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A look at the Thai New Year celebration of Songkran









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Samui’s not just about its fabulous palm-fringed beaches that are lapped by the warm turquoise waters. There’s much much more. And that includes a wealth of Buddhist temples revealing the cultural side of the island. Then we have a myriad of adventurous activities available, including elephant trekking, scuba-diving, islandhopping, sailing and even bungy-jumping. Of course, if you’re after more of a sedate Samui experience, there are many world-class spas on Samui offering everything from a basic Thai massage to sumptuous all-in packages with floral baths, Jacuzzis, scrubs and wraps, aromatherapy treatments and a whole lot more. The shopaholics amongst you won’t be disappointed either, with bargaining opportunities abounding. And when it comes to restaurants, forget any preconceived ideas you may have had that all you’ll get here is a bowl of tom yam gung or a plate of fried rice. Finally, we have the nightlife. And with numerous bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues, Samui really does offer a total tropical holiday experience. So, what with all the amazing things to do and see whilst you’re here, you’re sure to have a great time whenever you come. But if you’re here during the Songkran celebrations for the Thai New Year on the 13th April (see article on page 20), you’ll have a totally unforgettable experience as you’ll be involved in the world’s biggest water fight – whether you like it or not!

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20 108 20 Under Water A look at the Thai New Year celebration of Songkran.

28 Ireland on our Island If you plan on celebrating St Patrick’s Day on Samui, you’re spoilt for choice.

36 Village Life We visit the little village of Thong Krut in the southwest of the island to find out what it’s all about.

44 Elephants and Beachside Barbecues Impiana does things a little differently.

50 Sink, Don’t Swim! For something new, fun and different, leave your scuba gear at home and go for a walk instead – along the seabed!

56 Growing From Strength to Strength Psylo opens another Samui store in the new Central Festival Shopping Centre.


Timeless Classics There are many jewellery shops on Samui – but few that can match the sheer quality and style at Classic Gems.

68 Dine With a View Yupa’s Restaurant at Chaweng Bay View Resort, offers spectacular views and delicious food.

72 Treat Your Toes! But not only your toes – Dr Fish offers full body fish spa treatments as well as pedicures.

76 Thai Visa Dot Com Far more than just visas, it’s one of the best online resources for Thailand info.

80 The Star of the Show Explore hidden caves and secret beaches with Blue Stars Kayaking.

86 Tropical Treats One of the joys of living in the tropics is the selection of delicious fruit, and Samui has its fair share farmed right here on the island.

92 Staying Stretched We all love Samui, but for those who love it just too much, here are the ins-and-outs of extending your stay.

96 Believe It! Buddhism is not the only religion in Thailand – there seems to be room for everyone.

102 A Clean Slate The Spa Resorts in Lamai offer several detox and rejuvenation packages – a great kick-start to a healthier lifestyle.

108 The W Factor Drop into W Retreat’s laid-back daytime scene – it’s one of the most delicious spots around!

114 Forward Thinking Here’s what 2014 has in store for the International School of Samui.

120 Restarting the System Restore your body systems at Natural Wing Health Spa and Resort.

126 On Top of the World Changing your point of view at Narai Kiri

130 Up… Up… and Away! Soaring through the jungle canopy on a zip line is a great way to see Samui’s interior.

138 Relaxing Relatively Why many people are now heading towards Koh Pha-Ngan as part of their holiday break.

Mediterranean Mediterranean Cuisine Cuisine Amidst Amidst aa panoramic panoramic dreamscape dreamscape that that overlooks overlooks the the pristine pristine Crystal Crystal Bay, Bay, The The Cliff Cliff warmly warmly invites invites you you to to aa truly truly unforgettable unforgettable dining dining experience experience on on Koh Koh Samui. Samui.


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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.


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. 14 l

Mae Nam

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.


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

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

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. l 15

Bang Rak

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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Hua Thanon

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. There’re also dozens of little side roads that lead down to quiet beaches and out of the way local restaurants.

The Interior

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. It’s a part of Samui that shouldn’t be missed.


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A look at the Thai New Year celebration of Songkran. Most folks who can only come to Thailand once a year aim for this. It’s undoubtedly the single most popular Thai festival of all. It’s colourful, it’s wild, it’s wet and it’s fun, and it involves every house in every village in every town and city throughout the nation. It’s the Thai New Year celebration. And it’s all to do with water. Gallons of the stuff. And in a sense it’s also the most ‘in your face’ fun to be seen in what is usually quite a reserved nation. Because that’s where most of the water goes, by the bucketful – in your face! The main reason that this has evolved is the ongoing rise in foreign tourists to Thailand, particularly those in the younger age group. They seized on the outward show of water splashing with glee, replacing the customary beneficence of gentle dabs of water to the face with a drenching, and substituting the traditional small silver bowl with buckets, hosepipes and water guns. The Thai nation is nothing if not fun loving; their young people and teenagers took note and were quick to follow suit, despite the initial disapproval of their elders. Thus today all the outward show of Songkran has turned away from its origins and become the world’s biggest water fight. But this is really not what it’s all about. It all goes back to the roots of the Thai people, many thousands of years ago, deep in the traditions of the Tai people of China and the Brahmins of India. And it’s all tied to the earth, the farming communities and the cycle of the seasons. It’s also an occasion of sacrifice and thanksgiving, timed to match the hottest time of the year when water is at its most precious. In Thailand, this emerged as an expression of universal thanks for the harvested crops. It was a time of new beginnings and fresh starts, as the sun began to move towards a cooler season at the vernal equinox. And, somewhere back in the mists of Thai history, there emerged a fable, aspects of which are still being celebrated today. l 21

This ancient fable tells of a young boy. He was something of a spiritual prodigy, and so great was his knowledge, humility and awareness, that it made one of the gods jealous. This god became angry and resolved to teach the boy a lesson. So he set him a riddle to solve – if the boy failed to solve it he would die. Try as he might, the boy couldn’t puzzle it out and so went into the mountains to think. And, whilst meditating, he overheard two eagles talking. They were excited because it looked like there was soon going to be some fresh food for them – one of the gods was going to kill a young boy! They continued to gossip, and so unwittingly gave away the answer to the riddle. The boy returned and gave the god the right answer. And because the god was honourable, he kept to his word and cut off his own head. But this created a problem, as should the head fall to earth, it would strike like a meteorite, causing havoc and chaos and burning away the seas. And so, one of the god’s seven daughters resolved the issue by hiding the head in a heavenly cave. Thus, it came about that, even today, at the beginning of the Songkran period, the seven

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daughters, one for every day, carry the head in procession around the home of the gods. And on the last day of Songkran, it’s returned to the cave and laid to rest for another year. As a visitor to Thailand, you’ll probably be aware of little or none of this – the closest being perhaps a leaflet that may appear in your room, filled with dry and dusty history and crammed with so many unreadable Thai names that you’ll bin it right away. But ties to all of these legends and myths are still very much active, although you’ll see no sign of them on the (very wet) streets. For example, in temples throughout the Kingdom, on the last day of Songkran there’s always a beauty pageant celebrating the god’s seven daughters and their annual duty. And the other connecting element is how long Songkran goes on for. Traditionally, this should be seven days, and this still happens in many rural regions. However, generally, it’s been reduced to just four days, more or less everywhere.

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The first day is ‘The Cleansing’ (Wan Sangkhan Lohng) and is accompanied by a thorough spring-cleaning of homes, and with the sacred statues in the temples being aired and washed, too. And this is also the day, now fixed at April 13th, when the water guns and buckets appear on the streets. The day after this is ‘The Preparation’ (Wan Nao), on which the womenfolk prepare food and offerings for what is to come. And all of their traditional dishes stem from the Royal Court, as it is believed that nothing less is correct for such an occasion. The men also have a part to play. They are busy collecting sand – this will be needed for the big celebration on the following day. This is the third day, and the occasion of ‘The Offering’ (Wan Payawan), and everyone rises at dawn to take offerings of yesterday’s preparations to the local temple. People also make merit by releasing captive birds and fish. And then everyone happily uses the sand to make ‘pagodas’, which is seen as a further way to make merit and has its origins back

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when temples used to cover their floors with fresh sand each day. Many Thai people traditionally still regard this as the first real day of the New Year, and make a special effort to set the pattern for the rest of the year by filling it with good deeds. And on the final day, the 16th, there’s ‘The Respect’ (Wan Paak Bpee) which is a formal acknowledgment of respect for the elderly. At one time, this was a lengthy and traditional ritual, but today it usually takes the form of sprinkling the elders with water and murmuring a few polite words of respect.

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And that’s where the origin of today’s ongoing water fights comes from – just in case you were wondering! It’s a far cry from a respectful dab of water to being the unwitting recipient of the contents of a bucket of water filled with ice cubes, right in your face. But that’s the way it’s developed. At least now you’ll know that, under all the water, there’s two thousand years of gentle culture and tradition!

Rob De Wet

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IRELAND ON If you plan on celebrating St Patrick’s Day

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OUR ISLAND on Samui, you’re spoilt for choice. l 29

There are a few things that all Irishmen have in common, other than a penchant for drinking before noon! They’re a lively bunch, who are blessed with the gift of the gab, a great sense of humour and an unusual love of potatoes. But that’s not all they love, and it would be a challenge to find an Irishman (or woman for that matter) who doesn’t like a good pint of beer. There’s a saying, ‘May the luck of the Irish be with you.’ Well, luckily for us on Samui, we don’t have to travel thousands of kilometres to the green hills of Ireland to enjoy a good pint in true Irish style. An Irish father-and-son team have made Samui their home, and brought all that is Irish to Samui, with four themed restaurant/pubs. Father, Derek Watson, is an ex Northern Ireland international football player, playing for his country back in 1968, and son Paul, is an avid football supporter, so, you’ll find Irish football memorabilia in all their pubs. Tropical Murphy’s, located on Chaweng Beach Road opposite McDonalds, has been keeping patrons in high spirits for more than a decade, and turns 13 years old this March. Not that the Irish need much reason for a celebratory drink, but with St Patrick’s Day being on 17th March and it being birthday month, it’s a good reason to head down to Tropical Murphy’s for a pint (or a few) and some good ‘pub grub’. Speaking of grub, you’ll find hearty, wholesome fare at Tropical Murphy’s, which is just what you’re after to line the stomach before tucking into a pint of draught (we’ll get back to the beers in a bit). Chatting to owner, Paul, we asked him which dish he recommends, and not surprisingly, old Irish favourite, ‘shepherd’s pie’ is one of the best sellers. It’s made from homemade mince, potatoes and vegetables in rich gravy, and topped with a layer of crispy potato. Equally as popular are the not-quite-so-Irish fajitas, which arrive sizzling in a hot pan, with your choice of chicken, pork or beef. They’re served with fresh tortillas, salsa, cheese, sour cream and refried beans. The menu at Tropical Murphy’s is diverse and covers everything from light meals and snacks to hearty Irish stews and even a good selection of Thai food. And with the pub being open from 9:00 am to 2:00 am, there’s a great breakfast menu too.

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But it’s no doubt the beer you’ve been waiting to hear about, and as Paul says, “Starbucks do coffee, we do beer.” And judging by the jovial atmosphere in Tropical Murphy’s, there’s no doubt they do beer well. There’s a wide selection of local and imported bottled beer, and 12 kinds of draught beer too. A substantial amount of money was spent on putting in a state-of-the-art draught beer system to keep the brews at the optimal temperature for enjoyment. The kegs are stored at 2°C in the cold room to keep the contents fresh and in a stable condition. From there, the draught is pumped to the bar taps, running alongside glycol lines, which are at -2°C. A final heat exchanger takes out any heat picked up along the way, to give you a perfect pint at 1°C, a great way to cool down in the tropical heat! Right, so we have good grub, a perfect pint, and all that is needed is a great atmosphere and setting to round it all off. Well, Tropical Murphy’s doesn’t fall short here. Downstairs, you’ll find a few tables outside along the street, perfect for peoplewatching, and inside traditional bar counter seating, tables and booths, and a free jukebox lets you pick your favourite jingles to get you in a party mood. Several perfectly positioned TVs allow patrons to keep up with the latest sporting events, and here you can follow the football, rugby, formula one racing, cricket and G.A.A (Irish sports). To most Irish, lifting a heavy pint of Guinness is a sport in itself, but if you’re feeling a little more energetic, head upstairs for some traditional bar sports, where you can partake in a friendly game of darts or pool, or even enjoy a golf game.

With the success of Tropical Murphy’s Paul opened two other Irish establishments. While Tropical Murphy’s is more of a sports bar, Max Murphy’s has a stronger focus on food, and serves ‘gourmet pub grub’. Of course, there’s still the great beer selection too, and you’ll still find TVs to watch the sport, it’s just a little more sophisticated. You’ll find two branches, one being in Nathon near the police station, down a side road that leads to the sea, and the other is at the departures area of the airport. So no matter if you’re leaving the island by plane or by ferry, you’ll be able to enjoy your last great meal and pint of draught before heading off, so get to the airport or ferry terminal early to calm the travel jitters with a pint or two. Last, but most certainly not least, is the Irish Times, a firm favourite with expats, as it’s located a little away from the tourist hubs. Heading towards Chaweng from Bophut, on the ring-road shortly before Tesco, is a modern building development with shops, businesses and apartments as well as

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ample parking. Here, you’ll find the Irish Times, centrally located to meet up with friends or to stop for a great meal before heading to Tesco to run errands. Dad Derek heads up this establishment, and it offers the same great favourite dishes and beer selection. Max Murphy’s Nathon is open daily from 9:00 am until 1:00 am, while the airport branch is open from 8:00 am until the last plane leaves. The Irish Times operates from 10:00 am (Perhaps Derek sleeps a little later than his son?) until 2:00 am. So no matter the time of day, or where you are on the island, you’re not far from a great meal and an ice-cold pint. And we’ll end on another great Irish saying in honour of St Patrick’s Day: “Here’s to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold pint and another one!”

