Samui Wining & Dining
By Association

4There are like-minded people out there – it’s just a matter of linking up. 

When you tell friends and family that you’re moving to a small island in the Gulf of Thailand there’ll be worries and concerns about your lifestyle. Will you make new friends? Who will you turn to in times of need? How will you build a network of contacts to help you with your everyday life? These are all questions you may have to deal with. So, what’s available on Samui to assist you? Well, you may be surprised at just how many clubs exist and can help.

There’s no end of unofficial ways in which to integrate and make new friends, especially if you are a confident and friendly person: eating out; drinking in different bars; getting involved in sports; and even shopping are all ways in which you could make new contacts. But there are also far more organised ways to do so. And, as most groups tend to concentrate on Samui’s community issues, you’ll find that the links and crossovers between memberships can open you up to a much wider network of friends.

The Rotary Club of Koh Samui (ROCKS) was formed in 2003 and members meet every week at the Chaweng Regent Hotel. The make up of a Rotary Club is based on having representatives from each business and profession, ensuring a wide cross-section of the community. And membership is usually by invitation.

Rotarians provide a community service; organising projects and events to tackle or fund-raise for different areas, such as: education, healthcare, disaster relief and environmental issues. It’s an opportunity for members to give something back to their community. However, it also provides a chance to network, meet and get involved in projects with other people. And then there’s the social aspect. Dinners and events offer entertainment as well as information, education and service.

The Sisters on Samui (SOS) is a group that’s available for women of all nationalities who live on, or are visiting, Samui. Members meet every month for lunch at a variety of locations providing an opportunity for the friends to get together and to welcome any newcomers. And becoming a member couldn’t be easier; the only requirement is that you’re female.

Their well-attended lunches are also great fundraising events, as Bt80 of the Bt300 fee is donated to a wide range of child- related charities and projects on the island. For example, in 2006, SOS donated Bt70,000 to the Paediatric Unit of the Samui Hospital in Nathon. And a further Bt50,000 was given to Wat Lamai School to provide tables and benches for the canteen. Sisters on Samui offers all women a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and a number of potential friends, colleagues or acquaintances.

The year 2005 saw the founding of the Samui Expats Club (SEC) which hosts a party every month. And everyone is welcome, whatever your nationality or circumstances; you don’t even have to be a member to attend. In a similar way to Sisters on Samui, part of the entrance fee for the party goes towards the Samui Children’s Fund. As does a proportion of all membership fees.

SEC is certified and sanctioned by the National Association of Thailand Expat Clubs in Bangkok. It’s a non-profit, social organisation that’s managed by willing volunteers. And it was started to give the island’s expat community a chance to meet, share information, advice and resources. These monthly get-togethers are fun-filled events with a wine reception followed by an up-date of the club’s current situation and then a meal. Guest speakers are often invited along to give interesting presentations to the group of up to 70 attendees. And donations have helped to fund a new student library at the Samui Secondary School. This club follows the general pattern of meeting and making new friends and contacts, whilst doing some good for the local Samui community.

Each of these organisations provides an invaluable insight into life on the island, through other people’s experiences. Any problems that may arise will, undoubtedly, have been encountered by existing members. By regularly interacting with other Samui residents, and getting involved in work that benefits the whole island, these clubs can give you a comprehensive support network making life on the island as easy as possible.

Many other clubs exist that all help you to settle into the Samui lifestyle. For the athletic amongst you there is the Hash House Harriers – ‘A drinking club with a running problem’ – as it’s described by members. Regular runs are organised that combine the fun and games for which the Hashers are famed.

Then there’s a tennis ladder where you can play against those at your own level. Gymnasiums are everywhere, and all seem to be busy. You should easily be able to find one where you are comfortable and meet the other users. Golf is another great introducer, and the clubs on the island offer many networking opportunities. Slightly less energetic, but just as sociable, is the thriving pool league; and by working your way around the various pub quizzes you’ll also make new friends and see new places.

If you’re driven by the local community issues there are always fundraising and environmental projects that will welcome you onto their teams; the dog rescue centre and the green cross beach cleaning program are prime examples.

In short, if you have a particular interest, there will be like-minded people living on the island. And if there’s not already a club in existence then why not start one?

Samui is a small and very friendly place to live. And once you’ve been here a while it’s hard to imagine going very far without recognising someone or bumping into someone you already know.

The atmosphere and lifestyle on offer encourage people to be more relaxed and therefore more open and willing to pass on their experiences and advice to anyone going through problems. And even if you’ve turned to the bottle to help you with your introduction to Samui, or if you have an existing problem with drink, Samui has daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a 24-hour hotline. So, there’s no need for anyone to suffer in silence or feel that they are alone.

These are just some of the clubs and ways in which you can make new associations on Samui. And, as you can see, if you’re prepared to get yourself out and about you will soon find new friends and easily build a support network every bit as strong and helpful as any you may have left behind.


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