Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A Warm Welcome

And we wish you a very prosperous New Year! Living here on this sunshine island, it hardly seems a moment since the last one. But if you’ve been planning, thinking and looking forward to coming here – away from the sleet and snow – then it’s no doubt taken forever to arrive.

          

You’ll need a little luck, though. We’re now in the tail end of the rainy season, so it’s probably 50-50 sun and showers, but at least it’s warm. That’s the best thing; you’ll never need scarves and gloves on Samui!

          

Many people feel that these few months at the beginning of the year are a great time to come here. The hustle and bounce of Christmas and the New Year is over, the weather is good and if you’re here in February, then there’s a double treat to enjoy. The spectacular and colourful processions of the Chinese New Year will tour the streets on the 16th. Look out for this in Nathon, Maenam and Hua Thanon. And then there’s also the most romantic day of the year on the 14th . . . but we don’t need to explain much about that, do we? So, with that, we’ll quietly bow-out, and seal this greeting with a kiss!

 
FULL MOON RISING
A look at how Koh Pha-Ngan’s Full Moon Party has evolved over the last 25 years!

A look at how Koh Pha-Ngan’s Full Moon Party has evolved over the last 25 years!This party has become a legend the world over. And like all legends, its origins are shrouded in something of a mystery. A couple of minutes on Google will come up with all sorts of stuff - it began with a bunch of hippies wanting a quiet smoke and some music to crash to; it was someone’s birthday party; someone’s going away party; it was triggered by parties happening on Samui; some French people started it; some Israelis started it – it’s anybody’s guess how it really began.

          

But if you talk to people who actually live there, in the region of Haad Rin Beach on Koh Pha-Ngan, they’ll tell a different tale, and it’s more about what didn’t happen. It wasn’t any sort of organised event. And it didn’t emerge from a series of small parties that slowly got bigger – not at that time anyway. In 1988, there was nothing on the grapevine about parties, no mention of them on the regular boat, no buzz in the restaurants or on the beach, no signs or notices anywhere, nothing written in travellers comment books or on guesthouse notice boards anywhere on Samui or Pha-Ngan.

          

The hundreds of people inputting to Lonely Planet made no reference to any kind of beach parties in 1990. But two years later, in 1992, the first mentions of parties at the height of the full moon had already begun to appear. Initially two (still existing) small bungalow resorts competed with each other, drawing a regular crowd to Haad Rin at the full moon. Other beachside bungalows joined in, keen to cash-in on the sudden influx of all-night customers. And when this event reached some kind of critical mass, it morphed into one big party, sometime in 1993.

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OUT OF THE BOX
Psylo’s full spectrum of clothing offers a fresh take on urban wear.

Psylo’s full spectrum of clothing offers a fresh take on urban wear.As a clothing store, Psylo steps right away from the predictability of mainstream fashion, and has succeeded in doing something pleasingly different. Using a palette of mostly earth colours, clothing is designed with a heady mix of different, often mythical, patterns and motifs, along with the occasional retro touch and more than a nod to south-east Asian influences. It’s clothing to be worn every day, but above all it’s imbued with a chic, laid-back vibe, and is suitable for just about any kind of occasion, anywhere.

          

One of the main challenges Psylo has faced, is to find durable materials that will stand the test of time. Never restricting or uncomfortable, the designs are carefully crafted, and new ones appear every season. Unlike much of the clothing you’ll see in stores on Samui, the focus isn’t year round on lightweight, summery materials – Psylo follow the seasons in the west, and the clothing is in sync with that; if it’s winter in Europe and North America then you’ll find winter clothing in the store here.

          

You might think that this style of clothing is only bought by young people, but Psylo turns out to be popular with all ages, young and old. Complementing the clothes, Psylo rolls out a pleasing array of belts, bags, wristbands and footwear, including an impressive range of boots.

          

Psylo also produce fashion for children. Kids enjoy wearing clothes that are individualistic and quite different to what they’re used to. In addition, the clothing is wear-and-tear proof, looks good and gets a thumbs-up from the wearers as well as the parents.

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THE YEAR OF THE DOG
The story of Chinese New Year and what goes on behind the scenes.

The story of Chinese New Year and what goes on behind the scenes.All Westerners know exactly what their New Year is all about – a good night out, lots of drinks and fun, and with everyone going crazy when the clock strikes midnight! Yes, sure, there’s the idea of New Year’s resolutions, too. But apart from that, the whole thing is just a good reason for a party.