Rosanne Turner



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We visit the little village of Thong Krut in the southwest of the island to find out what it’s all about. There’s not a lot in Thong Krut. But that’s not a bad thing. Anyone who complains that Samui has become too developed and commercialised need only head there for a day to appreciate the quieter side of island life. 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. From this peaceful shallow bay, boats make the journey to these two small islands, and although prices are usually fixed, it doesn’t hurt to try to negotiate a better rate with a smile. l 37

One well-known operator is T.K Tour, which started taking tourists to Koh Tan for snorkelling back in 1986. They offer long-tail boat charter trips and joining trips for snorkelling, fishing and diving to not only Koh Tan and Koh Matsum, but also to other nearby islands such as Koh Rarb, Koh See and Koh Haa, all off the south coast of Samui. And while you’re waiting to embark on your island expedition, enjoy a bite or drink at T.K. Restaurant (owned by T.K. Tours), situated near the private pier right in the middle of Thong Krut Bay. Rather than using speedboats, T.K. Tour prefers using long-tail boats, not only to offer an authentic Thai experience, but also to generate revenue for the local community. Koh Tan, a few hundred metres off the coast from Thong Krut fishing village, is a small, mostly unspoilt island, known for its good snorkelling. Here you’ll see giant clams, coral and various tropical fish living in and around the protected reefs. Koh Matsum is just south of Koh Tan and its long white beach makes it a popular spot for day trips and picnics. Trips with T.K. Tour leave at 9:30 and return at 15:00, and include snorkelling around Koh Tan – equipment included – and lunch on the beach at Koh Matsum, where you’ll have time for a bit of relaxing too. 38 l

Koh Tan is known as ‘the island without dogs’. According to local legend, any dog that has been taken to live there has quickly lost its mind, but oddly the local dog population seems unaffected by this fate. But truth be told, it’s the high-pitched calls of the bats on the island, not audible to the human ear, that cause the dogs to behave oddly. There’s just one small village on Koh Tan, with a population of about 30 people who earn their main living from fishing. You’ll find very limited tourist facilities, such as five simple bungalows and an authentic Thai restaurant. The island is roughly triangular in shape, having three distinct hills, with Khao Kiam at the south of the island being the highest at 218m above sea level, and covered with lush, evergreen forest. Unofficially named ‘Coral Island’, Koh Tan offers the best snorkelling you’ll find in such close proximity to Samui. If you feel like facing your phobias, the Samui Snake Farm is just on the border of Thong Krut on route 4170, and shows are held twice daily at 11:00 and 14:00. Here you can get up close and personal with

some of Thailand’s slithering snakes and other scaly reptiles. And if you’d prefer to satisfy your need for retail therapy rather than face your fears, then don’t miss the Naga Pearl Shop, where a variety of pearls, jewellery and pearl products are on sale. If you’re after a wholesome meal in a retro setting, try the Sweet Sisters Café on the corner of the Route 4173 and Route 4170. The menu has a strong vegetarian and vegan influence, but there are plenty of seafood, chicken and meat options too. Khun Noiy, who owns and cooks at Sweet Sisters Café, believes in using fresh, local produce, she doesn’t use farmed fish and shellfish, there’s no MSG in her food, and she grows a lot of her own produce too. Thong Krut is historically a village of coconut farmers and fishermen whose livelihoods have become more of a challenge over the last decade. While traditionally village children would have continued with either fishing or coconut farming, as their parents have done for decades, now the tourism industry dominates Samui’s economy. This means l 39

that a proficiency in English is vital to providing local children a chance at a better future. These students will ultimately be competing for positions with those privileged enough to attend international schools, or learn from a native speaker. The local community school, Watsantiwatraram, has 60 primary students who are eager and enthusiastic to learn, but tremendously lacking in the resources they need to prosper in this rapidly changing community. Until recently, the students had never studied English with a native speaking teacher, or even a fluent Thai English teacher. The school simply lacks the funds necessary to pay the higher salaries Western teachers require. But recently, Starfish Volunteers have been bringing volunteer teachers to provide basic but essential English lessons to the students. If you’d like to give back to the local community in some way, a donation of materials, resources, or your time to Watsantiwatraram School is a rewarding way to do so, and you’ll know that you are directly helping local children on the island. Accommodation in Thong Krut is extremely limited, so chances are you’re staying in one of the neighbouring bays, or even on the other side of the island, making a day trip to this little village of fishing boats and coconuts. Arrive early or stay late, as here you’ll see great sunrises and sunsets with views of the islands. The beach is about one kilometre long with very few beach vendors. Don’t expect

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endless sun-loungers with martinis on call – but if you’re after a little tranquillity and an insight into village life, it’s worth spending an afternoon in a beachside café with either a good book or good company.

Rosanne Turner





THE SEA BEACH WEDDING On the secluded Bang Po beach, The Sea Koh Samui – Samui’s luxury beachfront villa hideaway offers an unrivaled combination of relaxation and sophistication. Enchanting pristine beaches and seductive intimate spaces create just the right atmosphere for a romantic wedding or honeymoon. Whether you picture an intimate drinks party in a contemporary space streaming with daylight or a traditional dinner and dance for 50 of your closest friends, our Executive Chef and Sommelier provide a bespoke service to ensure your day is as perfect as you imagined.

For more details call our wedding planner on T 077 960 567 l E l W

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ELEPHANTS AND BEACHSIDE BARBECUES Impiana does things a little differently. From the minute you walk up the stairs past the pretty fish ponds and up into the wide open marble floored reception area of Impiana Resort, you just know it’s going to be a special experience. But perhaps just not big enough for an elephant, but we’ll come to that later … Situated in Chaweng’s quieter cousin Chaweng Noi, Impiana has just under 100 rooms, eight superior cottages, two suites and 14 deluxe cottages, but the grounds are more than enough to accommodate everyone, whether it be singles, couples or families with children. Impiana is part of a larger group called Impiana Hotels & Resorts Management, which has two other resorts in Phuket and owns three city hotels and a resort in Malaysia. Already accustomed to providing a luxurious environment for their guests, their resort in Chaweng Noi is no different. From the beautifully crafted waiting area furniture, to the softly lit winding path and steps down to their beachside restaurant with staff dressed in their beautifully tailored Thai uniforms, you just know you’re in good hands. l 45

They like to look after their guests here, and besides having an air-conditioned hospitality room with complimentary tea and coffee available all day for guests to enjoy, they also have a games area with American 8 Ball, table football, darts and board games. Not that it rains often on Samui, but it’s nice to know there are things to do if it does. Tamarind, their lounge bar on the upper level, is an ideal spot to relax with a cocktail or glass of wine, after a hard day lounging on the beach. Or perhaps, you’d like to stop in there on your way down to the beach? They’re open from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm.

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Their popular beach bar is directly on the sand and offers chilled cocktails, beers and wine. You can choose to sit back in their comfy seats or venture out onto the sand and flop onto the bean bags. A recent renovation of the bar yielded some design improvements, but the main change was that the flat roof of the bar has now been turned into a lounge area. A fantastic place to sit and look out over the sea, drink in hand. Keeping nature in mind, the large beachfront tree that is part of the bar, peeks through the floor and provides some welcome shade during the day. Boasting not one but three ‘Happy Hour’s, listen out for the bell as they announce each one. From 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, you can get a ‘buy one, get one free’ deal on all drinks except wine. Their main restaurant, Sabai, is on the lower level overlooking the sea and is open every day from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm. They start their day by offering a full breakfast buffet with enough tasty treats to cater for everyone’s tastes. They offer a great lunch menu too and don’t be surprised when your order arrives - the portions are generous. Lunch times also offer a small lunch barbecue on the beach. Burgers, teriyaki and hot dogs are just some of the delights you can sample. But it’s dinner time when this whole area really comes alive. We’ve already mentioned the soft lighting that you see on the path down to the restaurant, and when you arrive you are greeted with something quite magical. The cluster of coconut trees on the beach has been beautifully lit from below, and you’ll find a beautiful fresh flower and candle decoration on all the tables. The area has been transformed from the open area used for the sun loungers and beach games during the day, to a beautiful, intimate dining area. Tables are set up on the sand, as well as on the terrace for those who prefer not to feel the sand between their toes. l 47

The restaurant has themed nights three times a week. Monday is Thai night and besides the many Thai dishes they have on offer, they also have Thai dancing. Wednesday is Italian night where you can have a break from sampling delicious Thai food and enjoy some excellent pasta dishes. On Friday nights, they have a beach barbecue, and as soon as you arrive at the restaurant, the smell of grilling seafood hits you. The wonderful thing about being on an island is the fantastic availability of fresh seafood. Crab, prawns, lobster and various other shellfish are available all year round and Friday nights at Impiana are a great time to sample them. A buffet is set up next to the bar with a barbecue at one end creating magic with seafood and steaks, and then long tables stretch out to the right offering a variety of dishes that will have you drooling before you’ve taken your first mouthful. Barbecued steaks, jacket potatoes and grilled corn are the obvious favourites, but also on offer are steaks in mushroom cream sauce, massaman beef curry, chicken and cashew nuts, stir fried vegetables in oyster sauce, mushroom soup, a selection of salads including a delicious prawn and avocado salad, a full range of sushi with all the sauces and trimmings (the wasabi deserves respect), and then a whole table dedicated to desserts. The Impiana brownie looks indulgent but there’s also delicious mango and sticky rice parcels. You’re definitely not leaving here hungry.

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Every night except Sunday, they have a band which plays gentle easy listening music. Judging from the fact that most of the guests had turned their chairs around to face the band, they were clearly crowd pleasers. If we haven’t already convinced you to visit Impiana, let’s see if we can convince you with an elephant. You thought we’d forgotten, hadn’t you? Every year around the 13th April, Thailand celebrates Songkran, which is their version of New Year, and the whole of Thailand becomes one big water fight. This day is loved by old and young alike, and tourists travel from far and wide to take part in the festivities. Impiana have made this an extra special event for their guests by bringing an elephant to join in the fun. Yes, a real elephant directly on the beach in front of the hotel. And you know how much elephants love water …

Colleen Setchell

______________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7744 8994.

● Largest pharmacy chain on Samui ● Over 4,000 medical & health care products ● One stop service pharmacy and wellness center ● Multi-language assistance ● Refill your personal prescriptions

12 yea r


● Free consulting by certified pharmacists

Open from 8 am - 10 pm everday

Hotline: 0 7741 3298-9



DON’T SWIM! For something new, fun and different, leave your scuba gear at home and go for a walk instead – along the seabed! Fun things to do? There are a hundred of them on Samui. You’ve got day trips and sports-fishing and scuba diving, bungee jumping, go carts and football golf, a shooting range, elephant treks and quad bikes – the list is endless. As well as the exalted pastime of ‘pool potato’, there are also degrees of ‘go off and do it’ that range from the frantic to the geriatric, with 50 shades of grey in-between. But, having stated that with confidence, when it comes down to it, there are only two types of trips or activities. There are those on the island. And there are those off the island. But as far as the latter’s concerned, you’re somewhat limited. Scuba diving and snorkelling. Fishing. Daytrips to Koh Tao. Cruises around Koh Pha-Ngan. A boat trip to one of the other islands. And that’s about it. You can sunbathe, swim, snorkel or dive, and with various combinations of these. Until just a few months ago, that is. And this is where Robert Wilkinson comes into the story.

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The genial and friendly Robert is an experienced scuba diver and PADI certified dive instructor. In the process of searching for a sunnier and gentler way to make a living, he and his good lady wife, Christine, ended up on Cyprus in 1997, where he set about opening his own dive school. And, a year or so later, came to realise he had become but one of many. Competition was fierce, work was hard. There were just too many other dive schools and things were not slotting into the cosmic plan. Not, that is, until he came across the novel and exciting concept of ‘sea-walking’. “We actually took a short break away from the dive school,” Robert told me. “And I came across this thing – ‘sea-walking’. It looked fascinating so I went to try it out. And it was great fun. You didn’t need lengthy training or instruction, as you did with scuba diving – mums and kids could enjoy it with no problems. It didn’t need anything like the same sort of extensive equipment as scuba, with all the regulators and tanks and the high-pressure testing and safety checking. And it never went deeper than three or four metres. Plus, around about 30 minutes was the most anyone seemed to want. And, even better still, there was nobody doing this on Cyprus.” And so it was that, in a very short space of time, Robert moved his business activities sideways. He set up and opened a Sea Walking centre. It was

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immediately successful. He’d already noticed, as a scuba dive-instructor, that he often had a male customer who came in a family unit and then left his wife and kids ashore while he pursued his hobby. This was perfect. Now the whole family could play together and sea-walk for a while. Or papa could go off into the deeps with a nitro re-breather, while the rest of the family could bond by doing the ‘same thing’ but safely at a low altitude (as it were) and with the emphasis on zero-stress family fun. Robert’s business expanded and he soon had two busy Sea Walking centres. He also had friends over here – Robert and Christine just loved Samui. And so, when all the fates lined up at the same time, he accepted an offer to buy his existing businesses and leapfrogged over to our lovely island as fast as he could. As everyone knows, Koh Tao is the scuba Mecca in this area. And that’s where he set up initially. But then he noticed something interesting, and shifted the whole operation to Samui.

Dream Holiday under Palms Only a 35 minutes drive from Koh Samui’s small scenic airport, close to the island´s picturesque little town Nathon and near the Public hospital this prestigious address is one of the best known secrets of the island. Located on Santi Beach the Siam Residence Deluxe is nestled in tropical gardens. Created to provide the very best of Thai hospitality, this small luxury retreat incorporates luxurious accommodations, attentive service and excellent cuisine in an atmosphere of calm and seclusion. The perfect destination for an unforgettable holiday ‐ a place to return to …

1 or 2 bedroom luxury villas, separate living room, marble bath, two toilets, party second open air bath, familiy villas (130 m2!). “To begin with I was working from Samui,” he continued, “I would arrange all the bookings and organise the pick-ups from the resorts and liaise with my boat crews. But it wasn’t quite right for me somehow. It wasn’t hands-on enough. Then I realised that I was getting 90% of my bookings from Samui anyway. So I moved everything to here. And now we have an entirely different schedule. I go out with the boat everyday and supervise the activities and accompany my guests when they go sea-walking.” And, having been there and done it, I have to say that a betterorganised and more enjoyable trip is hard to find. You’ll be picked up from your resort at around 8:00 – 8:30 am and taken down to the unspoiled fisherman’s village of Thong Krut on the island’s southernmost coast. Robert is turning away customers each day because he insists that, even though it’s all so easy going, there are no more than eight to a boat, only four of whom can be underwater at any one time. So it’s nearly always a family group – or two or three couples – in each of the boats. And the plan is to head to one of the nearby southern islands, usually one of four possible beaches on Koh Matsum or Koh Tan. He’s good, I’ll say that. He’ll look at the sky and the cloud movements, have a few words with the captain, and then change course because he can tell that there will be bad visibility underwater at the nearest beach.

Tropical garden, designer‐pool, german‐speaking management, Restaurant, Sala directly at the beach!

Enjoy your lunch or spectacular sunset dinner at the open air Pavilion restaurant directly at the beach overlooking the sea and the intimate atmosphere of a small luxury villa resort. Authentic Thai and international cuisine and wines. Join us for a relaxed and unforgetable dining experience! Open daily from 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. (ask for free pick‐up service)

Santi Beach – Lipanoi Tel: 077‐420008 – Fax: 077‐420009 e‐mail:

The equipment you’ll use is . . . a helmet. That’s all. It’s extremely expensive, a waterproof fit, is connected to the boat by an air line and is square and heavy, like some kind of retro TV set. Well it seems heavy until you lower yourself over the side, and then the weight (which causes you to slowly descend) disappears. It’s just wonderful. The sensation is like you’re walking on the moon, in slow motion low gravity, effortless, but with a crystal-clear seascape of corals teeming with fleeting darts of colour. Snorkelling is great, but this, viewing everything through the big picture window and side screens of your helmet is even better! And you’ve constantly got Robert alongside you, supervising your safety and pointing out all the special sights that most people probably wouldn’t notice. There’s only really one thing to be aware of: the helmets just can’t fit small children. Robert wouldn’t dream of risking it. So there’s a marginally-flexible age-limit, six or seven years, but with an enforced height limit of a minimum of 120cms. And so, if you have a one year-old, as happened recently, please don’t complain that there’s nothing else to do. Read the opening paragraph and then go pick up some leaflets. We’re here for nothing, if not to help you!

