Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

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Flicking through all the wonderful photographs on social media, you can see that Samui delights in a variety of different ways. There are all the beaches, off-islands, trips and tours galore; then the restaurant and bar scene, all totally vibrant; then the villages and towns here with attractions that meld the commercial with temples and shrines. It’s an awesome line-up, and you may find yourself a bit bewildered when it comes to getting to grips with the island, its activities and all the entertainment on offer.

          

Our magazine showcases some of the attractions and places to go, but really it’s very easy to find what you’ll enjoy, thanks to the massive amount of information available. From free maps of the island to brochures on display in all the hotels, to friendly locals who will point the way, the island has you covered when it comes to spending wonderful days, weeks and even months here.

          

As the year winds down, November sees the rainy season bring in downpours that may interrupt outdoor activities, though it won’t stop you from anything indoors. Then comes December and if you’re here at its end, you’ll experience the heady joys of a Samui-style Christmas (think amazing food, hot, hot beaches and slightly less commercialism than back at home) and then finally to cap everything, New Year’s Eve and all that that entails (still more fun).

          

Few visitors to Samui fail to fall for its charms, and most will be happy to return. Meanwhile, from the beaches to the green heart of Samui, the island continues to wow holidaymakers, both young and old.

 
TEMPLE TREASURES
A guide to some of Samui’s favourite wats.

A guide to some of Samui’s favourite wats.Samui’s temples are a world apart from the rest of the island; often glimpsed with wonderment from the seat of a car, minivan or a motorbike and then gone in a second. Perhaps there’s even a turn of the head, and a mental note to go and take a look later. But Samui is known for its ability to distract, and good intentions somehow just get left behind – so much to do and barely time to triage the island’s pleasures and enjoy a handful of them. The clock’s ticking, and too soon the plane will be on the tarmac and it’ll be time to go.

          

Some visitors never even get to see a temple, and in doing so they miss out on some unforgettable sights. Temples are everywhere on Samui, deeply respected by locals and definitely worth any number of visits. More than the sum of their parts, they offer not just an insight into Samui’s culture, but are filled with atmospheres and a sense of mystery all of their own.

          

Here’s a brief round-up of some of the island’s favourite temples. Remember that there’s a dress code, so be sure to cover bare flesh.

          

Wat Plai Laem If you decide to see just one temple, make it this one. Located in the northernmost part of Samui, building started early this century, and is the design of well-known artist, Khun Jarit Phumdonming, who spent three years on the decoration, which follows traditional styles. It’s easily recognizable thanks to its multi-armed statue, which you’ll see from a distance. This is the goddess of mercy, Kwannon; her arms are stretched out to help all who suffer. Close by her, you’ll see an equally impressive figure, that of Budhai, the Buddha of the future. His time has not yet come, but when it does, the world will enter a period of great contentment and prosperity.

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SECRET SHARER
The Library unveils twenty new villas, adding new mystery to the intrigue of this iconic resort.

The Library unveils twenty new villas, adding new mystery to the intrigue of this iconic resort.There’s always something mysterious about stepping into the world of The Library, the highly unusual resort that’s hidden away, right in the middle of Chaweng. A large grey wall shields it from the town outside, yet it beckons the onlooker. What’s behind it? You’ll see a single gap in the wall, allowing you access. Step through and you’re in a different place altogether. A lawn graced with old-growth trees that stretches out down to the crimson red swimming pool and the sea beyond. White cube-like structures form the accommodation – think luxury. If you’re jaded with clutter and sheer lack of space, then you’ll find The Library gives you an almost instantaneous sense of relaxation and well-being. This is where laid-back meets white-space minimalism – the two lock together in a happy dovetail. Take your cue from the white statues dotted here and there. All have a book in hand; all are engrossed. They’ve achieved a sense of well-being simply by checking out of their usual routines. The Library beckons its guests with a sense of timeless repose; it’s an evocative place, even more so these days as the inventive team behind it have literally just doubled its present space, adding on a whole new section.

