Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A-Warm-Welcome

Samui’s changed a lot over the years, and keeps on doing so. But there’s one thing that stays the same, and that’s the blue, blue skies. Samui and its neighbours, Koh Pha-Ngan and Koh Tao all enjoy a wonderful microclimate – it’s pretty much the sunniest area in the nation.

          

November, however, tends to be the rainy season, with cooler weather and, yes, some of it will be wet. The rain’s often concentrated into dramatic downpours that give way to sunny spells after a short while.

          

If and when the rain sets in, there’s still plenty to do – the island has enough amenities to vie with any large town. With restaurants a-plenty, activities of all kinds and sports facilities there’s enough going on to outlast any bad weather. And if that’s not enough, there’s plenty of shopping and entertainment at the malls. Central Festival, for example, offers food, beverage, a cinema and even stage performances. In short, no matter what the season, the island has you well and truly covered. Then there are the temples: each of Samui’s towns and villages has a temple, and each is worth visiting.

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A GENTLE DELIGHT
The festival of Loy Krathong symbolises the quiet joy that’s bubbling quietly under
the surface of Thailand.

The festival of Loy Krathong symbolises the quiet joy that’s bubbling quietly under the surface of Thailand.In many ways Thailand is a voyage of discovery. It’s probably as unique as you can get in today’s busy world. What makes it like this is the fact that it’s just about the only nation that’s never been colonised. And this means that it’s never had to absorb new ideas or sudden new ways of doing things. And that includes customs and traditions. Yes, certainly it’s a Buddhist nation, and as such shares some occasions with other parts of the world. But, as with many other aspects of life in Thailand, things here seem to take on their own particular flavour.

          

The best-known of Thai festivals must be, of course, Songkran, the Thai New Year, when possibly more water is seen on one day than in the rest of the year combined. But, next to this, is the gentle celebration of Loy Krathong. This event takes places on the evening of the full moon on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, which this year falls on 14th November.

          

As with most such traditional events, there are two distinct layers to Loy Krathong. One is tied in with the origins of the festival, the historical elements and their observed traditions. And the other is the spirit of the thing – the way in which it has come to be passed down to the people today, what it has come to represent, and the how people now interpret and celebrate the occasion. In translation, ‘loy’ means ‘to float’ and ‘krathong’ is the general name for a small vessel or raft. In this context it has come to mean a small round ‘boat’, traditionally made from banana bark or leaves, and often shaped like a lotus blossom.

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THE MAGIC OF STONES
An oasis of calm, found at Nature Art Gallery

An oasis of calm, found at Nature Art GalleryAs you enter the main store, you immediately leave behind the hot and bustling beach road of Chaweng. Now just let yourself begin to breathe, feel your body and mind become so much calmer and relaxed as you start to delight in the magical aura and kaleidoscope of colours and gems that envelop you. From the polished wooden floors to the geometric ceiling designs, from the intricate shell chandeliers suspended from that ceiling to the glass display cases of sparkling stones, crystals and artistic jewellery resting on huge gnarled wood tables, your senses are introduced to a rainbow of opulence and mystery. Welcome to the magical world of stones.

          

Long ago, shamans, priests and healers used crystals and stones for protection and healing. Today there is a resurgence of this idea. Many people find that the power of stones has a positive effect on them, lifting their spirits and healing discomfort in their bodies. Some examples are as follows;

          

Amethyst, thought to be a stone of spirituality and contentment. It is good for meditation and balancing the energy of the mind, body and emotions. This stone is said to release you from addictive personalities, either in yourself or others, and can relieve headaches.

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A PRAYER BEFORE PUNCHING
Witness the extraordinary world of Thai boxing in Chaweng.

Witness the extraordinary world of Thai boxing in Chaweng.Utterly different from the gumbo of kicks and punches known as kick boxing, Muay Thai is a highly traditional art dating back hundreds of years, and is continually gaining in popularity. Over the last decade, many Muay Thai schools have opened up round the world, but Samui and Thailand draw in fighters who come here to train and experience the sport in its original home.