Rob De Wet

__________________________________________ For reservations and further information, telephone 0 901 650 411.

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GROWING FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH Psylo opens another Samui store in the new Central Festival Shopping Centre. People the world over tend to want to be fashionable, they shop at stores to make sure they wear the latest fashions, which then get discarded in favour of the next season’s outfits. But why follow the crowd? Wouldn’t you rather wear clothes and accessories that never go out of fashion, which you can wear year in, year out? Be individual! Be yourself! Get noticed! If you’re not familiar with Psylo, you’re missing out. Their clothes are so unusual; you’ll need hours to browse their clothing collection, accessories, and shoes. The key to the Psylo look is originality and, over time, their clothes have developed into a fusion of urban street wear, with a strong underground and ethnic tribal influence and a dash of punk. Psylo style is influenced by tattoos, primal body art and sacred symbolism, all combined with a modern manifestation of fashion.

Psylo rebels against society’s fashion rules. Walking around their shop, you’ll see studded wrist bands, men’s shirts with uneven printing, skewed zips and rugged edges. You’ll see flaps and straps, studs and slits. Jackets with hoods and furry lined waistcoats, boots with buckles and stiletto boots with wrapping laces. Some of the women’s dresses have uneven hems or criss-cross straps on the back showing just enough of the back to be sensual but not enough to cross that ever fine line between cheap and elegant. Lace detail in shirts, tunic tops with asymmetric lengths, external stitching, studs and diagonal zips. Their clothes really do have to be seen to be appreciated. The designs are wonderfully different from what you’d find in a standard clothing shop. l 57

So what is different? Well … everything! As usual, they have a new collection coming in and that will be available in the shops at the end of February. It’s the Summer collection so it will include some strappy dresses; button-up dresses; shorts; flimsy skirts; mini-skirts; light jackets; T-shirts; waistcoats; long and three-quarter length trousers, and much more. Expanding on their already successful previous lines, these new designs are fresh, beautifully tailored and wonderfully unique, but that’s Psylo. And what better time to announce that they will be opening yet another shop (their fourth in the world, with talk of a further one opening in Mexico!) in the new Central Festival Shopping Centre due to open in Chaweng at the end of March. An exciting time for Psylo and we spoke to the Samui branch manager, Joel Nagar, who excitedly shared pictures of the unique shop fittings and decor which are so very in keeping with the whole Psylo concept.

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They’ve acquired a whole load of antique fittings which they are restoring. They’re being cleaned up and repaired; the old rustic look is exactly what fits in with the concept. Their idea is that beauty lies in things that aren’t shiny and new; things that are roughed up and tell a story; things which speak about experiences and character. You’re not going to find that with items that have come off a mass production line in China. Turkish-style hanging lanterns, antique wooden carvings, picture frames, an old water pump and even an ancient sewing machine, all these things will be part of the decor. Huge mirrors with beautiful carved wooden frames, painted wooden columns, and even an antique wall from an old house each piece will be lovingly restored and used in the new shop. This fits in so well with Psylo’s concept of being both ecologically friendly, being green and sticking to their ‘no waste’ policy.

In a further attempt to be ‘responsible for the environment’, they are now moving to completely organic fabrics. And when you see the models in their brochures and online, you’ll see they’re not caked in make-up. Everything about Psylo is natural, it’s about being you, 100% naturally you. Due to the ever-increasing popularity of their clothing range, their children’s range has now been expanded. In the new shop in Central, there will be a section dedicated to children’s clothing, so now your children can learn to express their individuality from a young age and grow up being comfortable in their own skins (and clothes!). You’ll find the same fantastic designs but in lighter,

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brighter colours. So make sure you make time to visit Psylo and step out of your fashion comfort zone.

Colleen Setchell

_________________________________________________________ For more information, telephone 0 7725 6157 or 0 879 288 748.


Open from 10:00 am - 01:00 am (main kitchen), with pizzas being served until 1:00 am. For reservations and further information, telephone 077 961 648

Grill & BBQ, Thai Cuisine Fish and Seafood Open from 12:00 am - 01:00 am For reservations and further information, telephone 077 963 213 l 61


There are many jewellery shops on Samui – but few that can match the sheer quality and style at Classic Gems.

One of the fun parts of any holiday is stocking up with presents and surprises to take back home. And Thailand is the perfect place for this. There are bargains galore. But such reminders of what Thailand has to offer fall into two camps. There are the ethnic local crafts, ideal for souvenirs and inexpensive gifts. Then there’s the really good stuff. The quality jewellery, inset with precious or semi-precious stones and made from silver or gold. There are a couple of very good reasons for deciding to shop at the top end of the market. Firstly, it can represent a solid investment. But the other is far more personal. Perhaps an anniversary or birthday present. Or a unique gift for a close friend or relative? Or the very popular idea of matched wedding rings – if you’re getting married in Thailand, and on Samui in particular, what better way of symbolising the occasion with custom-made rings? 62 l

The only snag is that there’s quite a lot of choice. Unless you’re something of an expert, it’s not easy to tell the difference between items that have been made from lesser-grade materials and those that are really top quality – just going by the price alone is not enough. Fortunately, as in most countries, there are governing bodies that ensure the standards of their members remain consistently high. With jewellery, it’s the Thai Gems and Jewellery Traders Association (TGJTA). It’s a wise move to limit your jewellery shopping to one of its accredited members. And Classic Gems is just one such a place. Classic Gems is situated on the southern part of Chaweng Beach Road, almost directly opposite the entrance to the 5-star Centara Grand Beach Resort and on the corner of the side road known as ‘Soi Colibri’.

There’s an elegant frontage, on both sides of the corner, which houses three rooms and a workshop within. But here’s the interesting thing. At the time when Samui’s airport was just getting under way, long before any 7-11s appeared on the island, back when Chaweng had never seen a taxi and was just a tiny scattering of buildings with a potholed dirt-road through the middle, way back in 1990 – that was when Classic Gems first set up shop on Samui. I deliberately said ‘on Samui’, as the origins of the shop and the family-owners go back well over 30 years, and are one of Bangkok’s biggest commercial jewellery manufacturers, distributing their quality products all over Thailand and also exporting them to international clients. Back in 1990, one member of this family business, Khun Chayapa Pongchababnapa, opened their first retail outlet, and it was here on Samui. Since then, the shop has twice relocated, only to end up, in 1995, not so far from where it first began. And, as one of the few-and-far-between accredited members of the TGJTA, this is one jewellery shop where you can be certain of seeing only the finest examples of the Thai jewellers’ craft, and in a classical style that has remained virtually unchanged throughout the years. l 63

But that’s not to say it’s old-fashioned in any way, as I’ll reveal in just a moment. But, certainly, when you walk in to look around, your first impression will be that there is such a vast array of rings, necklaces and earrings to pick from that it quite takes your breath away. There seems to be such an endless variety on display that it might help to know how they’re grouped. We can summarise this by saying that the majority of items have been designed with women in mind, although there’s a good selection of men’s items and quite a few things that are more hip and unisex. You can divide the jewellery into items made from white and yellow gold (14 and 18 carat) and those crafted from silver. The stones vary from precious (diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires) through to a variety of semi-precious gemstones – amethyst, topaz, garnet, citrine, peridot etc. Again, the quality is assured – this time by the ‘International Gemmological Institute’, which grades each stone on colour, quality and clarity, and with a certified minimum of 0.20 carats for each diamond used. There are actually three rooms at Classic Gems: walk through into the ‘Pearl Room’ for something of a surprise. If you thought pearls were white or creamcoloured, here there must be a dozen hues, ranging from snow white, through brown to almost black! This is where styles that are more contemporary begin to appear with some of the necklaces, particularly with the free forms of the ‘wild’ or ‘baroque’ pearls: several of the creations here are nothing short of stunning.

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And then wander through into the ‘Silver Room’. Now you’ll get to see something that’s chunkier – this is where the boys can play while their partners are engrossed in the room next door! (Some of the bracelets here are most definitely for men!) And there are quite a few items that are funkily unisex, too. If the gold and diamond section carries prices that you might expect, here there are also some absolute delights, which come in at two-to-three thousand baht – such as the exquisite silver and mother-of-pearl chokers and pendants. And there’s a small workshop in this area, too, so that repairs or adjustments can be made on the spot. Because Classic Gems is family-linked to one of the nation’s biggest and most reputable manufacturers, they are easily able to create matched ‘sets’ for you too – or even to custom-make any item to your own designs. Go to them with a Victorian heirloom ring that belonged to your great-grandmother (for instance) and they will create a necklace or earrings (or both) to match this precisely.

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I asked Khun Chayapa if styles had changed at all over the long run of the family business and the shop. Her reply, “. . . no, not really – traditional is classic is timeless.” I tend to agree. Except that I’d also add that here, at Classic Gems, there’s a whole new fringe of items that are modern – but the quality is all so tiptop that even the contemporary stuff is ‘classic’, too!

Rob De Wet

_________________________________________ For further information, telephone 0 7723 0479.

Iconic Beachfront Restaurant Daily Modern European Asian Cuisine. Oyster Sunday Brunch from noon - 4 pm. With breathtaking views and an unrivalled ambiance, RockPool is an unmissable Samui dining attraction. Resting on the rocks just a few metres above the ocean, the RockPool terrace offers an exquisite beach-side dining experience. Chef Christopher's menu is an a la carte journey embracing an exotic tapestry of the freshest ingredients, delicately prepared to enhance each individual flavour. RockPool is the perfect location for all celebrations, and is equally delightful for a casual, gourmet lunch or a romantic dinner. Sunday Brunch is a long, lazy affair. RockPool is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Samui Royal Holdings Project


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Yupa’s Restaurant at Chaweng Bay View Resort, offers spectacular views and delicious food.

For an owner to put their name to a restaurant, they must be proud of it. And that’s most certainly the case with Khun Yupa, who owns Chaweng Bay View Resort as well as her namesake restaurant within it. She’s born and bred on the island, and lived here most of her life. Ask Khun Yupa to describe the food and she makes a bold statement, “You will be one million percent satisfied, I promise you! The food at Yupa’s is delicious!” Well, that’s quite a promise to make, and one that no owner would make lightly. Khun Yupa goes on to explain that seafood is the restaurant’s speciality, as she has many friends who own fishing boats, and they offer her the best of the catch first. She describes the Thai food as ‘traditional Samui-style’ and many of the recipes are old family

favourites that she’s incorporated into the menu. Having also lived in Europe for some time, Khun Yupa is familiar with European food, and the restaurant has a wide selection, including pizza and pasta, schnitzels, pork chops as well as imported steak and lamb. Chef Tao has worked in many fine hotels and restaurants and utilises his experience at Yupa’s Restaurant. He’s also skilled in preparing Chinese cuisine, but it’s the Thai dishes that bring guests back time and again. You’ll find a selection of appetisers and Thai salads such as spicy noodle salads and som tam (papaya salad), as well as curries, stir-fries, noodle and rice dishes and pretty much every other Thai dish you can think of. l 69

Khun Yupa says that the restaurant hosts many parties and functions, as it’s a good place for gatherings of up to 50 people. For these, they offer set menus or a buffet, depending on requirements. And it’s the ideal setting too, as the view across Chaweng Bay and the small island of Koh Matlang is spectacular. The bungalows are sprawled up a hill, and taking prime position at the top is Yupa’s Restaurant, stealing the best view. The restaurant is wrapped around the resort’s swimming pool, with a cosy lounge area as well as inside and outside tables. The kitchen is open plan, and for those staying at the resort, room service is open until 10:00 pm. When it comes to breakfast, Khun Yupa explains that she prefers ‘breakfast to order’ for her resort guests, rather than a buffet that doesn’t stay fresh for those that come in later. Of course, outside guests are also welcome for the breakfast, and if you’d like to work up an appetite, walk up the hill, admiring the tropical garden on the way up. But, if you’re not up to the exercise, there’s plenty of parking behind the restaurant.

covered terrace, private bathroom with hot water, air-conditioning, mini-bar and refrigerator, TV with satellite and daily cleaning service. Some rooms include kitchenettes and an outdoor Jacuzzi. For all this, including the prime location and views, one would expect to pay a premium rate. Well, you’d be pleasantly surprised, as the room rates average 2,000 to 3,000 baht per night.

Chaweng Bay View Resort was opened by Khun Yupa around 15 years ago, before Chaweng was as built up as it is today. Perhaps this business-minded lady had insight into how the island was changing, and realised that in the future there’d be a market for visitors who wanted to be near Chaweng’s happening spots, but not right in the middle of it. It’s ideally located, offering spectacular views of the bay, and at night, prime seats to the frequent fireworks shows set off by the beachfront resorts. It’s a 15-minute walk into Chaweng, or you can hire a scooter if you’d prefer.

So whether you’re looking for a bungalow to rent close enough to the nightlife but far enough not to be disturbed by it, or prefer a villa for a bigger group, Yupa has it covered. And if you’re staying elsewhere, do make the effort to give Yupa’s Restaurant a try, and find out why most of her customers are regulars, returning year after year for her winning formula of delicious family recipes and a great view to match.

The bungalows themselves are spacious from the 36 square metre superior regency villas, to the 72 square metre royal pavilion executive suites. No cramped hotel rooms here. They’re well-appointed too, with Thai-style furniture, crisp white bedding and Thai artwork and artefacts. Each room boasts a large

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Khun Yupa is a dynamic woman, and as she’s seen the island grow, so she’s anticipated what it needs. As well as quality bungalow accommodation at Chaweng Bay View Resort, she’s seen a need for high-end villa rentals, and has since built a few to rent to holidaymakers wanting something special. Yupa Villa 1 and Yupa Villa 2 are available for monthly rentals, long term or shorter holiday contracts. These provide a real ‘home-from-home’ feel, as it’s easy to self-cater and perfect for bigger groups that want privacy. The villas are centrally located in Bophut Hills, with easy access to the ring-road, supermarkets and beaches.

Rosanne Turner

______________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7730 0236.

AN EXQUISITE BEACHFRONT SETTING FOR AN INCOMPARABLE CULINARY EXPERIENCE Panali is the ideal backdrop for a sumptuous gastronomic journey into the aromas and flavours of Chef Dario Congera’s cuisine; a heartfelt translation of the Italian tradition. Alfresco dining takes on a whole new meaning at Panali, with breathatking views of the evening lights over the sparkling sea combined with backlit palm trees and the soft sounds of the Gulf of Thailand for a most unique ambience. Operating Hours: 11:00 hrs. - 23:00 hrs. For reservations, please call 077-915-555. VANA BELLE A Luxury Collection Resort 9/99 Moo 3, Chaweng Noi Beach Surat Thani, Koh Samui 84320, Thailand

AN AUTHENTIC EPICUREAN JOURNEY TO DISTINGUISHED FLAVOURS AWAITS. Kiree, Vana Belle's signature restaurant, extends the warmest Thai hospitality complemented with service that exceeds every expectation. Soak in the essence of the destination during the sunset hours over a choice of Southern Thai delicacies served the traditional way. Against a show kitchen backdrop of black marble, Vana Belle’s culinary team pay homage to local dishes through their rendition of marinades and aromatic flavours. Operating Hours: 18.00 hrs.-23.00 hrs. For reservations, please call 077-915-555. VANA BELLE A Luxury Collection Resort 9/99 Moo 3, Chaweng Noi Beach Surat Thani, Koh Samui 84320, Thailand


YOUR TOES! But not only your toes – Dr Fish offers full body fish spa treatments as well as pedicures.

