The world changes. There are revolutions, border disputes and political upheavals on the one side and natural calamities, such as earthquakes, volcanoes and the impending ice-age, on the other. And then we have Samui, drifting along in its own timeless world of idyllic tropical beauty
And 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, island-hopping, 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.
As a diver, what are the first things you look for when you go diving? Warm water? Pretty corals? Rock formations? Colourful fish? Large fish? Good viz? (Visibility for those non-divers out there). Thailand is known for having all of these things, and the dive sites around Samui are the perfect place to see them.
If you’re a diver, the first thing you’re going to want to know after asking about the viz, is what you can see. If you’re used to diving in Europe, you might be used to lots of fish, but cold waters and dry suits. Or you might be a warm water diver, used to diving wrecks, colourful fish and great viz. Around Samui, you can be sure to find something to appeal to you and your level of experience - coral reefs around many of the islands are filled with an abundance of exotic marine life in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes. Float around quietly and slowly, and give everything time to get used to your presence and you could see blue spotted stingrays hiding under rocky overhangs, nudibranchs perched on hard coral fingers, tiny little fish darting in and out of corals and you could even find Nemo (and his entire extended family!)
Samui Wine Oasis, as the name suggests, truly is an escape from the craziness of Chaweng.
Chaweng most certainly has the island’s highest concentration of bars and clubs – but generally the beverages of choice are beer and cocktails. Add to that pumping music and a rowdy crowd, and you have your average Chaweng establishment, give or take a few that don’t adhere to this norm.
And one that most certainly stands out is Samui Wine Oasis – situated slap bang in the middle of the madness. Its name is fitting. Here you can sit under the canopy of tall trees that are dressed in fairy lights, and sip on a perfectly chilled Chenin Blanc, watching the world go by and contemplating the good life. While the rest of Chaweng seems to be in a rush, at Samui Wine Oasis, life slows down to a more relaxing pace, and what better way to enjoy it than over a bottle of good wine and a tasty meal.
Samui Wine Oasis is the brainchild of Khun Napasoon Chayuntaradilok (Khun Laem), a pilot with Thai Airways, who has travelled the world with his wife, and developed a love of wine during his travels. He is lucky enough to have visited wine regions around the globe and has attended several winemaking and wine appreciation courses abroad. Khun Laem wanted to share his appreciation of wine, and spread wine culture within Thailand, so
Chandra Boutiques continue to provide original garments, offering style rather than just fashion.
Just follow the island’s fashionistas wearing the flowing dresses, pretty summer sandals and stylish handbags, and no doubt, you’ll end up at one of the two Chandra boutiques along Chaweng Beach Road. Locals with a sense of style, as well as regular visitors to the island from the fashion hubs of the world, all know Chandra and the brand’s reputation for stylish, yet timeless garments. Barak and Dana, owners and designers at Chandra, are on the right path to success, keeping their clientele ever impressed with their original garments and accessories.
Chandra designs are elegant and stylish, yet much of the range has a fun element, by incorporating funky prints and quirky accessories. And Barak and Dana prefer using natural fibres such as cotton, rayon and silk, ideal for a hot climate. Dana designs the women’s wear, and the latest range showcases a cotton and silk collection in earthy tones. You’ll find kaftans and tunics, and both mini and maxi dresses, all cut to flatter the female form. A range of white dresses, blouses, pants and singlets balances out the trademark bright print range. Dana explains, “It’s become popular for the
With Samui temperatures reaching over 30 degrees for most of the year, it becomes a necessity to cool down regularly. How you choose to do that is the question. Is it taking regular dips in the sea? Is it hiding from the midday sun in an air-conditioned room? Perhaps taking a cold shower followed by an ice cold cocktail? Or perhaps spending a day in a water park where you can swim, slide, climb, swim, play golf, swim, jump, fly, swim, eat drink and swim - with the emphasis on swimming … and keeping cool.