          

It’s easy to see why. Watch Thai boxers as they train, and you realize this is one of the most serious workouts you can give your body. Since this martial art allows the use of more than just fists, the entire body has to be in tip-top condition in order to have a chance of winning. There are 30 fighting tactics to master in Muay Thai, and to do so requires years and years of practice. The ‘nak muay’ or Thai boxer uses punches and kicks as well as his or her elbows and knees. This martial art is definitely not to be confused with boxing; boxers face great challenges when they switch to Muay Thai – even the basics are very, very different.

          

The Muay Thai that you’ll see today is a modern version of the older kind, or ‘Muay Boraan’, literally ‘ancient boxing’, which was a fighting style originally taught in villages to help the community defend itself against invaders. Men, women and children took part. Over the years, it evolved until it became a sport in the twentieth century. The newer version, Muay Thai, appeared in the 1920s with the word ‘Thai’ being added in order to distinguish it from foreign styles of boxing. But it adapted some of the Queensbury rules in order to promote safety and consistency.

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CULINARY CULMINATION
The Cliff Bar & Grill’s not only high above the sea, it’s high on diners’ agendas.

The Cliff Bar & Grill’s not only high above the sea, it’s high on diners’ agendas.The treats and delights start at The Cliff Bar & Grill as soon as you walk through the door. The first of them actually has nothing to do with either food or drink; it’s the restaurant itself; a workable mix of the chic and contemporary, with its spacious interior offering views out onto the extensive balcony and the sea beyond. The beautiful bay of Ao Tong Takian stretches out just alongside, with its palm-trees and incandescent strip of white sand that fronts some of the bluest waters around Samui. Even if you’ve dropped in for the lightest of bites, the setting adds something really special to your experience at The Cliff.

          

The restaurant quickly gained traction when it opened in 2004, for its delicious fare. Not the kind of place to ever rest on its laurels, the food here is always impressive. Think Mediterranean and then think particularly exquisite. The select menu contains everything you’d need from yummy starters all the way through to decadent desserts. And portions, by the way, are on the big side.

          

The restaurant’s headed by Chef Sergio Martelli, a veritable Italian maestro, who’s worked at some of the world’s best restaurants. He’s been working at The Cliff since it first opened. He’s able to produce great tasting food, and at the same time is opening to receiving diners’ suggestions. Incidentally he and his entire team are able to deal with food allergies, special diets and recommendations. The Cliff is therefore able to accommodate diners’ needs across the board. Sergio also provides gluten-free pasta.

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UP, UP AND AWAY
Taking the scenic route across the mountains.

Taking the scenic route across the mountains.Only a few years ago, it was almost impossible to do this. The interior of Samui was filled with tracks, none of which had been properly mapped. They were frequently dangerous, and since only local people knew where they went, few people bothered with them. They were basically for agricultural access; most didn’t even go anywhere and you could follow some for miles and miles, thinking all the while that you’d arrive somewhere, only for them to stop dead.

          

Only one very basic track really made it across the entire island; it went from Maenam to Lamai. If your driving skills were superb, then you could get the whole distance. It started off deceptively easy, a broad track that led across flat land for some five kilometres. Then the going got tough; there were suddenly steep hills. By that time, most drivers wouldn’t want to turn back. It couldn’t be that hard. Could it? They’d usually find that the word ‘hard’ soon didn’t apply. More appropriate was the word ‘frightening’. Portions of the road were extremely steep and some of the steep portions contained ruts. Not just any ruts. These were crevasses and gullies that had been carved by torrential rains. If you jumped down into one, possibly to retrieve some part of your car that had been jolted off, you’d find it might be a metre or two deep.

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TINY TAO
A look at one of the nicest little getaways anywhere; Koh Tao.

A look at one of the nicest little getaways anywhere; Koh Tao.Koh Tao is the third island that’s north of Samui, about 30 kilometres to the north-west of Koh Pha-Ngan, and about the same distance away from the mainland city of Chumphon as it is from Samui. It’s small, only around 21 square kilometres in all. It’s easy to wonder just how such a tiny island could have become probably more popular than the much larger Koh Chang (which has in excess of 250 hotels and resorts). But then all becomes clear when you realise that Koh Tao (in association with Chumpon) has now developed into one of the most popular diving centres in Thailand.

