined hands with modern traveller expectations. But the towns, villages and interior are home to much more than just luxury resorts, restaurants, bars and retail shops. And whilst the main beaches are recognised as some of the best in the world, there are also secluded coves and magical hideaways around many corners – if you know where to look. And this quick guide will point you in the right direction.
This is the island’s main administrative centre and the major ferry port for boats to and from the mainland. There’re some hotels but it’s more a town you would visit for an afternoon rather than stay in. Beside the terminal, there’s a local food market every day from mid-afternoon until late in the evening. Along what is known as the ‘middle road’ there’re old teak shop-houses and small businesses and a ‘Walking Street’ on Saturdays. And on the one-way road that goes through the town there’re dozens of shops and restaurants. Just off the main road there’s an ornate Chinese temple and garden in Soi 4. And near the far end there’s a renowned open-air duck restaurant – just follow the crowds around lunchtime.
Bo Phut is best known for Fisherman’s Village. It’s a single narrow street that still has authentic wooden houses that Samui folk have lived in for generations. Parts of it have been modernized but it’s still awash with local foods, international restaurants, bars, shops and market stalls. It becomes one huge ‘Walking Street’ every Friday and you’ll find lots of local delicacies that few other restaurants have. Along with small hotels, there’re several 5-star luxury resorts at the far end and the beach curves around a large bay that also overlooks Koh Pha-Ngan. And small speedboats leave from the village pier heading for the Full Moon parties that take place there every month.
Big Buddha and Plai Laem
The magnificent golden Big Buddha statue that watches over the island from the north-east corner of Samui is one of the first things you see as you fly into Samui Airport. Built on a tiny island (Koh Farn) with a connecting causeway, it’s the most iconic image of the island. Many Thais pray at the temple so dressing and acting appropriately is expected when you enter the site. There’re some very good Thai restaurants and small stores around the temple. It also affords some beautiful views and along the road from it you’ll see another large Buddha image at Wat Plai Laem. Half-way along the road between the temples is a side road that cuts through to Choeng Mon. Down this road there’s access to some quiet secluded beaches, although some of them are through resorts.
Choeng Mon lies just 15 minutes or so from the middle of Chaweng but it seems like worlds away. There’s a small town that the road runs through with a couple of dozen restaurants and bars. The beach is a favourite for many locals as it’s quiet, picturesque and safe for swimming most of the year round. There’s every class of accommodation with some old-style beach bungalows at one end. And they all overlook the tiny deserted island of Koh Farn Noi which you can walk out to if the tide is low.
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In between Fisherman’s Village and Big Buddha is where you’ll find Bang Rak. There’s a few very good resorts and some private villas for rent along the beachfront that stretches around for several kilometres and has stunning views. Bars and restaurants line the main street and there’re two piers. The one nearest to Big Buddha has daily ferries to Koh Pha-Ngan, Koh Tao and on to the mainland port of Chumpon, from which a VIP bus takes passengers to Hua Hin and on to Bangkok. Start to finish, it’s a 12-hour journey with about half of it on the boat. Just beside the ferry terminal in Bang Rak is one of the busiest fish markets on the island. Local fishermen drop their catches here and the place is bustling with people all day long. At the other end of town there’s a short-cut into Chaweng on a road called Soi Bond Kai (which the locals refer to as the ‘Ghost Road’).
Taling Ngam and Lipa Noi
The south-west part of the island is known as the ‘Virgin Coast’. It’s largely unspoiled with lots of secluded bays, although most of the shoreline tends to be rocky. The west coast overlooks the famous ‘five islands’ and some of the closer islands of the Angthong National Marine Park (which is a perfect getaway for a day’s boat trip excursion). In this part of the island there’re some hotels, private villas for rent, up-market and local restaurants and several temples of note, including two that house a mummified monk. A second car ferry terminal is located in Lipa Noi and, like the one in Nathon, boats to and from Donsak on the mainland arrive and depart every hour from 5:00 am until 6:00 pm (check for details). And inland on the island’s main ring-road there’re several large waterfall sites and a safari park with elephant trekking, animal shows and adventure tours. Further along, next to the Ford and Mazda dealers is a new Butterfly and Insect Kingdom Park.
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This predominately muslim village is home to the descendants of some of the island’s earliest settlers. There’s still a thriving fishing fleet and fish market and a natural coastline that’s survived the ravages of time. Just after the village (coming from Lamai) you can turn off the ring-road to the left and signs will direct you to the nearby Tiger Zoo, Aquarium and Sea-life Show, the Butterfly Farm, the Snake Farm and the local Rum Distillery.
With its brightly coloured fishing boats and backdrop of small islands to the one side, and coconut plantations to the other, Thong Krut is a picturesque little village. Located in the southwest corner of the island, this is where you’ll come if you’re after a long-tail boat to take you to the nearby islands of Koh Tan and Koh Matsum. Lining the shore you’ll find a selection of simple restaurants offering Thai food, and particularly good seafood, as well as tour operators offering trips to the islands.
Samui predominately consists of hills, mountains and coconut plantations. And few visitors make the time to appreciate its hidden beauty. One way to do so is to take the turning into Mae Nam Soi 1. A new road has recently been constructed that goes over the mountains all the way to Lamai. The drive is only about 20-25 minutes over 15 kilometres with a couple of stopping off areas that offer fabulous views. Another way to really get the full picture of Samui is from Tar Nim’s Magic Garden at the top of one of the island’s highest peaks. Built during a 25-year period by a local farmer the stone statues in the garden were sculpted by hand and sit over 2,000 feet above the beaches below.
MAKING A It’s great to take a dip in the sea – but there are lots of thing to do on top of the water, too!
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It’s been a long time coming, but it’s happened! Other sea-side resorts like Phuket and Pattaya have had all this for a long time. But, even though we’re completely surrounded by water, Samui has chugged along oblivious. We’ve had scuba trips. And boat trips. Kayaks. Fishing. And a few jet skis. And . . . well, that’s about it. But not anymore. If you wanted, you could now come here for a ten-day break and hurl yourself at a different watery activity on every one of them. Parasailing, paddle boarding, kite boarding; even flyboards and jetpacks, and a host of others. Of course there are those who don’t really want to thrash about on holiday. And those who can’t, perhaps due to the onset of advancing years. And then there are also many who are upset by the very thought of it all: Samui is a lovely island and still largely unspoiled. And it’s a good idea to keep it that way. But that’s OK. Because you aren’t going to see this sea-carnival
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on every beach, wherever you go. It’s all sensibly centred close to where most of the tourists are. That means in and around Chaweng, one part of Lamai, and a bit on Bangrak Beach. And, in any case, there are still a lot of quiet and gentle things you can do on the water, which I’ll get to later. There isn’t scope here to list the details of all the companies that are getting these things together. Not that there’s really all that many, although new ones appear to be popping up quite fast. But it’ll only take you a few minutes or so to Google this, and then, with a quick look at TripAdvisor to check if there are any horror stories, to decide on what grabs you, and then investigate more. Jet skis have been around for a long time and, until the last few years or so, seemed to limit themselves to Chaweng and Lamai. But recently (as
mentioned) Bangrak, and even Bophut in the vicinity of Fisherman’s Village, have sported a few tied up here and there. Plus I’ve noticed that several of the bigger resorts have even bought them for the use of their guests. Interestingly, I’ll just mention that it’s not common to see water skiing around the island anymore. I’ve noticed the odd one or two from time to time, but curiosity leads me to dig further, and a quick search online reveals just one company advertising this. There is a company however, that now seems to be specialising in some of the more extreme aspects of water sport. They’re over in Lamai, on the coast, not that far away from where the post office is located. And if you’ve never tried jetting your way around, you’re in for a treat. Jetpacks look something like one of those sci-fi inventions that James Bond used at one time. Only instead of taking off on a blast from a jet engine on your
back, it’s water-powered. The harness has two hi-pressure water tubes pointing down, controlled by a throttle like a motorbike. A skilled rider can rise up to 60 or 70 feet; to the full length of whatever the trailing inlet tube is, in fact. Beginners will do nothing but fall over! But with practice you’ll be able to crash up and down, for a short time at least. The jetboard (aka the flyboard) works on a similar principle and is much like a skateboard, and correspondingly trickier to master than a jetpack. But it’s far more manoeuvrable, allowing rollercoaster spins and even triple flips. Although just one teeny word of warning here. It’s going to cost you somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 baht for half an hour for these things. (In America the time for training is not less than one hour. Here you’ll get between five and ten minutes.) Then 20 minutes on your own. Making the hourly rate slightly more expensive than leaning to fly a light aircraft like the Cessna 152! www.samuiholiday.com l 17
Happily the same can’t be said about other such rip-roaring activities as parasailing, the fun flying fish or, that old favourite, the banana boat. You’ll also find it easy to go paddle boarding, wakeboarding and kite boarding, although you’ll need to shop around a little as there doesn’t seem to be one single company that’s offering the entire spectrum of water sports. In the same way that wakeboarding seems to have replaced the more-traditional water-skiing, so these other and newer extreme water sports seem to have dealt the hand of death for the old-style traditional windsurfing, which seems to have disappeared completely. And so to activities which don’t involve stress, speed, thrills or anything at all to do with adrenalin. One of the most practical of the new wave of tours to emerge involves jet skis. Often cursed by grannies, they are now to be seen in sedate fleets of eight or nine at a time, cruising over to Angthong Marine Park, Koh Tan or Koh Mudsum, or even the pleasant 18 l www.samuiholiday.com
5 Islands sunset tour. (Which will only cost about the same as two hours tuition in a Cessna 152 – probably a bargain!) But Koh Mudsum, way down off the southern edge of Samui, is the perennial favourite for a much more boat-potato style of daytrip, involving nothing more hairy than lolling in the sun, drinking beer, and cooling off under a snorkel for a while. Or there’s always the snorkel’s big brother, the tried and tested scuba dive. The best places for this are off Koh Tao, where there are a couple of sunken wrecks and regular sightings of sailfish and the occasional whale shark. And you could always go fishing – or does that sound a bit old fashioned? I suppose it all depends whether you want to laze and graze or thrash and splash, doesn’t it?
Rob De Wet
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Chandra Boutiqueâ€™s elegant garments really are timelessly classic.
24 l www.samuiholiday.com
Since the first Chandra Boutique opened at the end of 2003, Barak and Dana, the owners and designers, have been creating elegantly exotic, unique and stylish garments made from amazing high quality, sought after fabrics, and sewn by expert craftsmen and women from around the world. Couple this with the warm and friendly store environment and helpful English speaking staff, and itâ€™s no surprise that they have regular local and visiting customers that keep going back to their shops time and time again. The dynamic duo travel tirelessly around the world in search of fabrics to complement their unique and fun, yet sophisticated and classy designs. Preferred textiles are natural cotton, rayon and silk, which enable them to expertly bring light and airy, exotic and sexy, yet ultimately comfortable and wearable (especially in a hot climate) clothing, to Samui. Dana designs the womenâ€™s collection, and has a special talent for composing new and interesting ranges together with a wide selection of
accessories. She currently favours the latest prints from India. Think of soft floaty little numbers with bold or delicate jewellery, scarves, bags, belts, sandals and even hand-held fans. Or distinctive bikinis and underwear with very differing cuts, designs and materials. Barak designs the menswear collection which includes shirts, trousers, ties and T-shirts, allowing men to look stylish and effortlessly cool, whatever the temperature. He favours a natural colour scheme but adds the occasional, more adventurous prints for those wanting something a bit different. Every piece has been lovingly devised and tailored to create the classy, exotic look that speaks volumes of the Chandra love affair with Asia. There are two Chandra Boutiques along Chaweng Beach Road on Samui. One is directly opposite Pizza Company, near McDonalds, and the other is opposite Tai by Red Snapper, near Starbucks outside Central Festival Shopping Mall.
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There are often different collections in each store, and the menswear in currently only found in the second store. It’s definitely worth the five-minute walk between them to experience the full Chandra ‘wow factor’. There is also a third store in Phuket, with a second planned to open in the New Year. Thirteen lucky years later, with a continually growing regular customer base, Barak and Dana definitely know how to match their design ideas to customer requirements!
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– For further information, telephone 0 7742 2311 or 0 7796 0788. www.chandra-exotic.com
Want to see Samui off the tourist trail? Get to grips with our alternative tour of the island!
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The big advantage of an organised tour is that it’s . . . organised. No need to think. You’ll be picked up, taken around with a truckload of others and make new friends. You’ll all get fed, carted about to somewhere new, then taken back and dropped off where you started. But why not hire a jeep and do it yourself – it’s cheaper and way more fun!
around Samui about six times over. I’m going to start off in Chaweng as all roads lead to Rome and, anyway, you can pick up the trail anywhere along my route. If you look at the layout of Chaweng, you’ll see that the island’s ring-road bypasses it completely. Look again and note the three side-roads leading off the ring-road, in and out of Chaweng.
I’ve put together my own tour of the island. No activities. No trekking or safaris, no racing cars or off-road rides or any kinds of golf, massage spas or resorts. And the only restaurants on the route will be the ones that take your fancy when you feel like stopping for a break - I’ll get no commission for taking you there!
