Samui Wining & Dining
The Samui Crocodile Farm is interesting and entertaining – and it’s right next to Chaweng.

P110-1Everybody has a different outlook. Some people come here to take a break. Some to relax. Others can’t stand the beach, and run around for a week. But, happily, there’s lots to do on Samui. Trips, excursions, golf, water sports, Thai boxing, waterfalls, mountain views, rocks shaped like genitals and mummified monks wearing Ray Bans – and that just for starters. And when you’ve slowed down a bit, there’s the Samui Crocodile Farm.


This attraction has been going for almost 20 years now, and still continues to draw the crowds. In a way it’s not very well-named: but to trying to call it the ‘Samui Crocodile Farm, Crocodile Show, Snake Show and Zoo’ doesn’t really work too well. But there’s certainly a lot more to look at than just crocodiles.


The grounds are really quite big; 8,000 square metres is impressive. And it’s all attractively laid out, with lots of shady trees and bushes and vegetation. There are several different ‘croc basins’, each of them walled around the outside, and within this there’s a deep pond with a higher concrete rim. These basins are filled with lilies and overhung with drooping trees, affording both shade and plenty of space. In fact I have to say, after having seen many sad and depressing zoos in Asia, that this is one of the most thoughtful and sympathetic layouts that I’ve seen.


And scattered around between and to one side of the basins are tanks, cages, corners and little ‘houses’ and huts where the rest of the ‘family’ resides. Some of the more cuddly members are racoons, rabbits, mouse deer, monkeys and slow lorises. But then they’re not so far away from several kinds of colourful parrots and birds,The Samui Crocodile Farm is interesting and entertaining – and it’s right next to Chaweng. iguanas and lizards, and even a pond full of otters. And then there are the snakes.


I don’t know what it is in the cosmic consciousness of mankind but, faced with a crocodile and a snake, the crocodile will bring people to a halt in awed fascination, whereas a snake will send everyone running away shrieking every time – it must be something in our genes. There are a variety of different snakes here, ranging from the luminous green (and harmless) tree snakes through to genuine cobras, each kept in their own separate enclosures. I think the fascination comes from being in such close proximity to these creatures (although being also perfectly safe) and being able to study them closely – which is a thing that would never happen if you opened the bathroom door and found one inside!


There are also two spacious ‘show’ areas, covered over and with tiered concrete seating ledges around the outside, one for the crocodile show and the other for the cobra show. These two shows alternate every hour between 12:00 noon and 5:00 pm. As an adult I found myself wondering about just how aware the crocodiles actually were when the Thai staff were putting their heads and arms into the croc’s mouths, and cuddling them like huge scaly babies. But, absolutely, every single child present was frozen, wide-eyed, by the sight.


The same goes for the snakes, too. The cobras. And this is interesting. When I lived in Bangkok, I discovered I had a cobra living under my house. Every morning it would come and sit in a corner on my terrace. After a while, I quietly sat in a chair on the other side of the balcony. The cobra would rear up, and then settle down again. After a week or two, it didn’t even do that. So I used to put a saucer of milk in its corner, and the two of us would sit there as the sun came up. The Samui Crocodile Farm is interesting and entertaining – and it’s right next to Chaweng.My point: all but perhaps two species of cobras are generally very quiet and gentle creatures unless they feel threatened or cornered.


And so when I watched the Thai ‘trainers’ here performing with the cobras, I’m reminded of this. They work gently and slowly with their snakes. And, even, once or twice a day, they demonstrate that the cobras are still venomous by extracting the venom into a wineglass. (Having said that, all the snake-trainers have been bitten numerous times, so nothing is ever certain!)


If you want some amusement, then read the comments on TripAdvisor, and try to spot the completely out-of-touch remarks or the idiotic Western mind-sets. ‘It’s so smelly’. The water was filthy’. ‘It’s inhuman.’ ‘They’re not in their natural habitat’. Then pause to think if swamps and humid tropical everglades are clean and sanitary and hygienic. Or if the dead meat that crocodiles eat is likely to arrive in plastic-wrapped packs from the supermarket.


The bottom line: it’s a great place to go, particularly if you have children – they’ll never forget it, and it’ll be worth every penny!


Rob De Wet


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