Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A warm Wecome

A warm Wecome

Autumn, and the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ is upon us. Well, perhaps where you’ve just come from! But Samui doesn’t suffer in the same way at all. It’s true that our temperatures will have dropped to a pleasantly-cool 25 degrees or so, but the only mists you’ll see will be the rainclouds hovering at the top of the mountain. There’s certainly the mellow fruitfulness though – but then we’ve got that all the year round anyway.

          

This is an ideal time of year to visit; it’s not too hot and the rainy season is still a month or two away. And in all the Western nations it’s the start of a new school year, meaning that there are usually fewer people in the resorts, on the street and waiting for taxis. And the shops won’t be so crowded either, making a visit to Central Festival or Fisherman’s Village a positive pleasure.

          

And what better time to make the most of the island’s famous Walking Streets? There are bargains galore, from local gifts and crafts right up to quality clothes and some lovely handmade jewellery. And that’s not to mention all that tantalising food – not just Thai, but of all nationalities – and usually some live entertainment, too.

          

And if you’re just here to slow down and relax, well we’re famous for that, too! Our range of dining is to be envied. And then there are the spas, with something for everyone. Come, relax and enjoy!

 
Run For It
The annual Four Seasons Cancer Care Charity Fun Run.

The annual Four Seasons Cancer Care Charity Fun Run.It all started in 1980, when a plucky young Canadian man named Terry Fox, who’d had a leg amputated in order to stop his cancer spreading, decided to run across Canada to raise money and awareness of this growing and often fatal disease. With his prosthetic leg, Terry ran and hopped in his own style, along highways and roads, through cities, towns, villages and countryside. Continuing even in the pouring rain, he just kept going with his aptly named ‘Marathon of Hope’.

          

Isadore Sharp, the founder of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, was among those inspired by Terry’s dedication and commitment that summer. As he followed Terry’s progress, he became more and more convinced that this disease needed so much more research done in order to find a cure. Research is time-consuming and costly, so he personally pledged $10,000 to support Terry’s cause, and wrote to another 999 Canadian corporations urging them to do the same. Before long, Terry’s route through Canada was lined with supporters, waving flags and cheering him on. Sadly, Terry succumbed to cancer before reaching his goal to run across the entire country.

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MORE THAN JUST A KNEAD
Just what is it that makes Samui an international spa destination?

24-1It depends how you count them, but there are approximately 200,000 islands in the world, about half of which are inhabited. That’s a lot, and there’s an enormous amount of variety in them. A few – probably less than a dozen – stand out for an unusual factor: the astonishing number of spas that they have. Samui is high up on that list; given its relatively small size, Samui is packed with places to get a massage and all kinds of other health treatments. And if you’re here on holiday, one thing you should definitely indulge in is a session at a spa.

          

But how do you choose which one to go to? Well, it’s a bit like choosing a restaurant: price and setting are both important, and just as in a restaurant, you need to know which kind to go to.

          

Spas can be, well, a bit daunting - but not on Samui. Firstly, thanks in large part to Thai culture, they’re very welcoming and friendly. You’ll feel at home quite instantly. And, secondly, you won’t leave white-faced with worry and thinking what your bank manager’s going to say. The treatments in most places are very affordable, and as with restaurants, you can always find one to suit your budget. Spas have menus too, by the way. All the treatments are listed, along with their prices, and you’ll be able to see how much everything costs..

          

Whether you’ve visited a thousand spas, or this is your first ever experience, you may well want to discuss your treatment with whoever has brought you the menu. This person is key to you having a satisfying time, and can help you narrow down what treatment you’d most enjoy or benefit from. And if you have opted for a simple massage, you can always define whether you’d like the massage to be gentle or tonic. All the spas on Samui have one thing in common: no matter how much they may be slap bang in the centre of things, they’re always separated from the world outside. Once you’re inside, you feel you’ve stepped away from all hustle and bustle and have entered a calmer place, like a sanctuary. This is one of the key steps in the spa process – to get you to relax, even before anything begins.

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BURI, BARGE, BEACH
A trip to one of Samui’s landmarks, the 5-star Nora Buri – featuring fabulously fine-dining at The Barge!

