Samui Wining & Dining
Talented Talitha
Integrating into a new community is much easier when you bring exciting skills
and talents to the party, as Talitha Elmendorp explains.


Talented TalithaSamui is now home to several thousand expats from all over the world. Some stay for a few years and then move on. Others simply fall in love with the island and make it their home. Often it means finding a niche market for their talents and whilst those skills may be better rewarded financially elsewhere, Samui does offer much that city life cannot. Talitha Elmendorp is one of those enterprising individuals and we caught up with her recently to find out more about her and island life.


JP: Tell us about your background please, Talitha.

TE: I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and was raised in the Netherlands for 17 years where I received my formal education. My parents are a mix of Chinese, Dutch and Indonesian and I speak three languages fluently and have a working knowledge of another ten languages. I studied International Marketing at Erasmus University and Amsterdam School of Business; however my passion was always dancing. In my youth I attended the Amsterdam Dance Academy and went on to teach as well as perform in different styles, such as Hip Hop, Streetdance, Breakdance and Jazz.


After going to the Dominican Republic and the Dutch Antilles for the first time in 1999, I was introduced to Latin dance styles, such as Bachata, Merengue and Salsa. The movement and rhythm really grabbed me and I went on to practice and study these styles back in the Netherlands and also when I moved to New York in 2000.


JP: What was New York like for you?

TE: It’s just an incredible city with communities from more than one hundred countries. And it really is a city that never sleeps. As well as dancing, I also taught myself graphic design and digital art and I worked in marketing and graphic design for a couple of years before returning to Holland. Whilst I was back there I developed my skills in internet marketing, web design and search engine optimization techniques; skills I knew would be very useful wherever I went next.


JP: And where was that?

TE: In 2005, I came to Thailand to meet up with my family. My sister was in Phuket and my dad and stepmother, who’s Thai, were on Samui. They’d set up a charitable foundation here called ‘The Family’ about nine years ago. It’s a non-profit organisation that offers to help anyone in need regardless of religion, background, colour or creed. Every member of The Family is a volunteer and is motivated by the belief that sincere outgoing love and concern for our fellow man can provide the answers to the complex problems of today’s fast-paced society. Although membership is composed of individuals and families from many different cultural backgrounds, we all have the same motivation and desire: to bring relief, hope and encouragement. We’ve worked with other charitable and governmental organisations over the years on the island and have organised and assisted with educational seminars, free English classes and workshops, adoption of children in need of care, counselling and benefit concerts. What began for me as a short holiday turned into a much longer stay that is now six years and counting.


JP: You run your own graphic design and internet marketing company here, tell us about that.

TE: There’re thousands of small to medium sized businesses and organisations on Samui and many of them are reliant on the tourist market. And that is very competitive so any advantage that can be gained through effective internet marketing can make all the difference. I tailor each website design for the specific business and I’ve worked with educational centres, resorts, restaurants, accountancy firms and real-estate companies. It’s all about making sure that the design fits the business image, that the site is search-engine friendly, is easy for the user and complies with modern standards. I also give advice on how to market new products or services, how to create more awareness and how to optimize the ‘brand’ name even if it’s just a small stand-alone business. In addition, I also give tuition on everything from basic computer use to safe management of social networking sites and graphic design. And as I live here, it’s easy to meet face-to-face with clients and develop a programme that suits their lifestyle and time schedules.


JP: You’ve also created a loyal following for your Salsa dance classes, tell us about those.

TE: Learning to dance Salsa is a very liberating experience as you learn how to control your movements whilst also releasing energy and connecting with your inner sensual self. Salsa dancing is compelling and challenging yet a very enjoyable experience that you can share with your partner. Many relationships have formed or existing ones become strengthened by the sheer joy of sharing and taking a new approach towards mutual communication. When you learn to dance, your self-esteem increases, your fitness levels rise, your endorphins are released and mental awareness sharpens as your coordination improves. The physical and mental benefits of dancing are too many to name; however, dancing is equally one of the purest and most enjoyable forms of meditation as it requires you to fully embrace the moment and be present with your whole mind and body.


JP: And can anyone join in?
Absolutely! I get people of all ages and from all countries and levels of abilities. And a good mix of holidaymakers and expats. I run a beginners’ class on Saturdays from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm and an intermediate class in the hour before that so those new to Salsa can come along early and watch. There’s also an intermediate to advanced class on Mondays from 1:00 pm until 2:00 pm and they all take place at the air-conditioned dance studio right beside the Big C supermarket in Chaweng. You can have a ‘try-out’ lesson for just 100 baht and then it’s 300 baht per hour. If you’re really keen, you can also buy packages for five and ten lessons at 1,250 baht and 2,000 baht respectively. I also hold themed Salsa party nights; the last one being at Red Snapper restaurant, and there’re more planned soon so that you put what you’ve learned to good use. I also do private lessons which I can do at people’s home, hotel or villa and I can also get a party, event or wedding off to a fun start by getting everyone up dancing Salsa for an hour or so. Dancing is all about joy and is the most fun that you can have with your clothes on. Just give me a call and I’ll let you know what’s happening when you’re here.


Johnny Paterson

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