          

And also, interestingly, Koh Tao has a more colourful history than either of its two neighbouring, and larger, islands. It seems that European explorers mapped this part of the Gulf of Siam as far back as the late 17th century, with cartographer John Thornton dubbing the island ‘Pulo Bardia’. In 1852, the explorer Frederick Arthur Neale, describes the people and wildlife of ‘Bardia’. According to the account there were farms and even cows (!) in a village on the bay on the west side of the island. And he includes a somewhat imaginative illustration of showing huts and palm trees (although no signs of a dairy industry!).

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ZONING OUT
With lush gardens and exotic treatments, life’s looking very laid-back at Eranda Herbal Spa.

With lush gardens and exotic treatments, life’s looking very laid-back at Eranda Herbal Spa.You might think that relaxing by the pool in your resort or sunbathing on the beach is just about as relaxing as life could possibly get. Indeed, it’s hard to beat, and a few days like this can do much to ease away months of stressful living. But when it comes to being truly laid-back, you can go still further – and in a shorter space of time.

          

That’s where spas enter the scene. They’ve been popular since Roman times, and the 20th century saw an even bigger jump in their popularity. These days you can find spas just about everywhere. On Samui you’re probably just minutes away from one. There are scores of spas here and many are certainly good. They’re brilliant at helping you to de-stress and bring you further in your journey towards being relaxed.

          

At Eranda, that journey is an even more satisfying one. That’s because the people behind the spa have poured a lot of love and passion into making it a sublime experience. For a start, even before you arrive they can help you relax. How on earth is that possible, you may wonder? Well, if you phone them first, they’ll provide a complimentary round trip transfer from Chaweng, Choeng Mon, Bophut and Big Buddha. This ensures that you arrive without feeling frazzled by the traffic and having to find the way yourself, though that’s not difficult to do; Eranda is located less than two kilometres north of Chaweng, as you head along the beach road.

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MAGICAL NAMUANG
If you’re up for a hike, you’ll be rewarded by the 80 metre high Namuang waterfall.

Page-66-3In Buddhism, waterfalls symbolise the fact that we are always moving. Water symbolises purity, clarity and calmness, and reminds us to cleanse our minds to attain a state of purity. Maybe that’s why it’s not just tourists who flock to the waterfalls on Samui.

          

Namuang Falls are a majestic set of two waterfalls off route 4169, between Nathon and Hua Thanon. From Nathon, drive south for roughly 11 kilometres until you see the signed entrance to the falls. The park entrance sits about one kilometre up this road. The first waterfall is just a short walk away, but if you want to see the second one you’ll have to negotiate a rather more challenging 30 minute hike. Once you’ve seen this beautiful oasis, you’ll see that Samui has more to offer than just beautiful beaches.

          

The name ‘Namuang’ translates to ‘purple’ in English, and refers to the striking purple colour of the rocks that form the stunning backdrop to these waterfalls. There are a few other pathways to hike along, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find some spectacular rock formations here too, so remember to pack your camera.

          

The first waterfall called Namuang 1 and is around 18 metres high. Just follow the natural pathway and steps to the base of the falls. It flows into a large pool, and the icy cold water is always perfect for a swim on a hot day. Do watch out for hidden rocks while swimming and don’t jump into the water just in case they make themselves known to the bottom of your feet.

          

Once you’ve enjoyed your swim and cooled off, you can prepare yourself for the 30 minute hike to the next waterfall, Namuang 2. It’s the highest waterfall on Samui, falling from an impressive 80 metres. That’s 24 stories which is pretty high!

          

There’s no entry fee for the falls so be wary of local ‘guides’ trying to ask for money for access. If they offer to lead you there, politely decline, the route is easy to find on your own. The site has many little shops selling souvenirs, snacks and drinks at reasonable prices. There is also a restaurant. Make sure you buy food and drink before you start your hike as there isn’t anything available further up.

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W = WOW!
Blending personal attention with contemporary thought, the only thing you’ll hear at W Retreat is wow!