A trip to one of Samui’s landmarks, the 5-star Nora Buri – featuring fabulously fine-dining at The Barge!Nora is not a name you’ll be familiar with. But they’re a local group and have been on the island for quite a while. They began life in Chaweng, with the original and excellent Nora Beach Resort & Spa, but have since added three other resorts in the same area. Their flagship, the sumptuous Nora Buri Resort & Spa, is located just a few minutes’ drive north of the main body of Chaweng, towards neighbouring Choeng Mon. This is a very successful group – and the point is they’re local. They’re not part of a multi-national chain. But they are big and experienced enough to provide excellent service.

          

The facilities here are just what you’d expect of a 5-star resort. There are several swimming pools, the fitness centre is excellent and the spa is first class. There’s a huge banqueting hall, and the dining experience is outstanding, ranging from beach buffets to air-conditioned Royal Thai dining, with several variations in between. And so it’s not surprising that Nora Buri specialises in weddings – if you’re thinking of tying the knot then this is one place that’s a must to consider; they even have their own dedicated website just for this!

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CELESTIAL CELESTIAL
Newborn and utterly luxurious, we look at Celes Beachfront Resort in Bophut.

Newborn and utterly luxurious, we look at Celes Beachfront Resort in Bophut.Celes is so new, bright and squeaky-clean that it won’t even have had its official opening until later this month (September). But here’s a resort where money has been no object. Where everything from the 5-star cuisine, to the amazing eight-foot-wide beds, to the sumptuous treatment rooms of the spa, to the fitness centre and even the library has had only one criterion – the most up-to-date and the highest quality.

          

But, after all said and done, expense doesn’t necessarily equal style. However when you get to Celes, and walk around and soak it all in, you’ll realise that this resort has real individuality. It does have its own unique style. And everything here has been put together with both consistency and flair.

          

Possibly one of the most pleasing aspects – on first acquaintance – is the fact that the layout is embryonic. There’s a distinct lack of straight lines or any feeling of ‘blocks and grids’. The paths are pale and glowing, and wind their way between a variety of different villa styles; some on two floors, others on one but going further back, and yet others right on the edge of the sand. The buildings themselves are a clean bright white with black iron railings on the balconies, swathes of warm timber cladding and a range of roof styles that are cool and geometric. This is all very ‘un-Thai’! In fact it’s exactly like being in a high-end resort on the shore of the Mediterranean somewhere.

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A YEARN TO LEARN
As a fresh new academic year kicks off, students at SCL International School look forward to a fulfilling time ahead.

As a fresh new academic year kicks off, students at SCL International School look forward to a fulfilling time ahead.With Samui evolving from being a simple holiday destination to a community that offers a spectrum of services, schooling has been high on the agenda for some time. Only a few years ago, international education had just started out on the island. Now there’s a range of choices for parents. SCL International School offers a broad curriculum, and caters for children right up until they’re ready to go to university. Based in Lamai, over the years it’s been in operation, SCL has gained a cachet for excellence, offering students a learning experience that is both practical and enjoyable. The school’s philosophy is to treat children as individuals rather than as a group. It’s a holistic process, and pays off with children scoring above average on the range of exams that they take. They enjoy going to school, inter-react with creative and brilliant teachers and enjoy a venue that boasts some amazing facilities.

          

With the new academic year starting at the beginning of September, everything is ready for a fresh intake of students, while those who are returning are doing so with eagerness to enjoy their next level of study.

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CRAZY ABOUT COCONUTS?
Let’s investigate the many uses of this most versatile tree.

Let’s investigate the many uses of this most versatile tree.Not so many years ago, before Koh Samui was really ‘discovered’ and the island began its rapid development, the main source of income on this idyllic paradise island, was from the humble coconut tree. Both the tree and its fruit have many practical uses, ranging from health and nutrition to fuel and shelter. The cultivation of coconut trees also happens to be one of the most sustainable practices on earth.

          

If you look closely at a cross section of the coconut fruit you can see that it has five layers. The outside skin of a young fruit is green, moist and easy to cut open. When the coconut has matured, the skin turns brown and becomes hard and dry. Between the outer skin and the internal shell is the husk. In its natural form, the husk makes a great pot for growing plants in, but it can also be dried and chopped into coco husk chips or peat. The chips are a great alternative to soil for the potting and growing of greenhouse-produced plants and flowers such as orchids. Coconut husk decomposes very quickly and enriches the soil. It also dries quickly, helping to avoid any waterlogging of plants, it balances mineral requirements, maintains good plant temperatures and pH value, helps to reduce fungal growth and is a 100% natural, low cost, ecofriendly material.