Find the side-road that heads almost directly towards Tesco-Lotus. It runs along the edge of Chaweng Lake, thus is known as ‘The Lake Road’. Look for Q Bar: it’s up the hill on the other side of the lake. Follow that road upwards. And stop outside the temple at the top. This is Wat Khao Chedi. It’s the highest point overlooking Chaweng. And not only is it an oasis of tranquillity, but you can now actually see just how close the airport really is!
You’re not going to need much gasoline; a full tank will take you completely 30 l www.samuiholiday.com
Do a U-turn back the way you came into Chaweng and turn left, heading north. Cruise towards the neighbouring bay of Choeng Mon. There’s not a lot to see here, so follow the road along the coast towards Big Buddha. But don’t bother with that – it’s now sadly commercialised – compare it to the temple you’ve just seen with the chedi. Instead, look out for the blindingly white multi-armed Buddha almost next door at Wat Plai Laem. Then move on. You’ll pass through the area known as Bangrak. This is how much of Samui used to be at one time, Chaweng included: a ribbon of beach road lined with buildings. Continue on and you’ll be at the entrance to Fisherman’s Village. Take note of it, go past to the traffic lights and turn right. You’re now on the ring-road at Bophut, heading towards Maenam. This is an
interesting little place with a lively Walking Street every Thursday. But you’re bypassing it. Look out for an auto shop on the right; Dan Auto. Then take the next left alongside Family Mart, up into Soi 1 and the signposted ‘shortcut to Lamai’. I’m taking you up and over to Lamai. Because this route is one of the few ways you’ll get to see just how wild and undeveloped most of Samui really is. It’s twisty and majestic and your ears will pop as you rise. Be prepared to slip into first gear for a while; one of the uphill bits is steep. As you drop down again all the junctions are signposted except for one. It’s a T-junction, and I guess they didn’t bother here – either way gets you into Lamai. You’ll be back on the ring-road again, so head right. And I’ll leave the next part up to you. www.samuiholiday.com l 31
There are two things to look out for here, both of them worth a stop for refreshment and photos. The first thing is the new Chinese temple. You won’t miss it, believe me! The other thing around here is the Muslim village and their amazing fishing boats: wait until the road narrows and makes an abrupt right-angle turn, but don’t turn, go straight into the little narrow alley ahead. After this point you’ve got a choice of sorts. I want to take you back uphill/ inland again, but taking in some interesting stuff, too. Keep following the ring-road – labelled 4169 – out of Lamai. There’s a stretch here of several kilometres where you can smile at the Ray Ban-wearing ‘Mummified Monk’ (Wat Khunaram), cool off at the Namuang Waterfall, chug up to one of the super rustic viewpoint restaurants and – the best part – spend time at The Secret Buddha Garden. And this last one is worth half a day all on its own. You’re mostly done. Except to take the only long road on Samui that’s so isolated that there’s nothing to look at; just a million trees, the occasional little wooden shack and a new house or two. I find this quite humbling after areas like Lamai and Chaweng, even a bit scary. So find the nearby 4171 road and follow it towards the coast in a huge sweep until it meets the junction of the ring-road again, and head left towards Nathon. Twenty years ago there was only one 7-11 on all of Samui, and it was in Nathon. Plus the only international ATM on the island. And the only bakery, too. They’re all still there today. Cruise in and park-up on the seafront road near the obvious Night Food Market (which is already open by 3:30 pm). But head back and walk slowly along the middle road which runs parallel to the beach. Here you’ll see images of the old Samui from 70 or 80 years ago: strange and crooked little wooden buildings squashed between newer ones. Then wander back to the food market, have a break and a snack. And then make your way back to your resort, heading towards Maenam again, past some of the best seafood restaurants on the island before the big hill, and after it. But don’t tell anyone about all this – it’s a secret!
Rob De Wet 32 l www.samuiholiday.com
Welcome to Morya Pharmacy, your one-stop healthcare destination on Samui. 欢迎来到苏梅岛度假胜地之一的 Morya Pharmacy The new definition of a full service pharmacy. 以全方位服务理念为新定义的药房
The best and largest range of healthcare and organic products, gifts and souvenirs on Samui. 是苏梅岛规模最大，产品最优的生产有机产品、 礼品和纪念品的制造保健中心
CAMPING GETS A MAKEOVER Luxury takes on new forms at Khwan Beach Resort Boutique & Gallery Pool Villas.
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Camping. First thoughts for most people involve mud, dirt and discomfort. Camping’s for the bold of heart and for rugged outdoor people only. It requires a marathon spirit and a fine endurance of any and all weather that comes your way. But there’s another side to camping that’s the very opposite. It can be a luxury affair, decadent even. Think of the upmarket safari tours of Kenya. This is travelling in grand style, and though the setting may be one of the wilder parts of the world, the accommodation most definitely is not. It’s first class all the way and the only real difference is that the walls are made of canvas rather than of wood or stone. But deluxe canvas abodes are no longer confined to select areas of the world; camping of this kind has become an international trend – and one that’s set to continue. Probably, like me, you’ve never heard the word ‘glamping’ before, but if you’re at all keen on travel, then it’s very likely you’re going to hear of it more and more in the future. So, what is glamping, exactly? It may 36 l www.samuiholiday.com
sound like an ancient Anglo-Saxon word for some felonious activity, but it’s not at all. For a start, it’s a modern word, entirely, and is simply a combination of glamorous and camping. Eh? Can camping ever be glamorous? It can, in the right hands. On Samui there’s only the one spot where you can currently experience glamping; you’ll find it at Khwan Beach Resort. If you’re travelling by car, the resort is easy to find. Follow the ring-road from Chaweng to Maenam, and turn right just before the petrol station in the centre of town. Head down the small lane towards the sea and you’ll come to signposts for the resort. And no, don’t even look for cooking smoke from camp fires – it’s definitely not that kind of place. When you see the accommodation, you’ll be wowed. Your mind will do a double-take. You’ll see a tent, but at the same time you’ll see every conceivable luxury. The tent itself is first-class, firm, sturdy and spacious. Step inside and you’ll find villa luxury. A bed as soft as any in a five-star
hotel; minibar; a beautifully equipped bathroom; a plasma TV and of course air-conditioning. It’s scrupulously clean, no bugs in sight, and no clutter. It can even be fully closed using a sliding French window. You may even sense a kind of déjà-vu about it; this kind of accommodation really does hark back to times gone by, when extremely rich travellers went on their expeditions, never sacrificing so much as a silver teaspoon when it came to creature comforts. This is the same kind of idea, though you won’t have to go to far-flung and dangerous places to experience it. Needless to say, once you’re inside your tent and safely ensconced, you’re not forgotten. Staff are on hand to help with anything you need, and room service is there should you require lunch or dinner. You can even have breakfast under canvas, too. The tents come with one or two bedrooms.
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But if life under canvas isn’t your style, Khwan Beach Resort also offers wonderful villas. These, too, represent the apex of luxury. And they’re not just comfortable, but stylishly thought-out too. Whereas some resorts seem to concentrate on their public areas, especially the front facade, leaving the actual accommodation to be little more than boxy dwellings, Khwan Beach doesn’t opt for such crass architectural favouritism. Everything’s good here. The villas are a delight to step into. They’re thoroughly private, closed off from the outside world. Open a gate and you’re in a garden that has its own swimming pool. Large French windows take you into the villa proper. Each looks like a hideaway retreat, with large comfy bed and a room that has sofa and large screen TV, but which also doubles as a kind of spare room. Great if you have children or are travelling as a trio. There are three types of villa: duplex pool villas with sea views, duplex pool villas with a river view and private pool suite villas. (Duplex units come with a kitchen and are 135 sqm. The private pool suite villas are 80 sqm.) You may not associate tropical holidays with art work, but here at Khwan Beach, there’s plenty of art in evidence. It graces not just the restaurant, but the villa rooms themselves, and the facades of the villas have been painted by celebrated artist Franck Plancoulaine, a contemporary of Salvador Dali (the two shared an atelier). From all of this attention to detail, you can imagine that the restaurant here is going to be on a similar par, and it is. Definitely a creative place, it’s the brainchild of Mattias Pawlik, who studied hospitality and cooking in Switzerland. He’s worked not just in Europe, but also The Maldives, Singapore, Sydney, New York, Dubai and Hong Kong. His style is top-of-the-range nouvelle French cuisine, infused with touches of various tempting Asian flavours. Portions are generous, and flavours are sublime. And since there’s only seating for 30 diners, Mattias can personally cater for all his guests’ wishes. The menu is select and features the best meats and seafood. Wines are cheaper here than in most other restaurants and there are prices to suit every pocket. Naturally, you don’t have to be a guest here to come to the restaurant, simply called MP, but you’re strongly advised to book ahead to avoid disappointment. Incidentally, 50% of the service charge goes to an orphanage in Phuket.
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The resort is located in the beautiful bay of Maenam, and is set back a few metres from the sands. Privacy is ensured, but all you have to do to get to the seaside is walk a minute down a very short lane. The beach is good for swimming and a delightful spot just to hang out and savour a languid few hours â€“ after all, thatâ€™s what tropical holidays are all about. Whether you opt for canvas chic or a beautiful villa, accommodation here is sophisticated and everything has been thought out with the guest in mind.
The resort will make your stay a very happy and memorable one and go the extra mile to help you fulfil all your wishes.
____________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 625 650 796. www.khwanbeachresort.com
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VISUAL MARVELS Beautiful scenery and inspired food make Dr Frogs Bar & Grill a must-visit venue.
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Parts of Samui are so beautiful that they seem to have stepped out of a movie, and some of the restaurants on Samui are quite delightful when it comes to their vistas. When you walk into Dr Frogs, you find yourself perched high above a rocky coastline, and you’ll be able to look all the way along the bay of Chaweng towards the north of the island. Take a seat anywhere in the restaurant and you can enjoy some spectacular sights. Be sure however to reserve your seat if you’d like to sit at the superb terrace here, directly overlooking the water. Dr Frogs attracts many couples, but it’s equally popular with families and groups of friends, too. People come for many reasons, but one thing that unites them all is the great setting. But not just that. There’s the food too. And that’s as good as the view. You can feast on genuine Italian food thanks to the maestro at the helm, Massimo Mariani. He’s a first-class chef, trained in Italy, who has been on the island for 14 years. Diners 42 l www.samuiholiday.com
take great delight in his fare; it’s dependably good and Dr Frogs has many repeat customers. Asked about his style he says, “It’s classic Italian – but with some modern takes, including the presentation. I like to use garnishes from back home. The food’s the type that I grew up with.” Massimo hails from Milan and some of his dishes are from the same region. For example, he loves making various risottos, such as risotto with saffron, porcini mushrooms or truffles. They’re all highly recommended. He works in tandem with Simone Marchiori, who’s the restaurant manager here. They both grew up in the same area, and have known each other for many years, so together they’re able to provide their diners with a wonderful experience. Nothing’s too much trouble, and you can approach them directly with your requests. Part of the pleasure
of coming to Dr Frogs is the friendly staff and their helpful attitude; they’ll do their utmost to make you feel at home. The restaurant has a wonderful atmosphere, and though it has a tropical setting, it seems anchored in Italy - warm and bright and convivial.
poached eggs with asparagus, olives, feta, rocket, polenta and toast. You can naturally have a very tasty English or American breakfast. And you can even make up your own. And while you eat, you can enjoy a laid-back espresso, latte, cappuccino, tea, infusion or fruit juice.
Getting to Dr Frogs is easy. The ring-road winds its way up right past its doors; drive from Chaweng towards Lamai and you’ll see the sign for the restaurant just before the well-known viewpoint here. There’s a handy car park right outside the restaurant itself. Opening hours are daily from 7:00 am until midnight, with the kitchen closing at 11:00 pm.
Something that Dr Frogs offers which is hard-to-find elsewhere is the free use of a swimming pool. The restaurant is part of the Boujis resort right next door, and you’re welcome to swim here or just relax in the loungers. There’s even a special poolside menu, along with a selection of healthy drinks. It’s an ideal way to pass long tropical mornings or afternoons, and if you’re bringing your children, they’re sure to enjoy themselves, too. “We naturally have a children’s menu,” says Massimo. “We’re always aware what families would like to eat. And they can be sure of a warm welcome, too, when they come here.”