Coco Splash Adventure and Water Park is a 10,000 square metre plot of land filled with water slides, swimming pools, an inflatable castle, bungee trampolines, an air bag for exciting high jumps, go-karting, bumper boats (a great twist on traditional bumper cars), a tree-to-tree course and a restaurant and bar. It can be found signposted off the Lamai beachfront road, just before crossing the river. And don’t be fooled, while this park makes children’s eyes light up like it’s Christmas morning, it offers more than enough to thrill the adults too (and that’s not only the selection of frozen cocktails on offer).
Prepare to be wowed by the new menu at Drink Gallery.
Through tall panes of glass set in the dark, steel beams of a contemporary structure, you’ll notice people having a good time. Some are peacefully sitting on their own, reading the paper and sipping on a steaming cappuccino. Others are gathered at the expansive central table, decked with an assortment of chairs, laughing as they sip fancy cocktails and share creative dishes. If you look closer through the floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll notice that the interior of Drink Gallery is quirky and inviting, which is what may first draw you in. But it’s the great food and inventive cocktails that will keep you there to linger longer, and bring you back time and again for more.
Drink Gallery, part of The Library on Chaweng Beach Road, describes itself as ‘Eclectic by nature, artistic by character and thoroughly unique in style’. Now while we know to take advertising blurbs with a pinch of salt so to speak, in this case, their self-portrayal rings true. On entering through the glass door, you’re greeted with a cool welcome – from the air-conditioning that is. The welcome from the staff on the other hand, is most warm, as is the atmosphere, which is so often lacking in modern structures. Although the walls are exposed concrete, floors are screed and the frontage is floorto-
Wat Kiri Wongkaram is not on the main tourist drag, but it’s worth a visit.
So you’ve had enough of the tourist hot spots and want to escape the crowds for a day, and soak up a little local culture. You could head to Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai) or Plai Laem Temple, and they’d both be great stops and worthy of a visit. But, you wouldn’t be escaping the crowds at all. So where should you head to?
Well luckily it’s possible to leave the hordes behind and discover the ‘real’ Samui, only a 45-minute drive from the commercial areas of the island. The un-spoilt southwest of the island is known to some as ‘The Virgin Coast’, and the village of Taling Ngam forms part of this. From the ring-road, turn off at Route 4170 either coming from Nathon, or going clockwise, just past Hua Thanon. Follow the signs to Baan Taling Ngam, until you reach two massive elephant statues guarding the entrance of the road to the rustic little village.
Originally named Taling Punk (damaged shore) after a destructive storm in 1900 ruined the coastline, it recovered over time and was renamed Taling Ngam (beautiful shore) in 1942. As is common in Thailand, village life revolves around the local temple – in this case, Wat Kiri Wongkaram. The
Fashion is an offhand word, when faced with the sheer style of Psylo.
One of the great things about Samui is the shopping. Some of us who have the good fortune to live here might not wholly agree. But for a visitor to the island it comes high up on the list. How many of you reading this, I wonder, have been asked by an array of nephews, nieces and friends to bring back mementos ranging from watches, DVDs, trendy trainers and designer bags and clothes, right through to gold and silver jewellery? Clothes, in fact, are the most popular choice. Here you have access to a whole range of almost-genuine designer goods, and at prices that are even less than the charity and goodwill shops back home. And the temptation, as always, is to go for the well-known brands. And that’s a real shame. I can clearly remember that for a few years my daughter, at a certain age, wouldn’t be seen dead in gear that didn’t have a ‘name’ on it, no matter how dull or plain the styling was, or how cheap and nasty the fabric. It’s a smart bit of
Secure your spot of tropical island paradise with OK Properties.
Can you imagine Chaweng with just one resort on its long stretch of beach? Can you imagine Maenam being nothing but palm trees? Or perhaps the ring road being a dirt road? Yes, Koh Samui used to be like this many years ago. A relatively uninhabited island with coconut palms, sunshine and pristine beaches filled with promise. It was back then that Norbert Verweyen first visited the island. As he so aptly puts it, he contracted the ‘Samui Virus’ and knew, even back then, that he wanted to come back one day and live here. And he did. After extensive travelling around the world, including working for a construction company in Australia, he finally sold his business in his homeland of Germany and, in 1990, moved to Samui. Falling in love with the north west coast of the island, he built a house for himself. He did such a good job that once his friends saw the result they all wanted the same, and very soon the first row of eight houses along the beachfront were built and OK Properties was born.