Asia loves alternative medicine and beauty therapies – in fact the more bizarre the better. Following this mind-set, Thailand has jumped on the bandwagon of Garra Rufa fish spas, which have been used in the Middle East for centuries. These little freshwater fish originate from the river basins of Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. They also go by the name of nibble fish and Kangal fish. They’ve earned the nickname Dr Fish because of the health benefits they provide to people with skin conditions such as psoriasis, as they nibble away at the problem skin.

a good and reputable fish spa. Dr Fish has UV lights to sterilise the water, and a filtration system that changes the water at least every 30 minutes. They also insist that customers wash their feet well in clean water, as chemicals from sun creams and other body products can harm the fish – their safety should also be a concern. For a full body treatment, customers take a soap-free shower prior to the treatment. The staff are also diligent in checking the patient for any open wounds or infectious conditions as an added precaution, not only for the safety of the fish, but also other customers.

Now on Samui, you’re likely to see several fish spas located along the roadside. But, many of these don’t use the Garra Rufa fish, preferring to use other (cheaper) nibbler fish with micro teeth, and these fish spas often have inadequate hygiene controls. And that’s where Dr Fish comes in, as they practice the principles of

So how does it work? Basically the fish nibble the skin, which stimulates, rejuvenates and generally improves the health of the skin by natural exfoliation. The fish have no teeth and secrete a therapeutic enzyme called dithranol, which is often a component of dermatological creams, one of the benefits being the

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reduction of the development of skin cells to ease the symptoms of conditions such as eczema. Only the Garra Rufa produces this enzyme, which is why you won’t get the same results from spas using other nibbler fish, as it’s this enzyme that does the exfoliation work. Pores are also cleared and cleaned in the process, and blood circulation is improved.

up for, you’ll slowly sink into the tank and more fish will swim up to find their own patch of tasty dead skin. Those with ticklish feet or underarms, be warned – it can be excruciating and impossible to keep still. But, if you just take a deep breath and relax, you’ll soon enjoy the experience, much like hundreds of tiny Jacuzzi jets, and some even find it addictive!

After their shower, the ‘patient’ either immerses their feet or whole body into the tank of hungry fish. Anyone with mosquito bites or cuts will be provided with protective plasters, and for obvious reasons, swimsuits are worn in the tanks for full body treatments. In Dr Fish’s bright and airy treatment room, 5,000 fish are kept in 17,000 litres of constantly-filtered water, making it one of the biggest fish spas in the world. As soon as you ease your feet into the water, hundreds of little ‘doctors’ rush up to meet your toes. If it’s the full body experience you’ve signed

As with most alternative medical practices, there’s bound to be some controversy surrounding these little fish. The media has reported that diseases can be carried from one patient to another via the water. It would therefore be sensible, as with any treatment, to choose your venue and practitioner wisely, as such incidents won’t occur with proper hygiene, as practiced at Dr Fish. l 73

Should you try a fish spa? We’ve tried it several times with friends as part of our ‘initiation to Thailand’ fun day, and all have enjoyed it with no ill effects other than a sore stomach from laughing too much. In fact, a trip to Dr Fish should most certainly be on your ‘to do’ list when visiting Samui – as much so as visiting the beaches or taking a Thai cooking class – Dr Fish has become a Samui institution. To find Dr Fish, head down Chaweng Beach Road, and you’ll find the spa below Bikram Yoga, opposite Al’s Resort on Soi Tops Market. It’s open daily from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, and 30- or 60-minute sessions are available.

Rosanne Turner

_________________________________________ For further information, telephone 0 7796 0511.

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Far more than just visas, it’s one of the best online resources for Thailand info. By trawling around the internet, you can find many things: it’s the biggest research tool mankind’s ever created. Not only that, but you’ll probably use it to shop for your flights and pay for your hotel, too. If you then Google ‘Samui’, you’re going to come across a dozen or more websites that are crammed full of info about the island. There’s everything you could need, from details of beaches to advice on bargaining, from how to cope with the taxis here to or what to do in an emergency. All these sites are treasure houses of information that are worth their weight in gold. Except that’s not quite true. Unchanging aspects such as geography, distances, locations or major tourist attractions will probably be just about spot-on. But things that can alter on a monthly, or even on a yearly basis, are more suspect. Sure, yes, most of these sites feature plug-ins that give ‘live’ exchange rates or weather conditions. But when it comes to restaurants, bars, maps, or even things like the schedules of buses or ferries, it might pay you to be cautious. It’s not a lot of fun if you navigate your way across the island only to discover on arrival that the excellent restaurant you were heading for closed two years ago. Unfortunately, Samui just isn’t big enough to support a daily, or even monthly, newspaper in which current or upcoming events are broadcast. l 77

Well, actually, even that’s only partly true! Whereas it’s correct to say that there’s no published news, there are a couple of news sites already online. (And if it’s info about current aspects of Samui, then check out our very own online This is a treasure trove of info all by itself.) But what’s missing is some kind of access to information about what’s happening now on the island. Roads that are closed due to flooding, or the visit of a VIP. Details of power cuts and what areas are affected. An accident somewhere that’s holding up traffic. An event, a festival, a name-band that’s going to happen this weekend. These daily splashes on the otherwise smooth surface of life’s pond are normally handled by local radio stations, and we haven’t even got one of those (at least not in English anyway). But what Samui does have is ‘Thaivisa’. Yes, I know, it’s been oft said before. Why would anyone wanting current information about local storms, or possibly travel problems on Samui, bother to look at a website about visas in Thailand? The answer is, quite simply, that is not just about Thai visas. It certainly was to begin with, and that’s how it all began. But it grew. And today it’s become a vast database of resources and information about every aspect of life and living in Thailand (including details of visas!) and with regional and local forums that are constantly providing up to the minute information about all of the things mentioned above. It all started back in 2002, with three people in Bangkok who, well ahead of their time, were experimenting with search engine optimisation. To do this they established a website and set about maximising its search potential. They, together with friends and helpers, were playing with the results of live forums and the effect these had on the search engines. Dummy forums were created with imaginary topics, and the results of the fabricated responses measured again search engine positioning. In the process of all this, it came to the notice of one of Thailand’s largest business services networks, Sunbelt Asia, which then expressed their interest in the website as a means of advertising. One thing led to another and the website actually became a live and active presence, and one which other businesses rapidly became keen to engage with. 78 l

Today it’s uncertain exactly how many members there actually are – there are so many! Some are merely observers, wanting to keep in touch and up to date whilst back home and thinking about their next visit to Thailand. Others are resident over here, and the kind of people who in earlier generations might have made it their hobby to write ‘letters to the editor’ about everything under the sun! And, between these extremes, there are thousands of people who are seeking an answer to one aspect or another of life in Thailand. But one solid fact is that, this time last year, the website was getting 50,000 individual visits each day, and this figure can only have increased since then.

This is hardly surprising really, as you’ll discover for yourself once you’ve spent half an hour exploring their extensive website. It’s divided into many different sections and sub-sections, which broadly range from Thai law and everything connected with visits, visas and working or staying here, through to the history and culture of the Nation, all aspects of property, renting and ownership, on to business, travel and even to a whole forum about learning the Thai language. There’s a huge ‘for sale and wanted’ classified ads section. There are constant and ongoing news reports and flashes. And a whole load of local forums covering Bangkok, Issan, Chiang Mai, Central Thailand etc. and . . . Koh Samui.

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And this is where to look when you need the up-to-the-minute news about what’s going on around the island. There are several ‘running’ topics concerning the previously mentioned flooding and road closures, together with all sorts of useful information – in January when there were several weeks of political demonstrations in Bangkok and across the nation, this was where to look if you needed to find out what government offices here were affected, or if flights were running on time.

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It contains all sorts of facts about public holidays, renting vehicles, the best internet providers for mobile phones and where to find them, where to buy real cider, or who is showing various international sports. Plus a hundred other things to do with daily life on Samui, whether you live here or not. And, if you’re still in the planning stage of your next Samui holiday, well, it’ll even give you the latest information about visa regulations. Who could ask for more!

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THE SHOW Explore hidden caves and secret beaches with Blue Stars Kayaking.

Koh Samui is a beautiful island, but just sometimes you want to explore a little further. From the hills of Samui, you can see many small islands dotted around, and perhaps you wonder what secrets they might hold. Well, you’re in luck because not only is Samui within easy reach of the world famous Angthong National Marine Park but there is also a kayaking company which has been leading tours there for more than 17 years. Yes, Blue Stars Kayaking first arrived on Samui 17 years ago, and are proud to offer a tried and tested tour of this beautiful natural attraction. The Marine Park is a collection of uninhabited islands

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lying to the west of Koh Samui. Made famous by Alex Garland’s book ‘The Beach’, the islands are full of hidden caves and secret beaches, and what better way to view them all than from a kayak. The park covers 42 islands in a total area well over 100 km², of which only 18 km² are land. The words ‘Ang Thong’ mean ‘golden bowl’ and the park is famous for its natural beauty. The islands themselves seem to leap up from the sea and boast dramatic cliffs, bizarre rock formations, towering limestone mountains, thick jungle, white-sand beaches, fertile mangroves, waterfalls and hidden coves and lagoons. The islands are also home to a variety of wildlife including lizards, pythons, Asian long-tailed monkeys and many, many birds. l 81

The Blue Stars tour is well-organised and includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, a light breakfast snack, a full lunch buffet and an afternoon snack, full insurance park fees, lifejackets and kayaking instruction (in both English and German). They have a toilet and sea-sickness pills on board for those who are less able to cope with rougher weather, although, the boat doesn’t go out when the weather is too rough. In this case, all guests will be informed either personally via contact details left when booking, or via their hotels and a full refund will be offered (if a deposit had been paid). Blue Stars operate from a large boat that’s big enough to carry all the kayaks on board instead of leaving them on a beach somewhere in the park. Having them on-board, means that the boat has total freedom to go where it wants, and if the 82 l

weather takes a turn for the worse, it has the flexibility to change its course and find a suitable spot for kayaking. The fully-equipped boat is 23 metres long, which means it is stable and you can easily get up and walk around on the journey out to the Marine Park. Yes, the journey does take a little longer that the speed boats (up to one hour 30 minutes), but what’s the rush? Take in the beautiful views of Samui as you head out west, and as you watch it getting smaller and smaller, the peaks of the cliffs on the islands in the marine park will start getting bigger. Enjoy your breakfast after snapping some pictures, head up to the sun deck on of the boat to catch some rays before the sun gets too hot, or just relax on the main deck.

The day starts around 7:15 am when you’re collected from your hotel and taken to Nathon Pier to board the boat. You enjoy a light breakfast and tea or coffee while you cruise out to the park. There are a number of activities during the day - kayaking, hiking to the viewpoint and snorkelling or swimming. The group is split into two smaller groups. In the morning one group kayaks while the other group snorkels or swims. These activities are then switched so that the kayaking group get a chance to go snorkelling or swimming and vice versa. This is so that it never feels too crowded, and everyone feels like they’re getting a great experience instead of being rushed and pushed around.

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Back to the boat to indulge in the delicious buffet lunch while cruising to the next stop for the mid-afternoon activities. Again working with two smaller groups, one group enjoys a second session of kayaking while the other group hikes to the viewpoint to see the stunning Emerald Lagoon, after which the activities are again switched. This means that everyone gets to kayak twice, snorkel and visit the viewpoint. If you prefer, you are welcome to just relax on the boat. The boat is more than capable of carrying 100 passengers, but Blue Stars like to keep the maximum number of passengers to around 44 so that everyone has enough space and can easily move around or find a space to sit as needed. Judging from the many positive reviews on TripAdvisor, this is clearly a service which they have perfected. “A great day out.”, “Awesome experience.”, “Brilliant day trip.” and “Great tour operation” are just the first few you see. Besides their admin office, they have another office in Chaweng behind Bondi which is open afternoons and evenings. However, it’s easiest for everyone if you book online and pay on arrival. They run trips on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays but during high season, they might add extra days so be sure to check. Due to the popularity of the tours, they are often fully booked so it’s advisable to book in advance to avoid any disappointment. So do it quickly and don’t miss out!

Colleen Setchell

______________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7730 0615.

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TROPICAL TREATS One of the joys of living in the tropics is the selection of delicious fruit, and Samui has its fair share farmed right here on the island.

Think of a tropical holiday and a picture emerges of white sandy beaches, balmy oceans, palm trees swaying in the breeze and bright tropical fruit in abundance. Now while some fruits that require a winter season, such as apples and peaches, don’t do well in a tropical climate, there are many more interesting varieties to choose from. Part of travelling to a new place means trying new experiences and new foods. So while you’re here, be sure to try the sometimes strange-looking fruits at the market. It’s so cheap, you may as well give it a go – you never know, it could just be your new addiction!

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The most obvious fruit farmed on Samui has to be the versatile coconut. Even though the palm tree has become synonymous as a symbol of Samui, it was only fairly recently that the coconut became the largest export from the island. Although there were always coconuts, over the years, Samui farmers gradually turned the island into a substantial coconut plantation. Every month, Samui supplies Bangkok with over two million coconuts. These are harvested from the approximately three million trees that grow on the island, each of which produces around 70 coconuts per year. That’s a lot of nuts! The legacy of the islands early coconut farmers is still apparent today as Samui proudly boasts more varieties of coconuts than anywhere else in the world. There’s nothing more refreshing, or no better hangover cure than an ice-cold ‘maprao’, lid cut open, and soft white flesh to scoop out after drinking the coconut water. Coconut milk, made from crushing the flesh and juice, is used at the base for all Thai curries, as well as some soups, blending well with spices and the heat of chillies. And coconut is used for substance and flavour in most Thai sweets and desserts.

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The very first communities to settle here on Samui lived nearly always by the coast, but then later they started to plant crops inland, which flourished in the tropical warm climate. The farming of tropical fruit became a prime export industry for the local community, and even today Samui is renowned throughout Thailand for succulent tropical fruits such as ‘langsat’, a small fruit, with a sweet, white translucent centre, and also that much talked about fruit, the durian. Durian, known as the ‘king of all fruits’, is grown in abundance here on Samui. The island has gained a reputation for growing some of the best durian in the country – but, it’s a controversial fruit, and most people feel quite strongly about it, either loving it and defending it fiercely, or hating it and gagging at the thought. Why would someone hate a fruit, you ask? Well, it has a rather unusual odour, difficult to describe, but one that is so peculiar that it’s banned from most hotels and airlines. But, those that love it become addicted to its rich, creamy flesh. The fruit is extremely rich and nutritious, although it shouldn’t be consumed with alcohol as this can cause the body to overheat. It can also raise blood pressure, so shouldn’t be consumed if you have a heart condition. We chatted to local durian farmer, Khun Durong Ratanarak, about his experience farming this giant fruit on Samui. He was born on Samui, and his farm is in the mountains of Maenam on 12 acres of land, where he not only grows the king of fruit, but also rubber trees, which the entire province of Surat Thani is well known for. Khun Durong explains that the methods of farming durian have remained similar over the years, and luckily due to his elevated mountain position, his farm is not affected by the floods that sometimes occur during the monsoon season. However, rain can affect the flowering time of the durian trees if it rains out of season, and he also needs to closely watch the trees for signs of aphid and other insect infestations. Durian is a seasonal fruit and on Samui it’s harvested in March – so keep your eyes open for it in the shops and markets at the moment … or just follow your nose! Although he supplies some durian to the markets of Samui, most is bought by middlemen from Chumphon, on the mainland.