The day starts at Dr Frogs with breakfasts that are available until 11:00 am. These aren’t any old breakfasts; instead you’ll find a whole array of gourmet options, allowing you to savour dishes such as smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Especially recommended is the Dr Frogs breakfast:
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Sunsets are spectacular here, and many people like to enjoy a cocktail or two while they watch the onset of evening. Stay for dinner and you’ll be able to feast on delights where virtually everything’s been made from scratch by Massimo and his team. All the classical Italian dishes are here, and there’s risotto, home-made gnocchi and pasta and thin-crust pizzas. This is just the tip of a culinary iceberg. Dr Frogs also specializes in French oysters, New Zealand mussels and when it comes to meat, you’ll find top-grade Australian beef and tender lamb. You can see the entire menu on their website. Says Massimo, “We also have five or six specials every day – and yes, they’re entirely fresh. It’s definitely not a question of cunningly using up leftovers. They’re specials because they’re dependent on what we can find at the market that day. We have a lot of seafood specials – it’s all to do with what the fishing fleets have brought back from the sea.” Dr Frogs is a great place for Thai food, too. There’s plenty to choose from, and thanks to having their own Thai chef, you’ll find that tastes are authentic. The dishes on offer are well-known throughout Thailand and abroad, too. You’ll find items such as curries, soups, stir-fries as well as spicy salads and a range of appetizers. Dr Frogs has wine to go with your food; there now an incredible 94 of them from both the new and old worlds, with choices to suit every budget. Naturally you can order house wines by the glass. If you’re unsure what’s best to match with your choice of food, then Massimo or Simone will be on hand to help you. Incidentally Dr Frogs now has a separate healthy drinks
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menu, with not just non-alcoholic drinks but ones that promote your overall wellbeing too. They’re reliant on fresh fruit and yummy additions that will bring a glow to your day. There’s live music too. From 7:30 pm onwards, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday you can enjoy the talented acoustic guitar player and singer, Oliver Jones. This is music that beautifully dovetails with the setting and complements the evening atmosphere. Dr Frogs has also made a name for itself for organizing events, such as birthdays, corporate gatherings and wedding receptions. The restaurant can easily cater for up to a hundred guests at a time. You can even get married here; weddings are held on the beach at Boujis Boutique Resort in a totally private setting. The local registrar is able to come and formally marry you following a bespoke ceremony. What could be more romantic? Dr Frogs certainly lives up to expectations. The food’s wonderful, whether its Italian or Thai that you choose, while the panoramic hillside location makes lunch or dinner here a beautiful occasion. Sit back and enjoy the filmic views whilst a top-notch Italian chef cooks for you and your dining companions.
____________________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7744 8505. www.drfrogssamui.com
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FASHION Dress for unique, long lasting style, comfort and concern for our environment, at Psylo fashion stores. Ethical and environmentally friendly, each piece of men’s, women’s or children’s wear is a timeless work of art and self-expression, created in the ever developing Psylo style. Infused within each design is a strong essence of ethnicity from different cultures, with hints of independent, bold, edgy, rebel and punk. Located in the midst of a rice field in Bali, Indonesia, with nothing but tropical greenery as far as the eye can see, with an organic garden and pond on the premises where staff can grow fruit and vegetables and fish in their lunch breaks, is Psylo’s own design studio and workshop. This is a perfect location, where the imagination can run wild and truly liberate creative processes, where clothes can not only be dreamed of, but designed and tailored. In line with their ‘green’ credentials, even the dyes used contain no chemicals and are water based. When the process is complete, the waste water is then passed through filtering systems before going into the sewage system, decreasing the imprint left behind on our increasingly fragile planet. Any fabric off-cuts and waste is upcycled by using them in ‘Pecoa’ style garments; a patchwork design created from leftover pieces of fabric. Smaller shreds of fabric that cannot be used are sent to a local manufacturer that produces household necessities.
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It is important to Psylo to maintain a healthy and happy working environment in which to produce their clothing. All staff are well paid and supported within a working community. They pour their energy, commitment and love into each and every piece of clothing. You can see it in the care and attention to detail, and feel it in the energy and vibrations that the clothes emit. The Psylo style is constantly growing and evolving, learning from worldwide cultural differences, and creating designs that free spirited people will hopefully appreciate. Each season they create a new collection around a theme, which is thoughtfully chosen based on an inspiration. From there they combine it with diverse cultural elements and craft it incorporating their signature edgy, rough, and occasionally unfinished cuts.
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The shops themselves are a masterpiece of art, with natural wood and metals incorporated throughout, extending the clothing designs into the environment and creating the mood. These are clothes that suit all ages and all types of people. Investigate the designs, prints and motifs, these are clothes that are designed to be worn and give a statement. But at the same time they feel amazingly comfortable to wear. You can mix and match with a full range of leather belts, bags, wristbands, boots and shoes. Psylo is an international brand with flagship stores in Bali, London, Mexico and Samui. You will find clothes to wear on Samui right now, but you can also find unique and individual items that are perfect to wear anywhere in the world at any time of the year. And donâ€™t expect your purchases to be enclosed in a plastic bag! Only recycled paper bags are used, or you can buy an organic and reusable cotton bag for only 150 baht, all of which goes to a chosen charity. There are currently two Psylo fashion shores on Samui, both conveniently located in central Chaweng. The main store is found on the Chaweng Beach Road, just a short stroll north of Starbucks. The other is located inside Central Festival on the ground floor. Be sure to watch the videos playing in both stores. In between showing off the clothes, they show the design studio and workshop in Bali, highlighting the ongoing cutting, sewing, appliquĂŠing and screen printing in progress by their happy and relaxed staff. Every Psylo item of clothing is so much more than fabric stitched together to meet the demand of trendsetters. It is the result of a deeply-thought process of alchemy; combining ancient and contemporary art, sacred symbolism, cultural history, nature and a wee bit of magic. The human race should be evolving, striving for a life of awareness, believing in a better future for all and trying to take the utmost care of our fragile environment and all lives around us. Psylo delivers this passionately through the medium of fashion, with its ultra-comfortable, wearable and edgy designs.
___________________________________________________ For further information, telephone 0 7726 5157 (Chaweng Beach Road), 0 7741 0452 Central Festival) or 0 879 288 748. www.psylofashion.com
ANOTHER DIMENSION Life rushes by and all the world is mad â€“ until you discover another world at Tamarind Springs.
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You know how you feel when you first come to Samui? Yesterday’s struggle to the airport, the wait, the long-haul flight, killing time in the sweat of Bangkok, the Samui flight and then, finally, at last checking into your resort. That feeling when you flop out by the pool? It’s joyous, isn’t it? The peace, the quiet, the relaxation? But, then, that’s normal for Samui. We’re a lazy, laid-back, lovely little island. So here you are – totally relaxed, strolling dreamily around – a million miles from the rat race and the hassles of work. You’ve rented a scooter or a little jeep and have had a day or so just drifting around. Taking in the sights. Getting the feel of this placid little place. Stopping when you want to. Just taking it slow and easy, going here and there. It’s all so quiet. So relaxing. And then you turn into the drive at Tamarind Springs. You follow the gravel path down between the greenery and the blooms. It opens out into a parking space. And you get out of your car. And the first thing that hits you is the calm. The silence. But not quite – there’s faint birdsong. The murmur of water. Just a hint of rustling: bamboo in the gentlest of breezes. It sweeps over you in an uplifting moment of elation – and you suddenly know that this place makes the rest of Samui feel like a rat race. Here, it is truly, totally tranquil. You thought things were placid before. But you’ve somehow just dropped through and into a whole different layer, like you’ve hit another dimension. A deeper layer of peace. I mean it. I’m not just making it up for the sake of the story! This place is special. Maybe it’s underground ley lines, or that the huge outcrops of rock focus some king of natural energy. Some kind of flux in the earth’s field. Or perhaps it’s connected with the people here. I don’t know about these things. I just write stories. But you can sense it right away. Everyone does – in one way or another. This is important. Because there are a hundred spas on Samui. Some are little roadside shops with girls that have trained just 10 hours for a ‘degree’. Others have more purpose, and specialists with substance. A few, of note, are truly spiritual. But I can’t think of one, anywhere, that feels anything like this. And that’s before you’ve even walked around inside. Other stories that I’ve read about Tamarind Springs really don’t do it justice – they just fill a page with unfeeling notes on the scenery, and lists of the spa programs. But the real essence of this place is all about the spirit, not the listings. And the only way to understand what I mean is to go there yourself. And, jumping in quickly – the staff here are the real thing, too. No 10hour certificates. Mature, experienced, highly trained and time-served. Sensitive and attuned to you, your body and its needs. Several of them have also trained abroad, after their initial apprenticeship. All of them have been trained here, in-house by certified instructors – and more of than in a moment. Even the reception staff have been carefully selected; their English is good and their level of service is very high. As well as experiencing that sudden feeling of dimension-shifting, and the tranquillity of Tamarind Springs, you’ll also discover the same level of attentive care that you’ll get in 5-star hotels, anywhere in the world. Tamarind Springs is essentially a day spa, offering a whole range of programs and treatments that range from pampering, through to rejuvenation, onto remedial applications and extending, very quietly, into the esoteric realms of alternative therapies. It’s not an aspect that this spa states in its aims and objectives. It’s not ‘New Age’ or ‘Progressive’. But you’ll find that all the staff here are trained and qualified in principles and practices, or else are at least aware of the underlying philosophy. Take, for an example, the Hot and Cold Stone massage. After two hours of this you will, literally, be floating on air as you drift to the steam room. And for the next few days you’ll be relaxed, uplifted and optimistic, but without really knowing why. www.samuiholiday.com l 55
One particular component that’s unique to this spa is the two ‘Manual Lymphatic Drainage Treatments’ which are sitting very quietly, almost hidden in-amongst the rest of the program. This thinking stems from a lymphatic drainage technique created by the Austrian, Dr Emil Vodder. It’s a slow and gentle stroking therapy – no sense of pressure or pain – which only concentrates on the body’s lymphatic system, balancing its congestion and effectively re-organising the lymphatic flow to be oneway, and at its optimum. And at Tamarind Springs these specialist staff have been personally trained by Heimo Rieger, who for many years worked in Austria with Dr Vodder himself. “This therapy is unique,” Khun Ben (Kanyapha Kitjapirak), the spa’s director, explained. “It addresses the body’s lymphatic system and makes very subtle adjustments to it. Unlike most other forms of massage, there is no pressure on the muscles or joints – often people say they are not feeling anything. But the effects are sometimes dramatic. Even something as simple as swollen ankles from a long international flight, which can last for days and be quite painful, will disappear overnight. In pregnancy, the swelling and the water retention, both pre and post-natal, will be reduced. And if you are thinking about a serious detox program,
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with all the colonics and the hosepipes, come here! This treatment will help you.” And then she went onto explain that there are different treatments for differing parts of the body; the face and the head, arms and legs, and the stomach – the latter of which is directly related to the mechanics of fasting and cleansing. And also that this treatment isn’t radical; it’s gentlypersistent in nature and ongoing, in order to maintain and continue the benefit. There are so many spas on Samui. But, just like restaurants, you have to find the best one for you. You can try this one here and then another there. But when you try Tamarind Springs then, be assured, you’ll drop into a whole new dimension!
Rob De Wet
____________________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 805 696 654, 0 844 694 042 or 0 989 636 449. www.tamarindsprings.com
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PASSIONATE PURSUIT The Loft ventures through Southeast Asia to bring you the latest in interior design.
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The style is funky, trendy, yet decidedly comfy and practical – it wows and cossets at exactly the same time. And it’s all a delight to the eye. Step into the store and you’ll soon be lost in contemplation. Each time you visit, there are dozens of striking artefacts to see, and sublime details that emerge as you look around. Just a few examples, seen on a chance Saturday afternoon: a ceramic plate features a blue octopus frozen in mid squiggle as it attempts to slip over the edge; a mirror made of mosaics beguiles with multiple tiny reflections; lamps built on giant seapolished pebbles invoke a rocky coastline, while a red mahogany cabinet from Beijing seems to channel a bygone imperial past. The Loft is full of surprises both big and small, and some of the most enjoyable minutes of a day can be spent browsing the selection on offer. There’s always something new to see, something that catches the eye or inspires the mind. You can see as soon as you step inside, that the contents and the feel of the place are quite special. It’s the brainchild of Michael Dietvorst, the founder of Oriental Living. For years Michael and his team have catered to the island’s villas, apartments and resorts with a mix of creatively artistic furniture and furnishings and always high-grade quality. It’s been – and still is – a high-profile business and serves an unusually loyal clientele. Most decor lovers on the island are familiar with their work. And just as enchanting, their latest creation, The Loft, showcases a splendid yet casual array of items that are filled with flair. The Loft is unmissable; it’s located right opposite Big C supermarket on the ringroad in Chaweng. It’s open from 9:30 am until 6:00 pm, Mondays to Fridays and from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm on Saturdays. But it’s not just the contents that are special; the atmosphere itself is unique. As a creative launch pad, The Loft is rather different from the usual kind of interior decor store. You know how things usually proceed when you go shopping for furniture or furnishings; you step over the threshold of the store and an insistent salesperson pops up by your side, instantly ready to make a sale. You’re the customer, and the faster the cash till rings your purchase up, the better. We have all been through this and gritted our teeth. The Loft isn’t like that at all. For a start, you’re not viewed as a customer. You’re a guest. And as such, coming here is a lot more like visiting an art gallery, or some
Located on the tropical stretch of golden sands and turquoise waters off Koh Samui’s up market Bophut bay, Beach Bar offers wide variety of cocktails, champagne, wines, snacks, delicious home made ice cream and freshly blended fruit drink Come and join our happy hour as day turns to dusk before strolling down to the quaint cobblestone ‘Bophut Fisherman village’ Good things come in three, enjoy our Happy Hours daily at
01:30 - 02:30 pm 06:30 - 07:30 pm 09:30 - 10:30 pm
- buy one get one free -
creative space that calls to be wandered around, savoured and of course – enjoyed. Actually, it’s even better than that. Have you ever been to an art gallery where the first thing that happens is that you’re warmly greeted and offered a cup of coffee? That’s how it is at The Loft. And as you enjoy that coffee, you’re aware that the entire store doesn’t really look like one. It’s more like an openplan apartment with different areas, which you can take in at your leisure. It’s spotlessly clean and super contemporary, and definitely not stuffed to the brim with products to be sold. As such it’s unexpectedly relaxing. Staff are on hand to help, not to stand intimidatingly close to you or wear you down with sales chat. Neither are they absent figures who you need to call over in loud tones if you need help. They’ve got the balance right. And a lot of that is to do with the personality of the person who’s running The Loft. Khun Wilai Raksai – though most people just call him Khun Alex. He embodies friendliness, and is a relaxing person to be around. He’s also equally knowledgeable. Ask him about the tiniest artefact in The Loft and he’ll be able to tell you all about it. While I’m in the store, people come in to have a look around and most seem to know him already, and there’s the feel they’ve dropped in to a friend’s place. There’s certainly no pressure on anyone to buy anything, and because of that, people seem to include The Loft as somewhere to drop into when the mood takes them. And it’s definitely a good idea to do this. Again, this is the complete opposite of a store where the products sit for months, if not years, gathering dust, and where maze-like corridors lead through dull known-in-advance sections. It’s the opposite. The stock changes – frequently. It’s not mass-produced, and many of the items are hardto-find or impossible to re-order. “We go all round Southeast Asia looking for items for The Loft,” says Khun Alex. “For example, we travel to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and further north. It’s not about getting the same things in each time, either.