Blending personal attention with contemporary thought, the only thing you’ll hear at W Retreat is wow!Not that long ago, if you wanted to go 5-star on Samui, there weren’t many options. Plus, it has to be said, there was sometimes quite a difference in standards from one place to the next. It seemed that it was all too easy back then for resorts to say whatever they wanted – ‘5-Star’ included. So everybody all round just shrugged, shook their heads and said “never mind”. There was no other choice.

          

But today a quiet “wow!” is in order. There are still places that make all the right noises about customer care but can’t back it up – just take a stroll around TripAdvisor and see what I mean. But today’s good guys put them in the shade. There are now so many truly excellent resorts that choice is still a problem; but this time around it’s the reverse! It’s tough to pick out the best.

          

But there’s not much doubt that up there on everyone’s list is W Retreat Samui. And W is unique. You’ll come across refined and gentile resorts with their elegant yet aging guests. And then there are party places, some of them trés chic indeed. But somehow W manages to generate an infectious energy, while at the same time making everyone, whatever their age, feel relaxed and in place, and that goes for families with kids, too.

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THE NEWEST NORDIC
Guaranteed confidence is what you get when you buy into New Nordic Group’s latest development,
right on the edge of Lamai Beach.

Guaranteed confidence is what you get when you buy into New Nordic Group’s latest development, right on the edge of Lamai Beach.It was only a few years ago that apartment blocks appeared on Samui. Sorry. Let’s get it right: condominiums. And at the time, they were generally regarded with suspicion. People watched and waited to see what would happen. Of course, you have to keep it in mind that other big centres like Phuket and Pattaya went down this path a long time ago. But Samui has always been different. For a start it’s an island with a mountain, and that makes people think twice about building inland; it’s expensive. Secondly, apart from one or two areas like Chaweng and Lamai, it’s still a lot more rustic than most other tourist areas.

          

But it worked. Quietly and unobtrusively, discreet little condominium blocks appeared tucked away here and there. And not only were they rapidly snapped-up but, more importantly, demand was high for re-sales, too, and waiting lists appeared – particularly for those which had inhouse amenities like pools, a gym, a café or shops and a good location.

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NEW WAVE IMPIANA
There’s a quiet revolution happening in our top resorts – we visit Impiana Samui to
see what it’s all about.

There’s a quiet revolution happening in our top resorts – we visit Impiana Samui to see what it’s all about.Five-star indulgence. The very best of world-class service and attention. To some people it’s what they expect, and they think nothing of it. But for most of us it’s a treat. It’s a luxury we regard with respect, if not a little awe. It’s for special occasions; birthdays and anniversaries, only once or twice a year. Why? Because of the cost, of course! Whether it’s a weekend away, or a sublime meal at a top restaurant, the best of the best is expensive – it doesn’t come cheap at all.

          

How many of you reading this are nodding your heads? It’s true enough, isn’t it? Well, actually, it’s not. Not anymore. Because today, a whole new way of looking at things is beginning to emerge. Maybe not when it comes to accommodation; that’s something different. But with the 5-star super-eateries attached to those big, expansive resorts, then yes. Some of them, anyhow. Although, it has to be said, right now things are still in a state of flux.

          

It’s all about food and drink. The F&B departments in resorts are a totally separate entity when compared to the other areas. And there are two ways of looking at this. The first is to say “. . . we are one of the world’s leading hotels. Of course we are expensive, what would you expect? And of course the gourmet meals prepared by our international chef are also expensive.” But the alternative thinking is: “. . . we might be a 5-star resort with 5-star service, but why not charge sensible prices for the gourmet meals prepared by our international chef? Because that way we’ll get a whole lot of people coming in from outside to eat, as well as our in-house guests.”

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‘PAIRED’ AT SHERATON
Wine-pairing, of course – but you also have to sample the beer-pairing at
Sheraton Samui Resort!