          

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WALKING TREAT
Chill out right on the beach at Bang Kao’s weekly night market.

Chill out right on the beach at Bang Kao’s weekly night market.Bang Kao, you might say, is a place that’s famed for its obscurity. While most holidaymakers are happy to stay in the north and east of the island, the south gets a scant look-in when it comes to visitors. And that’s precisely its main draw. Everything is slow here. The zippiness of the rest of the island seems bizarrely manic once you arrive in the southern districts. The peacefulness of Bang Kao and its environs may one day be a thing of the past, but not yet – the area seems keen to preserve traditional ways, and hasn’t seen the massive influx of population of the rest of the island. Recently it’s become a bit better known thanks to its night market, or ‘walking street’, as Thais call it. What’s a walking street? It’s in most cases a weekly event with a zoned-off area that is turned into an impromptu night-market of instant eateries, drink counters selling everything from fruit shakes to mojitos, and then a myriad of stalls selling clothes, souvenirs and a miscellany of goods that fall in a vague territory between knick-knacks and gadgetry.

         

If you’ve ever been to one of the ‘walking streets’, you’ll know that they can be dizzyingly packed-out: thousands of people converge on them all looking for a good time, whether it be eating, shopping or socializing – or all three, more likely. For some the sheer numbers are off-putting, and shouldering your way through a crowd isn’t everyone’s idea of fun.

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RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!
Things to do on a glorious tropical island when it’s simply pouring down with rain!

Things to do on a glorious tropical island when it’s simply pouring down with rain!A chum of mine is in the wedding business, and he told me just last week that in the last two months he’s had 27 weddings, and only eight of them had sunshine. The very disappointed bride, groom and entire entourage had to put up with a restaurant with the rain blinds down for all the rest, which is not what you expect on Samui.

         

But, then, on the other hand, Samui’s weather in the last two years has had people shaking their heads. We’ve had a rainy season with no rain, and then this year, the rain has been around every day, and it’s like the whole island has been hijacked. We always get our rainy season in October, November and a bit of December. But not this year it seems.

      

If you actually like the rain, and opt to come here in the rainy season, all well and good. You know what to expect. You’ll probably get a few days of nice cool, moist, sun anyway. But when you come here expecting day after day of suntan weather and don’t get it, what can you do? Plus everything’s a lot more fraught and tense if you’re here with your kids – there’s only so long that you can plug them into an iPad.

          

But if you go online to have a look what your options are, you’ll get really annoyed. There are all sorts of slick-but-useless websites giving you all sorts of misleading advice. It’s all about click-thrus and advertiser revenue. Some of the places you’ll read about closed down long ago, and these websites are irritatingly out of date. Fortunately, however, if you’re reading this, there’s a real live person writing it, and it’s bang up to the moment!

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NATURE’S ART
Souvenirs of Thailand are everywhere, but for something that’s really special the only choice is a visit to Nature Art Gallery!

Souvenirs of Thailand are everywhere, but for something that’s really special the only choice is a visit to Nature Art Gallery!We all do it. It’s a part of the fun. Because, when our holiday gets near its end, things start to get serious. We make lists. We keep our eyes open. We make special trips. Because everyone wants to take home souvenirs and mementos. But although there are dozens of shops all selling gifts, it’s hard to find the good stuff. Craftsman made. Quality items; bags and wallets and belts and jewellery. The sort of thing you just know has to be somewhere, if you keep on looking. Fortunately, you don’t have to look very far, because Nature Art Gallery has it all.

         

Before you’ve even gone into the shop, it’ll grab you from outside on the street. It stands out – especially if you’re out at night. It glows. In fact, the warm, mellow presence of Nature Art beams out in a gentle contrast to the cold neon glimmer that surrounds it. It’s partly the fact that every single surface – ceiling, walls, and floor – is clad in the same golden wood. It’s partly the warmly diffused tungsten lighting. Perhaps it’s the reflecting shine from all those glass surfaces inside. But, as soon as you’re in, you’ll know there’s something special here.