Norbert has a good team of people working with him, most of whom speak his native German, as well as other languages, which helps in dealing with international customers. OK Properties has gone from strength to
Samui tiny steps offers nursery and preschool education in a home-from-home environment.
When it comes to early years education, it’s important to know a little about the face behind the organisation, so we chatted to Debra, owner and centre manager at Samui Tiny Steps, to find out what inspired her to open a nursery school here on the island.
Debra is a mother of two, with a daughter of nine and a son of seven years old. She first came to Samui in 2002 with her husband, to visit family and to travel around Thailand. They stayed a few months, and returned the following year to do the same. Her children were later born in the UK, and the family decided to relocate to Samui when the children were four and two years of age.
Debra explains, “I have lived here for five years now, and when I first arrived with my small children. I realised that there was a lack of facilities for young learners. As I was involved in preschool teaching in the UK, I was very aware of the social interaction and learning through play that every child should have access to. So with this in mind, I wanted to create an environment where children could be involved in imaginative play, arts and
Plug yourself into Samui’s stunning new XD Theater!
How many of you can remember when pubs first started showing sport on big screens? It wasn’t really all that long ago. And the quality was dreadful! Well, compared to what we’re used to today, anyway. It was basically a projector screen and you really needed to be in darkness to see it. Mind you, ten years ago every computer had a square-tube monitor that weighed a ton, but nothing like as much as the low-resolution monsters we had in our living rooms. How times have changed – today we’re all accustomed to pin sharp pictures on 50- inch flat-screens you can pick up with one hand.
And then there’s 3D. It was a long time coming, it stuttered and stumbled for a while like one of those man-powered flying machines, bounced a bit, got off the ground, staggered, and then crashed. Major TV companies like ESPN gave it a spin then dropped it due to “limited viewer adoption of 3D services to the home”. The problem was a result of several things. Different sorts of systems – active or passive – with different sorts of viewing glasses to go with them. I could go on . . . about matching the equipment with the material, the content (live broadcasts on TV, movies or games) or about TV sets that tried to jump on the bandwagon with marketing promises that were neither one thing or the other.
Pretty jewellery always catches one’s eye, but beautiful jewellery intricately designed by an expert hand using natural products calls to your heart. If you’ve never been to Nature Art Gallery, make time for a visit. Their shop in Chaweng is a place of beauty, and you can easily spend hours admiring the unique pieces of jewellery and leather goods on display.
Their main branch is located on Chaweng Beach Road opposite the new Central Festival shopping mall. Entering the shop is like walking into another world. A varnished wooden floor, trays of twinkling, shiny items laid out on glass tops resting on huge tree trunks, pretty things dangling from the ceiling and walls, and friendly staff to welcome you.
The range of items on offer is astounding. Yes, they stock rings (for fingers and toes), bracelets, necklaces and earrings, but it’s the many different types and styles that blow you away. Most of their items are made right here on Samui, while others are made in Bali and Bangkok.
Rather than having a section for each item, their displays showcase the style of jewellery. For instance, they have a ‘stingray skin’ section where you can find twisted bracelets with snakes or dragons, wallets and purses made
Absolute Sanctuary’s Pilates Reformer class will transform your body.
Nowadays, people are very serious about looking after themselves. They want a toned body with the least amount of effort, classes that are good value for money and expert instructors. Is that a tall order? Not really. Absolute Sanctuary will do all that, and more.
Tucked away on a hillside, off the main road between Choeng Mon and Chaweng, Absolute Sanctuary celebrated their sixth anniversary on Samui this year. They are an independent entity owned and operated by ‘Absolute Yoga Group’ and provide a highly sought after mix of retreat, yoga, detox, Pilates, spa treatments, fitness and relaxation - a true escape from the hustle and bustle of modern day life.