Wine-pairing, of course – but you also have to sample the beer-pairing at Sheraton Samui ResortSheraton has always been a name to inspire respect. And Sheraton Samui Resort is no exception. Located just a 15 minute drive from Samui International airport, it’s very close to the heart of things, nestled in the warm and white sands of the magnificent Chaweng Noi Beach, right next to the neon tussle of Chaweng Bay itself. Of course, it’s undisputedly 5-star, as you would expect. And it’s set surreptitiously on a canted hillside, immersed in lush tropical gardens and rising above the crystal blue water. Each room is designed in a light and inviting style, featuring the ‘Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience’ bed, with luxurious sheets, pillows, and custom mattress. The warmly decorated bathrooms feature a separate shower and bath tub with a large window, and these rooms are fitted with every concession to a luxurious stay that you can imagine.

          

But that’s far from all. The resort features a fresh water pool with its own Jacuzzi, a sea water pool facing the ocean, a fitness centre with gym and workout room, a tennis court, an outstanding spa, and no fewer than four restaurants and bars, where you can discover a culinary explosion of authentic flavours, tastes, and varieties of cuisine, combined with unique cooking features and welcoming social events.

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CUTTING IT FINE
Taking a look at what makes the fruit carving class at Hansar one of the finest around!

Taking a look at what makes the fruit carving class at Hansar one of the finest around!Things go in waves. Not that long ago, resorts didn’t have a ‘signature restaurant’. It was just a place to feed their guests – no matter how good it was. And ten years back, hardly any resorts held a Thai cooking class. Now they all do. When some new thinking pops up, it spreads. Right now there’s a whole new – and really fun – thing coming out, and resorts are just jumping at it. But unlike Thai cooking, which all Thais can do as a matter of course, this one needs skill. It needs practice, and lots of it; although, it has to be said, it looks good at any level. It’s fruit carving.

          

Pause here and think for a while. In The West, Thai food is nothing new anymore. It’s a firm favourite. Even little local pubs run a Thai menu once a week. Therefore a great many of you reading this have already had a go at cooking Thai food at home. Probably quite a few times. In fact a lot of you are quite good at it, no doubt. Hold a party and cook-up Thai food, you’ll get thanked and patted on the back. But do the same thing with fruit carving too and you’ll bring the house down. All your friends can cook Thai food. But how many can carve up a storm with fruit and vegetables?

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PLEASE DON’T!
A short guide on how to spend time here without upsetting anyone – etiquette in Thailand.

A short guide on how to spend time here without upsetting anyone – etiquette in Thailand.You’re in a mini-mart, waiting to be served. There are three people in front of you and, just as the queue moves up, the door ding-dongs open and a man crashes in. He shoves straight to the front and shouts at the girl on the till, “gimme a coke!” The question is: is this acceptable? Is this the sort of behaviour that most folks would just shrug off, unaffected, or is it what most would think of as infuriatingly rude? The point here is that social behaviour can be thoughtful and considerate, or it can be selfish and demanding. To some extent that’s a personal thing, but at least you know what’s going on, unlike in a foreign country with a different culture and traditions!

          

I think the keyword in both cases, at home and abroad, is ‘thoughtful’. With maybe a touch of ‘consideration’ and a big spoonful of ‘unselfishness’! Thailand is a very conservative nation which cherishes long-held traditions. And it’s oh-so-easy for an unwitting stranger to put his foot in it. Worse, to end up in jail, which can, and sometimes does, happen. Take the concept of ‘rights’, for instance. In your own country you have certain rights as a citizen. One of them is probably that of ‘freedom of speech’. You have grown up with the idea that you can say what you want about whatever you want – you’ve a right to your own opinion and you’ve the right to express your feelings and ideas. But it’s foolish of you to assume that those rights travel with you. Because in Thailand there will be occasions when they most certainly don’t.

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MORE THAN MEDICATION
Samui’s own chain of pharmacies, Morya, offers an unusually broad spectrum of products and services.

Samui’s own chain of pharmacies, Morya, offers an unusually broad spectrum of products and services.Holidays are partly about adventure, and challenging yourself to go and do something exciting. But there are certain adventures you won’t want to have, and one of these is facing a pharmacist who offers you, in a language you don’t understand, an array of medications that you’ve never seen before. Anyone who’s done any serious travel, or even just been a tourist in an out-of-the-way destination, will probably have wrestled with this problem. Maybe you have to gulp when you take the pill or swallow the medicine you’ve purchased, but how can you avoid that mental gulp?