      

Just walking inside is an experience in itself – there are so many things! You’ll wander at first, trying to take everything in, but really just scanning what’s on display and trying to organise things in your mind. You’ll find a gigantic selection of jewellery, mostly made of silver, set with a whole variety of stones and crystals. The styles range from the elegantlyclassical to modern and chunky. But there are also superb leather handbags, purses, wallets and belts, many of them subtly inset with semi-precious stones or crystals. Even if you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, it’s not easy to look carefully at everything; there’s just so much to see!

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NATURE KNEAD
Few spas can offer excellent treatments and a wonderful garden setting, but Eranda Herbal Spa delights with both.

Few spas can offer excellent treatments and a wonderful garden setting, but Eranda Herbal Spa delights with both.From resort spas to simple beach huts, Samui’s crop of places to get a massage includes just about every setting – all except one. It’s surprisingly hard to find a spa that’s completely set in nature with an abundance of lush, tropical vegetation. Eranda Herbal Spa is one of just a handful of venues that offers a tranquil garden setting, and then completes this with views of the sea, which is just down the road. Not many spa-goers can look up from their massage to see such natural beauty.

         

Located just north of Chaweng, Eranda has emerged over the years as one of the island’s most chilled-out locales when it comes to all things massage and spa. Some people are still quite surprised that such a lush setting is to be found anywhere near Chaweng and its party atmosphere. But Eranda is another side to the island’s main beach. It’s just the place to wind down from all the heady excitement, but even more than that, it’s a focal point for highly effective treatments, a place spa-goers return to over and over again.

      

The fact that all the treatments take place in nature simply adds to the ease in which you can unwind here. There’s bright green foliage, and lots of it, everywhere – with plants, bushes and trees all reflecting the heady tropical world of Eranda. Paths lead through the garden and cross bridges that seem to have stepped out of Japanese formal gardens. The treatment rooms are all to be found in the garden, and are all individual and entirely separate, apart from a single largish communal sala, suitable for groups. Eranda caters not only for individuals but can also host hen parties, birthday treats and so on.

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THAI TRADITIONS
Don’t miss the hauntingly beautiful celebration of Loy Krathong.

Don’t miss the hauntingly beautiful celebration of Loy Krathong.From resort spas to simple beach huts, Samui’s crop of places to get a massage includes just about every setting – all except one. It’s surprisingly hard to find a spa that’s completely set in nature with an abundance of lush, tropical vegetation. Eranda Herbal Spa is one of just a handful of venues that offers a tranquil garden setting, and then completes this with views of the sea, which is just down the road. Not many spa-goers can look up from their massage to see such natural beauty.

         

It’s a beautiful sight; all the boats have candles that mean they remain visible even when they’re far out across the water. And even if you don’t know the significance of Loy Krathong, it evokes a sense of transient beauty. Perhaps precisely because it is so beautiful, visitors to the island just accept it for what it is, a sight that stays in the mind a long time. But of course there’s plenty more to the custom than just appearance.

      

Delving first into the Thai expression, ‘loy’ means to float, while ‘krathong’ refers to the floating container itself. Traditionally, krathong are made of round sections of banana tree, although these days they’re just as likely to be made of an even more convenient material, Styrofoam, which is of course woefully non-biodegradable. Increasingly Styrofoam is banned as it takes many years to disintegrate. It’s common for Bangkok authorities to collect over a half million floats the day after Loy Krathong, many from the city’s canals and waterways as well as the main river. No fun for the people doing the work. Similar situations, though with smaller numbers, occur in most of the big towns in Thailand.

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PRIME PEOPLE OF POPPIES’ PASSAGE
One of Samui’s most-loved boutique resorts reveals a secret passage
– we look at the people behind the story!