101/27-28 Moo 1, Bophut Koh Samui 84320 Thailand +66 77 245 511 | www.hansarsamui.com
You have to leave your comfort zone – you have to go looking for the kind of things that are unusual and completely different; you have to go beyond the expected.” The search takes them to unusual places, as you can imagine, and even as far afield as China. Once renowned for cheap and cheerful products, there are now places in China offering very high quality furniture with cutting edge designs at very affordable prices. The store’s contents certainly suggest a great diversity and unusual charm. As we’ve said, what’s here today may not be tomorrow, or may simply have been replaced with something different. You’ll find large items such as sofas, beds and wardrobes and these have all been chosen for specific qualities – not just useful, but durable and outstandingly good-looking. Exactly what you want, in other words, when you think about filling your living space with beautiful furniture that’ll last for generations. Khun Alex shows me an amazing teak table. “No need to have a guilty conscience,” he quips. “It’s recycled.” The wood shows the grain quite clearly and it definitely has a unique feel to it. Few people will have seen anything quite like it. There are also cupboards made of teak that look incredibly reliable as well as aesthetic. Sofas abound and are dotted here and there throughout the showroom. And then there are the beds. “We get guests to lie on them, rather than just look at them or sit gingerly on their edges,” says Khun Alex. “I mean, how can you know if a bed’s good just by looking at it? And if you could, then how would you know if the mattress is just right for you?” It’s a good point. The Loft has various degrees of hardness when it comes to mattresses, so you can order the one that’s most suited to you. For sofas, the procedure’s the same: try them out. Most stores will let you sit very carefully for a minute on their sofas, but here you’re encouraged to 62 l www.samuiholiday.com
really see which one is best for you. It’s a hands-on approach. And of course, it works. So what happens if you decide to buy a large item such as a bed? Khun Alex says the procedure’s exactly the same as the one that’s in place at Oriental Living. “The team will come and install it for you. They’ll also give advice on usage and how to protect it. Everything comes with a warranty, meaning there’s great peace of mind.” He adds that if a piece gets damaged through the fault of the owner, they can do repairs. “Virtually at cost price,” he says. “We like to make sure everyone is happy.” The Loft is also the place where you can discuss the turn-key furnishing of a villa, apartment or resort. The experience that Oriental Living has in this area, together with the widening of their collection with all these new, exciting and affordable items, makes The Loft an ideal place to go for furnishing projects. Khun Alex and his team speak excellent English, so there’s no language barrier. Staff know all the technical terms too. It’s a cinch therefore to discuss your requirements with them. And you’ll find they’ll always be happy to help and offer tailor-made solutions for you. Immerse yourself in the world of The Loft, filled with a diverse treasure trove of beautiful furniture, furnishing and artefacts. Step into what might be a friend’s house to enjoy the best of creativity and style. Savour the strong, iconic look that The Loft is bringing to the island and be treated not as a customer but a guest.
_____________________________________________________________ For further information, telephone 0 7724 7675. www.oriental-living.net
CALL FOR THE
CONCIERGE Confused by all the choices you face on holiday? Sit back and relax whilst Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui does the hard work for you. 64 l www.samuiholiday.com
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Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui
Going after the brightest, best experiences while on holiday? Excited by all the prospects? Great! But digging into maps, reading the dense, miniscule print in guide books and then balancing it out with internet reviews can become overwhelming. A lot of us end up sitting in the hotel just plain confused and not knowing what to do. And we’re on holiday! Time is short. We have to decide what to do, where to go – and a hundred other things. Stay at Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui and you won’t even be thinking like this. You’ll be relaxed, enjoying your holiday and all your choices will be (and this will feel like magic), exactly the right ones. The resort itself is a picturesque and serene hideaway located on one of the island’s best beaches, Chaweng Noi. But there’s more to this resort than its setting. Vana Belle contains many further charms, and one of these is the fact that staying here allows you access to its unique signature concierge service. Concierge is a French word, and in times past used to be applied to humble porters and caretakers. However, in more recent years, it’s come to include a vast range of services designed to offer guests endless possibilities when they stay in luxury resorts. If you’re cynical, you might think a concierge is just a glorified way to describe what many resorts do anyway (offer sightseeing recommendations). You know the scenario: a helpful front desk person points out worthy places on a map and so on. However, Vana Belle’s signature concierge service goes way beyond such basic expectations. Their dedicated team of ‘Destination Experts’ hold the keys to extraordinary, personalized adventures, and can literally introduce you to brand new experiences you would never encounter on your own. They know things about the island that even many locals won’t be too 66 l www.samuiholiday.com
familiar with, and can arrange everything for you. You might, for example, find yourself exploring the island’s lush, green interior (few ever see it) – or visiting mysterious islets that are to be found just off the coast. Imagine the photographs, alone. But even more important are the memories that you’ll take home with you to treasure always. If you know where to look, you’ll find many unusual gems on Samui. They may be a little hidden, but not secret; yet you won’t get the best experience without some insider help. Take the pagoda at Laem Sor for example. It’s on the map, but Vana Belle’s concierge will provide additional information to help you discover a small shrine to the monk that built the pagoda. He is commemorated as a wax figure seated in a boat, as this was the only way to access the beach in those days. Part of the treasure of Laem Sor is the white chedi that’s located on a nearby hilltop, overlooking the jungle and small islands just off the coast. It’s also easy to miss – even if you know it’s there, which most island residents don’t – but with the help of their concierge, you’ll be given all the details you’ll need to find it. Vana Belle is part of The Luxury Collection, a very select group of hotels and resorts that offer their guests highly personalized concierge services. The team at Vana Belle is a small, efficient and passionate group of individuals, who have amassed a wealth of information about Samui. However, they’re not just a human form of Google; or a list of facts and tips. They’re very personable and take delight in helping you to have the best experiences. Once they’ve listened to your requests and discussed them with you, they’ll go ahead as appropriate and fulfil your dreams. They’ll definitely go the extra mile, and their only limitation is that they won’t engage in anything immoral on your behalf, or anything that’s clearly impossible!
Laem Sor Pagoda
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Vana Belle’s Concierge team
You might be tempted to think of them as guides but there’s nothing ad hoc about them; they’ve been trained by a highly professional organization, Les Clefs d’Or. It’s become a world-famous authority over the years. It’s basically an association of hoteliers that want to do their utmost for their guests. The organization translates from the French simply as ‘the keys of gold’. If you’re staying at Vana Belle, you’ll notice the Chief Concierge, Khun Prasert Rungjaeng, wears a collar with a special symbol that features two crossed golden keys. To attain those keys requires years of dedication and training. Vana Belle is an active member of the Thailand chapter of Les Clefs d’Or, and Khun Prasert is in charge of helping those in his team to first acquire a local pin and then to go to the next level and be awarded the coveted Keys of Gold (two of his team members already have the local ‘pin’ with more planned for the future). It’s an arduous goal, and to fulfil it requires not just knowledge and dedication, but real passion and enthusiasm. At Vana Belle, your concierge will certainly add to the quality of your holiday, but no matter if you’d just like to stay close to the beach or your private pool, he or she will also introduce you to some quite amazing elements of local culture. For example, they arrange ‘Destination Discoveries’ events each week, where they’ll introduce you to local customs, arts and cuisine. More than worth a peek, these highly enjoyable activities include gems such as batik painting, garland making using jasmine flowers, and playing some of Thailand’s best-loved games. Individual activities are also scheduled for every day of the week, including fruit carving, ancient Thai massage techniques and offering food to local Buddhist monks. The concierge team at Vana Belle consider it their job to ensure you have the most memorable stay possible. They offer a service that comes from the heart, and care deeply about the quality of recommendations they offer to guests. The end result is that guests who experience service at this level feel significantly more satisfied by their time on Koh Samui than would usually be the case. All thanks to the team at Vana Belle who bear the crossed Keys of Gold.
Wat Sila Ngu Temple
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Dimitri Waring _______________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7791 5555. www.vanabellekohsamui.com
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OVER HERE Coming here to get married? We look at why Samui has become one of Thailandâ€™s prime wedding destinations.
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Not that long ago, nobody even thought of getting married abroad – well, outside of the aristocracy, that is. And even if it might have crossed some minds, it was dismissed right away. I mean, it was expensive enough getting wed at home, never mind the prohibitive expense of going away to do it. Anyway, it would need to be somewhere really special, and that would have made it even more costly. This was the fantasy world of the A-list, and only film stars and celebs had money to burn like this. But all this began to change in 1997. That was the year when the Thai economy foundered, and the government devalued the Thai baht. Almost overnight your Pounds and Dollars were buying more than twice as much as they were before (the Dollar shot from 25 baht to 50 in a matter of months). But to add to this, prices in the western world were already on the increase, and continued to rise over the next decade. As things became increasingly more expensive at home, so the comparative cost of Thai holidays dropped. More and more people came here for holiday breaks. And before very long, one or two adventurous souls started to merge their vacations with their wedding plans. It was uncharted territory. There was the formidable language barrier to overcome. Then the myriad of unfamiliar laws and red tape to grapple with. But the ones who managed it learned from their experiences. By the early 2000s, one or two bespoke wedding services began to appear. These were founded initially by women (often helped by their husbands or Thai partners) from Europe or Australia, who had come here, done it, worked it all out, and then actually spent most of their time over here, arranging things. Networking and making contacts, negotiating deals with florists, caterers, photographers, hotels and resorts, looking for new locations, and generally taking all the knots out of ‘tying the knot’ in Thailand. And the rest, as they say, is history. Organising a wedding in this way involves a lot of people. And some of those people (partners, celebrants, hoteliers) had learned enough after doing it for a year or two to break away and branch out on their own. Needless to say this kind of wedding service was offered mainly in the popular holiday destinations. Phuket was a favourite. But with the disastrous tsunami of 2004, Samui’s popularity took a sudden hike. But is this still the case today? To get to the bottom of this I spoke to Richard Hartigan, General Manager of Samui’s longest-established wedding planning company, Faraway Weddings. “Samui has always been popular,” Richard told me. “Samui’s so much prettier. All the resorts here are right on the sea, making the locations look really dreamy. And there are no high-rise city blocks – everything here is still very much unspoiled. The busiest wedding months are between January and April. But the wedding season continues right the way through from May to September, only usually quietening down in October and November, before picking up again in December. Basically what this means is that, unlike other locations, Samui is popular all the year round apart from a couple of months in the rainy season.”
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“At one time we had a great many people dropping in to make enquiries while they were on holiday here,” Richard continued. “But now with the internet and social media it nearly always begins with an e-mail enquiry. And a lot of these are from people who are shopping around and haven’t actually been to Samui before.” Richard went on to explain that he always replies in person and in detail to enquiries – it saves a long session of subsequent questions and answers. And then he’ll arrange for a detailed Skype session. “It seems to make things real,” he told me, “It becomes personal; there are actual people at both ends, not faceless internet names. And I’ll remain their personal planner right the way through, and be aware of every aspect of their planning.” Once confidence has been established in this way, deposits are paid and then the real detailed planning starts to happen. Faraway is unique in that it has created an extensive set of ‘online tools’ so that couples can go into extensive detail not just about the venue, type of ceremony, or specifics of the vows, but aspects such as suit or dress hire, wedding gifts, catering and beverages, flowers and table décor, cutlery, hair styling, nails, makeup, photography and video, lighting, entertainment, fireworks, and much, much more. There really is a huge amount of detail involved, and extensive arrangements to be made – to get an idea of what a wedding on Samui involves, just spend a while online: Faraway Weddings is a good place to start! “The legal aspects are straightforward,” added Richard, “you can choose to either go through the entire legal process here, involving a visit to your embassy in Bangkok first (Faraway provides a co-ordinated agent to see this through) or have a civil ceremony before you come, which is usually more straightforward and works out less costly. It’s just part of the many choices we guide you through.” “Samui is totally delightful. Not only will the ceremony be unforgettable, but the photographs, too. In the end, however, it all boils down to confidence” Richard concluded. “You need to shop around. But never, ever, try to cut costs or select a company with no track record. That’s a recipe for disaster, no matter how lovely Samui might be!”