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DON’T STOP!
When you’re in Fisherman’s Village, go right next door and enjoy some of the finest cuisine anywhere – at Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort!

When you’re in Fisherman’s Village, go right next door and enjoy some of the finest cuisine anywhere – at Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort!If you’re reading this, then you’re most-likely in a hotel somewhere. You’ll settle by the pool for a day or so until the jet lag goes. Then start exploring. You’ll go out to eat, most probably at a different place each night. You’ll head off up the mountain, and see the mummified monk and the waterfalls. A boat trip maybe. Or a jungle safari. And then, mostlikely when it’s Walking Street, you’ll head off to Fisherman’s Village.

          

There’s no need at all for me to go on about how much fun this is, or about how many things there are to look at; the shops, the pubs, the eateries, the street stalls, the mementoes, the crafts. But what I do want to do is to point something out to you. – if you walk along the beach road heading north until you run out of ‘village’, you’ll come up against the long, high wall that borders the village at the end. And this is the boundary wall of Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort, to give the resort its full title.

          

‘Anantara Bophut’ is really something special. There are only a handful of resorts on the island which have been able to stake a claim on such a huge plot of land. The entrance on the main road is across a long wooden bridge over a lily-filled pond overshadowed by giant trees festooned with hanging creepers and with lush greenery everywhere. But coming in from Fisherman’s Village, along the beach, is a delight! Here there is tranquillity and peace – the hustle and neon of the busy village simply evaporates as you come onto the beach. And the serenity of the discreet and warm lighting leading to the restaurant is more than inviting.

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VILLAGE LIFE
We visit the little village of Thong Krut in the southwest of the island to find out
what it’s all about.

We visit the little village of Thong Krut in the southwest of the island to find out what it’s all about.There’s not a lot in Thong Krut. But that’s not a bad thing. Anyone who complains that Samui has become too developed and commercialised need only head there for a day to appreciate the quieter side of island life.

          

With its brightly coloured fishing boats and backdrop of small islands to the one side, and coconut plantations to the other, Thong Krut is a picturesque little village. Located in the southwest corner of the island, this is where you’ll come if you’re after a long-tail boat to take you to the nearby islands of Koh Tan and Koh Matsum. Lining the shore you’ll find a selection of simple restaurants offering Thai food, and particularly good seafood, as well as tour operators offering trips to the islands. From this peaceful shallow bay, boats make the journey to these two small islands, and although prices are usually fixed, it doesn’t hurt to try to negotiate a better rate with a smile.

          

One well-known operator is T.K Tour, which started taking tourists to Koh Tan for snorkelling back in 1986. They offer long-tail boat charter trips and joining trips for snorkelling, fishing and diving to not only Koh Tan and Koh Matsum, but also to other nearby islands such as Koh Rarb, Koh See and Koh Haa, all off the south coast of Samui. And while you’re waiting to embark on your island expedition, enjoy a bite or drink at T.K. Restaurant (owned by T.K. Tour), situated near the private pier right in the middle of Thong Krut Bay. Rather than using speedboats, T.K. Tour prefers using long-tail boats, not only to offer an authentic Thai experience, but also to generate revenue for the local community.

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GO IN, GO UP!
Samui isn’t just sun, sand and sea – there’s a whole other world if you just head inland.

Samui isn’t just sun, sand and sea – there’s a whole other world if you just head inland.Traditionally Samui’s thrust towards tourism has placed a lot of value on the fact that we’re an island. There are palm-fringed beaches and white sand. The sunset cocktail on the beach has become an institution in its own right. There are a hundred scuba outfits offering their services. There are boat trips of every description, from sunset cruises to luxury yacht charter. But there’s one genre that’s yet to emerge. And that’s the organised tour that takes you inland. Certainly, there are organised temple excursions or trips to the aquarium or tiger zoo. But, these aside and bowing to our geography, on Samui, ‘in’ also means up.

          

Yes, you will find several trips that take you away from the seaside. But mostly these fall into the ‘adventure’ category, heading off-road on a jungle safari or a rented quad bike, or abseiling on zip lines from tree to tree. There’s nothing of a calm and placid nature. True, you can wobble about on the back of a jumbo for half an hour, and take in a local waterfall, but that’s not really what I’m getting at. If you want a leisurely look at what’s really inland – and there are a great many attractions, not least the amazing views – then you have to do it yourself.