One of Samui’s most-loved boutique resorts reveals a secret passage – we look at the people behind the story!There are now a great many resorts on Samui. Back at the start, it was all about Thai families and their little huts on the beach. But, as time passed, the airport appeared and things started to change. More beach resorts were built; some of them ambitious. But there was one which stood out from the crowd. It kept the island ethos, but it combined Western standards with family-resort familiarity, and offered consistent quality at a reasonable cost. Its name was (and still is) Poppies Samui.

         

It all came about as a result of two foreigners abroad. In the late ’60s, in La Jolla, California, there was a small restaurant that used to be patronised by famous Hollywood personalities. Some time after its closure, several friends of the owners were holidaying in Bali, where they met a young Balinese girl. The result was that two of them decided to team up with her and expand the little restaurant she owned. And they decided to name it after their favourite restaurant – Poppies.

      

Over the years that were to follow, one of the original group returned and continued to build-up the little resort, adding cottages and, in 1980,turning it into the delightful Poppies Bali. Some years later, on holiday on Koh Samui, the owners of Poppies Bali partnered with another couple who owned a piece of land on South Chaweng Beach. In those days this area of Chaweng was deserted, and where today there is the broad and solid concrete of the beach road, at that time it was a muddy dirt track.

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ZAPPETY-ZAP!
Forget lying on the beach – head to the most exciting place on the island
at Lazgam and virtualize yourself into kill-mode!

Forget lying on the beach – head to the most exciting place on the island at Lazgam and virtualize yourself into kill-mode!Shopping. Waterparks. Snorkelling. Elephant rides and mummified monks. Even a bungee jump. Been there done that and got the T-shirt. There are only so many things you can do on a little tropical island paradise before you go back to the beach and sleep again. That’s the problem with paradise; it’s just too full of palm trees and blue sky . . . until the day comes when someone whispers the magic word in your ear – Lazgam!

         

The idea of laser tag has been around for quite a while now; it’s no new thing. But whereas New York and Singapore have embraced it with relish, it’s not been the same with Scunthorpe, Saskatchewan or Samui. In fact, even a couple of years ago, most sassy Bangkokians would have gone ‘huh?’ at the mention of the name. But not any more.

      

Cutting a long story short, a couple of Swiss friends on holiday in Thailand noticed the gap in the market, invested millions to bring it to Bangkok, and then franchised it to Pattaya; and then to Samui – which really says something, as usually we’re the last to know about any new fun stuff. But, be that as it may, it’s now sitting waiting for you in a huge 720 square metre futuristic battleground, right above the main McDonald’s in Chaweng.

          

If you’re not sure what this is all about, think of paintball. But instead of running about in the wind and rain, bring it indoors. And take away the antique hardware too. Instead, pull it firmly into the 21st century. Set it into a sturdily-built large and complex labyrinth with lots of corners, twists and obstacles. Then make the whole thing even more cutting-edge with lots of swirling smoke and strobe lighting.

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FUNKY, FUN, FAB!
Stacked has raised the bar on Chaweng’s dining standards, turning food-in-a-bun into a truly exceptional gourmet sensation!

Stacked has raised the bar on Chaweng’s dining standards, turning food-in-a-bun into a truly exceptional gourmet sensation!Stacked Burger appeared on the Samui scene just a few months ago, and right away caused something of a splash. It’s the contemporary restaurant of the new OZO resort, although you wouldn’t know it. Because unlike nearly all of the others, Stacked is right out in plain view on the beach road, bold as brass and twice as lively, right in the centre of Chaweng and perched wide and high, with its big outside decks looking down onto the road below.

         

But let’s just say, right from the off, that Stacked is about a whole lot more than just burgers – even if their Wagyu burger is a connoisseur’s delight.

      

There are premium pork, chicken and beef steaks, racks of ribs, salmon, tuna and seafood dishes, Tex-Mex offerings and a whole selection of vegetarian and vegan plates. Not to mention the delectable desserts. Or the impressive range of connoisseur tequilas and bourbons – plus a whole range of other rare alcoholic delights – craft beers, for example.