Rob De Wet
_______________________________________________________________ For further information, email email@example.com www.weddinginthailand.com 74 l www.samuiholiday.com
Let Waterline’s menu take you on a journey. Globally inspired, highlighting seafood, meat and poultry the menu is infused with our chef’s worldwide culinary passion. The menu will delight the palate while evoking words, thought and memories. Come and visit Waterline to experience a journey on a plate. Manathai Koh Samui Samui Ring Road Lamai Telephone 0 7745 8560-4 www.manathai.com Serving daily between 11:30am – 10:30pm
ENJOYABLY EFFECTIVE EDUCATION SCL International School’s reach now includes not just children, but adults too. With a new year already underway, people on the island are asking what’s happening at SCL International School – after all, it’s always been a go-ahead type of place, and people look to it for inspiration. And the answer is that plenty’s been happening; the school’s been moving ahead in quite a few different ways. Six purpose-built classrooms have recently been completed, using ecologically sound principles, such as solar panels. For Emma Dyas, the school principle, the entire school should ultimately aim – if possible – to use energy that’s sustainable. It’s a massive goal and may never be 100% complete, but the important thing in her eyes was to get started with the project. The new classrooms reflect this spirit. Children love them, and will in turn be inspired to think ecologically. Building work is also now complete on the football pitch; and it’s completely covered, allowing protection from the rain and sun. There’s also a new science lab, which enables children to experience at first hand some of the exciting possibilities of physics and chemistry. A dance studio has now been added, something that most schools rarely think to include in their building works. It will be of great benefit to not only children but also adults. A truly astonishing array of activities is now offered, including ballet, hip-hop, street dance and contemporary dance, as well as gymnastics, acrobatics and fitness. The school has teamed up with Air Wellfit, a dance company that features Russian dance and fitness experts, and now together they can offer professional training. SCL goes way beyond what you’d expect of the average school. And it now caters for adults in more than just dancing and fitness. Take the field of language learning, for example. As you can imagine, knowing how to speak English on Samui is a vital skill if you’re doing business internationally, or if you just want to be able to speak the island’s second language. There are some options for this already in place at various schools, but at SCL there’s a new and different approach, which works well. Rather than endless classes requiring not just learning time but travel time, there’s a niftier way of acquiring English. Requiring only two hours per week class time, students learn in four month blocks, always during term-time. 76 l www.samuiholiday.com
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The programme was designed by a staff member, and is ideal for anyone wanting to engage with the international community. But it’s also of use in business, and courses are filtered to very specific needs. For example, if you’re running a resort, your staff will need to be able to communicate in English. But courses can be tailor-made for specific teams in the resort. For example, housekeepers will need to know a rather different vocabulary than, say, front-of-house staff. Similarly, courses can be structured for other businesses, such as banks and medical facilities. “It’s very flexible,” says Emma. “It’s called a ‘blended learning experience’ as students get unique access to on-line programmes and can work at their own pace. There’s also classroom time too, but it’s a lot less than it’d normally be. So if you’re working or looking after children, it’s going to be an easier way to learn faster.” To go a little into detail, courses meet the international standards as set down by CEFR (Common European Framework), which has six levels of competence. Learners are assessed before, during and at the end of the course. It’s very popular to say the least – 100,000 learners took courses in the last year alone. For island residents wishing to learn Thai at SCL, there’s a separate programme, which starts at beginner level. On a completely different front, SCL’s foundation course continues to thrive. It’s a lot more than simple day care, and children here are taught by highly qualified UK teachers. The structure of the foundation year is all play-based learning, involving the development of skills such as reading and problem-solving. The upside is quite amazing. As Emma puts it, “We have five year olds who are going into year one who can read and write simple words, and who are successful in terms of both numeracy and literacy. There’s no pressure put on children; they naturally acquire the skills through play. It’s fun, and they gain a head start this way.”
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At SCL the accent is always on the child, rather than on an academic system; each child, young or old, is treated as a unique individual. This means that learning is as pleasurable as possible, and students are looked after, rather than endlessly pushed to perform. Students love to come here and enjoy themselves, but this doesn’t mean that there’s anything slack about the school; on the contrary, academic standards are extremely high. Says Emma, “Making children’s happiness and confidence is the most important priority for us; if a child is relaxed, he or she will certainly do better academically. We therefore cater for the whole child. Not only are the students happy, but they’re also getting the grades they require for their future.” SCL is certainly setting trends and constantly strives to do more. With expanded facilities and new courses on the agenda, it’s not just parents and children who’re happy with what the school’s doing, but adult learners, too. Everyone who opts for SCL will experience a strikingly different kind of school, where enjoyment and learning come together in a seamless meld. The future’s assured for not just the school but for all its students, both young and old. And since SCL is always moving steadily ahead, it’s certainly worth checking in every so often to see what’s new!
____________________________________________________________ For further information, telephone Emma Dyas on 0 810 910 714. www.sclinternationalschool.com 80 l www.samuiholiday.com
Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort & Villas 154 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach, Bophut, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84320 Tel: +66 77 231 500-8 Fax: +66 77 231 520 Email: email@example.com, www.baanhaadngam.com
Romantic views, soothing sounds and classic Italian fare with a modern approach combine to please the most discerning diner. Olivio - a must for visitors and locals alike. Olivio ~ beachfront at Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort Chaweng Beach. Free round trip transfer from Chaweng, Bophut and Choeng Mon. For reservation please call 0 7723 1500-8
NEW TOUCHES, RARE RETROSPECTIVE Now refurbished, The Page features not just international dining but a chance to taste Thai dishes from the kingdomâ€™s past.
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Dining out in Chaweng is always fun, and there are some remarkable places to go. Right in the heart of the action, you’ll find The Library, a resort that strikes many people as having stepped out of the near-future. It’s a creative kind of place without being peacockish in any way – if anything, it’s understated. Come in off the street and you’ll face a plain wall with a large opening. Step through this and Chaweng and its bustling neighbourhood are immediately forgotten: you find yourself in a garden setting with a wooden walkway that leads past old trees down to the sea and the resort’s restaurant. The Library has always successfully combined a natural feel with some very contemporary architecture. However, it’s managed to raise the bar a few notches higher; already hyper-modern, it’s given its restaurant, The Page, an aesthetic touch-up and has unveiled its new look. Before, the dining area was flatteringly black and white, but now its colours have become more comfortable, with the black replaced by cream tones and the occasional touch of copper. The Library’s incidentally just in the process of opening its brand-new pool villas, and the upgrade in the decor goes hand in hand with the latest section of the resort now coming on stream. Needless to say, you don’t need to be a guest to take advantage of the food at The Page. Plenty of people simply walk in as The Library is so centrally located. You’ll find it on Chaweng Beach Road, a few minutes’ south from Central Festival, right next to Drink Gallery. The clean lines of the resort, imbued with simplicity and chic, are pleasing to the eye and offer a relaxed dining experience. The menu has also had its own overhaul, and diners are getting a chance to try out some completely different dishes. You might think that with The Page being so modern, dining here is all about fusion food or whatever the latest trend is. But while the menu caters for both Thai and international tastes, what’s really unexpected is the Thai section; instead of voguish new dishes hot out of Bangkok, you’ll find the exact opposite. The menu brings to life dishes that were treasured in the Siam of old, and which have been all but forgotten. That culinary buzzword ‘authentic’ is exceeded here; these are dishes that go way beyond that, and aren’t simply faithful to their roots but are seldom-found gems. You’d have to go far afield to find them elsewhere in the country, and they harken back to recipes involving preparations that have largely been forgotten or rather neglected – these dishes require skilful preparation and can’t simply be belted out by cooks, no matter how experienced they are. The Page offers a wide choice of treats. The menu starts with soups and curries, such as Gaeng Jeud Hua Plee or Banana Blossom & Chicken Soup. Next come the ‘lon’ or relishes. You might be unfamiliar with these, but don’t worry as the staff can explain. Choose perhaps a Nam Prik Goong Yang Naem Pla Rew Gew or Grilled Shrimp and Chilli Relish, a shrimp paste of traditional fame but with added aromatics that give it an entirely different taste. Next to come are grilled and roasted dishes, such as Hor Mok Pla Insee or Grilled Smoked Mackerel and Mushroom Pudding. Hor mok, by the way, is the centuries-old process of steam-cooking in banana leaves. This dish was said to be a particularly auspicious one as its thick texture signifies the close bond between two people. Finally there are stir-fried and deep-fried dishes, such as Goong Krob Phad Prik Khing or Crispy Shrimp Stir-fried in Red Curry. Whatever you choose will be exquisite and prepared to perfection. And you’ll be able to say not just that you’ve dined in style but in an original way. www.samuiholiday.com l 85
There are five different flavours in Thai cooking (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy) and three different textures (basic, nutty and malleable) and to celebrate them all at one sitting, there’s a degustation menu that is certainly unique not just on Samui, but probably in all of Thailand. It’s called ‘Samrab Thai’ which translates as ‘Thai combination’ and it certainly lives up to its name: it consists of no less than eight courses and eleven separate dishes. And as with Thai dinners of this kind, it’s not an experience to be rushed. The meal takes some three and a half hours from start to finish. It’s not that the food is slow to arrive – the staff are very efficient – but that this is a feast and one to be relished. It’s ideal for Thai-style eating, where you order a variety of dishes that you can then share together. But whatever you choose to eat on the Thai menu, you’ll find that dishes are variously marked. Some have asterisks to denote that they are one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, while others are marked ‘rare’, which means exactly that – you won’t find them anywhere else, certainly not on Samui. You’ll also find some marked with a chilli symbol. These are very spicy, though, if you ask your waiter or waitress, they can be toned down in heat. Then there are vegetarian options, too. Portions, by the way, are on the generous side. There’s also a lunch menu, which tends to be slightly lighter. It’s called, ‘Kin Hor’, which is a bit harder to translate, and many Thais themselves will be flummoxed by the words, never having heard them before. It’s a southern Thai expression and denotes an old custom, prevalent on Samui, whereby extended families would meet once a year, each family bringing with them their best dish. Everybody would then eat together, no doubt swapping recipes along the way. The custom, sadly, is on the
wane, but The Page commemorates it and features typical dishes that families might have eaten. However, if you don’t feel like eating Thai fare, you’ll nonetheless be able to satisfy your taste buds with the excellent international menu which offers delights such as Wagyu beef. And at The Page it’s the highest quality, known as MBS 9+. It’s comparable to Kobe beef, and is so tender that you can actually cut the meat using two fingers instead of a knife. The Page has turned into a kind of culinary sanctuary for Thai food. To eat here is to savour the tastes of the old kingdoms of Siam, and there’s something indefinably nostalgic about the dishes – despite the glamourous, modern setting. The restaurant works a kind of magic and shows how inspiring The Library is as a food destination. You can never say that it’s gotten itself into a creative rut. And when dinner’s over, you might just want to slip into the island’s only true library, a white-shelved cube of delight just opposite The Page!
The Cliff and River Jungle Resort
Come and Relax with us at The Cliff and River Jungle Resort in magnificent Khao Sok. Enjoy the natural beauty and fresh air at this Scenic Riverside location. Sightseeing Info - Canoeing - International Restaurant Luxury Recreation Facilities - Elephant Trekking
for more information and reservation please call 0 872 718 787, 0 812 721 221, 0 7791 3050 Fax. 0 7791 3099 www.thecliffandriver.com
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100 ISLANDS RESORT
Located at the end of Soi Colibri, opposite Centara Grand Beach Resort. Thai owned and managed, offering the beauty of Thai style architecture combined with European comforts.
The first boutique hotel in Suratthani. Reasonably priced with friendly service and a family atmosphere. Relax by the pool or ease your tensions at the luxurious spa.
_______________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7742 2767-8. www.thelibrary.co.th
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Tel.: 0 7720 1150-8
OF ART There are a hundred places to buy gifts – but at Nature Art Gallery everything’s a hand-made object of desire!