Durian and coconuts are not the only fruit grown on Samui, and most locals, even if they’re not farmers, will have at least a banana tree growing in their garden. And here, you’ll find endless varieties of banana, so try them all, as their flavours and textures are quite different. Rather than playing it safe by having a slice of tangy pineapple or juicy watermelon (as lovely as these are), try something that you perhaps can’t get back home. Why not try some fragrant papaya or perhaps a sweet rambutan, with its soft white flesh hidden behind a crazy hairstyle of red and green tendrils. And on Samui you’ll also find mangosteen growing, with its hard purple shell revealing a soft white centre of delicious segments. Driving around you’ll notice trees with crispy rose apples, sapodilla, tamarind, guavas, pomelo and an abundance of mango trees too. And the list goes on and on depending on the season. In short, Samui is blessed with an amazing selection of delicious fruit for locals and visitors to enjoy, so make the most of it, and try the fruit fresh from the trees or market, in a refreshing smoothie, or perhaps a spicy papaya salad or a dessert of mango and sticky rice.

Rosanne Turner

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Laung Por Yid Wat Nong Jok

Laung Pu Si Tha Ni yo

Ajarn Panthep

Sacred, spiritual tattoos, or 'sak yant' by Ajarn Panthep, who has studied the scripts as well as the art of sak yant for more than 20 years at various temples throughout Thailand. His teachings, along with the sak yant, will help to balance your four elements of earth, wind, fire and water, and therefore lead a more balanced life. It also opens up the body for good luck and happiness, and offers protection. Maenam Bophut

146/43 Moo 4 Thongtakien bay, Maret Koh Samui Suratthani 84310 Thailand, Email:, Tel: 0 86 9437464, 0 811 739 232


Koh Samui

Chaweng Samui Yacht Club

Samui Sakyan

To Lamai


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STAYING STRETCHED We all love Samui, but for those who love it just too much, here are the ins-and-outs of extending your stay.

Is this your first time? Are you on holiday here? Are you travelling or on a gap year? Well, if you’ve been here before then you’ll have a fair idea of what’s-what when it comes to visas. But if it’s your first time, then you might need some detailed info about all this. Actually, you don’t even need a visa to stay in Thailand – you’ll be given a 30-day ‘Visa on Arrival’ (VOA) upon entering the country. But the entire business of stays and visas is something of a minefield, and the regulations seem to get changed as often as a chef’s apron. Also it depends very much on what nationality you are, too: it seems that the Thai authorities aren’t too keen on making it easy for the citizens of what they consider to be some of the ‘poorer countries’, just in case they do a runner and want to stay here! One way or another it’s quite a complex subject. So let’s make it simpler by dividing it into different categories and stages. Firstly it has to be said that a visitor’s visa is strictly for tourism purpose only. And so, if you are coming here for a holiday break of between 15 and 30 days, there is no need to apply for a full tourist visa beforehand. You can get a VOA upon arrival – 30 days if arriving on a flight, and 15 or 30 days if coming in by road, depending on your nationality. However, you’ll have to be prepared in advance. You’ll need to show a return ticket, have an address to stay or a hotel booking, and proof that you have money – currently this seems to be either the equivalent of 10,000 or 20,000 baht – expert opinions vary on this! If you are from . . . . shall we hesitantly call it a ‘first world’ nation, such as America, Australia and most European countries – it will be straightforward. But do avoid the immigration-desk queue where there are a lot of people in line all wearing the same clothes with name-tags on their chest. This is an indication of one of the Asian countries, possibly China, and the document checking will be lengthy and comprehensive. Russia and the associated federated nations are now off the closescrutiny list and such citizens will have no problems with a 30-day tourist VOA. So much for just bouncing in and then bouncing out again. The second category involves those of you who have a Thai Tourist Visa which you obtained in your own country before coming here. And if this is your first time in Thailand on a visa like this – be careful. People have pointed out that there is an unfair little twist. Your tourist visa will be for a maximum duration of 90 days. However, upon arrival, your passport will be stamped by Thai Immigration and will undoubtedly have a datestamp which is 30 days less than your visa. This is the date by which you have to leave the country or extend your visa. So, having already paid for a three-month visa, after two months you then have to go in person to the nearest immigration office and pay another fee for the remaining 30 days. Sneaky. l 93

There are quite a few categories of visa available, ranging from those relating to business, resident’s visas, retirement visas, tourist visas and so on. At the time of writing this some countries will only issue a ‘single’ tourist visa – meaning one stay of 90 days. Thai embassies located in other nations will give their citizens a ‘double entry’ visa of twice this length: you’ll need to do some homework and check before you come. But now we’re into the arena of the ‘long stay’. This is where people who have seasonal jobs come into the picture (such as in the construction industry) or those who love the climate and the laid-back way of life in Thailand (not to mention the lower cost of living) and want to remain here for longer periods. Twenty years ago you could come here on a double entry tourist visa and then go to Malaysia or Burma and get another one. (I know someone who lived here for six-and-a-half years in this way.) But not any more. Now you can only stay for what amounts to six months out of every year if you come on a tourist visa.

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The Thai authorities are strict on what they call ‘overstay’. If you stay in Thailand just one day longer than your visa entitles you, there is a 500 baht per-day fine in operation. A lot of people shrug this off and regard it as some kind of extra fee for staying a bit longer. But be warned – if you do this too many times (and it’s very much at the whim of whatever officials you come into contact with) you could get a red hand-written note on your passport which effectively restricts all your future visits to Thailand, or even puts you on a blacklist. It’s much wiser to take the trouble to go to your local Immigration Office and pay the (currently) 1,900 baht fee to officially extend your stay for up to a week. And here it’s worth mentioning that the only way to do this if you are here with a 30-day VOA is if you’re sick or injured. And then you’ll need official documentation to support your case. But what the heck! Thailand is so laid back that it’s almost horizontal. There’s always a muddle with official paperwork. Who is going to bother if you keep on staying here? Who’s going to know? You could stay for a couple of years then just pay the overstay when you want

2 Sp dis 0% a cou tr ea nt tm en ts on

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to leave (particularly as there’s a limit to this: the maximum is 20,000 baht). Well, if you’re this thoughtless and naïve then you’re going to mess everything up, not only for yourself, but for lots of other people too.

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It’s one of the reasons why the Thai authorities have clamped down on the conditions of entry and the visa regulations in general. For a start, being here for two years also means that you’ve been working illegally, and that’s just not on. And, then you’re flaunting your disrespect in the face of authority. You’ll be fined, then have a lifelong ban on being granted any more visas or visits to Thailand. It’s just not worth it. If you want to stay here longer, then simply stretch your visa officially – it’s better to stay here ‘stretched’ than never to return at all!

Rob De Wet Samui Lapidary, Maenam, Koh Samui Free transport service. Open daily 09.00 - 18.00. Tel: 0 7724 7845-6 Email:

Осуществляем бесплатный трансфер ежедневно с 9.30 до 18.00.

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BELIEVE IT! Buddhism is not the only religion in Thailand – there seems to be room for everyone.

It’s Buddhism, isn’t it? That’s the instinctive reaction. Ask anyone between the ages of 20 and 120 – they’ll reply that Buddhism is the religion in Thailand. And so it is. But that’s like saying that New York is full of Christians, or Muslims never touch alcohol. Nothing’s ever quite so clear-cut. When it comes to religion over here, there’s a lot more than Buddhism. And even this won’t be quite what you’re expecting! Although Buddhism is both the primary and the state religion, the Thais have always subscribed to the ideal of religious freedom. Thai constitutions have stipulated that Thai kings must be Buddhists, but monarchs are invariably also titled the “Upholder of All Religions”. Overall, Thailand is a very open and receptive nation, although in practice now and then you’ll notice a bit of a tremble. Take the State religion of Buddhism, for instance. Those of you reading this, that are (ahem) of a certain age will immediately nod to yourself and relate this to a timeslot in your past. The word ‘Theravada’ springs to mind immediately – and it just so happens that this is the form of Buddhism prevalent in Thailand today. It’s not easy to come up with a slick outline of Theravada beliefs, but back in the days when pop idols had personal gurus, it was all pleasantly simple. We’re heading towards spiritual perfection in order to attain Nirvana. This can only happen in stages of gradual improvement and enlightenment via birth and rebirth. Merit is earned, and advancement brings us closer to Buddha. There are lists of things to do and things not to do, and it’s all very spiritual. l 97

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In Thailand you’ll find this sort of laudable mission statement going on inside the temples (except for maybe one or two exceptions such as the renegade jet-setting monk, Luang Pu Nenkham Chattigo, whose assets – including his private jet – were frozen in June pending an official investigation into charges of financial irregularity and moneylaundering!). Where was I? Oh yes. Human weakness aside (or even maybe in quite a central position after all), Thai Buddhism in the temples is an admirable business, forsaking all personal possessions and worldly trappings, and seeking to attain spiritual enlightenment. Got it? Good. Hold on to this thought. In the not too distant past, a young woman whom I came to know quite well had the usual little spirit shrine on the wall inside her house. Well, actually, she had three. Twice each day she would go through a short ritual in turn with each of them, involving placing incense sticks and shot-glasses of water or alcohol, sweets and snacks on their tables and praying to each. I finally asked her what it was all about. “This one is for my Buddha,” she explained, “to keep away the ghosts and help me be a better person.” (Note that the ghosts were the main thing here.) “This one is for my mama and papa: I pray they have good luck and that my family has good luck and can send them money. And this one is for me. I ask Buddha for money with my business and good luck for the lottery every week and that I not get sick and that I am lucky with love and find a good man with money who take care of me.”

Boutique! by Hansar

visit us at HANSAR SAMUI Fisherman Village, Bophut Bay T 077 245 511

KAYAKING Explore the caves and beaches of the Angthong National Marine Park Offices located behind Bondi Pub in central Chaweng and on Chaweng Lake Road opposite Lake View For reservations please call 0 7730 0615 or 0 878 866 097

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And that’s the way it seems to be at a grass-roots level. Spirits and ghosts are very real, even to the point that a Thai person dreads the idea of staying in a house alone. There is a strong element of animism, too, where trees and rocks and ancient, lonely places have their own spirit which needs to be kept happy – or else! And lots of good luck and gimme gimme money is top of the list every time. But in many ways this is not so different from Christianity – or at least people’s approach to it. There are those who pay lip service to it all and go to church religiously every Sunday, because they reckon that’s all it takes for their place in heaven to be guaranteed. And there are others who work non-stop to be less selfish, put the rest of the world before their own interests and do to others as they would be done by. I guess it’s the same all over the world. There’s actually a very strong Muslim contingent in Thailand: less so, but evident, in the northern and central regions but becoming more concentrated the closer you get to Malaysia. All of the big cities have several mosques and with this number rising sharply in southern cities like Nakhon Sri Thammarat and Had Yai. Samui has traditionally had its own Muslim community down in the south-eastern area of Hua Thanon, where the hand-decorated fishing boats have long-since become a tourist attraction. In the earlier days, Muslims gravitated naturally together. But you’ll find that this is now becoming decentralised, with new mosques appearing all over the place, the most recent of these being in Maenam. Hindus are less well represented, and are certainly more of a minority, although there is now a Sikh temple in Bophut. Traditionally Westerners are inclined towards the many facets of the Christian faith. But there’s a cultural difference here. Whereas all the other religions require daily devotions of a private or collective nature, and their followers are actively engaged in their religious beliefs, in the West this has faded. There are certainly far more Westerners on the island than there are Muslims. Thus by rights there ought to be more churches than mosques. But there are few. There are Catholic ones in Chaweng and Nathon and a Baptist church in Plai Laem. Then there’s a Chabad (Jewish temple). And that’s about it. There was a Russian Orthodox church in the planning back in 2008, although that doesn’t seem to have happened yet. But, given the recent explosion of Russian residents, Russian churches all over the island is one idea that’s definitely not hard to believe!

Rob De Wet

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!

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The Spa Resorts in Lamai offer several detox and rejuvenation packages – a great kick-start to a healthier lifestyle.

Mention the words ‘detox package’, and most people picture the money falling out of their wallets as fast as the toxins are supposed to be escaping their bodies. Yes, it’s true that many detox and health retreats do charge a small fortune for their programs, but that’s not the case with The Spa Resorts – with two branches in Lamai as well as one in Chiang Mai and another in Koh Chang. The Spa Samui Beach Resort is located at the northern end of Lamai beach, and was Thailand’s first destination health spa, opening to the health-conscious traveller nearly 20 years ago. Due to its popularity, a second resort, The Spa Samui Mountain Retreat, was opened in 2002, in the hills of Lamai. Here, guests can enjoy panoramic views amid tropical gardens, and a shuttle service connects them to the beach resort as well as Lamai town. Both the beach and mountain retreats offer detox cleansing, yoga, raw food classes, and free meditation classes. It’s possible to stay on a bed and breakfast only basis at either retreat, and enjoy delicious and healthy meals at the beach resort’s Radiance Restaurant, but it’s the wellness packages that most guests sign up for. Accommodation is booked separately to the detox packages, meaning that you can tailor your stay according to your budget. Choose from modest A-frame bungalows on the beach, spacious bungalows and rooms at both the mountain and beach retreats as well as private villas near the beach. If you’ve never tried detoxing before, the ‘First Time at the Spa Seven-day Clean-me-out’ program is a good choice. It’s the ultimate in cleansing and rejuvenation of your entire system. As a first timer, you’ll get a ‘how to’ video on starting the cleansing program, and the staff are on hand to assist with any questions. You’ll receive daily video programs on cleansing and nutrition, and you’re able to join in with a morning meditation class, allowing you to not only cleanse the body, but the mind too. There’s a complimentary steam bath to enjoy on arrival, or at any time during your stay. l 103

Your detox package will include intestinal cleansers and herbal nutrition tablets to be taken five times per day, and one flora grow capsule daily. Detox guests enjoy five specially prepared detox drinks and two mineral broth soups per day. The part that makes most newbie detoxers anxious is the colon cleansing, but a demonstration video, and the privacy of self-administration removes a lot of the anxiety at the thought of this procedure. The package includes twice-daily colon cleansing using The Spa’s ‘colema board’ enema system, as well as your own personal colema tip and lubricating gel. Filtered water is provided both for drinking, as well as for the colonic cleansing system. Once you end your fast, a special replacement lacto-bacteria/ acidophilus implant enema, as well as two flora grow lactobacteria/acidophilus drinks are provided to break the fast. Some natural herbal laxative tea is on hand, just in case you need it when you start eating again.

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Samui Discover authentic Indian Cuisine

Noori India Restaurant - Chaweng Center Chaweng Beach Road, opp. Chaweng Buri Noori India Restaurant - Chaweng South at Chaweng Cove Resort Noori India Cooking Center - Chaweng South Soi Colibri, opp. Centara Grand Beach Resort For reservation (English) - 0 867 407 873 or 0 7741 3108 For reservation (Thai) - 0 813 960 283 E-mail:

NiCoL B by Nikky Noodles

The Spa recommends a minimum eight to ten night stay to make the most of the fast and recovery time. You may however find ten to fourteen days are ideal to enjoy the after-cleanse menu at Radiance Restaurant. The above program will set you back only 14,000 baht, excluding accommodation, which ranges from 950 baht to 3,500 baht per night, across the accommodation types (apart from the private villas).