          

But it’s not the same with the Chinese. Their thinking about this occasion is complex, saturated with ritual and actually goes on for a total of 15 days. Because it’s based on the lunar calendar, every new year begins on a different day, at that point in the month when the moon is at its darkest. It then runs until the moon is full, 15 days later. And this year’s celebration is set to kick-off on the 16th of February.

          

However, to most of us in the West, we’re only usually aware of one particular day, and that’s the one when the Chinese community have their colourful procession around the streets. This is the first day of the Chinese traditional calendar for the year – although in actual fact, where there are large Chinese communities such as, say, San Francisco, the street parties spread into a second day. But what most of us don’t realise is that, for up to a month before this day, there’s lots been going on already behind the scenes.

          

We all know about spring cleaning. Keep this in your mind, as it’s partly what the preparations for the Chinese New Year are about. But unlike us, there’s far more significance and true ritual at the heart of it all. The Chinese are deep believers in the power of their ancestors, and of both good and bad spirits; this runs through their entire celebration, as you’re about to find out!

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THE LEARNING CURVE
Nurturing each light brightly – at SCL International School.

Nurturing each light brightly – at SCL International School.The founder and director of SCL International School is Emma Dyas, who is also an active teacher there. SCL has been in operation since 2004, and there are currently a total of 30 experienced staff, with seven of them being Thai nationals. There are 106 children aged between the ages of three and 11 years in the junior section, and 86 in the secondary school – and that gives a very advantageous teacher-pupil ratio of six to one!

          

However, the first thing that’ll strike you about this school is that everyone’s so happy! The grounds run in a long strip away from the road, with the nearer part having the classrooms in a row at ground level. In the warm, sunny weather this is a positive incentive for some aspects of lessons to move outside. And so it’s a rare occasion that you won’t see dozens of younger children all energised and busily engaged, as soon as you walk in.

          

Of course that’s no measurement of what a school is all about. It’s just a first impression. But this atmosphere of enthusiasm and involvement doesn’t go away: if anything it’s revealed as an integral part of the ethos at SCL, as you start to look around the school in more detail. Children learn through play. So although the younger ones seem to be doing a lot of cheerful running around, they are actually being guided to follow the British Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS), one element of the UK National Curriculum.

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TREASURE TRIO
Nature Art Gallery’s three stores will mesmerize you with their wealth of jewellery and semi-precious stones.

Nature Art Gallery’s three stores will mesmerize you with their wealth of jewellery and semi-precious stones.Samui and its surroundings are full of surprises, and one of the most enjoyable shopping experiences in terms of sheer satisfaction is stumbling across the two Nature Art Galleries that are to be found on the island, along with a third on Koh Pha-Ngan. The trio of stores definitely stand out as venues for all things to do with precious stones, metals and jewellery.

          

Many a shopper to Samui is familiar with the typical kind of jewellers to be found in holiday destinations. There’s often something a bit doubtful about the sales philosophy – the idea being the old one of pile-it-high and sell as quick as a melting ice-cream in Benidorm. That works, but it’s not the approach that Nature Art Gallery brings to jewellery. Step inside any of the three stores and you’ll immediately see that they take the very opposite stance.

          

That first essential impression: everything’s spotlessly clean, excellently presented and a cinch to browse. You’ll enjoy spending time in these stores. There’s nothing in them that can be classed as mass-produced; these are creations that draw the eye, and many have been hand-crafted by artists who send in their pieces from places as diverse as Bali, Israel and India. From Bali, there are luscious leather and silver bracelets with buffalo bone which has been finely sculpted. Meanwhile, an Israeli artist presents electro-formed silver which has a slightly chunky look whilst being surprisingly light, and a Thai designer offers unusual bracelets made of stingray skin and dyed into a whole range of pleasing pastel shades.

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NOT IN THE HOT SEAT
Don’t want to drive, or ride a motorcycle? There are other ways of getting around Samui.

Don’t want to drive, or ride a motorcycle? There are other ways of getting around Samui.From the moment your plane touches down on Samui, you’ll be faced with choices: what to eat, drink, which beach to go to, what to do at night, and so on. A good many of these choices will involve transport. And Samui, which looks so small on a map, turns out to be a lot bigger when you’re actually here. Not everyone wants to hire a car or motorbike to travel around, given the dangers of driving here – the island has appalling accident statistics. You may think your options are limited, but they’re more wide-ranging than at first glance. And they’re worth investigating as each of them comes with benefits of its own. They can variously help you save money, time and cut down on stress. Here’s the lowdown on ways to get around without actually being in the hot seat.

