Samui Wining & Dining
SAMUI ONLINE
How to find the information you really need!


Page-90

Is it possible to imagine life before the internet? I try sometimes. But it’s all blurred, hard to focus on. It’s as if the very thought is so traumatic that my emotional protection kicks in. How on earth did we all manage? It makes me shudder to think of telexes or faxes or phone calls abroad made from licensed kiosks where you had to queue in line. And that’s just communication. I positively break out in itchy lumps at the thought of what we needed to do to collect information. Such dirty words as libraries and encyclopaedias spring to mind, and using these things took weeks to find stuff that was already long out of date.

        Zooming rapidly into the present, we’ve all now ungratefully accepted the internet. We take for granted its speed and the ease of it all. And we gloss over the fact that most of the time it’s as useless or as frustrating as those ancient encyclopaedias used to be. We believe that Google is the oracle that tells us all. And we trust in what it gives us. But just enter the words ‘Koh Samui’ and then see what happens and where it leads you.

        However, it really depends what you’re looking for, and why. ‘Koh Samui’, for instance, bizarrely reveals a London fashion house of the same

name. And then the rest of the page is littered with flight offers, travel shops, the ubiquitous TripAdvisor, several 5-star resorts on the island, plus the curious ‘Samui Airport Online’. But add an extra parameter or two, such as ‘Samui information’ and things become more interesting.

         Straight away, you’ll find some of the original ‘all about’ websites. (These sites purport to provide you facts, figures and info about all aspects of life, living, leisure and luxury on Samui.) It’s tempting to go in and explore them. And, in many instances, the information is reliable. But keep it in mind that these sites are not community resources; their main aim is to generate an income from their sponsors and advertisers. They don’t employ staff to update information about beaches, roads, shops and restaurants in general, and often these pages remain untouched from the day they were authored.

          To get a ‘feel’ for the island, this kind of ‘catch all’ website is fine. You can enjoy the anticipation of your next holiday whilst sitting in your armchair at home. But experience says that most people Googling Samui aren’t just stargazing, they have something specific in mind. Top of the list here is accommodation. Gone are the days when you just had to cross your fingers and hope that the photos on the brochures were real; many of the resorts today have panoramic websites and a live online presence. In any case, they are out in the open and under the spotlight – and now we’re talking about TripAdvisor.

          It’s been pointed out that TripAdvisor had one huge failing: it can’t, and doesn’t, check on the truthfulness of the submissions. It has to rely on people’s honesty. But, that aspect aside, the other failing is that everyone’s standards are different. However, it doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to be aware of this and read between the lines, quickly sorting out the reviews that are spoilt and petulant from the ones which are more easy going and tolerant. At this point you’re probably still in the planning stage anyway, and it’s all a part of the overall fun.

          Because, you see, there are two aspects to Samui online. Everything mentioned so far has been happening before you come here. There’s plenty of time to do the research, narrow things down and follow them up. The majority of people coming to Samui have been here before, and it’s very much a question of adding to the information they already have – and that, in particular, applies to weddings. As well as the established independent wedding planners, there are so many hotels and resorts now offering all sorts of packages that word of mouth, TripAdvisor and online chat are all vital in helping you make the right decisions.

          And then . . . that’s it! You’re here. And now’s the time when you really do need to have information that’s up to date! The last thing you need is to read something online, and then make a trip out to a restaurant that closed down last year. And it’s not just wining and dining, either. Samui now has some world-class gift and jewellery shops, too, ranging from hard-to-find ethnic traditional crafts right through to gold and diamonds you could spend thousands on. And those amazing walking streets – where are they and on what days? And have you ever thought about getting some dental work done? Not really a fun topic for a holiday, but sensible, nonetheless, as it’s work of an international standard and far cheaper than doing it at home – plus you don’t need to take time off from work either!

          There are a dozen websites out there to explore but, so far, only one we know is bang up to date. Most of the information you’ll find online is press releases or adverts or ‘advertorials’, paid for and put there by companies who want your business. But this one website is not only current, but it’s full of entertaining and informative facts and info that’s about as unbiased as you can get. It covers all the topics so far mentioned, plus a host of others – day trips out, hiring vehicles, exploring the interior of the island, detailed information about every local beach, spas, yoga and health, resorts, weddings, phones and going online – you name it. If it’s anything at all to do with Samui, it’s there.

          Sorry, we hate to be immodest, but this is all true. And I can say so with confidence, because it’s ours! It’s the Samui Holiday website – the product of around 10 international feature writers, who have been doing little else but travel out to discover all about Samui. And so if you need to go online, just Google ‘Samui Holiday’ and take it from there. We think it’s one of the best – how about you?

          

 Rob De Wet


 


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