We’re all going to do it. Everybody does. You can’t avoid it, and it’s partly the reason you’re here. You might do it in Bangkok. Or you might do it on Samui. It really doesn’t matter how long you stay, four days or 40. Because . . . some of that time you’ll spend buying gifts. Thailand is a nation that’s rich in tradition, and well-known for its artefacts. But, unfortunately, this limits your choice. Some silk fabric maybe? A painting you can roll up and pack? But anything much bigger simply won’t work. So you’ll look around for some really nice jewellery or a bag or a purse; something small and special. And that is where Nature Art Gallery comes in. Even from outside, the shop is alluring. It shines out. All around is the flash and glare of neon. But this shop sits glowing warmly, a soulful oasis amidst the cheap glitter all around. This is partly due to the warm lighting. But more so because every single surface – ceiling, walls, floor – is covered in the same golden wood. And everywhere, in glass cases, on shelves, in display cases, in rows and trays, lined up on benches and displayed out on stands, are hundreds, thousands maybe, of countless little treasures. In fact, once you’ve come in through the door, you’ll come to a halt, a total standstill. Your head will turn, eyes wide, scanning in wonder and trying to take it all in. You’ll wander slowly around, looking this way and that, trying to work out what’s on display. It’s not only the fact that there’s just so much choice. It’s also that there’s something in the air. Some kind of tranquillity or gentle energy, perhaps? There’s no noise or tension at all. And I think there’s a genuine reason for this – as you’ll discover when you read on below! This is the Nature Art Gallery shop that’s on Chaweng Beach Road, and it’s actually one of four outlets, all of the same name. To begin with there were two shops over on Koh Pha-ngan. And then partners, Michael Trav and Shai Nissim, opened this one here seven years ago, just across from the entrance to what’s now Central Festival. And then they added a fourth, inside the shopping centre itself, up on the first floor above Uniqlo. And what they all have in common is that almost everything is carefully crafted by hand. And there’s not only jewellery, but also a wide selection of fine leatherwork; bags and belts and wallets and purses, wonderfully made from not just calf leather but also shark, stingray, ostrich, snake and crocodile skin, too.
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You’ll get a more significant insight into what’s at the heart of this enterprise when you learn that Shai comes from a background which has evolved around Reiki, massage and reflexology. And, having been involved in, and studied these esoteric disciplines for many years, he’s additionally become attuned to the potential energy of stones and crystals. “Used wisely, their energies can align you with more positive physical health,” he explained. “Each type of stone has its own properties, and when these are matched to the vibrations of your chakras, they can assist in healing physical ailments or in enhancing concentration, and in many other directions, too.” For the casual shopper this might come as a kind of information overload. But Michael and Shai are usually both on hand to gently explain this in more detail, and are always happy to do so. There’s also a range of free literature you can take away with you that underlies his thinking. But on a simple and very practical level, what it all means is this: you’re in the right place! You’re looking for hand-crafted gifts, but with people in mind; family or friends. All of the jewellery here, rings, bracelets, necklaces (and matched combinations of these in sets), is not only durably made from mostly silver, but also is set with semiprecious stones or crystals which have inherent beneficial or healing properties. Talking with the staff here will quickly help you to select the right type of stone to complement or enhance the personality or disposition of someone close to you – or even yourself! The spectrum of styles ranges from conservative to avant garde, so it’s not difficult to pick out something not only specific but also very attractive, too. The other thing that you won’t realise is that, because so many of their products are handmade, the workshops can alter most items to fit, or adapt their style to order, or even custom-make something to your design and specification. And, in the same vein, if you have, say, a treasured wedding ring that is now too small, it can probably be altered to fit in no time at all in the workshop upstairs.
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Nora Beach Samui Holiday July-August 2016
Fine Beachfront Dining serving Thai, Seafood & International Cuisine. Chaweng Beach Road Chaweng North Tel: 0 7742 9400 Fax: 0 7742 9498 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.norabeachresort.com
But I want to finish by looking more closely at some of those bags, belts and wallets. They’re really quite special, and no two are the same, particularly the larger bags as their size gives much more scope for creative decoration. The craftsmanship is excellent, and they’ll last a lifetime, but they’re also supple and soft at the same time. Some of these are almost magical, incorporating polished stones or crystals, and using woven or plaited or beaded combinations of sometimes complementary-different leathers on the pouches or pockets. You can pick up a leather bag, a silver bracelet or ring anywhere. But works of art of this quality are hard to find. The most elaborate of these doesn’t come cheap; nor should it. But you’ll also find a whole range of leather and coral, or some beaded items starting at just a few hundred baht. The first time you go you’ll buy something, that’s for sure. But you’ll be back again – Nature Art Gallery is that kind of shop!
Rob De Wet _________________________________ For further information, telephone 0 7742 2594. www.thailand-jewelry.com
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From the day it was built, Samui International Airport has wowed those who pass through it.
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If you want to see just how green Samui really is, the only way is to circle round and then criss-cross it in a small plane or, better still, a helicopter. You’ll be amazed at how lush it is, how unspoiled. Away from the coasts, Samui is completely verdant with few houses or buildings to be seen. But if you’re lucky enough, your flight into Samui may take you directly over the island’s heartland. You’ll see for yourself just how untouched the land is. It’s utterly fitting then that when you actually land, the airport itself seems to be part and parcel of the same continuum. Concrete is used sparsely and everything’s specifically designed to dovetail into the land. Earth tones are everywhere, and there’s nothing brash or over-bright about any of the buildings. Indeed, the airport’s a product of the jungles and forests that you’ve just flown over. It was purposely designed to look this way, and 96 l www.samuiholiday.com
those who created it went to an inordinate amount of trouble to produce a memorable design. Anyone in the civil engineering business can tell you that as far as small airports go, it’s relatively easy to cut corners and build one on the cheap – it’ll be a tin-and-concrete affair. Think of the aerodromes of the past; little more than fields with gigantic sheds outside towns. It was the landing strips that were important – the safety aspect. The rest could wait or at least look very temporary. And deeply ugly, too! Airports belonged to the air, so to speak, so it didn’t matter so much what was on the ground. You’d be zooming up into the sky before you knew it, everything else tiny and forgotten.
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Samui is a small place and doesn’t need a vast airport. Shacks could – just about – have done the job. After all there are plenty of airports that are rudimentary. Nobody would complain - much. It’d be the expected airport for an island, and everyone would be grateful to head to their hotel. But the airport took a different tack, and made something of itself that no-one quite expected. It didn’t go for cheap, or for utilitarian. Instead it kept things simple. With its natural woods, thatched roofing (whoever heard of a thatched airport?) and the fact that it was open to the elements, it seems to belong more to the 1930s South Pacific, or perhaps to some early, golden age of travel that never really existed.
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It’s entirely modern, however. The first tourists came to Samui in the 1970s, and the dream of building an airport started when people realized that the island was becoming an extremely popular destination. It wasn’t hard to figure out where to build Samui International Airport, as it’s officially called. Just a few minutes north of the main town of Chaweng, flat land offered itself for the purpose. It was a massive project. From the start it was a privately-owned airport, built and run by Bangkok Airways. The ground was cleared in 1982, and seven years later, the first passengers started using the new airport. Since then, the island has never looked back. Gone were the days when travellers to Samui (and they were indeed travellers rather than tourists) had to endure a rickety night boat from the town of Suratthani on the mainland; they slept as best they could in the uncomfortable hold of the ferry and arrived in the early morning in Nathon. The airport did away with all that discomfort and then added in comforts and charms of its own. It now boasts its own shopping arcade with cafes and gift shops; the whole idea is that the airport is more than just a place to hop on or off a plane. It’s quietly luxurious and as soon as you step into it, you come under its spell. It’s idyllic enough to make people want to return here, again and again. And people do. It’s all part of their holiday. It’s both homely and exotic in equal measure. As such it seems to win over pretty much anybody who’s ever lugged their bag off a luggage carousel.
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From Samui you can fly courtesy of Bangkok Airways to a variety of domestic destinations. Getting to Bangkok itself is a cinch as there are so many flights. In addition, you can fly internationally with Bangkok Airways to such places as Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Samui airport has both a domestic and an international terminal, right next to each other. The carrier has operated flights to and from Samui for over 27 years now, and has consistently strived to satisfy the millions of passengers who use it. Despite its laid-back look the airport is dedicated to efficiency; it has to be, as it’s the country’s seventh busiest airport. Last year alone, over a million passengers flew in here, while another million flew out. It also handles a great deal of cargo and freight, including perishable foods. When it comes to air travel, Thailand is a major hub, with Bangkok its focal point. But if you look south, you’ll see a second web of flights arcing out from Samui. It might seem strange for a small island to hold such an important position on flight charts, but thanks to it being so beautiful and well-located in the Gulf of Siam, it’s won over the hearts and minds of holidaymakers and regular travellers alike. And those returning to it are always happy to see the bijou, iconic airport swinging into view once again as their plane makes its final descent.
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FIRECRACKERS, DANCING LIONS, PIERCED CHEEKS Chinese New Year on Samui is big, bold, brash – and you’re invited to the party. A story out of the depths of time. In China, centuries ago, a monster used to rise out of the sea. It gave no thought for humans. It laid waste to the fields, and killed everyone it found in its path. Nian is the name people gave to it. Nian means ‘year’. Because, every year, before spring, it came, once again out of the water to destroy everything and everyone. People didn’t have weapons to match its ferocity. But it was, at least, an animal. And therein lay its undoing. Villagers everywhere learned how to defeat it. There were two ways, and both had to be employed at the same time, and on the largest scale possible. Here’s what happened: the entire community dressed in bright red. That alone scared the beast. The rest was done by noise. As much noise as possible had to be made. The Chinese invented gunpowder and fireworks, and these prevailed. A night filled with explosions drove Nian away – until the next year. And then he’d come again, only to face the same deafening opposition. He was always defeated, and the custom of wearing red and letting off firecrackers has continued down through the centuries, to the present day. Has it abated in any way? Not at all. It’s as loud as ever, as bright as ever, the defeat of Nian – the Chinese New Year – is a major celebration wherever there are Chinese communities. On Samui there are many festivities, even if there don’t appear to be many Chinese here. There are, however, many descendants of Chinese who came to the island, as well as the neighbouring province of Suratthani. And there are many, many throughout Thailand. Everybody loves Chinese New Year, whether they’re Chinese, Thai or holidaymakers from elsewhere in the world. In the Thai calendar, it’s a major event, even if there’s no official holiday to mark it.
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The New Year comes sandwiched between 1st January and the Thai New Year. It’s a lunar event, so it takes place on different days each year. This year, New Year’s Eve is on Friday 27th January. And unless you’re in the depths of some impenetrable jungle, you won’t miss it, it’s that noisy. Everyone is welcome to join in the lively festivities; in fact, the more the merrier. Here are a few things you should know about celebrating Chinese New Year on Samui. Firstly, it’ll be a long night – full of bangs, loud and unexpected. It takes that much to scare off a mythical beast, so if you’re near any of the celebrations the only way to get some peace and quiet is to stock up on earplugs. Expect traffic jams in Nathon, one of the main centres of celebration. Cars slow to a halt on the main road through town, and everything’s interrupted by a procession that goes from door to door along the street. Offerings are collected. Dragons weave in and out of the stores while celebrants accompany them. Cars get blessed and firecrackers go off, so many that the pavement is turns a deep autumn red. The procedure takes place in other towns, too, at different times – it’s never known much in advance when that’ll be – and the main point, apart from scaring mythical beasts away, is to have as much fun as possible. Shops and houses will be decorated with red signs, all in Chinese script, along the lines of good luck, or happiness, wealth and longevity.
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In China, the New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. The celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year’s Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making it the longest festival in the Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year traditionally has three days, and on each, different rites are observed. On the first day you have to clean your house, apartment or shop and gather everything you’ll need for the following days. The second day is always the last of the old year, and you should prepare food as offerings to the gods and also to your dead ancestors. Before feasting begins, paper money is burned. The food is then blessed and is eaten by the entire family. Since everything that’s been prepared has some sort of symbolism, everyone should partake of everything. The third day is the first of the New Year, and is a time for just kicking back and relaxing. It has to be – the loud bangs will have gone on most of the night, and people will feel tired. It’s time to enjoy some leisure and see what’s going on. Whatever you do, you shouldn’t clean the house – the time for that is gone. If you do so it’s unlucky. And that bad luck is just waiting for you with a very long arm – so don’t even think of touching a broom. Similarly, Chinese-run businesses will close – working today may bring you profit but also bad luck. Similarly, don’t use any tools that have
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sharp edges. This isn’t the time to cut your hedge. And neither should you wash your hair. Don’t swear either, and avoid getting into a quarrel. If you’d like to celebrate, you’re more than welcome to do so. Major epicentres will basically be anywhere with a largish Chinese temple. The main temple is in Nathon, and there’s also one in Maenam, then the Guan Yu Koh Samui shrine in Ban Hua Thanon. Many people head for Nathon, where there’s a spectacular evening with food and drink. You’ll see a lion dance performed on metal poles of varying heights, and then watch with a mix of fascination and fear as a small child shins up an enormously long bamboo pole to the amazement of the crowds far below. The troupe then makes a very high human tower right outside the temple. You’ll see the same sort of show performed in Maenam, too. Chinese New Year is definitely for everyone, young or old. It’s a memorable time, and if you bring your camera, you’ll be guaranteed some amazing shots of this very special occasion.
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Why you should head to the edge of Chaweng and Nora Buriâ€™s signature restaurant, The Barge!