          

Fortunately on Samui, pharmacies abound, and the island has its very own chain of them, known simply as Morya. Their branches are dotted around Samui’s populated areas, and most tend to be found on the ring-road. In other words, you’re never very far from one. There are 19 Morya pharmacies at the moment on Samui, but you’ll only find Morya here on the island, and nowhere else. Morya’s main office is located in Chaweng, and from there it’s a cinch to keep control over all the other stores and distribute products to them. You’ll find it opposite the PTT petrol station, about three kilometres south of Tesco-Lotus as you head toward Lamai. In addition, two new branches have recently opened; the first in Lamai, on the beach road, close to McDonald’s, and the other on the Chaweng Beach Road close to Ozo.

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LUXE LIVING BY THE SEA
Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort & Villas is located in one of Samui’s most enviable spots and offers outstanding accommodation.

Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort & Villas is located in one of Samui’s most enviable spots and offers outstanding accommodation.If rooms could be straight-talking, then the sassy Executive Pool Villas and Executive Duplex Pool Villas at Baan Haad Ngam would qualify as opulent and luxurious, yet without even a hint of pretension. There’s no compromise on all the little things and grace touches that go to making a stay here a sheer delight – all those small details are just right – and yet when it comes to the big picture, these rooms stand out for simplicity, comfort and sheer stylishness. The rooms look bold, almost ballsy, with striking contrasts in the blacks, whites and deep browns used. And there’s more than a hint of minimalism in them, too. Think space, lots of it, and combine that with an uncluttered vibe that’s sure to please.

          

There’s a trio of Executive Pool Villas and each has an outdoor swimming pool with Jacuzzi which nestles into a small garden. These villas are ideal for lounging around in – there’s shade too, of course – and if it’s still too hot, then the refreshing air-con of your room is just a couple of steps away. Step inside the room itself and you’ll be loath to leave. It’s got everything that you could possibly ask for when it comes to a living space.

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ART AND HEART
Delightful, artistic, tranquil – Khwan Beach Resort is a luxurious hideaway that sets new standards of comfort
and quality in Maenam.

Delightful, artistic, tranquil – Khwan Beach Resort is a luxurious hideaway that sets new standards of comfort and quality in Maenam.Boutique resorts are no new thing. But they’re like everything else. Just having the label doesn’t mean much. A top-end Toyota is a ‘luxury’ car, but then so is a Bugatti or a Rolls Royce. No, if we are to try and measure a resort, to evaluate it, to weigh what it offers against so many others, then we need more than just one word. ‘Boutique’ by itself is just doesn’t cut it. A whole sentence can’t even get close. You’ll need pages of words and photos that’ll walk you through and point things out - as I’m hoping to do here with Khwan Beach Resort.

          

This is a perfect example of the ‘3rd generation’ of Samui’s small highend resorts. The first wave appeared early on, around or not long-after the airport was built; European-owned, high-end Euro-quality bathrooms and fittings, plus a top restaurant with an international chef. The next wave was mostly low-budget copies (similarly calling themselves ‘boutique’) but suffering from bland architecture and uncertain staff with poor English skills. And then, inside the last decade, the current generation of boutique resorts began to appear. Chic, stylish, puttogether with flair, each with their own charisma. Some retro-nostalgic, some minimalist, others quirky and off-beat – all of them oozing personality, quality and luxury.

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TIPS FOR TIP
All you need to know about tipping – when to do it, when not, and how much!

All you need to know about tipping – when to do it, when not, and how much!Life can be strange. Fifty years ago it wasn’t like this. But in today’s culture of instant everything, the edges have blurred. Two things have changed the world. The main one is the internet. And, linked in with this, there’s the sheer ease of international travel. And that’s not only the immediate booking of a flight to anywhere in the world from wherever you happen to be sitting, but also something as simple as paperless tickets, too: just produce your smartphone with the booking details on-screen.