But something new and exciting has arrived here on Samui. The first Pilates Reformer group class started in April. Never heard of it? Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. The original method was practiced in a specialised studio, was mainly one-on-one and particularly expensive. His first students went on to teach his methods and, as the benefits became more widely known and appreciated, its popularity began to spread.
Samui welcomes the iconic Japanese brand, Uniqlo, to the island.
People on Samui have long battled the pros and cons of living on an island. While the benefits are obvious to visitors – sunshine, stunning beaches and a relaxed lifestyle – the disadvantages are perhaps less obvious. While visitors can leave and do their shopping back home, until recently, Samui dwellers had little option when it came to clothes shopping. It was always a case of the two extremes – either mass-produced brand copies from the market stalls, or from the highend local fashion designers. While Samui has some fabulous local designers, their garments are not always suitable for everyday wear, but more likely something for a special occasion.
So that meant a trip to Bangkok or Phuket every so often to top up the wardrobe, as contrary to what visitors may think, we don’t all wear bikinis and flip-flops every day!
Well thankfully Central Festival Samui opened its doors at the end of March 2014, and a key tenant is the popular brand, Uniqlo. We chatted to the company’s Thai marketing arm to find out a little more about this iconic Japanese label.
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is an up and coming sport that is catching on in a major way around the world. Its history dates back to the 1950’s, when surf instructors in Hawaii used to stand up and paddle out to the surf break using their regular surfboards and a paddle. Standing on their boards provided them with better visibility of their training group. You’ve probably seen people on them around Samui and perhaps also even seen them doing yoga out at sea, but we’ll come to that in a bit.
The sport has taken less than ten years to spread from the sea to nearly every body of water imaginable. Because you don’t need waves, the sport can be enjoyed on lakes, large rivers and canals. Some are brave enough to tackle river rapids or ride regular waves, all while standing. And because you’re standing up, you can enjoy a much better view of your surroundings. Around Thailand, you can easily navigate to nearby islands using one.
The fitness aspect of stand-up paddleboarding can’t be avoided. As well as being fun and relaxing, you are getting a free full-body workout, and the board has become a popular platform for yoga lovers the world over.
A fine Saturday afternoon is when you amble along Chaweng Beach, magnetically drawn towards funky music, and land at a swell pool party around stylishly built white villas. This happening place is the well-known, KC Beach Club, on Chaweng Beach Road. Listening to resident DJ Paolo Bardelli spinning tunes you’ve never heard before, is a treat to one’s ears. This Italian DJ is one to sway to. Call it deep house or new disco, the tunes will keep you grooving all afternoon.
DJ Paolo started playing at KC in March 2013. If you miss him on a Saturday, you can always catch him on weekdays enjoying good groove and deep bass. But you will definitely find yourself visiting KC on Saturdays and weekdays.
For his part, DJ Paolo revels in the aura of the beach club - the crowd and its energy. “When I find out the crowd’s back to listen to my set, it’s flattering and keeps me motivated.” says Paolo, who’s more than impressed with the quality of crowd that turns up at KC. But ask him if he enjoys ‘commercial’ music and he replies, “I prefer to use the word ‘pop’ to
The art of tattooing is a heritage common to most indigenous cultures. This used to be performed with meaning—the spirit of which remained sacred. This sacred tattooing is called ‘sak yant’ in Thailand. The name originates from the ancient term ‘yantra’. Yantra in Thai would be yant, while sak refers to tattooing. The practice originates from parts of Cambodia and India, but it seems to be an endangered art form in those countries today. However, the Buddhist monks in Thailand have been practicing sak yant for years. This vibrant culture is usually passed on from sak yant ajarns (teachers) to their disciples. It’s believed that as the ink is etched deep into the skin, deep relationships are formed between the master and the disciple, and the master passes on his powers and wisdom to his followers. The practice involves attaining knowledge on the teachings of Buddha, which are believed to be 2,600 years old.
Sak yant is traditionally performed with a long bamboo stick sharpened to a point (called a mai sak) or alternatively with a long metal spike (called a khem sak). The designs and patterns are influenced by the language and cultural history of the region. They often incorporate the Lanna script of
Quad bikes add a whole new dimension to heading off-road on Samui.