          

But, getting back to it, if I say ‘burger’ and what pops into your head is a bland round disk frozen solid, then you owe it to yourself to experience the real thing. Here we’re talking American-way-of-life-national-dish burgers. All the beef at Stacked arrives chilled in the form of huge slabs of premium imported beef – New Zealand pasture-fed; Australian Wagyu (a cross between Black Angus and Hereford stock); grain-fed prime Aussie beef.

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DOWN-DOG, COBRA OR FROG?
Why not try out some yoga whilst on Samui.

Why not try out some yoga whilst on Samui.Whether you already have a yoga practice or just want to try it whilst on holiday, the sunny skies, warm temperature and ocean views are definite yoga motivators. Get those yoga pants at the ready, Samui is steadily positioning itself as a green, organic and healthy holiday destination, and yoga options are rapidly expanding.

         

If you are a complete beginner, a bit rusty or an advanced practitioner. Whether you prefer a gentle class with lots of meditation or you want to push yourself in terms of flexibility, strength or cardio. If you prefer the beach, a cliff top, or a yoga studio, want to learn something new, or just practise the basics, there will be a class to suit you, whatever your level or goals. Yoga is the perfect way to start your day, to stay in the shade when the sun’s a bit too strong, or something to do if an inconvenient downpour has just waylaid your beach plans!

      

So what are your options? If your main reason for a holiday on Samui is to immerse yourself in all things wellness related, then consider booking into a specialist yoga retreat. They offer healthy food, tailor-made detox programs, lots of pampering, massages and additional treatments such as reiki, hypnotherapy or acupuncture, as well as yoga.

          

It’s also easy to fit occasional or even daily yoga into a more traditional Samui beach holiday. Many resorts offer group yoga classes, some in beautiful open-air pavilions, and most will organise a private instructor for you if you prefer. This is the perfect option if you don’t want to venture far, and you can easily fit in your yoga fix before breakfast or happy hour!

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RAIN RULES
The monsoon season isn’t without its dangers.

The monsoon season isn’t without its dangers.Thailand is a watery country; look down out of the plane windows as you fly towards Bangkok and you’ll see a network of rivers, canals and waterways, all gleaming silver in the sunlight. In places, there are vast lakes, too, and then of course there’s the fact that Thailand straddles two different seas. Could things really get any more aquatic than that?

         

The answer is a resounding yes. It’s not just that the land itself is filled with water; the skies are too – at least during rainy season. All of Thailand experiences massive tropical downpours, with different regions experiencing a monsoon at different times. On Samui and the surrounding islands, it typically coincides with the month of November, if it can be said at all that the weather can be pinned to a calendar.

      

No-one can be at all sure quite when the bad weather will arrive and when it’ll depart again. Usually the last week of December is marked by blue skies again, well, most of the time, but this isn’t set in stone. If you’re holidaying here then it can be difficult if you’re holed up in a hotel room for days by rain that never lets up. That’s the worst case scenario. At times the monsoon is just a question of waiting out the rain; in a few hours it’ll be sunny again.

          

The word monsoon refers to the seasonal winds that dredge up moisture from the Indian Ocean; the result is that all that water has to fall somewhere, and in this case it’s on Thailand, which then undergoes its rainy season. The wet weather isn’t just rain. Storms can be extraordinarily intense, with very heavy downpours, massive thunder and the kind of semi-continuous lightning usually seen in the movies. Humidity levels soar, and skies can be totally overcast with the air itself seemingly growing dark. Sometimes it’s like looking at a sepia photograph.

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CHECK-IN, CHECK-UP
Bangkok Hospital Samui provides all kinds of check-ups as well as a full medical service.