          

I have to stress a point here: the weather in many places outside Thailand means that few people are used to riding on a motorbike. Okay, so the ones here are scooters with auto gear-changes, but that’s not the issue. The local people ride instinctively – in more senses than just one. Even the 10 year-olds, who’ve never even heard of the Highway Code or seen a licence, can do wheelies and go home from school with four on one bike. There are fifty thousand of them, all around in every direction, and just one of you. So rent a four-wheel-drive Suzuki jeep instead.

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FROM THE SUBTLE TO THE SUBLIME
Heading to the secluded deep south of Samui to see what’s happening at Samahita Retreat.

Heading to the secluded deep south of Samui to see what’s happening at Samahita Retreat.Most spas seem to offer yoga as some kind of add-on. But Samahita Retreat, way down in the deep and unspoiled south of the island, comes at things from entirely the opposite direction. This is first and foremost a yoga centre, and it’s one of the best-known yoga teaching facilities in the world. Yes, this is integrated with core fitness and diet. Certainly there’s a related detox program. And there’s a wellness program with massages and facial treatments, among others. But at the heart of all these aspects and activities lies the essential study, practice and teaching of yoga: this is the approach and philosophy that everything else is knitted into.

          

The location of Samahita is just perfect. Samui’s ring-road has, quite obviously, attracted varying degrees of ribbon development over the years. Some parts of the island, such as Chaweng, Bangrak and Nathon, have even filled up along the entire coastline and spawned small towns. But the ring-road actually cuts off the lower quarter of Samui completely, leaving it accessed by one minor road and a hundred smaller side spurs. This is where you’ll still find the secluded, pristine beaches and the tiny villages that have been untouched by time and progress. And it’s also where you’ll discover Samahita.

          

It’s tucked away, right on the beach, and with an unassuming entrance that offers no of the distinct change of atmosphere that lies just a few steps within. As soon as you move inside, it’s even quieter – if that’s possible! It’s soaked in a sense of harmony and tranquillity, with the physical spaces between the walls and trees seeming to subtly change their density in some way. It’s a little haven. It’s utterly peaceful and serene.

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WHAT IT TAKES
Do you have what it takes to save the world – or even yourself?
Discovering Escape Break at Lamai’s Beach Republic.

Do you have what it takes to save the world – or even yourself? Discovering Escape Break at Lamai’s Beach Republic.Remember the board game Cluedo? Miss Scarlett and Colonel Mustard? In its time, it was the classic detective mystery game. You investigated rooms, discovered evidence and solved clues. It first came out in 1949, and is still going strong, being updated every year. It is so popular that, with the development of video gaming, it spawned any number of copycat video games.

          

But, one way or another, this wasn’t enough. Even with multi-player online video games there was something missing. They were cold and unemotional. They didn’t have the excitement, frustration or spontaneous interaction of real people in a real room, all of them working together to solve a common problem. And so, somewhere around 10 years ago, the ‘escape room’ environment was born.

          

This first appeared in Japan, where it immediately became a hit and a way of letting off steam with highly-stressed students and young professionals. And from there it’s spread, really taking off back in the early ’90s, at a one-week symposium held in Silicon Valley, which was not only based on Cluedo, but also added-in Agatha Christy’s crime novels and their characters. And today it’s estimated that there are now over 3,000 escape room venues worldwide. And one of these is on Samui, down in Lamai, hosted by the very popular Beach Republic.

          

For those of you of the Cluedo generation who might not be fully acquainted with the escape room idea, you’ll find it involves a bunch of people (you!) actually being inside a series of locked rooms, and having to use your wits, powers of analysis and deduction to unlock each door and progress to the next room in order to achieve your set objective.

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SMILING WITH SATISFACTION
When it comes to taking care of your teeth, most people hesitate. But this never happens at Bangkok Hospital Clinic!

When it comes to taking care of your teeth, most people hesitate. But this never happens at Bangkok Hospital Clinic!It’s quite possible for you to take a new lawyer – it happens all the time. When you re-locate to another house, you’ll cheerfully sign-up with the nearby doctors at the local clinic. Even changing your local trusted mechanic won’t cause sleepless nights if you have to move. And for sure a good hairdresser is hard to come by, but it’s no big problem is you need to make a change! But a dentist? I know people who have continued to stay registered even when they have moved somewhere new, and have travelled 200 miles and back again to get treatment, simply to keep a dentist they know and trust - myself included.