No, this story isn’t about canal cruises or houseboats. It’s about one of the island’s most lauded restaurants, and the young chef who’s shaped their menu into an item of envy. All restaurants succeed by virtue of their reputation, but hotel restaurants do this solely due to outside guests. It’s not enough to just feed the folks staying there; what’s offered has to be enticing, too, and also affordable. And if you add to this one of the mostimpressive architectural landmarks on Samui and sprinkle it with 5-star attention and service, you’ve hit on the recipe for success. The resort in question is Nora Buri Resort & Spa, just about the first thing you’ll get to when you head north up Chaweng Beach Road in the direction of neighbouring Choeng Mon. It’s not far; five minutes in a taxi perhaps. The Barge really is quite something, and it’s worth going there just to marvel at its architecture and styling alone. You can’t miss it. Firstly you’ll see the huge expanse of the main resort stretching away up the hillside. And, on the opposite side of the road, mostly hidden by the greenery but perched up high and overlooking the sea, there’s the main body of the restaurant, tiered on three levels down the hillside and shaped like a gigantic, futuristic wooden ship, although this isn’t evident from the road outside. It’s built on a steep part of the rocky cliff and descends in tiers, effectively creating three floors and a roof terrace. The initial inspiration for the design came from the traditional Thai sailing vessels. But this is a modern 106 l www.samuiholiday.com
interpretation that evokes the feel of the thing rather than merely trying to represent some kind of big wooden boat. There are actually two excellent restaurants here. Rice Barge is one of the best classical Thai restaurants around, and takes up the whole upper floor. This is the place you’ll come alongside as you enter the building. It’s the most dramatic of the floors, and fully employs the whole of the elaborate roof-space, all hand-sculpted from rich, dark wood – and that’s worth some time with a camera, just by itself. It’s in two sections, with the inner area being air-conditioned and lined with floor-to-ceiling walls of glass. And there’s an outer dining space, too, extending outwards towards the sea, and open on three sides. But wander down the stairs until you get to ground level – which in turn is connected to broad outer terraces that edge the sea. It’s something of a contrast to the sumptuous traditional Thai décor of Rice Barge; more minimal and with lots of trendy scrubbed concrete offset by huge Thai paintings. This restaurant is simply (and somewhat confusingly) known simply as The Barge! It’s the resort’s all day dining space. It serves Thai and International cuisine, and it’s where you’ll find Brendan Semmens. Brendan is the Sous Chef in charge of International Cuisine. He’s been here three years now, and has shaped the menu into a sleek and intriguing selection of varied choices. “There are two parts to creating
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dishes,” Brendan explained. “Firstly the ingredients have to be simply the best; grain-fed beef from Australia, for instance, and a broad selection of really fresh fish and seafood. And then it has to taste good. Not just ‘nice’, but interesting. It has to be enjoyable to eat, enhanced with combinations of exciting tastes and textures that are unexpected and that complement each other.” Certainly! But Brendan missed out the third factor: it has to be affordable, too. And, at The Barge, it is. Take, for example his ‘Pan Seared Tuna with Quail Eggs, Fried Capers, Wasabi Mayo, Rocket, and Picked Onions’. The tuna is moist and the flavour dances with that of the quail eggs; the wasabi’s gentle heat plays against the mild sweet-and-sour of the onions, which in turn offer up a reassuring firmness, offsetting the softness of the fish and the eggs. All for 550 baht. The same tantalising canopy of tastes and textures also occurs with the more straightforward-seeming ‘Australian Grain-fed 4-oz Tenderloin with Homemade Fries, Rosemary Salt and Red Wine Shallots’. Steak ’n’ chips? Hardly! The shallots are steeped in red wine and provide a cheerful crunch that teams up with the chunky homemade fries, adding a pleasing tangy contrast (that’s enhanced by the rosemary salt) to the smooth succulence of the steak. And there’s a free salad bar to dip into, too.
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Brendan’s excellent à la carte menu is reason enough to come here, plus the architecture of The Barge and the hugely-affordable pricing. But there are also two more clinchers. The first is the two gourmet-buffet theme evenings: Monday is ‘Cowboy Night’, with the emphasis on turf and surf. There are several live cooking stations preparing seafood, steaks or kebabs, exactly to your preference. The whole affair is a banquet and you can sit, talk and refill your plate at your leisure, as many times as you wish over the course of the evening, all for just 999 baht. And on Wednesday, something similarly lavish happens on the theme of ‘Hawaiian Night’. The cuisine is just as extensive, with snowy-surfaced tables and gleaming stainless steel servers, but with more Asian dishes on offer and a wider variety of seafood. But the final incentive to head for The Barge is the unique ‘Freeflow’ drinks menu that’s based per hour. For 550 baht you can drink all the local beers you want for an hour. If you want to extend that to beer, cocktails, spirits and mixers, its 650 baht. Work out how many cocktails or Jack & Cokes you can drink in one hour. Do the maths. Know also that the à la carte menu is also on hand at the buffet evenings, making it realistic for a group or a family to come for the night. And be aware that the prices you pay are the prices on the menu – there’s no added tax or service charge. And then realise that Brendan and the Barge are a combination simply not to be missed!
Rob De Wet
____________________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7791 3555. www.noraburiresort.com
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TRIALS Samuiâ€™s cycle champion takes to the hills and lives a life less ordinary.
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It’s a sweltering hot morning, with temperatures set to rise still further. And since it’s a weekend, most people are thinking of relaxing, just pottering about and not keen to take on anything that sounds like it’s going to be an effort. Basking in the loamy heat seems to be the only rational way to deal with the day ahead, but not for Natalie Panyawan. Instead, she’s out mountain biking at breakneck speeds along steep, stony and unnerving tracks that wind through wild hillsides. And she’s definitely fast. She has to be as she’s permanently in training for a never-ending series of races that will, she hopes, culminate in her being chosen for the Olympics. Natalie is certainly a force to be reckoned with: she’s already carried off numerous prizes for cycling, and her dedication to the sport is inspiring. At the level she’s reached, eating, sleeping and training are already on a level that’s different to most people’s regimes, even if they class themselves as sporty. However, as with many of us, she faces not just 112 l www.samuiholiday.com
competition with others, but also with her other commitments, notably the fact that she’s still at school and has to devote just as much time to that as any other student. She attends a local school here on Samui, and is serious about her studies. Though both her parents are Thai, she’s fluent in English, which is another asset when it comes to cycling – she already competes abroad, and life is much easier since she doesn’t have to worry about communication problems. She rides a Canondale SSI (1) bike. That may not mean much to most of us, but suffice to say that this model provides as much efficiency as is mechanically possible. For a start, it’s extraordinarily light for such a chunky-looking bike. You can lift it with a finger; it’s no heavier than picking up a bag filled with supermarket shopping. But riding it isn’t about being hip and trendy; it’s about having perhaps a few seconds advantage over someone using a heavier bike. The difference between carbon and aluminium can mean the difference between winning and
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With these qualities, it’s not hard to see why the children at SCL are achieving so much losing a race. The Canondale isn’t Natalie’s only bike, and her family has a section of their garage dedicated to storing and maintaining bicycles. They are their own mechanics, and need to maintain the bikes and keep them in good condition; riding through the hills puts an enormous strain on the machinery. Cycling as a competitive sport calls not just for fearlessness, but also for robust finances. The bikes are prohibitively expensive. “A pair of top-notch bikes,” says her father, Khun Sa-ard Panyawan, “costs about the same as a car. It’s an enormous outlay, but you have to just accept that if you’re going to be competitive.” Simply getting to the competitions themselves is also quite costly. Most are held in distant parts of mainland Thailand, and Natalie needs to be able to travel frequently. Samui isn’t ideal as a setting, she admits, as there’s always a boat journey before she can even really begin her journey to the race destination.
A warm welcome is extended to anyone who wishes to visit the school
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Most of her training is done on right here on her home turf, of course. Since she lives in Bangrak, she’s close to some popular trails. There are whole spider-webs of them across Samui, providing all the practice she’ll ever need when it comes to hills. However, she says, it’s impossible just to train on hills. “You need to have flat land too,” she says. “To get in better shape you need to train on the road, too, and do this quite often.” Samui isn’t so good when it comes to this aspect. The ring-road is far too dangerous for cycling on. She can use a few of the quieter roads, however, like the one that goes across the hills from Soi 1 in Maenam. To be in top condition, Natalie cannot simply cycle and do nothing else; she has to do body weight training and stretching exercises too, and make sure every part of her body gets a physical workout. In addition, her cardio exercises also include running and swimming, and not just on a casual level either. She’s completed a triathlon to this end. Not many people can say they’ve succeeded at that, and even fewer can claim to have done so at such a young age. Natalie says, “90% of winning at championships is down to training. The other 10% is luck, so naturally to have the best chance, I really need to keep on practising all the time.” It was Natalie’s parents who got their daughter into cycling in the first place. “She started cycling when she was much younger,” recalls her mother, Khun Darunee Panyawan. “Both my husband and I cycle lots,
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and we used to get Natalie to come with us. At first she wasn’t really smitten by it, but as time went by we realized she was becoming more and more serious. Now she’s unstoppable when it comes to practice.” Her parents are certainly her biggest fans and frequently ride with her when she’s training. Meanwhile, she continues to go from strength to strength. She has an impressively long list of wins in various championships throughout the country, and to give just a scant couple of examples, in late 2016 she won the Singha Mountain Bike #4, Chiang Khan, Loei, in the junior category and then went on to win the UCI Asian Junior Series, held in Sarawak, Malaysia. Natalie certainly has a bright future ahead of her. She loves what she does, and savouring the joys of freedom that’s only possible on two wheels has given her an appetite for more of the sport. The road ahead though is a tough one and she knows it. “Obviously the higher up you go in any field of sport,” she says, “the harder the competition will be.” Daunting as Olympic competition is bound to be, she wants to get to that level of competence. With Natalie’s focus and determination to date, many people are wagering that she’ll certainly make the grade.
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SMALL IN SIZE, HUGE ON REPUTATION Samahita Retreat is a premier lifestyle centre for yoga, detox and fitness.
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B a r g e & Te r r a c e
Samahita Retreat is set right on the long, unspoilt and tranquil beach of Laem Sor, on the south coast of Koh Samui. It’s nestled in a quiet and secluded area, well away from any crowds, busy roads or hedonistic activity. Surrounded by coconut trees and tropical wildlife, it is still close to markets and cultural attractions such as waterfalls and temples, for you to discover at your leisure. Samahita provides a genuine oasis of yoga and wellness. It’s a calm and eco-friendly retreat, where you can relax and practice a holistic approach to rejuvenating your mind, body and spirit. This dedicated yoga centre provides you with all the right tools to support you in your goals, whatever they may be, to help you grow and transform your health. Integral to their philosophy is a daily program of activities which incorporate meditation, different yoga techniques, fitness, cardio and balanced nutrition. The morning program begins at 7:00 am four days a week, with half an hour of quiet indoor cycling in the air-conditioned Cycle Shala using top of the range Schwinn Carbon Blue bikes. An instructor will help you to adjust and understand the bikes and then guide you through a moderate program of different paces and positions, aimed at waking you and your body up for the day and improving cardio fitness. At 7.30 am, every day except Saturday, there is 40 minutes of guided meditation and breath work at the Beach Shala, (8:00 am on Saturdays). You can then choose between a Mysore style Ashtanga yoga class in the beautiful teak-wood hall, or stay at the Beach Shala for foundation work on your core, developing and strengthening your abdominals. This flows into a guided Vinyasa yoga class which finishes at 9.45 am.
Fine Beachside Dining at The Rice Barge & Terrace Authentic Thai Cuisine Daily A La Carte and Thai Set Dinner No visit to Samui is complete until you have dined at The Rice Barge & Terrace
Rice Barge & Terrace Nora Buri's Signature Restaurant Chaweng North For Reservation Tel: 0 7791 3555 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.noraburiresort.com
Just in time for the brunch buffet served from 9.30 am until 1:00 pm, with a mouth-watering selection of healthy choices. Choose from eggs, done any way you want, granola, muesli, fruit, yoghurt, regular milk, soya milk, waffles, gorgeous healthy bread, salad and accompaniments, coconut rice porridge with raisins. Later on, more lunch suitable items emerge such as pumpkin soup, stir fried vegetables and fresh spring rolls. There is no meat, but always a fish dish. Everything is cooked with no sugar and no unhealthy fat or additives. A blackboard shows each and every menu choice with a key to show which foods are spicy or vegan, contain dairy, gluten, nuts, soy and so on. If you have an allergy or intolerance, it is easy to know which foods to avoid. From 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm is relaxation time. You can take a stroll along the amazingly unspoilt stretch of coastline, sunbathe on the beach or around the pool, go for a swim, practice your own yoga or fitness, take a massage or therapy treatment, visit the shop which sells everything from yoga mats and clothing to health supplements or head off on an adventure and explore the island and its attractions. If you are feeling peckish in the afternoon, fruit and juice are provided from 3.00 pm until 3.30 pm. And don’t forget to fill up your water bottle during the day. There are many water stations available as well as a fresh electrolyte drink made from lemon juice with a hint of salt and a roselle juice (made from hibiscus flowers with no sugar added), to keep you hydrated during the day.