Bangkok Hospital Samui provides all kinds of check-ups as well as a full medical service.Holidaymakers on Samui aren’t simply drawn by the beaches and the nightlife here; many are here as medical tourists. And many come not so much for major operations, but simpler routines such as dental work, cosmetic procedures and even health checks that cover everything from blood profiles to gynaecological examinations. It might seem odd to schedule a health check whilst on holiday, but it’s actually quite normal, with the hospitals emailing patients their results.

         

A lot of questions get asked of doctors, particularly concerning gynaecology tests, and it always helps to have a friendly specialist to provide information. At Bangkok Samui Hospital, the gynaecology and obstetrics department is run by two doctors, who work in tandem. Appointments are scheduled from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm every day, but outside those times there’s an on-call service day and night for emergencies.

      

Of particular concern to many patients are the routine check-ups. According to the hospital, every woman should ensure that she gets these done on a regular basis. Detection of problems is much easier now than it ever used to be, so it’s just a question of doing the tests. The question is when.

          

Basic guidelines call for tests to be done at intervals. There are two of them: a Pap smear test and an HPV test. Women should start having tests three years after having their first sexual intercourse. (If no intercourse takes place, then at age 30.) Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every three years. Beginning at age 30, the preferred way to screen is with a Pap test combined with an HPV test. The interval between tests depends on their previous test results. This is called co-testing, and should continue until age 65. Alternatively, women aged 30 to 65 can get tested every three years with just the Pap test, if the last test result is negative for malignancy. Women who are at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases should get tested every year.

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INVEST IN THE BEST
Affordable luxury Samui homes are finally a reality, with Impact Samui Property Specialists.

Affordable luxury Samui homes are finally a reality, with Impact Samui Property Specialists.Koh Samui is a beautiful tropical island, sheltered in the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand with secluded coves and white sandy beaches fringed with palm trees. Inland, lush verdant landscapes boast coconut groves, picturesque waterfalls and magnificent ocean views. With its stunning natural beauty, and one of the highest concentrations of five-star hotels and fine dining restaurants in the world, Samui is now one of the top tourist destinations and investment hotspots in Asia.

         

If you looking for that elusive, ‘perfect in every way’ holiday property, and an exceptional real estate investment, look no further than Impact Samui Property Specialists. Their portfolio of developments includes ‘Oasis Samui’, winner of the prestigious ‘Best Residential Development (Samui)’ award at this year’s 2017-2018 Thailand Property Awards. This private estate of luxury private pool villas is located within lush tropical surroundings of coconut palms, with views over the turquoise blue sea in Lamai. It is also the latest development to be launched by the same high quality, award-winning development team of ‘The Ridge’, a private estate of pool villas with panoramic sea views in Choeng Mon, and winner of ‘Best Residential Development (Samui)’ in 2014-2015.

      

So, what does it take to win these prestigious awards? According to Managing Director, Rodney Waller, an experienced property investor and developer with more than 20 years’ experience in Asia, as well as the author of the best-selling book, “The Essential Guide to Buying property in Thailand”, it’s all about research, professionalism, integrity and, above all, setting high quality standards. His approach to developing and constructing is simple: build luxury villas that are beautiful, functional and homely. Design modern and contemporary homes that not only have well-proportioned and practical spaces, but that are also warm and welcoming. The emphasis is on designing homes for living in, not just for admiring!

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SERVICE THE FULL PHARMACY
Morya, Samui’s most progressive pharmacy, offers you much, much, more than just pills and potions!

Morya, Samui’s most progressive pharmacy, offers you much, much, more than just pills and potions!Going away on holiday is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s the highlight of your year. You’ve been planning it and looking forward to it for months. But on the other hand, there are all sorts of worries attached. Are you properly insured? Have you had all the injections? What will you do if your luggage goes astray? Will your resort really be as good as it looked in the photos? What if you have an accident or get sick? What if you need medicine or prescriptions? Well there’s no need to be concerned about the last few, because the answer is ‘Morya’.