          

Maroon and yellow taxis seem to be everywhere, and will give you a toot of their horn as they’re about to pass you. The drivers will take you anywhere as long as the road isn’t too much of a dirt track. Some locations on Samui look like they’re accessible, but the roads still haven’t been completed, and unless you’re a rally driver with a seriously good 4-wheel drive vehicle, it’s best not to venture on them. Taxi drivers may refuse if the road looks a bit rough.

          

Taxis are a lot more expensive than they are in Bangkok, and before you get in one, you should ask the driver for the price. He or she will expect this. You can then accept, decline or bargain. Whatever you do should be done light-heartedly. Once you’ve accepted the price, you cannot bargain further. Check also that the price quoted covers all your party and isn’t a per-person figure. Taxi drivers are supposed to use their meter, but it still remains a rarity.

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INTERIOR DESIGN
Discover new ideas and inspiration at Loft by Oriental Living.

Discover new ideas and inspiration at Loft by Oriental Living.The output of Loft by Oriental Living seems to know no bounds. There’s an enormous and satisfying range of art and design, all of which look good in the homes and villas found on Samui and its surrounding region. Step in, browse – you’ll find inspiration. Located on the ring-road opposite Big C in Chaweng, Loft by Oriental Living is unmissable. Even from outside, you get the idea that it’s more about art, appreciation and inspiration than a commercial store could ever be. To really get the feel, you need to go there for yourself.

          

It’s a very welcoming kind of place, and there’s no sense at all that anyone is trying to make a sale. It’s more like stepping into an art gallery, but not a normal one; you’ll be offered coffee, for a start. There are sales staff here, but they seem more like art curators. Heading the team here is Khun Alex W. Raksai, a keen aesthete. He’s able to answer any questions you may have, and like most of the staff here, he speaks very good English. He has done much to make Loft by Oriental Living what it is today; he travels across South-East Asia to find items that delight the senses, and makes sure that everything is brilliantly presented.

          

The showroom (or should we say gallery instead?) is a unique collection that features both traditional and contemporary designs and artefacts for today’s interiors. Nothing here is massed produced; these are creative, nurtured products, often totally made by hand. That’s incidentally one more reason why guests return here again and again; the stock varies and when individual pieces are sold, then they’re replaced by something that’s different. At the time of writing, bold eye-catching paintings feature on the walls. These are portraits, vibrant with colour, part-composed of solid contour lines, as found on maps, but which are used here to underline the shadows of a face. Other paintings are more whimsical, a dog in a top-hat for example, painted not on canvas but on the leaves of a German translation of a Russian novel.

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BECAUSE WORTH IT! YOU’RE
Satisfaction guaranteed at Paul’s Fashion.

Satisfaction guaranteed at Paul’s Fashion.Paul’s Fashion is a professional bespoke tailor service, dedicated to ensuring that each and every customer is 100% satisfied with their finished garments. Whether it is a formal suit, trousers or skirt, a tuxedo, dress, wedding dress, winter coat or jacket, even leather shoes or boots. They are so confident of the service they provide, the high quality of the materials they use and the design and workmanship, that without hesitation, they offer the perfect guarantee; they will not accept any money for any finished product that you are not totally happy with.

          

Sounds too good to be true? Well, take a look on TripAdvisor. The results are amazing. Not one negative comment, only glowing words of praise. Paul Subedhi, a partner and spokesperson for Paul’s Fashion says, “We have a cast-iron guarantee, if you are not happy with the final product then you pay nothing.” And Paul is true to his word, all those TripAdvisor comments tell of an honest, trustworthy and exceptional experience. It only takes one unhappy customer and ratings tumble, but there is not one, and no-one has asked for a refund since the shop opened in 2005!

          

Tempted but unsure? If you have never had bespoke clothes made for you before, this is what you can expect at Paul’s Fashion. First, you need an idea of what you are looking for - whether you want a classic traditional design or something more contemporary, dramatic or even exotic. Go with an idea of the look you desire and the type of material. And then prepare to be led astray!

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TEMPLE THOUGHTS
Be aware of the rules when visiting a Buddhist temple in Thailand.