Nora Buri's Restaurant Chaweng North For Reservation Tel: 0 7791 3555 E-mail: email@example.com www.noraburiresort.com
At 4:00 pm every day except Wednesday (4.30pm) and Saturday, the program starts again with core strengthening exercises, followed by ‘fun cycle’ to music in the Cycle Shala. At 5:00 pm a restorative yoga, breath work and meditation class begins, a perfect way to end a relaxing afternoon in paradise. Follow that by steaming out any lingering toxins in your body with a session in the herbal steam room. A dinner buffet is set up from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm, with more amazing dishes from which to choose. Tea and coffee are available at both buffets, with the addition of fresh ginger, mint and lime to add to your hot drinks. Meal times can also be social times at Samahita retreat. Whether you are alone or with friends or family, join a table with other guests. There are some really interesting people to meet and many stories to hear and to share. Many are repeat visitors who come back time and time again. Everyone is here for different reasons and seeking different things. You may learn some interesting facts or titbits when you engage with your fellow retreaters. If you would rather stay alone in order to think, meditate and reflect there are many quiet spaces where you can take your meals or just sit and find stillness and peace. From 8:00 pm until 8.30 pm there is an optional self-practice meditation session in the hall, and from 9.30 pm all the facilities close for the evening. During the week, there are a few trips organised such as a boat ride including snorkelling and outings to the walking street markets, where you can peruse and purchase some locally crafted gifts, knick-knacks and street food. If you fancy watching a movie or an informative video, there are a number of DVD’s available for you to watch, and Monday is ‘movie night’. Each of the 40 rooms will cocoon you in a sanctuary of tranquillity. There are no televisions to distract you, so they are perfect for reflection and enjoying the natural scenery around you. Everything at the retreat is 120 l www.samuiholiday.com
eco-friendly, all rooms use natural lighting, solar power and cross ventilation, alongside air conditioning if you need it. The queensize bed and 100% natural cotton sheets and towels allow you to really relax and have a great nightâ€™s sleep. So you are always ready every morning to attend the first class of the day. Make the most of your private balcony, some of which look out over the ocean with stunning views. Whether you want to start or develop your meditation or yoga practice, detox, de-stress or simply relax and enjoy good nutritious food and pampering with the numerous massage choices available in the spa, Samahita Retreat offers you unique programmes to address your individual wellness needs. With a dedicated wellness director, a nurse and a team of highly knowledgeable therapists using modern technology alongside ancient Ayurveda techniques, you will begin to heal and re-energise, feeling refreshed and renewed. Reconnect the mind and body as you enjoy a luxury wellness holiday at Samahita Retreat. Whatever your reasons for considering a wellness retreat, visit Samahita for a few days or a few weeks and you will leave feeling calm and peaceful with a spring in your step and an overall feeling of being somehow restored to a younger more vibrant mode!
______________________________________________________ For further information, telephone 0 7792 0090-1. www.samahitaretreat.com
BIG KIDS, LITTLE KIDS It’s party time at Manathai’s Waterline restaurant. Manathai Koh Samui resort is located at the northern end of Lamai, and stretches from the beach inland across the ring road into the foothills. The resort’s Waterline restaurant sits gloriously on the silvery sands of the Gulf of Siam, surrounded by palm trees, with a view of a tiny Thai fishing hamlet across a wooden bridge. Surrounding a swimming pool and a grassy area, it is the perfect spot for family and children’s activities. And now there are organised and supervised birthday parties available for both in-house guests and visitors. The kids can make as much noise as they want, and mum doesn’t have to do anything! The birthday parties offer a range of activities, plus party games and music for ages four to 16. Two hours of blissful fun, with a choice of lunch and water or juice, birthday cake and a lolly bag for all children to take home. The minimum number for a party is four, and the maximum is 15. Activities on offer range from Thai dancing (including dressing up in traditional outfits), yoga, Thai boxing, balloon art, nail art, go-karting (at a local track), sandcastle building and pizza or mocktail creation. All activities are supervised by Thai staff and childminders, and everything your children create, can be eaten, drunk or taken away with them.
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Parents can just relax, lounge around the pool, enjoy lunch or a snack or just come back later, knowing that their loved ones are having lots of fun and being well looked after. Children under four years old are also welcome, but must be accompanied at all times by a parent or personal babysitter. In addition, all children 16 years and under staying at the resort, get to stay, eat and play for free. Waterline has a regular daily program of activities, some of which are similar to the birthday activities, with the addition of a lunch time movie to keep them out of the midday sun. Visitors and local residents are also very welcome to take part, and the cost is extremely reasonable at 299 baht per day. Excellent value for a four-star resort.
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Waterline really is an idyllic dining location, perfect for children and adults alike. The children’s free food menu uses only fresh, healthy and local ingredients, and all dishes are made from scratch at the restaurant. But of course, it wouldn’t be super ‘child-friendly’ without the occasional portion of chips! Choices range from; spaghetti, fish and chips, ham and cheese wraps, cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets amongst others. If your children are big eaters, they can choose two dishes or get a whopping 50% off regular menu prices. If parents or friends of parents want to dine at Waterline during the party, they get a fantastic 25% discount off all food and beverage. The ocean side bistro offers adult diners the chance to explore and celebrate Thailand’s diverse epicurean delights, and Chef Daeng Lek Jintaporn creates exquisite dishes straight from the heart to the plate.
Welcome to Sa-ard’s Watersports Center on Koh Samui. Where everyday can be an aquatic adventure – above and below the crystal clear blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Join us and discover what r eally makes these islands so very special. Our brand new catamaran Fountaine Pajot Belize 43 “Kindred Spirit” can comfortably take 15 people on a day trip and sleep 6 people on over-night excursions. The starboard hull has a double stateroom with ensuite bathroom and living area. There are also two double state rooms in the port hull with a shared bathroom. You’ll also find a large galley and a living area with CD/DVD player and a 28 inch colour TV. All the cabins and living areas are fully air-conditioned. Sa-ard’s Watersports Center also offers Private Speedboat tours to the beaches and snorkeling destinations of the surrounding islands. Manager and Skipper is Sa-ard, one of Thailand’s most celebrated windsurfers. He took part in the Olympics 1984 in Los Angeles and 1992 in Barcelona, was a long time member of the Thai National Windsurfing Team, has been Asian Champion and 5 times Gold Medal Winner in the South East Asian Games. You simply could not be in better hands!
Exceptional service with a smile is a consistent part of your culinary journey. Waterline Restaurant is open daily from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. So, whether you have big kids, little kids or even fussy kids, Waterline at Manathai can create, organise and supervise a great range of fun activities to keep all of them happy, and leave with big smiles on their faces.
______________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7745 8560. www.manathai.com
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Parties on Samui come in many different shapes and sizes. Youâ€™ll be surprised at what goes on.
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Samui’s known as a haven of hedonism, and as soon as the dusk starts to set in people come out to play. There’s drinking, dancing, and having wild times. All the clichés hold good for Samui, but it’s more than a raucous, alcohol-fuelled party zone. There are many different kinds of parties going on here. And not always at night. Many parties are held during the afternoon. The most usual kind are the beach parties, held in many beachfront resorts or bars. There’s always food available, very often in the form of a barbecue and/or buffet. Drinks will be a-plenty and you’ll always find a DJ. The music tends to match the vibe and time of day, so will start mellow round midday or in the afternoon, when the beach parties usually start. Beach Republic’s Ocean Club is home to the Sunday Sessions – featuring The Ultimate Sunday Brunch Club. Some beach parties go on until very late, sometimes till the early morning, finishing at 2:00 am. But what about parties where people know each other, however vaguely? What are parties like on an island where many foreign residents have come to live, either full-time or part-time? The short answer is that they tend to be fairly low key and reflect the diversity of age groups that the organizers know. Not all involve music and alcohol, and they can be held in places you might never have dreamt of. Let’s drop in to an unusual venue: a sheep farm. How many times have you been to a party held at a sheep farm? Rarely, I’ll bet. But sheep farms do throw parties. Well, at least they do on Samui. And if you’re the right age, then you’ll be mesmerized – though they’re more for children than adults. The island’s only sheep farm is located in Maenam, and it’s here that some two dozen people convene to celebrate a child’s fifth birthday. It’s definitely a quirky experience. Sheep wander across the farm, which is more a large garden, with others following, curious as to what’s going on. Sheep can be quite insistent and they can be friendly too. They gather round the small group of five and six year olds, who start feeding them. The children aren’t at all nervous and pat them and stroke their new playmates. Their parents, meanwhile, are chatting on the veranda, overlooking the proceedings and keeping a weather eye out on the entente cordiale between sheep and children. The languages range through English, Dutch and Thai, accompanied by the bleating of the sheep, who win on decibel levels. Children and sheep are exuberant, obviously enjoying the occasion. It turns out to be yet another great idea for a party on Samui. Sheep can be trusted, it seems and are such mesmerizing beings that the children forget to eat the chocolate cake that’s available for them. Everyone agrees to come back here for the next child’s birthday party. None of the parents or the children have any prior connection to the sheep farm. Holding a party here just seemed like a good idea, and a spontaneous one at that. And Samui being very focused on food and drink, just about anyone here can throw a party given a bit of notice. Sheep don’t have to be involved. Later on a more traditional party takes place, up in a villa in Choeng Mon. The property isn’t very big, but the outdoors area accommodates a hundred, easily. However, it’s hardly a brilliant spot for preparing food for so many people. But that’s definitely not a problem, not when there are plenty of caterers on call. The hosts have simply arranged with Nigel Mills, a tried-and-trusted outside caterer to turn up and cook for them. He arrives with a giant hand-made barbecue grill and oven. He proceeds to make a feast of amazingly tasty food, and does it all very coolly, totally unfazed by the tiny space in which he has to work in. And afterwards, yes, he clears up everything so that you’d never know there’d been a party here. So far so good. What you’ll notice about both these parties is that nobody has hosted them entirely by themselves. There’s usually some sort of reliance on outside services. This is very typical of Samui. Unlike in many countries, hiring outside services or hosting your party on someone else’s turf isn’t going to break the bank. Thai people often hold extremely large wedding parties with hundreds of guests. They don’t usually do this in their homes, but organize them outside, and call in restaurant services as well as people who erect massive canopies and set up tables and chairs. Some of these events are so big that they’re more like military manoeuvres – green field sites become a temporary space for revellers, but come the next day, everything’s taken down, packed away and the site returns to its original look.
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Staff parties are a big thing on Samui. If you’re a holidaymaker you probably won’t be aware of them. Typically they include plenty of karaoke, and for the larger ones often a stage is put up and there’s dancing with staff putting on various skits and routines. A bit like talent night, with everyone having a go at the microphone. And it may also have elements of game shows, too, with an MC and various presents being given to members of staff. Often there’s a theme to the party, and fancy-dress figures prominently. A recent staff party had a one-word theme recently: pink. People put a lot of effort into staff parties and this was no exception: bubble-gum pink predominated. So at night, if you hear some terrible singing and cheering, it may turn out to be a corporate bash. And you’ll know who the culprit is, as such parties tend to be held right on the company’s premises. For more genteel affairs, people tend to hire out rooms. It may surprise you but Samui’s hotels, so geared towards holidays, take into account corporate needs too. So you can find large conference-style rooms, which are good for indoor parties. These can be rented out very easily, with hotel staff supplying flowers, food and drink if required – everything you can think of. If you’re staging a party in a locale with guests coming from different places on the island, you can arrange for them to be picked up by mini-van. This 130 l www.samuiholiday.com
works out cheaper than using a fleet of taxis. The drivers just need to know where the locations are, the drop-off and pick-up times and they’ll do the rest. It’s a good solution to a common problem. And it means too that everyone’s free to drink. The largest parties, and also the most commonly held ones on Samui, are definitely wedding receptions. You might not be aware of it, but the island is a prime exotic wedding destination, with weddings just about every day of the year. And of course where there’s a wedding, there’s a party. The biggest can have over 100 guests, jetting in from all over the world, and you’ll find receptions held at resorts and the larger villas, perhaps on the lawn, if they have one. Organizing such a big event is a bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together: there are many different suppliers who’ll work on a large wedding and all have to be in the right order and in the right place and at the right time. Not much good if the vol-au-vents are ready before the chairs and tables are in place. But this rarely happens; the teams have so much practice that they’re very experienced and usually everything runs incredibly smoothly. The only factor that can’t be totally predicted is the weather. Usually in the west, the weather isn’t too much of a consideration with most parties being held indoors. But here in the Tropics, almost all are held out-doors. So the
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If you are looking for something wonderful and different, Zazen restaurant is the place for you to discover. Zazen is truly one of the most romantic and serene beachside dining restaurants on the island. Every night this charming establishment lights up over 100 candles to set the ambiance for you to experience.
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host or hostess is often worried not just if everyone’s going to turn up, but equally if the weather will hold. But typically on Samui, it does. Or it’ll rain just briefly. However, you can get caught out, so it pays to have an indoor back-up. And because weather forecasting for Samui is so chancy – internet info may be completely wrong – those who regularly give parties tend to know their clouds. The unwelcome gatecrasher here on friendly Samui turns out not to be a person but a big fat swollen thundercloud. Protection comes in the form of a marquee with drop-down plastic sides. There are times when being in the open air can be, well, a bit … intense. No matter if there are a few rainy times, there’s always an opportunity to have a party on Samui. It’s just a question of making up your mind which sort you’d like to have. That’s the big decision and everything else just follows on from there. And whether the event is big or small, there are always plenty of people ready to help make it a resounding success.
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HIGHLY COMMENDED BEST RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT (SAMUI) Azur Samui by Azur Samui Co., Ltd
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