          

When it comes to teeth then people are split into two totally different camps. Maybe 10% don’t really care, because they have never had a bad dental experience. But for the rest of us we would rather be thrown into a pit of rabid alligators than have to check-in with an alien dentist. In fact an alien dentist might be preferable, because they’ve probably got brain-numbing technology, and might even do a facelift while they’re at it!

          

This is a subject very close to my heart. Because 15 years ago, I probably had the worst teeth on Samui! This was because to go back and get more treatment from my usual dentist would have sent me all the way back to England. I’d had six years of no dental treatment. Six years of sticking broken crowns back in with superglue. Six years of people looking the other way when I smiled. And then I discovered ‘The Singing Dentist’.

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A HOLE IN MORE THAN ONE
It’s not just football golf, it’s fantastic football golf!

It’s not just football golf, it’s fantastic football golf!Every single person has come here for a reason, and all the reasons are different. So, just for a moment discount the visitors, those here on holiday, as their reasons for being here are obvious. Instead, look more closely at the people working or living here. Because in each case, there’s a very good chance that there’s an interesting story involved. And just such a tale can be told by Tom Roberts.

          

Tom’s English; he was born in Liverpool, in fact. And today, he owns and manages Samui Football Golf, that’s to be found on the Chaweng side of neighbouring Choeng Mon. How he ended up on Samui is legendary – although few know the full story.

          

Tom is an avid football fan. And, back in 2002, his dream was to see England play in the World Cup, being held that year in Japan. At that time there was a big blow-up in the media: one of the world’s most famous footballers, Dennis Bergkamp, had to bow out of his World Cup appearance because of his fear of flying. So Tom, together with three of his friends, hit on an idea. They would all set off on ‘The Bergkamp Trail’ (as they named it), planning a route overland to Japan, as a homage to the great Dutch footballer. This they did – but there’s much more to the tale!

          

“When we started planning The Bergkamp Trail,” Tom explained to me, “We had no idea what was would happen. First of all the local paper got hold of it and made a big thing about their lads heading off on the road to Japan. Then the national press got wind of the story, plus TV crews from BBC and Channel 4. We thought that was pretty good, but much later, when we eventually arrived in Japan, there was a Japanese Sky TV crew waiting to meet us! They wanted to make a documentary about the crazy Englanders that they reckoned had ‘walked’ all the way to the World Cup.”

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BELIEVE IT!
Buddhism is not the only religion in Thailand – there seems to be room for everyone.

Buddhism is not the only religion in Thailand – there seems to be room for everyone.It’s Buddhism, isn’t it? That’s the instinctive reaction. Ask anyone between the ages of 20 and 120 – they’ll reply that Buddhism is the religion in Thailand. And so it is. But that’s like saying that New York is full of Christians, or Muslims never touch alcohol. Nothing’s ever quite so clear-cut. When it comes to religion over here, there’s a lot more than Buddhism. And even this won’t be quite what you’re expecting!

          

Although Buddhism is both the primary and the state religion, the Thais have always subscribed to the ideal of religious freedom. Thai constitutions have stipulated that Thai kings must be Buddhists, but monarchs are invariably also titled the “Upholder of All Religions”. Overall, Thailand is a very open and receptive nation, although in practice now and then you’ll notice a bit of a tremble.

          

Take the State religion of Buddhism, for instance. Those of you reading this, that are (ahem) of a certain age will immediately nod to yourself and relate this to a timeslot in your past. The word ‘Theravada’ springs to mind immediately – and it just so happens that this is the form of Buddhism prevalent in Thailand today. It’s not easy to come up with a slick outline of Theravada beliefs, but back in the days when pop idols had personal gurus, it was all pleasantly simple. We’re heading towards spiritual perfection in order to attain Nirvana. This can only happen in stages of gradual improvement and enlightenment via birth and rebirth. Merit is earned, and advancement brings us closer to Buddha. There are lists of things to do and things not to do, and it’s all very spiritual.

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A UNIFORM FOR RELAXATION
Fishermen Pants Shop in Lamai is turning a tradition into a laid-back lifestyle.

Fishermen Pants Shop in Lamai is turning a tradition into a laid-back lifestyle.Rivers, canals, ponds and lakes make Thailand one of the world’s most water-filled countries. And wherever you find water, you’ll find people fishing. And most of them are wearing unisex trousers, known as fisherman’s pants. Those simple trousers are everywhere, and so much so that they’ve transcended all Thai borders and have morphed into something more than the original. Pants for massage, yoga, sports and pregnancy - a whole raft of possibilities. On Samui there’s even a store dedicated primarily to them: Fishermen Pants Shop. Drop in and you’ll see how this store goes further still and recommends them if you’re seeking a laid-back vibe.