Be aware of the rules when visiting a Buddhist temple in Thailand.It’s one of the most common things when you go abroad – you sometimes offend people without knowing it. It’s not so bad when you are in a country that’s similar to your own; the chances are that their culture is much the same, too. But when you come to Thailand, many things are not at all as they seem. Yes, it all looks familiar: the shiny new cars and the tower blocks and the smart phones and the trains and boats and planes . . . but don’t let that deceive you.

          

You’d probably be more cautious if you were out in the wilds of the north or north-east of Thailand: everything there is far more rural and rustic, and your surroundings are unfamiliar. But in Bangkok – or Samui – it’s all very cosmopolitan. And it’s easy to relax and forget where you are. Although, having said that, the very fact that these up-to-date places are used to the awkwardness of visitors and tourists makes them a lot more tolerant of your unwitting mistakes than a temple full of devout farmers up in Udon Thani might be!

          

Really, when it comes down to it, the whole subject centres around thoughtfulness and a respect for others. And this is something that either concerns you or it doesn’t, no matter what country you come from. In the last couple of years I can recall Thai social media being outraged quite a few times by the careless and disrespectful behaviour of people fooling about and ‘desecrating’ temples or holy images – posing in a bikini while sitting on a statue of the Buddha, for instance. Or a group of people all signing their names on a temple wall. And in each case, the offenders came from a different nation.

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MEDITERRANEAN MEDLEY
Enjoy the Mediterranean delights of The Cliff Bar & Grill - fine food and drink, impeccable service and great views.

Enjoy the Mediterranean delights of The Cliff Bar & Grill - fine food and drink, impeccable service and great views.The approach could hardly be any better. Follow the winding, scenic stretch of ring-road as it heads through the hills between Lamai and Chaweng, and you’ll come to The Cliff Bar & Grill. It’s perched over a beautiful bay and fringed with beautiful tropical vegetation - an ideal setting in other words. But that’s not the only draw here. This is a restaurant that really stands out when it comes to what’s on the menu: a Mediterranean-based trove of fine dishes, all of which are beautifully presented and make for superb lunches and dinners.

          

The Cliff’s been going strong for 14 years now. In fact, it was one of the original international restaurants on Samui. It helped pioneer the supply of hard-to-get ingredients to the island; back then it was a daunting task. Owner and master chef, Bradley Munns, travelled to Portugal, Spain and Italy to find the right mix of herbs, spices, ingredients and recipes to please his guests. It was then up to restaurant manager Lionel Helena to keep the supply going. Despite the difficulties, both were determined to satisfy their guests. And they still are. Proof of that is to be found on the wall of the restaurant when you walk in. It’s covered with accolades and awards for food and wines. None of this is Mickey-Mouse certification but comes from august bodies such as Thai Tatler and Wine Spectator – competition for these kinds of awards is fierce, and just to register restaurants have to be able to offer top-notch quality, and show proof of it. For a restaurant to actually go on to win an award is definitely prestigious: Wine Spectator, for example, gave The Cliff its award of excellence ‘for having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world’.

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HEALTH HAVEN
Health Republic raises the bar for detox, weight loss and wellness.

Health Republic raises the bar for detox, weight loss and wellness.The newly opened Health Republic, another project by the Beach Republic Group, has a serene ocean-front setting on Lamai beach, adjacent to Beach Republic itself. It offers a pleasing combination of detox, wellness and nutritional awareness, all in one centre of excellence. As Annabel Nicholls, the Wellness Manager explains,“We specialize in offering programmes in a very clean, comfortable and welcoming venue. Everything has been arranged so that guests can enjoy their time here in an atmosphere that’s friendly and welcoming, and leave us feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.”

          

Health Republic is open to both day visitors and residential guests. You can simply drop in for a massage or steam, and let your cares and stresses be kneaded away with a variety of treatments. There are various packages, allowing you to stay for a few hours and come away feeling completely refreshed.

          

Most importantly, Health Republic offers three, seven and ten day holistic programmes for detox and weight loss. These are also available to those staying elsewhere on Koh Samui; however staying in residence is recommended to get the most from the programmes.

          

There’s a beautifully designed herbal steam room, where guests relax and enjoy the benefits of the fragrantly herbed mist. The Yoga Sala has lovely views of the ocean, and is a serene setting for the morning and afternoon classes. Yoga here is for complete beginners or yogic fliers - something for everyone.