Sun, sand and sea are the main reasons we’re all here. But when end-to-end sun-cream and lazing-about begins to drag, there are two choices. You can get off the island on a boat trip or a diving jaunt. Or you can go cross the ‘great divide’ – otherwise known as the ring-road. And, yes, there is life on the other side! This essentially falls into two categories. Calm and tranquil daytrips for the serene-at-heart – plodding about on an elephant, temple tours or visiting a waterfall – things like this. Or you can opt for something that involves a bit more activity.
There are actually a great many things to do on Samui, and most of them are neatly contained in a rack of leaflets and brochures, which are usually found near the reception desk of every resort. These tour operators are well-organised and reputable, and this is the most efficient way to get out and about on excursions. Plus they’ll include a pick-up from your resort and (of course) a return when you’ve finished. Sightseeing is one thing. But if you’re really up for a bit of activity (and a lot of fun!) then keep an eye out for ‘ATV Jungle Safari’.
SCL International School’s motto of ‘Educating the mind, nurturing the soul’ is having a positive effect on its pupils.
SCL International School offers a home-from-home approach to its pupils, creating an environment which allows students to grow at their own pace, and achieve their own targets. On entering the school grounds, the first impression is of happy children. It’s an accepted fact that happy children learn better, and SCL has created a safe and secure learning environment.
School Director, Emma Dyas, has lived in Thailand, and worked in education, for the last decade, and became a partner in SCL in 2005, not long after the school first opened. Emma lives on Samui with her husband and their three children; Ellora, Anya and Max – all of whom attend SCL – a testament to Emma’s faith in the school. She’s passionate about the school, as are the highly qualified teachers she’s personally selected. Emma explains, “I absolutely love how SCL has developed over the years. We have held fast to the original vision: to provide a safe and nurturing environment where children are free to express themselves, whilst receiving a high quality education. The children are exactly where they should be; at the centre of all our efforts. All the staff members we have here are amazing and I’m
The sultry sounds of salsa can be heard around Samui. Talitha Elmendorp tells us what it’s all about.
Salsa dancing may not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of activities on a Thai island. So, we chatted to Talitha Elmendorp to find out a little more about this trend that’s steadily growing on Samui.
Firstly, for those not in the know, here’s a little background on salsa dancing and music, as explained by Talitha. “Latin social dancing is now one of the most popular dance styles all over the world, and is taking Asia by storm. It’s passionate, fun, interactive and great for socialising. Salsa music and dance, is known as a characteristic part of Latin Caribbean and Latin American culture, but has become more widespread as Latinos have migrated to other parts of the world. Salsa dancing has now evolved to a verified form of art, and there are many known sub-styles.”
Talitha founded Latin dance on Samui about six years ago, after having studied dance back home in the Netherlands. Her family background is Dutch, Chinese and Indonesian, but besides speaking Dutch and Indonesian, she’s also fluent in Spanish. She began performing at 16 years of age with a hip-hop dance crew, and her first encounter with Latin music and dance was in The Dominican Republic, some 16 years ago.
Why everyone seems to be talking about weddings at Nora Buri Resort!
A few years ago, hardly anyone did it. Then it started to catch on. And today, coming to Samui to get married is top of the pops. The reasons for this are wellknown. It’s not only romantic, but it’s financially sound, too. But, whatever the reasons, every year more than one thousand happy couples make their vows on our little island. Which rather makes me wonder – just how do they know where to go?
Of course, with the internet being a central part of all our lives, it’s not so hard to research the subject. But the ease of access to all this info is both a good thing and a bad. Sure, it lets you examine all the resorts and independent companies offering their services. But the downside is that there are so many of them – just how do you choose? Nobody wants to take potluck. And so you undoubtedly do what we all do at times like this; you ask around.
Of course, you’ve been here before; that’s why you want to come here to tie the knot. And so you not only talk to people, you listen, too. And the best way to do this is by hooking back on to the internet again, but this time onto TripAdvisor. This is the one place where you really can listen to what
If you’re up for a hike, you’ll be rewarded by the 80 metre high Namuang waterfall.
In 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.