          

“Just put a pair on,” says owner-manager Erez Shmargad, “and you’ll feel different. You’ll feel in the mood for relaxation, no matter what you’re doing.” He should know as he’s one of Thailand’s keenest aficionados of fisherman’s pants. He goes in search of materials and designs, and then working with Thai tailors, he puts together remarkable collections that reflect great creativity, whilst all the time keeping with age-old traditions.

          

‘Artisanal’ is the word we’ve all been hearing on the street for a couple of years now, and these days it’s all the rage to suddenly start rolling out all manner of things from beer to sausages, soap to perfumes that normally only big manufacturers can hope to produce. Erez doesn’t refer to his products as artisanal – he started making fisherman’s pants well over 14 years ago. That was in Goa, but now he’s in the country where they originated, and he’s continued what he was doing in India.

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ROCKPOOL ROCK !
One of the loveliest settings for any restaurant has to be at Kanda Residences and their RockPool restaurant.

One of the loveliest settings for any restaurant has to be at Kanda Residences and their RockPool restaurant.Kanda Residences and Pool Villas has been a Samui favourite for quite a while. Essentially, it’s a cliffside holiday resort just outside Chaweng on the road towards Choeng Mon, with 36 self-contained pool villas laid-out on a sloping hillside down towards the sea and the beach below. What’s interesting about this place is that it’s essentially a co-operatively owned, managed and leased assortment of extremely luxurious small villas. But in the early part of its life it was an up-market resort – hence the attention that was paid to creating and maintaining one of the best restaurants in the area. Today it’s still terrific although, apart from savvy residents, not many travellers know that it’s there.

          

As you come into reception, mention RockPool restaurant, a buggy will appear, and you’ll be swished down through twisting narrow lanes and between the gleaming white walls, all of them bright with vines and climbing flowers, that form the boundaries of the secluded villas within.

          

You might think there’s not much to see as you pull up outside the restaurant - just a sun-baked walled terrace that evokes a Mediterranean hillside. But walking through the adjacent brick arch reveals a breath-taking view – across the open space of a smoothly tiled floor is the wide blue sea beyond. There’s some comfy sofa-seating near the entrance, a long bar over to the left, and the very modern-looking open kitchen, all gleaming with brushed stainless steel, to the right. And alongside this are the steps leading down onto the three open decks that form RockPool.

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HORNS OF PLENTY
When horns lock, money moves in Samui’s buffalo fighting stadiums.

When horns lock, money moves in Samui’s buffalo fighting stadiums.A lot of mystery surrounds buffalo fighting, and here on Samui, it’s no different. It all starts with simply trying to find out when and where fights are going to take place. Many visitors to the island aren’t even sure how to get to see a fight. Seemingly desperate posts are left on travel websites, and garner a few equally desperate replies. “When you see a buffalo on the side of the road, see if you can find the owner,” reads one particularly inane bit of advice, as if to say all buffalo owners happen to know about fights!

          

It’s actually quite easy to get to a buffalo fighting stadium, but just don’t ask Google to sort it out for you: no handy map will pop up with road directions, nor will you be able to buy a ticket with a few taps of the keyboard. That’s because buffalo fighting is a traditional sport that’s still conducted in very traditional ways. Think rustic. It’s not online yet. So who to ask? If you’re staying at a hotel, try talking to the receptionist. He or she probably won’t know any details but will know someone who does. Alternatively pop in to any of the island’s hundreds of travel agents, and they’ll find out where the next fight is slated to take place. If you drive along the ring-road you’ll see hand-written signs that announce fights. The stadiums where they take place are set well away from major roads, so it may require a bit of persistence to actually find. And locations can move, too, and new venues can open very quickly. There’s a fairly well-known stadium in Maenam. Turn inland at the town’s only traffic lights, head through the temple grounds, turn left, then after a hundred metres turn right and follow the road.

          

‘Stadium’ is an absurdly grand word for most venues. They’re basically cordoned-off areas with a rough stockade covered in curtaining. This is so that people can’t watch the show for free. There may or not be a ticket booth, but there’ll be someone there collecting money. Entrance fees vary and can be from 100 baht upwards. One couple I know paid a total of 1,000 baht to get in – definitely on the exorbitant side. You may be able to bargain.

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