          

Samui residents and frequent visitors receive preferential rates, making the offering from Health Republic even better value. Particularly popular are the discounted pass cards for the herbal steam room, allowing guests to just drop by and melt away the strains of the day.

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IT’S MAKE OR BREAK TIME AGAIN!
New Year resolutions are an admirable thing, but what are they really all about?

New Year resolutions are an admirable thing, but what are they really all about?Here’s a thought. When you read the stories in here, what do you think? I don’t mean whether you actually like the stories. I mean . . . what is your instinctive feeling about the writer? Do you simply assume that we’re all experts on what we’re writing about? I imagine that many of you do. The reality, though, is different. At one extreme we’ll be interviewing people, accumulating facts, and taking detailed notes about what they say. Now and then there will be a topic that we know about. More or less! But at the other end of the scale, we won’t have a clue, and head straight for Google.

          

Like this story for instance. Hands up all of you who are experts on the topic of New Year resolutions. No, not about how many of them you have made and then broken, but about the idea behind them, and how it all began. How it was, and is now observed and celebrated, and in what ways by different nations and cultures. Who’s heard of the Roman god, Janus, for example? You see, there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye.

          

The first thing I learned was this: after 30 minutes of Googling there wasn’t one writer who’d said a word about anything – any country or culture – except for his own, and seven out of every 10 articles were American-based. Plus 90% of these were about how to keep the resolutions that you’d made, and how to be strong and psychologically motivated. Also, it’s almost impossible to find any information on the southern hemisphere – remember, all nations and cultures celebrate the New Year in one way or another. So much for Google!

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AS GOOD AS IT GETS
The New Nordic Group’s performance and reputation offers investment and ownership opportunities that are very hard to beat.

The New Nordic Group’s performance and reputation offers investment and ownership opportunities that are very hard to beat.We all want the same things. Firstly, the guaranteed success of our investment. Second, a comfortable return in the foreseeable future. And the icing on the cake; realistic and affordable payment terms if possible. And this is the reason that the New Nordic Group is not only so successful, but continues to grow and expand – they established all these credentials more than a decade ago.

          

For a long time, the whole idea of property investment on Samui was a very cloudy sky indeed. Some projects succeeded, others failed. Some were even downright fraudulent. It got so the only reliable measure was to carefully examine the history of a developer’s previous projects before you even looked to see what they were offering, and even that wasn’t always totally failsafe.

          

But the story in Pattaya is different. It was up and running as an international community long before Samui even had an airport. And with Pattaya being a built-up city, the demand for apartments and condominiums was part of the fabric of the place right from the start. This was where New Nordic began. But the group went about this in a different way from most. They began building communities: developments with a ‘village’ atmosphere, with restaurants bars, shops, a fitness centre or gym with a sauna or spa. And in the years that followed, the thinking behind the huge (and hugely successful) 50-building project at Pratamnak Hill, on the edge of Pattaya has spread further afield.

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ALWAYS WORTH SEEING
Don’t miss out on Nathon and its environs.

Don’t miss out on Nathon and its environs.An unusual meld of the extremely buzzy and the laid-back, Nathon is Samui’s capital and chief port. Guide books make scant and sometimes scathing reference to it – “no need to stay overnight here unless you’re taking an early morning ferry” – and so on. Many therefore just don’t bother to visit. Which is sad, as it channels the old Samui that’s so rapidly disappearing behind signs, billboards and developments. Nathon was one of the first places to sprout buildings, all made of wood, when people first started living on the island. It’s not known when the first settlers came, but it was Nathon that became the focal point of the island, and finally its administrative capital. Chinese settlers from Hainan also started living here, around the end of the 19th century, and built a very fine temple here.

          

Nathon gradually grew bigger over the years, more so once tourists started arriving. The first to come stayed in houses in town before Chaweng took over as the main place to stay. These days the two towns could hardly be more different. But Nathon is definitely worth seeing. Head in along the ring-road and you’ll soon find yourself in the one way system, with traffic heading through the town along the main street and round back along the seafront. Its shape seems to have been modelled on a baggage carousel system, with traffic slowly circulating round and round. Nathon’s small, so park anywhere you find space (try the port if all else fails) and simply walk.

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A SWIM IN THE PARK
The Angthong National Marine Park, one of the treasures of Thailand.