For those that want a quick pick-me-up, and have limited time, the ‘Semi-Fast’ three-and-a-half day program is ideal. It’s also suited to those who’ve not properly prepared for a full seven-day fast with pre-cleansing. Much of the same is provided as with the seven-day program, including the videos, meditation, steam bath, daily intestinal cleansers and herbal nutrition tablets, but colon cleansing is once a day, with all equipment provided. Nutrition is in the form of two liver flush drinks, two veggie broths, one carrot juice and one coconut water daily. This quick-fix health booster program is offered at 9,300 baht, excluding accommodation.


If you’re not up for a detox holiday, but still want to enjoy healthy meal options when on Samui, do try the Radiance Restaurant at The Spa Samui Beach Resort. It’s well known for its vegetarian, vegan and raw food, and the vast menu serves weight loss, detox and raw food options as well as meat dishes for carnivores that can’t do without their meat. Menu prices are extremely reasonable, and raw food cooking classes are on offer too. The restaurant and resort has a laidback feel, with tables inside or outside overlooking the beach, and a smoothie bar creates every combination of veggie or fruit drink imaginable. Here you’ll find the perfect example of how low-fat food doesn’t have to be low on taste, and it’s a great place to recover after a night out.

Rosanne Turner

_____________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7723 0855.

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The restaurant where every evening becomes a memorable occasion.

For reservations please contact: Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa, Koh Samui Tel: +66 (0) 77 428 300 Email: Skype: bophutsamui

SCL International School

International Education from Pre-school to Secondary Educating the Mind Nurturing the Soul

 Small classes  Individual education plans Fully qualified teachers  A family atmosphere

With these qualities, it’s not hard to see why the children at SCL are achieving so much A warm welcome is extended to anyone who wishes to visit the school

SCL International School

206/26 Moo 4 Maret, Lamai, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand Phone: 0 7741 8789 Mobile: 0 810 910 714 Email:

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Drop into W Retreat’s laid-back daytime scene – it’s one of the most delicious spots around! ‘W Retreat’ in Mae Nam isn’t a place that you’ll stumble across. It can’t be seen from the road. Not the ring-road, anyway. But it’s easy enough to get to, and the chances are that you’ll probably have driven close to it two or three times already. Heading away from Chaweng in the direction of Nathon, go through the traffic lights in Bophut. It’s almost a dead straight road all the way but, at the borders of Maenam, right next to the landmark of Zazen Boutique Resort & Spa on the corner, the ring-road kinks to the left in a sharp 90-degree bend. You can take either the next on the right after the bend, or the one after that; each runs into the other, forming a U-shaped loop off the ring-road, with W Retreat right in the middle. If you’ve never had the pleasure of dropping in to a ‘W’ before, you may be in for a surprise. This is a luxury brand, part of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts group, and there are now 45 such Ws located in some of the most languid and sensuous parts of the world. Each of them is designer-architected to reflect the vibrancy and atmosphere of their particular location – a blend of cutting-edge design with local influences. And what this means is that, as you enter the reception area of Samui’s own W, the clean lines, hyper-modern styling and vast spatial statements – not to mention the breathtaking elevated panorama across one of the most impressive infinity pools on the island – will take your breath away. l 109

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For a visitor to the resort there are several elements that are alluring. One muchlauded attraction is their fine-dining contemporary Japanese restaurant, Namu. And it has to be said that both the menu and ambiance here are sublime. This is a blend of traditional and modern Japanese fare and represents some of the best evening dining on the island. But if you’ve had the joy to experience these aspects at night, you won’t be aware of just how close it is to the beach. And it’s both Namu, plus the beach, that are the focus of this article, as few people are aware that there’s a wonderfully relaxed daytime niche to be enjoyed here too. Picture this: you’re whirred through the twists and turns of the resort’s charming little ‘side streets’ in a golf buggy, to alight next to a high sun-drenched wall bearing the sign ‘Namu’. Walking past this, the vista opens out into a beachscape. But this one’s special and there are very few like it on the island. Instead of a long, straight, flat expanse of sand, W is perched in front of a little spur of land. The beach kinks around this, making this area seem private and exclusive, with the rest of the island hidden away and out of sight. Cheerfully bright beanbags and day beds are scattered in the shade under the palms that fringe the sand. Several groups of sturdier tables and chairs appear next to a sign stating ‘Beach Grill’. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot the imposing-yet-hugelyfriendly figure of Robert Conte, the resort’s Director of Food and Beverages. “The whole focus is on relaxation and enjoyment,” he told me. “The food is simple and it comes in baskets as befits a beach setting. It’s a great place to meetup, or to drop in to catch up with your emails. It’s a weekday thing, and Beach Grill is open between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm. But then, on Saturdays, it’s a bit more special. We have a DJ and we

ramp-up the vibes a bit. There’s our ‘Drunken Fruit’ selection; whole fruit that’s been steeped in alcohol for 48 hours – pineapple colada, orange mai tai, way out watermelon, and others. Plus the fact that Namu is open to serve orders on the beach, and that’s quite something by itself!” Glancing through the Beach Grill menu, I found myself agreeing - yep, simple food yet solid enough. But all these things are relative. There are three different beef burgers listed and three styles of hot dog, with simple little descriptions – ‘New York Style’, ‘Chicago Style’ etc. Robert cocked an eyebrow at me, “. . . do you know what a NY-style burger is? Well, it’s the way they sell them on the pushcarts in New York. Burgers that come with red pepper, onion, garlic, cinnamon, chilli and ketchup. But many people prefer the ‘Pulled Pork Shoulder’.

In fact, although it’s lovely to stop by for an hour sometime in the week, it’s well worth making a special afternoon of it on a Saturday. As well as the ‘simple’ fare of Beach Grill and the sublime specials of Namu (available beachside every Friday, Saturday and Sunday) there’s a full menu of Thai offerings as well as vegetarian and Euro-style comfort foods too, courtesy of the resort’s all day restaurant, ‘Kitchen Table’. From 4-6 pm there’s 2-for-1 specials on margaritas. And if you’ve got a boat, or if you captain one, pull over, drop anchor and shout. You’ll be served by the most literal ‘pool boys’ on the island, who’ll swim out to you with your food and drink! And when they’ve also given you a 25% discount (with the captain eating free) then you, not to mention all the landlubbers too, will begin to catch on to exactly what is meant by ‘The W Factor’!

It’s been marinated for four days, then cooked sous vide for 12 hours. It comes with mustard and vinegar, but this is offset with coleslaw, and the tang of the vinegar dances perfectly with the sweetness of the ’slaw.” Relative or not, the fare at Namu is anything but simplistic. And sitting on a sundappled beach surrounded by water of four hues of balmy blue gives the flavour compositions of the contemporary Japanese cuisine a completely new dimension. Try nibbling at the ‘Hamachi Sashimi with Leek and Chili Mint Dressing’. This dish usually comes with soy and wasabi. But the fish oil is refreshingly cut by the use of mint and leek, endowing a normally standard offering with a snap and a twist that’s unique.

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Rob De Wet

_____________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7791 5999.




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Here’s what 2014 has in store for the International School of Samui.

The International School of Samui (ISS) has become synonymous with outstanding education and exceptional staff. This year, there’s a strong focus on the curriculum itself, adding yet more vibrancy to the already diverse subjects and extra-curricular activities and encouraging the children to be excited about learning. How does ISS do this? By introducing concepts such as ‘super learning days’, where the focus for a day – and sometimes even a week – is on one particular subject, featuring an itinerary packed with fun yet educational activities to boost the children’s interest in a subject. This year, there’ll be ‘World Book Day’, where the children are encouraged to appreciate books, both fiction and non-fiction and discover the joys of reading in a world dominated by electronic communication. Children dress up as their favourite character from a book and 114 l 114 l

are immersed in the wonderful world of literature. Other such days planned throughout the year include Science Day, which will make full use of both the primary and senior school’s well-equipped laboratories, as well as History Day. During the last academic year, ISS introduced their first-ever ‘Art Week’ that allowed all pupils from Kindergarten to Senior School to participate. The programme allowed a high level of flexibility, as pupils could sign up for courses and workshops that interested them, and allowed them to venture into mediums they may not have had exposure to before. Projects included photography, puppet-making, sculpture, wall-painting, magazine-making, decoupage, mosaictiling, weaving, cartoon-drawing and floristry, to mention but a few. Teachers, volunteer parents and specialists guided the children through their chosen projects and helped them to create pieces from start to finish, ending in an

exhibition of their work at the end of the week. Due to the success of Art Week, it’s been confirmed that this year, there’ll be another Art Week, or a ‘Healthy Living Week’, either of which promise a week of fun events. Now while subjects like science, history and geography are important, times have changed since many of us were at school, and it’s a reality that today’s school leavers need to be equipped with business skills to have a chance in a competitive job market. In order to hone the children’s entrepreneurial skills, ISS hosts ‘Business Enterprise Week’, which involves all the children from Year One right through to the Sixth Form. Seniors mentor the primary students, passing on their skills learned in previous years, covering all aspects of running a business, from conceptualising a product, to costing and sales and marketing. The week ends with a market day, where each class can sell the products they created,

and proceeds go to charity. ISS believes in teaching its pupils the importance of contributing not only money, but time to charities, as well as giving back to the community. This is all part of developing well-rounded children who are compassionate and understanding. The school is involved in several charitable and fund-raising projects, both close to home and further afield. The Parent Teacher Association committee was responsible for a book drive, towards the end of 2013, to collect English books for a local temple school, Wat Santi, in Thong Krut. More than 200 books were collected to start the school’s English library, and ISS will continue to support Wat Santi with similar projects in 2014. l 115

A project close to the hearts of all at ISS is the Samui Special Needs School, and this worthy cause has been the focus of several projects. One of these was the ‘Band Together Project’, an initiative started by the Senior School and Sixth Form students. The students decided to make a charity CD, to raise the profile of the Special Needs School and its issues, as well as raise funds. They contacted local musicians who gave their support in the form of their time and talent, and with the help of music teacher, Mr Gubbins (known affectionately by his students as ‘Dan Dan the Music Man), they produced the ‘Stand by Me’ single. The students then designed a cover in the style of a Christmas card and it was put on sale at the ISS Christmas Walking Street Market. In total, around 150 singles were sold and 25,000 baht was raised. When a devastating typhoon hit the Philippines towards the end of 2013, the Senior School students, on their own initiative, and assisted by teacher, Karen Ladd, set up a stall selling delicious treats at the Fisherman’s Village Walking

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Street, and donated the takings to this disaster fund. Children were also allowed to attend school in casual attire, forgetting uniforms for a day and dressing in the colours of the Philippines’ flag, for a donation of 100 baht per child. These initiatives raised over 42,000 baht for typhoon victims. On the back of these successes, the Sixth Form students have decided on a more ambitious fund-raising for 2014, and are going to take up the challenge of a charity cycle ride to Phuket. The route will consist mainly of off-road tracks and paths, leaving Samui on the 16th June, and arriving in Phuket on 24th June. The students will no doubt be tired and sore, but hopefully they will arrive in Phuket with a great sense of achievement, and with more money raised for charitable causes. Currently the students are training hard on a brand-new set of mountain bikes, so if you see them around the island, please give them a bit of encouragement!

ISS will continue to host its popular ‘mother and toddler’ mornings, open to all mums on Samui. It’s a great way to meet other mums, let children socialise in the soft play area, and have a chat over a cup of coffee. ISS follows the National Curriculum of England, and caters for children from 2-18 years of age. Traditionally, the kindergarten and primary schools were at full capacity, with the senior school lagging and many parents feeling the need to send their children abroad or to bigger cities for their high school education. But in the second half of 2013, the buildings and facilities of the senior school were substantially expanded, meaning that families no longer need to consider leaving the island when their children reach senior school age. Now, for the first time, the senior school is taking centre stage and student numbers are growing, not only from primary students moving up, but from new admissions too. With the new Sixth Form classes as well as the excellent skills of the teachers

This is the original health destination on Koh Samui offering only the best Vegetarian, Raw and Healthy Thai Food. Listed as one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. Over 17 years serving the freshest mouthwatering healthy food. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Daily @ both locations 7:00 am until 9:30 pm. Radiance is a part of The Spa Resorts.

and high quality of facilities, this means that pupils graduating from ISS are well equipped to apply to any international university. Now a child can begin their school life as a toddler at ISS, and carry on right through to taking their A-levels in this creative and supportive learning environment. The ‘Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award’ aims at building well-rounded young citizens. This international arm of the British ‘Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’ (DofE) is a leading youth charity that gives young people the chance to develop skills for work and life, fulfil their potential and ultimately have a brighter future. Young adults from the age of 14 can sign up for either the bronze, silver or gold award, which differ in timeframe as well as degree of difficulty and workload. But whichever they choose will greatly enhance their résumé or CV, and therefore employment opportunities, and counts strongly towards entrance into university. The awards are divided into different sections, including volunteer work, learning new skills, physical training, expeditions, and for the gold, also a ‘residential’ section which involves spending five days away from home on a shared activity. What’s great about this youth programme is that each individual can tailor it to suit their likes and interests. Within each category participants can choose what to volunteer for, what physical activities to partake in, what new skills to learn and what expeditions to join. ISS encourages its senior school students to sign up for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, and has this as one of their extra-curricular activities.

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at Akyra Chura Resort open noon - 22.00h reservation 077 915 100

Magic Alambic Rum Distillery on Samui

But it’s not only the senior school that’s expanding, and since the start of the 2013/2014 academic year, within the primary school, Years One to Six have two classes per year group. Whilst the classes in each year group consist of mixed academic abilities, within the core subjects of mathematics and literacy, students are streamed by ability. Thus giving more attention to both advanced and struggling students, and allowing for a more personalised learning experience. So it seems that the International School of Samui is on a steady path of growth to success with now over 300 students, and is a factor in the decision of many families deciding to make the island their home. More and more Thai families who own businesses on Samui are also choosing to keep their children on the island, rather than sending them to boarding school in Bangkok. Without ISS, Samui might have lost some of its most prominent expat and local families – so the school is, indeed, making a valuable contribution to the island.