          

But this all has a downside. Because it means that it’s more or less effortless for someone to zip away from their own land and culture and find themselves confused; a stranger in a strange land with different expectations and ways of life. It’s an in-built instinct to assume that everything’s the same there as it is back home. And it can come as a profound shock to realise that the police, the laws, the banks and even the ‘rights’ you assume you have are now suddenly all askew. And that also goes for the very ordinary day-to-day aspect of tipping.

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KANDA CANDOUR
A whole lot of reasons why not to stay in a hotel – a candid look at Kanda Residences in Choeng Mon.

A whole lot of reasons why not to stay in a hotel – a candid look at Kanda Residences in Choeng Mon.Unless you know the ropes, it can be a nightmare. But that’s quite normal. It’s the same for everyone, wherever they go. For the first time, that is. And most of that first vacation in a new place is spent getting the feel of it. There are now so many fine hotels on Samui that you’re spoiled for choice. But it all depends on what you want. If you’re young and fancy-free, you’ll head for the nightlife. If you’re a family, then you might go somewhere quieter. The same if you’re here with romance in mind. But somewhere down the line you’ll start to think it all through. Hotels are costly. How about a rental? And that’s where Kanda Residences comes into the frame.

          

It’s by no means a new idea – renting a house or villa instead of staying in a hotel. And there are obvious advantages. Of course the main one is the cost: rather than staying in a hotel, it’s often cheaper to rent a house for a month and only occupy it for the two weeks of your stay. The other plus is that houses are rented as a unit, and not charged per head. And that means several friends or two families can share the cost.

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VISA VISTA
Staying on in Thailand? You’ll need to get a visa.

Staying on in Thailand? You’ll need to get a visa.Staying on in Thailand? You’ll need to get a visa.Thailand, with its amazing beaches, friendly atmosphere and fine weather is just the kind of country where people want to stay on… and on. There are thousands of foreign residents who originally came on holiday to Thailand and decided to put down their tent pegs here and call it home. Almost all of us who live here know people who stopped over on their way to somewhere else and somehow never left. Thailand swept them off their feet and they’ve stayed.

          

It’s not possible in most countries to simply arrive, declare yourself a resident and set up a life for yourself. OK, if you’re a European, you can settle in more or less any other European country, but there’s still the risk that you might end up as an illegal immigrant. In other countries, you’ll need a lot of money, as well as legal help and a guarantor.

          

But Thailand, along with a few other countries, takes a different stance. It’s an extremely welcoming place and it’s relatively easy to set up here. You may retire here, start a business or work for someone else. But something that every person entering the kingdom has to do, whether staying for a day or a lifetime, is to be in synch with current immigration policies. When you present your passport to the authorities at the point of entry, everything has to be OK’d by them before your stay is rubber-stamped.

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CLEAR WATERS
Magic Alambic rum distillery produces the purest of rums in a relaxed garden setting.

Magic Alambic rum distillery produces the purest of rums in a relaxed garden setting.Sun and surf are simply not the entire story when it comes to tropical vacations. Postcards may depict glamorous beaches, but there’s hopefully a lot more to holidaying than just a few weeks lazing around on those perfect strands. Samui turns out to be packed with unexpected places, people and even industries. The island has more going for itself than it might at first appear. Take rum, for example, the subject of this article. You might suppose it is in plentiful supply on Samui, and you’d be entirely right. Bottles of every kind to be had in any half-way decent bar. Sure. And that must be as far as it goes, right?

          

Well, not many visitors realize that when it comes to rum, Samui turns out to be a far-flung outpost of the Caribbean. Rum is as much at home here as it is there. And here we’re talking about the production of it. Rather than being a port of call, Samui turns out to be a point of origin. The island has its very own distillery, handling everything from the raw product right up to the last stage, distributing the finished product````.

          

True, it’s not a big production. It’s not concrete ugly, with trucks revving up in a hurry to get the next load delivered. This is the more delicate world of craft drinks, with laid-back entrepreneurs who’re primarily concerned with maintaining great tastes and putting together new ones, rather than with anything else. The old injunction to go for quality not quantity reigns supreme here.

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