         

The first Morya pharmacy appeared here back in 2001. The instigator, Khun Kwanchai Patpaen, had anticipated the need for a quality pharmacy which offered a wide range of products and services. He himself was fully qualified, with a degree in pharmaceutical science. And he insisted that his management staff had undergone an intensive 6-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree program, and be qualified in both biochemistry and organic chemistry. Plus they needed to understand the law as it relates to medicine as well as pharmacy. And, needless to say, speaking English was vital.

      

That was 16 years ago. Since then, the chain of Morya pharmacies has expanded across the island, and just-recently opened its 24th branch, Pharmacy 24, opposite Central Festival. But, today, it’s also become necessary to communicate in Russian, French, and several other languages, too. The result is that the Morya staff-training now includes a comprehensive component involving online internet translation, and how to convert this to a common language to communicate with all nationalities.

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TO PROTECT, SERVE,AND TRANSLATE!
The Tourist Police have an invaluable place in every part of Thailand which attracts visitors
– Samui included.

The Tourist Police have an invaluable place in every part of Thailand which attracts visitors – Samui included.The number of tourists in Thailand is increasing every year. In fact, in the five years since 2012, this number has doubled, and now stands at almost 32 million a year. That’s quite something. Of course, nearly all of these are concentrated in and around the nation’s major tourist areas. But out of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya, only Samui stands out. It’s the only one that’s not high-rise and citified – the atmosphere is quite different. But it still gets a great many visitors and the daily problems that they create.

         

Things have changed a lot. A decade ago, visitors to Samui were composed mainly of Europeans and Australians. Today, however, around 70% of the tourists coming here are from one of the Asian nations. Many of the Europeans from before are still here, though, but now they’re running small businesses instead! All of which means that you’ll probably hear a dozen different languages spoken when you go out and about. And that’s where the Tourist Police come into the picture.

      

Well, that’s over-simplifying things. The idea of creating a police force specially to cope with the language barrier was only a part of it, because all those tourists also brought with them a totally different view of the world. They could only imagine that Thailand was the same as their own nation, that it had the same laws and social systems, that the police worked in the same way, and that everyone had the same ‘rights’ as they were used to back home. And so what was needed was some kind of stop-gap between the regular police and the millions of tourists. A kind of intermediary – a policeman just for tourists – who could not only act as a translator, but also could gently point out, where needed, that Thai law and culture was nothing like they were used to, back in their own country.

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IT’S A DOG’S LIFE
Soi Dog is solving the stray dog crisis on Samui in the most compassionate way.

Soi Dog is solving the stray dog crisis on Samui in the most compassionate way.Samui is a difficult territory to accurately measure for populations of any kind, due to hills, many wild spots and dispersed villages but it’s reckoned that for every ten people on Samui, there’ll be one dog. That translates as there being 10,000 dogs on the island. Unfortunately, many of them – thousands – will be strays. No owner. No care given. Left to live wild. And to breed.

         

And that’s become a problem on the island – there are simply more and more dogs around. If you’ve been here for any length of time, you’ll have noticed the increase in stray dogs. Without any control, they’ll simply go on reproducing and leading lives that can often be miserable. And there will also be unfortunate incidents where people get bitten. This in turn will mean a hospital visit and rabies shots, possibly tetanus too. And – ouch! – a dog bite certainly hurts, too.

      

Fortunately, help has arrived, and the dog population is being dealt with. Soi Dog is a foundation that deals with dogs and cats across the kingdom. Based in Phuket, the non-profit foundation aims to help animals in all kinds of conditions.

          

There’s a daily routine here on Samui. Every morning dog catchers go out to an area that’s been designated in advance. Here, they know there will be stray dogs around. They capture them and take them to the place where sterilizations and vaccinations are carried out. Some strays of course will be less than happy about this, and tranquillizer darts will be needed. After their procedures, when the dogs feel comfortable again, they’re taken back. Many people bring in dogs themselves, or have their own pets that they wish to have spayed/neutered.

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