Rosanne Turner

_________________________________________ For further information, telephone 0 7748 4548.

Choeng Mon

Pure alcohol made from a selection of fine fruits and sugarcane brewed French-style. Visit our Garden Bar for tasting and buy some bottles of rum. Tel: 0 91 816 7416, 0 7741 9023 E-mail:


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Koh Samui Magic Alambic

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Restarting the System

Restore your body systems at Natural Wing Health Spa and Resort. Situated on the north coast of Samui, in Bang Por, nestled deep within shady trees, palms and ferns, hanging vines and a multitude of wooden elephants of all sizes, lies a truly tranquil getaway. Natural Wing Health Spa and Resort call themselves a ‘small, family, ‘green’ hotel’ but they’re big on good value, award-winning massages and friendly staff. They also pride themselves on offering friendly prices too. The resort itself has 37 garden and sea facing villas. As soon as you arrive at the reception area, besides seeing the numerous awards, trophies, plaques and commendations, you’ll hear the gentle sound of a fountain and will be greeted by a lush, tropical garden with a pretty fish pond. The resort is surrounded by towering trees and they even grow their own herbs for use in the spa. The sounds of soothing music can be heard and walking on the wooden floor makes you feel like you’ve entered an enchanted forest. And if an enchanted forest can stimulate your senses and restore your body and balance, then Natural Wing certainly can too. l 121

The spa has been certified by the Thai Ministry of Public Health, and is a recipient of ‘The Gold Spa Award (Thailand)’ and their Spa Manager, Khun Oh, won the ‘2010 Best Spa Therapist Award’ for Koh Samui. They’ve also been recommended by a host of local and international newspapers and magazines and are also a therapist training centre. Khun Wanwalee, the Managing Director, is also the current President of the Samui Spa Association, President of the Thai Spa Federation and Head of Advisors of Samui Spa Association. Competition is strong with there being so many places on the island where you can get a spa treatment, but Natural Wing can boast that they have the employee who has won the award for ‘Best Therapist - Thai Spa’ so you know you’re in good hands. They combine traditional Thai and contemporary spa

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practice to achieve the best results. The spa was featured in a CNN world report as ‘the most popular spa on Koh Samui island’ and browsing their brochure it’s easy to see why. To start with, they have an incredible selection of packages, (13 to be exact), all lasting anywhere from 2.5 hours to 4.5 hours. The ‘Visitor’s Delight’ is their best seller and includes three hours of scrubbing and massaging and ends with a soothing facial. Their recommended package is the ‘Beautiful Day’ which is 4.5 hours of bliss - a herbal steam bath, a full body scrub, a body wrap, a massage and then a facial (if you’re still awake, of course). Apart from these 13 packages, which are available for both individuals and

couples, they have a multitude of other treatments including massages, body scrubs, body wraps, facials, hair packs and manicures and pedicures - just about anything you need to relax and pamper yourself. But their signature treatment is called the ‘Ten Senses Massage’. It’s a massage therapy that focuses on ten main senses (or systems) in the body by massaging with hot pressure and hot oil. If you’re pushed for time, enjoy the one hour treatment or make the most of its healing properties and go for the full two and a half hour treatment. This helps restore the body’s systems and improves the balance in the following: the visual system, recognition system, hair, muscular system, endocrine system, the joints, nervous system, circulatory system, urinary system and excretory system. l 123

We challenge anyone not to feel different after the treatment. First a floral foot soak, then a relaxing full body steam in your private little steam tent and then the magic begins. The therapist begins a full analysis of your body checking your movement, your joints, flexibility and muscle tension. After pointing out some troublesome areas, you lie on your stomach, covered, and she slowly works her way around your body, pressing on various muscles and applying a firm, but comfortable pressure to various points until you can feel your muscles surrendering. And then the hot oil comes… Considering your body is already relaxed from the steam and the initial pressure of the first part of your massage, you don’t realise that you still have some way to go until the therapist applies the hot oil and starts the second part of the treatment. Starting with your legs, each one is massaged until you feel like you don’t have the strength to even lift them anymore. Back and shoulders are next and the muscles here don’t know what’s about to hit them. The tension from each and every muscle is rubbed, pushed, smoothed and eased out. The therapist can easily identify problem areas and can pay more attention to these areas if needed.

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Your One Stop Chill Spot 91/2-3 Moo 3, Chaweng Noi Beach, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84320 Thailand Tel: 66 (0) 77 448994

Fax: 66 (0) 77 448999


Flip over onto your front and next your upper legs and arms will lose the fight against tension, leaving your stomach and upper chest. Finally, some unbelievably good body stretches and you’re done. But while this might sound like an ‘ordinary’ massage, it isn’t. The way in which the therapist moves your body, and exactly where and how she presses into your muscles, is what makes this massage so deeply satisfying. The goal is to ‘‘make movement’ within the body and improve balance in the various body systems. So if you’re looking for something different, and you’re looking to feel different, try the ‘Ten Senses Massage’ treatment, you won’t be disappointed.

Colleen Setchell

_____________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7760 2111.

Enjoy the beauty of the underwater world the easy way. Seawalking is the newest and most innovative attraction to hit Koh Samui. It is the safest underwater adventure and fun for all the family Just stroll along the seabed in 10 feet of crystal clear water and observe the sea life as it swims around you. You need no lessons or swimming ability. For more information contact Tel: 0901 650411

ON TOP OF THE WORLD Changing your point of view at Narai Kiri.

When you visit Samui, whether it’s for one month or 12, there are really only two ideal locations to choose from. A property right on the beach or a property that sits on the top of a hill and overlooks palm trees, beaches, the sea and islands - and at Narai Kiri, that’s exactly what you get. Situated on the side of a hill in Ban Plai Laem, this luxurious development has breath-taking views guaranteed to relax you. So what exactly is Narai Kiri? Its full name is ‘Narai Kiri Project’ and it consists of three locations, each with large plots of land available for those who want to design and build their own home. The three locations are called Samui Royal Holdings Project, Skyline Residences and the Narai Kiri development itself.

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But before we tell you more about Narai Kiri, let’s give you a brief description of the other projects which are equally irresistible. Samui Royal Holdings Project consists of 11 exclusive beachfront and sea view plots at Plai Laem (around the corner from Six Senses Samui Resort). From the majority of these plots, you can almost dangle your toes in the sea from the end of the plot, and a swim to the neighbouring island of Koh Som could easily be your morning exercise. There are 16 plots in total, and five have already been sold and construction (for luxurious villas no doubt) has already commenced.

On to the next one and further inland, the Skyline Residences are perched on top of the highest hilltop in Bangrak and therefore have the most incredible 270 degree views across Bangrak Bay, Plai Laem, Koh Som and Tong Son Bay, and you can even see Chaweng from the side patio! This project consists of three plots of land, one which already has a magnificent, luxurious six bedroom (all en-suite) villa and quarters for a live-in housekeeper, another which has a separate one bedroom guest villa and another plot for sale. It is wonderfully open and airy and the designers have made full use of the view by putting windows or glass sliding doors everywhere, with special high-quality glass that doesn’t rattle, in what can sometimes be a breezy environment. Furnished and decorated to the highest

standard, you can easily imagine a Hollywood star and their entourage enjoying the Samui sunshine here while planning their next blockbuster film. From the pool area, you can watch the sunrise over the sea (or later the sunset over the hills) while you laze in the infinity pool, tropical cocktail in hand while listening to the sounds of fountains in the pool. The villa is available for sale or rent, and if you really want to relax, take advantage of the staff option which is available too. There is ample parking for at least five cars and a sweeping staircase leads from the parking area to the entrance level of the villa. The gentle undulating tropical garden is lovely to admire, but only if you can drag your eyes away from the main views. If you want luxury, this really is the place to go. l 127

But before we get too carried away, let’s get back to Narai Kiri. This project has 19 sea view plots, and 11 have already been sold, so you’d better get in quickly if you’re interested. One plot already boasts a stunning self-contained five-bedroom villa (complete with a separate guest villa) for rent or sale. Not a penny has been spared here (or should that be baht) and as you walk around the air-conditioned rooms, you can admire the gorgeous hard wood or designer ceramic tiled floors, the antique stone walls, the open plan fully fitted kitchen, the Balinese style showers and the huge marble baths with Jacuzzis. You really get a feeling of affluence here.

Its position on the hillside means you are treated to more stunning views over Bangrak. Relax on one of the many sun loungers around your infinity pool and

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look down on the hills views of Koh Som at the northeast tip of the island and way across to Koh Phangan, the huge golden statue of Big Buddha, and then down to Plai Laem (Wat Plai Laem looks magical at night) and even across to Choeng Mon. Each bedroom is en-suite, and again they’ve made full use of the villa’s position and views and installed glass sliding doors and windows where possible, using the same high-quality glass that isn’t going to shake, rattle or roll in the slightest breeze. The outdoor terrace is perfect for sundowner parties too. So who is behind all these luxurious developments and land for sale? Khun Pinyo Khumprom is the man in charge. He was born and bred here on Koh Samui, and constructing luxury villas is a passion of his and this is clear when you watch him in action. He works together with European designers and architects, as well as by the sea... Ease yourself to the sound of gently lapping waves and enjoy the breath-taking sea views. Savor Mediterranean bistro culinary delights & modern Thai specialties, for a unique beachfront dining experience.

Peace Resort 178, Moo 1, Bophut Beach Koh Samui, Suratthani 84320 Thailand Tel: +66 77 425357 | Fax: +66 77 425343 |

Le Jaroen “A Secret World”

Probably the most enchanting restaurant on the island for an unforgettable romantic evening. Induldge your senses with an exquisite 5 course Chef’s Signature Menu or 4 course Thai Degustation Menu.

traditional Thai craftsmen, to blend modern materials with true island style. He is the mastermind and project manager for all three projects. He has travelled the world, and with his command of English, makes him the ideal person to trust with your next big purchase - your own plot of land on this beautiful island.

Colleen Setchell

__________________________________________ For further information, telephone 0 815 373 088.


Tel +66 (0)77 962 198 The Scent Hotel 58/1 Moo 4 Bangrak Beach, Bophut, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84320, Thailand

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Soaring through the jungle canopy on a zip line is a great way to see Samui’s interior. Sometimes, lying on the beach, you’ll see a sea eagle soaring above, riding the thermals and checking out the scene below. Then it disappears into the jungle, and you have to wonder what it is they see from up there. If your curiosity gets the better of you, just book a canopy adventure with Skyfox Super Ride, located in the southeast of the island, near the Namuang waterfalls. Not all visitors to Samui are aware that the jungle interior is equally as breath-taking as the island’s beaches. If you’re keen to see more than blue seas and white sand, and if you’re even marginally an adrenalin junkie, then a zip line canopy tour is a must-do activity. l 131

Canopy tours originated in the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, where biologists devised a system of cables and platforms to explore and study the previously inaccessible upper forest canopy. This soon evolved into a successful form of adventure and eco-tourism, raising awareness of the plight of the world’s endangered rain forests. The Skyfox canopy tour on Samui has been constructed in accordance with strict civil engineering standards, and built by a team of professionals who’ve built zip-line rides in Europe, Indonesia and Australia. The equipment used is imported from France, and safety is a top priority, with the strong cables being inspected every three months. Your canopy tour starts with being kitted up with full safety harnesses, pulleys, ropes and helmets. You’ll feel as though you have enough safety equipment to climb Everest; all that’s missing is an oxygen mask. For anyone who suffers from 132 l

vertigo or is afraid of heights, you should find this reassuring enough to quell the butterflies in your stomach. The very competent guides check and re-check your safety gear, and give instructions on the do’s and don’ts s of whizzing through the air on a cable high above the ground. Six cables connect the zip-lines, which gradually get higher from one to the next, and make up a total of 600 metres over the six stations. Two guides escort each group. One leads the way, and waits on the next platform, while the other sends each adventurer on their way, gliding through the air like a flying fox (hence the name Skyfox). When you reach the other side, the first guide is there to safely clip you to the platform, while you wait for the others. In this way, you’re always clipped onto either the cable and a second safety cable, or the platform on which you’re waiting. Even when you’re climbing the steel or rope ladders to reach the platforms, the safety clip is always in place.


As you zigzag through a pristine indigenous forest, do try keep your eyes open, as the scenery is spectacular as is the abundant bird life. You have time to catch your breath on each platform, which is a good time to take a photo of your fellow zip-liners as they whizz towards you at full speed. By all means bring your camera, but be sure to secure it safely while you’re flying through the air. If you’re brave… but not so brave… there’s a point where you can turn back before the last two lines, which are the highest and most exciting or frightening! But remember, as the saying goes… “Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the conquest of it”.

Skyfox operates two trips per day, and each lasts around 3.5 hours. Considering the safety features, it’s an activity suited to all ages from 10 years to senior citizens, as long as they’re able to climb the ladders. The cost is 1,700 baht per adult and 1,100 baht per child, which includes transport to and from the attraction, and iced water is provided. It’s advisable to wear longer shorts, or you’ll get a pinch from the harness where, well… where you’d just rather not get pinched. As you’re in the jungle, insect repellent is also a good idea to keep those mozzies at bay.

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And if you’re not quite ready for the fun to end, stay on for a swim at the Namuang 2 waterfall. Here, for 200 baht per person, you can also enjoy water slides into the freshwater pool at the bottom of the waterfall. It’s a great way to cool down after all the excitement, and Skyfox is happy to delay your transport home for an hour or so while you do this. We’re more likely to regret those things we haven’t done, than the things we have done, so if you find yourself in the jungle of Samui, be sure to try swinging through the trees, because as another inspirational quote rightly states, “Life is not


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



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.

a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming – ‘Wow, what a ride!’”

Rosanne Turner

______________________________________________________ For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7742 2667.

Recommended by Lonely Planet

Tel.: 0 7723 0684

Tel.: 0 7720 1150-8


House for Sale - Lipa Noi Description: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, air con, fully equipped European kitchen, water, electricity, telephone, swimming pool, car park, perimeter wall with main entrance gate, access road, outside terrace. Full insurance, monthly pest control, swimming pool maintenance contract with Desjoyaux. Land size 1092m2 Price : Baht 9.5 million Contact : 0 828 069 449 or 0 813 703 776 or

Guesthouse for Sale - Chaweng

Villa for Rent/Sale - Yupa Villa 1

Guesthouse for sale with freehold land in Soi Green Mango. 5-storey building with 20 recently renovated rooms. Irish Pub and restaurant on ground floor with 4 pool tables and wide screen projector for sporting events. Chanote land title with limited company.

5 fully furnished bedrooms with air-con throughout. All bedrooms ensuite, one with jacuzzi. Living area fully furnished with TV and internet. Thai/Western kitchen. Swimming pool, remote control gate, security camera around house, safety box, parking area, garden.

Contact: 0 818 921 990 Email:

Tel: 0 818 917 912, 0 897 636 032 E-mail:

House for Sale - Bang Por

Villa for Rent/Sale - Yupa Villa 2

Thai style house located in peaceful residental area of Bang Por. Family home with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, spacious living room and kitchen area. Private swimming pool and large mature garden. Drive in garage and storage area under the house. Private sale by owner.

3 fully furnished bedrooms with air-con throughout. All bedrooms ensuite, one with jacuzzi. Living area fully furnished with TV and internet. Thai kitchen. Swimming pool, remote control gate, security camera around house, safety box, parking area, garden.

Price: 12,000,000 Baht Land title: Chanote Land: 1,000 m2 House: 200 m2

Tel: 0 818 917 912, 0 897 636 032 E-mail:

Contact: 0 818 921 990 E-mail:

Private real estate 180-Degree views



The actual view from this house is the picture above. This 4-bedroom house has been built according to European standards on 972 sqm. It is centrally located near Nathon and only 500 metres from the main road in a small, warm and tidy community. Priced very competitively, this house is ideal for couples or young families ready to live in paradise. Price: 8 Million THB only

Chaweng - Bar for Rent / Sale Bar for rent in Soi Colibri, opposite Centara Samui Resort. Includes apartment on 1st floor with 2 ensuite bedrooms and seperate access. Price for rent : 29,000 Baht per month 3 months deposit No key money Price for sale: 4.9 million Baht Contact Khun Na: 0892914747 (English and Thai)

Tel: 0 819 709 632 Email:

Chaweng - Shophouse for Sale Shophouse for sale in Soi Colibri, opposite Centara Samui Resort. Ground floor ideal for office space, retail shop or small bar/restaurant. Apartment on 1st floor with 2 ensuite bedrooms and seperate access. Price:

4 million Baht


Graeme 0 860 193 166

Profitable Established Business for Sale 18 hole, concrete tracked, mini golf course. Member of the World Mini Golf Federation (one of only 2 in Thailand). 3020 m2 of land including 2 storey house with foreign ownership. 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 2 extra apartments. Sale includes well established, profitable Thai Limited Company. Location: Near Choeng Mon Price: 1,300,000 Euro Contact:

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Jojo, 0 817 879 148

Samujana Villa 17

Aqua Samui

Combine nature and luxury at this spectacular, contemporary residence built right into the Samui hillside. Situated just ten minutes from the island's airport, Samujana 17 crowns a brand new development on Koh Samui's northwest coast and offers the ultimate in secluded luxury living. The award winning design features flat, planted roofs, open-plan living spaces with natural rock features and tropical landscaping.