The Angthong National Marine Park, one of the treasures of Thailand.One of Samui’s biggest attractions turns out not to be on Samui at all. It’s a group of off-shore islands which attract thousands of visitors every year. The Angthong National Marine Park is visible from the west coast of Samui, and is an incredibly beautiful archipelago of some 40 islands. They’re easily accessible – under an hour’s speedboat ride – and if you don’t have time to see anything else at all while you’re on holiday, a visit here should be top priority. Even if you’re a seasoned traveller, this is a day out that’s bound to impress.

          

When you think of desert islands, you may well be thinking of a classical atoll. You know the type from computer screensavers: a minuscule strip of beach with precisely three palm trees sprouting improbably from the sand. Well, these islands aren’t like that at all. They’re better. They’ve got more substance and a quirkiness about them that’s hard to define. For a start, there are the islands’ strange shapes to consider. On a map they don’t look remarkable – just an archipelago like any other, really – but see them up close, at sea-level, and they appear very strange. Some have quite smooth shapes, while others are so jagged that they appear at times to be barely natural. Their contorted features are due to the geology here being karst; limestone that’s been eaten away by rain and the sea, leaving them with fantastic shapes, and at times outlines that seem to have been cut by a mad person with a razor. For all this, they remain extraordinarily beautiful.

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W = WOW!
W Koh Samui leads the way with not just top quality and service, but lifestyle events too!

W Koh Samui leads the way with not just top quality and service, but lifestyle events too!This beachside resort is tucked away on a little spur of land right where Maenam Beach begins on the north coast. I could go on to tell you about the 74 private pool villas and the exciting style in which they’re furnished and decorated. But that in itself doesn’t paint the picture you’ll see when you walk through W Lounge. The W brand includes fashion, art and music too, with unique, catchy and innovative design as a core element. All of these are woven seamlessly into the W experience, with fashion shows, guest performers, DJs, visiting international mixologists and beachside movie screenings being regular events.

          

There are two main restaurants, and both are very much a part of the overall W ethos, yet each is extravagantly different in terms of ambiance, style, and cuisine. Namu usually brings first-timers to a halt, especially if they are coming in at night. You’ll end up next to a dark wall with a huge rectangular slab of timber bedded into it, no name, no wording, which slides to one side to reveal the busy and cheerful warmly-wooded contrast within. (Namu is the Korean word for wood, by the way.)

          

The cuisine is simply outstanding (not to mention gaspingly, sublimely, delicious) and defies conventional labels. It’s been described as “Japanese contemporary cuisine – elements and ingredients from all over this region – but created with the imagination to envision this as it might be in the future. It’s a taste of Asia tomorrow – today.”

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INK UP!
Getting a tattoo on Samui could be the best souvenir of your holiday.

Getting a tattoo on Samui could be the best souvenir of your holiday.A long time ago on Samui, I was sitting in a café when a western guy leaned over the balcony and pointed to the tattoo he could see on a western passer-by, and said with total incredulity, “Do you know what that actually says?” I could see a fairly large tattoo right on her shoulder, big, bold, no-nonsense lettering. Chinese. Impressive.

          

The woman didn’t stop but just snapped at him, “Yes, yes, I know what it means.” There was fury in her eyes, but tell-tale humiliation too. It seemed like she’d had this conversation before. The guy couldn’t help himself and announced to his group of friends. “It says dog!”

          

That kind of tattoo, and the kind of scenarios that inevitably follow, are what we fear when getting a tattoo abroad. It always pays to check out the professional feel of the tattooist’s. No different here on Samui. As you know if you’ve spent any time in Thailand, spelling mistakes abound in brochures and signs of all kinds. But you’d expect a tattoo artist to double check the signs in his or her shop, right, and make sure that they were, well, correct. But it’s not always the case, alas. But when said artist is inking designs in English and Chinese on people’s bodies, maybe that carelessness is going to be repeated – on the customer’s skin.

          

Once you get to the stage of looking around tattoo parlours on Samui, don’t opt for the first one. You can always come back. It’s really important to have some sense of intuition. What’s your feeling when talking to the owner? What’s the atmosphere in the parlour itself? If you have doubts or second thoughts, then it’s best to act on them. But you know this, right?

          

Right! But don’t let the so-called ‘holiday bubble effect’ get into your bones: you’re having this lovely, sunny time on a tropical island where everyone is laid-back, so what could go wrong? Having a tattoo isn’t like going to the cinema to see a film; the effects are permanent. Don’t opt for such and such a tattoo, just because you’re carried away by the moment; don’t let your holiday go to your head.

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