A unique opportunity to own a private residence or a high end investment property on the idyllic island of Samui. Aqua was designed by award winning architect Gary Fell. The location of this exclusive boutique development could not be better nestled in the hillside looking over Chaweng Bay and along the east coast to Lamai. Prices start from: 8.9 million THB for a 2 Bedroom Villa 10.9 million THB for a 3 Bedroom Villa (Type A) 15.9 million THB for a 3 Bedroom Villa (Type B)

Price: US$1,800,000 Tel: 0 811 901 540 Email: Website:

Web : Email: Telephone: +66 (0) 77952288

LH0012: Bangmakham 2 Bedroom House Located in the up and coming area of Bang Makham. Two double bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, infinity pool, high specification Kitchen and fittings throughout. Good off street parking and easy access to the beach, less than a kilometre away. Stunning sea & sunset views. Land area 1,120 sqm, Chanote Title. Priced to sell at 15.8m Thai Baht. Tel: Email: Website:

0 811 901 540

Bophut - Whispering Palms Private Pool Villa House for rent/sale 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms with shower and bath tub. Living room with furniture, TV, DVD and UBC. Fully fitted kitchen. A/C throughout. ADSL, telephone line. Private swimming pool. 24 hour security & CCTV. Land size 440 sqm, floor size: 240 sqm. Locatied in Bophut (near Sunday Resort). Rent from 55,000 baht per month (yearly contract), sale 9.7 million baht.

Contact: Steve 081 452 5895, Pop 081 832 5895 Website: Email:

RH0015: Samujana Villa 19

Chaweng – Holiday Villa Houses for rent/sale

Located in the desirable Choeng Mon area overlooking Chaweng Bay & Koh Matlang is the up market Samujana Estate. Villa 19 has 4 double bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, massive infinity edge swimming pool, great in door outdoor flow for dining and living, fully equipped Media room with Sono’s surround sound system indoors and out. Fully specified Kitchen, Jacuzzi, BBQ area, ample pool deck space and fully furnished. On-site staff, maid quarters. The estate has a doubles Tennis court, full CCTV and manned security patrols and only a stone’s throw to the beach. Just move in! Priced well at USD2.5m.

2 storey villas with 2/3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms with shower and bath tub. Living room with furniture, TV & DVD, fully fitted kitchen. 4 A/C’s. ADSL, CCTV and 24 hour security. Landscaped garden with swimming pool, pavilion and waterfall. Private jacuzzi and whirlpool. Located in Chaweng (near Tesco Lotus). Rent from 25,000 baht per month (yearly contract), sale: 4.5 million baht. Contact: Steve 081 452 5895, Pop 081 832 5895 Website: Email:

Tel: 0 811 901 540 Email: Website:

Samujana Villa 11 A contemporary design home with 3/4 bedrooms, with stunning sea views across Koh Samui's east coast toward Chaweng Bay. Stylish & unique this beautiful villa is a highly specified build, residential project in the desirable Choeng Mon area, just 10 minutes from Chaweng. Sale US$1.5 million, rent from US$250 / night Tel: Email: Website:

0 811 901 540

Bophut - Whispering Palms Resort Houses for rent/sale (2 BR) 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with shower and bath tub. Living room with furniture, TV, DVD and cable. Fully fitted kitchen. 3 A/C's. ADSL, telephone line. Communal swimming pool, sauna and steam room. 24 hour security & CCTV. Located in Bophut (near Sunday Resort). Rent from 25,000 baht per month (yearly contract), sale: 4.2 million baht Contact: Steve 081 452 5895, Pop 081 832 5895 Website: Email:

Chaweng - Chaweng Pattana Townhouses for rent/sale

LH0013: Bangmakham 3 Bedroom House Bang Makham, less than a kilometre drive from beach & restaurants. Presentable 3 double bedroom, 2 en-suite bathrooms, 1 separate bathroom, large living, dining & kitchen, maids quarters, ample off street parking. Sea & sunset views. Ample room on 1,560 sqm site for renovations, pool etc to make this a very desirable property. Chanote Title. Priced to sell at 11.7m Thai Baht.

2 storey townhouses with 2 bedrooms and bathrooms. Living room with furniture, TV, DVD and cable. Fully fitted kitchen. 3 A/C’s. ADSL, telephone line. Landscaped garden with communal swimming pool and pavilion. 24 hour security. Located in Chaweng (near Tesco Lotus) Rent from 15,000 baht per month (yearly contract), sale: 2.2 million baht

Tel: 0 811 901 540 Email: Website:

Contact: Steve 081 452 5895, Pop 081 832 5895 Website: Email:

LH0015: Bang Por 1 Bedroom House Bang Por - 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, living & dining room. Great sea view. Land size 140 Tarangwa. Chanote title. Price: 3 Million Baht

Tel: Email: Website:

0 811 901 540

Bophut - Whispering Palms Resort Maenam - Baan Suan Neramit House for rent/sale 2 storey house with 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms.Living room with furniture, TV, DVD and cable. Fully fitted kitchen. 5 A/C's. ADSL, telephone line. Landscaped garden with private swimming pool and pavilion. 24 hour security. Located in Maenam (opposite Maenam post office). Sale 5 million baht. Contact: Steve 081 452 5895, Pop 081 832 5895 Website: Email: l 137

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RELAXING RELATIVELY Why many people are now heading towards Koh Pha-Ngan as part of their holiday break. Everything is relative. A couple of years ago I had an American friend who was planning a trip to Samui. We sent emails back and forth for ages. He was quizzing me about Samui and I was doing my best to tell him all about the place in an honest and ‘objective’ way. In the end, he made the journey and arrived. We met up a day or so later at his resort. “Hey Rob!” he enthused. “Samui is terrific! From what you’d been telling me I was expected downtown Miami, not a lovely little island like this!” l 139

You see, relatively speaking, Samui is far more built-up and commercial than it was 15 years ago. And, for the old-timers who just love to bend your ear with tales of bamboo huts and no electricity, the place has somehow become ‘spoiled’. But for someone coming here for the first time and seeing it with fresh eyes, it’s delightful. Yes, it has gone up-market. Yes, there’s been a lot of development over the years. But that also includes proper roads, better drainage, an electricity supply that’s more reliable than it was, bookshops all over the place, internet access and Wi-Fi everywhere, food and restaurants from a dozen nations and a police and immigration force that can speak passable English. Even ten years ago, it was a different story, which brings us to the subject of Koh Pha-Ngan. A lot of people have said that ‘KPG’ (let’s call it that; it’s easier) today is like Samui was around the end of the ’90s. And having been on both islands, today and 15 years back, I’d tend to agree. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, in both major and day-to-day little things, the comparison is just about spot-on. KPG has several concentrated areas, where there’s nightlife, bars, restaurants, resorts and shops, and then quite a few isolated towns and villages that are off the beaten track, plus a huge amount of more-or-less untouched land, both inland and on the coast. That’s just about a blueprint for Samui as it was back in the day. One big difference perhaps is that KPG has more than a few coves and beaches that have no road access at all – at least one has a top-end resort on

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it which advertises its out-of-the-way privacy. And that’s something I’m not aware that Samui’s ever been able to boast. The whole business of the ‘history’ of these parts is somewhat cloudy. There are no written Thai records or maps. Indeed, the only evidence relating to this part of Thailand comes from the visiting European explorers who charted this part of the Gulf of Siam as far back as the late 17th century. In 1852, the English cartographer, John Thornton, coined a name for the island of Koh Pha-Ngan He dubbed it ‘Sacoria Pulo’ (with Samui being named ‘Pulo Cornom’). Personally, I very much doubt that the Thai nation in general would have heard anything about an island named ‘Samui’ (let alone the one we now know as KPG) if it hadn’t have been for their king of the late 1800s. King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) has since become one of the nation’s most-loved monarchs and was the first to seek to promote links and ties with countries abroad. On his return, he made it a habit to stop off at KPG for a couple of weeks before carrying on back to Bangkok. Altogether, he stayed there on 14 occasions between 1888 and 1909, together with a royal entourage numbering about 30. Even when hippies (sorry – ‘travellers’) ‘discovered’ Samui in the 1970s, I doubt very much if it would have been significant enough to feature in the Thai press of that time, although the vast majority of the populace then couldn’t read, anyway. In fact, as far as Thailand, and the rest of the world in general is concerned,

B Smart B Smart Sys. Co., LTD has been providing top level security solutions, lighting control systems, CCTV systems, access control, fire alarms and WiFi solutions since 1999. B Smart has quickly earned the reputation for being one of the most progressive and innovative system integrators in Thailand. Along with high quality products and a very knowledgeable work force, you can be confident that B Smart Sys. Co., LTD will meet and exceed your expectations.

Hotline: 0 815 631 685 Email: For Taxi: ร้านตั้งอยู่ตรงข้ามโรงแรมนภาใส แม่น้ำ�

ZAZEN If you are looking for something wonderful and different, Zazen restaurant is the place for you to discover. Their master chef emphasises the use of healthy organic ingredients while infusing dining participation. 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.

Tel: 0 7742 5085 Email: Website:

Villa Bianca RISTORANTE ”EXCLUSIVE” ITALIANO Tastefully designed, and located at the beach, Villa Bianca features lobster specialties, and other superb cuisine prepared by its own Italian Chef. Excellent wines and French champagne complement all dishes. A unique experience that leaves diners wishing to return for more. Villa Bianca is nestled in amongst the converted old Chinese shop-houses overlooking the water in Fisherman’s Village.

the existence of KPG might still be cloudy even today, if it wasn’t for one thing: Danny Boyle’s movie ‘The Beach’ which, in the year 2000, threw KPG (more or less via a passing mention) into the international limelight. The location of the ‘secret island’ remained a secret; whereas the boat trips for supplies to the nearest island (supposedly KPG) didn’t. Although, as a result, every young person I now meet calls it ‘Koh Pan Yan’, as Leonardo DiCaprio mistakenly did in the movie – for your information there is a ‘G’ in it – Koh Pan Gan! Today, Koh Pha-Ngan is refreshing. You’ll find little splashes that are on a par with the modern-day Samui – some parts around the north-east and the north-west of the island, for example. Around Salad (Sa-Lat) Beach there are oases of bars and beach clubs, and in the area between Haad Sadet and Haad Kruad there are some very exclusive resorts, with the luxury Panviman Resort being at Tong Nai Pan. I’ve heard that there are now a total seven 5-star getaways on KPG, although a quick look around the internet only lists three. Plus there’s a plethora of budget bungalows and guesthouses in and around Haad Salad and Haad Kuat. There’s a fully-fledged international-standard hospital. An international primary school. And an overall culture and atmosphere that is extremely laid-back and relaxed, with miles of unspoiled coastline to explore and acres of forest, jungle and waterfalls inland – overall it’s very much as Samui, indeed, used to be.

Tel.: 0 7724 5041 Email: For Taxi: ร้านตั้งอยู่ที่ถนนหาดบ่อผุด

Asia Travel Asia Travel is the most popular travel agency on Koh Samui. Established 15 years ago, they are well known to provide updated travel information reasonably priced for all international and domestic needs. Their second to none consultancy service will help you with all aspects of long or short stay requirements such as visa, work permit or company registration and finances. Asia Travel is well known for their quality services as mentioned in The Lonely Planet. Tel.: 0 7723 6120, 0 7742 1342 Fax: 0 7742 1185 Email: For Taxi: ร้านตั้งอยู่ที่ถนนหน้าทอน

Simply the best

Brite Smile The Original BriteSmile Centre from Hollywood’s Professional Teeth Whitening. . One Hour . One Visit . One Dazzling Smile Offering other new services: Painless dentistry, depigmentation with laser and dental implants, as well as a wide range of dental hygiene and care.

Bangkok Samui Dental Clinic Open daily from 9:oo - 20.00 Tel : 0 7742 9500

Tel.: 0 7742 9500 Website: For Taxi: ร้านตั้งอยู่ในโรงพยาบาลกรุงเทพ

ถนนรอบเกาะ เฉวง

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Zico’s is an electric combination of colourful calypso, vibrant carnival rhythm and dance a unique party experience not to be missed! Every night is fiesta night at Zico’s. The beat goes on, and so does the dancing. Party down until the early hours at our spacious bar and lounge area with Brazilian influenced bargrooves. Tuck into a superb selection of all you can eat grilled seafood and meats, prepared just for you, complimented by Samui’s largest salad bar.

ZICO’S BRAZILIAN GRILL & BAR Discover a fantastic Churrascaria Service with 17 different meats while bumping to the beats of samba performed by 2 authentic professional dancers from Brazil.

Price 885THB net per person Price 440THB net per child (6- 12 years old) Finish your evening at the Zico’s Bar and listen to the greatest hits while sipping on a fresh and tasty Caipirinha. An unforgettable evening to enjoy with your friends and family!!!

Get 10% off our buffet with 1 free Caipirinha, signature cocktail LIVE from Brazil 100% LIVE

Everyday except Mondays From 20.00 - 22.00 hrs. Enjoy live Samba at the Zico’s restaurant & Bar performanced By 2 authentic Brazilian dancers from Sao Paulo. A true “Not to Miss “evening with your friends and family.


T : 077 230 500 I E : I Facebook: Zico’s Grill’n Bar Open daily: Bar 17.00 - 01.00 hrs., Restaurant 18.00 - 23.00 hrs. W W W .CEN TA RA HO TELS RE S OR T S . C OM

And the notorious Full Moon Party? Well, I’m not bothering to mention this at all. Firstly, if you’re interested in it then you’ll know all about it already. And, second, it really isn’t representative of the island as a whole. Take away that monthly explosion of alcohol-fuelled frolics (which happens only in one small spot on the south-east tip of the island anyway) and you’ve got a lovely, quiet, cosmopolitan island that’s relatively unspoiled. And yet it has most of the basic (and also desirable) amenities required for living a lot more comfortably than just a tent on the beach would provide. And these are the reasons that more and more people each year are spreading the news that Koh Pha-Ngan has now become a great place for a holiday break!

Rob De Wet


Santiburi Beach Resort Golf & Spa

Rim Talay Restaurant at Santiburi Beach Resort, Golf & Spa

Premier Pool Villa at Bo Phut Resort & Spa

Sala Thai Restaurant at Bo Phut Resort and Spa

buri Resort

Bo Phut Resort & Spa


12/12 Moo1, Maenam, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84330 Tel: +66 (0) 7742 5031-5 Fax: +66 (0) 7742 5040 E-mail:

12/12 Moo 1, Bo Phut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320 Tel: +66 (0) 7724 5777, +66 (0) 7743 0201 Fax: +66 (0) 7724 5776 Email:

Sales Office: 245/7 Sukhumvit 31, Klongton Nua, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand Tel: +66 (0) 2260 2530-5 Fax: +66 (0) 2260 7570

March/April 2014  

Tempting features highlighting Samui living from dining, businesses & shopping, activities, resorts, spas & entertainment.