Samui Wining & Dining
Happy Ever After
The story of Penny and Patrick Kimber’s love affair – with each other and Samui!


Happy Ever AfterMost people visit Samui more than once. It’s that kind of place! It’s a delightful spot for a holiday, and some resorts will proudly tell you that they have guests who’ve returned nine or ten times. That’s impressive. But not as dramatic as some. The tale you are about to hear is one of love at first sight and then 12 years of passion and anguish combined – the joy of continual reunions and the despair of parting again. It’s the story of Penny and Patrick Kimber and how they finally settled on Samui, but not until they’d first grabbed 14 holidays here in just four years!


And that has to be a record. But for Penny and Patrick it had already become an established way of life, albeit one where joy and torment went hand in hand. And, no, it wasn’t one of those intense and unbalanced love-hate affairs you sometimes read about – far from it. It was entirely the opposite, in fact, and one that has now endured for more than 30 years and become stronger with time. The distractions of Thailand for a married couple (well, the male partner, anyway!) are legendary. And more than a few sturdy marriages have foundered on the rocks of temptation. But this is one couple where it simply didn’t happen.


They first met in 1980. Patrick was a senior electronics engineer working for Halliburton, the multinational oil and energy company, and Penny was a Senior Staff Nurse attached to the Accident and Emergency Unit in Brighton. “After we’d been on our first date,” Penny reminisced, “Patrick had to go back to Kuwait, where he was working. So I wrote him a letter saying how much I’d enjoyed myself and that I was missing his company and letting him know that I’d like to see him again soon. Two days later I received an identical letter from Patrick, saying the same thing almost word for word, that he must have written at the same time as I had and that had crossed in the post. I couldn’t believe it!”


The way Penny’s contract worked was that she was able to manage blocks of her time to frequently arrange several weeks off at once. And to begin with Patrick went back to England for his leave and then they’d spend time somewhere in Europe. Two years later, in 1982, they were married. And then, for the next 12 years, continued to play lover’s tag, flying around the world to meet up with each other for just a few weeks at a time every month or so.


“It’s impossible to explain what this was doing to us,” Penny continued. “We’d both go for two months, longing to be with each other and when we got together it was joyous. It was a honeymoon all over again. But the downside was the ongoing frustration and depression of having to part again. It was a torment. We went for 12 years like this. Patrick had to travel all over the world on service contracts and we’d arrange to meet somewhere in the middle. Patrick spent a year in Madagascar, so we met in the Seychelles. We also spent time in Egypt, Kenya and the USA; we’d meet in transit and work it so we could have a full three weeks together. At least we got to see some lovely places!”


They’d already hooked-up in Thailand once, in 1986. And they repeated the formula again in 1990, but decided to also spend a few days on Samui to vary things. “We left most of our belongings behind in the hotel,” Patrick added, “intending to stay on Samui for three or four days. And then ended up getting our baggage sent over here. It was simply fantastic and we spent the rest of our break here.” They loved the island so much that all their following breaks were engineered to happen on Samui – that’s where the record-breaking ‘14 visits in 4 years’ comes in! Until, finally, in 1994 they’d had enough. They just couldn’t bear wishing their lives away longer, with the constant anguish and depression of parting all the time. “So we decided to take a four-year break, a kind of extended ‘gap year’, and relax into a proper life together on Samui,” Patrick explained. “We aimed at four years so that we didn’t entirely burn all of our boats and then we could make plans again at the end of that time and see what we wanted to do.”


In fact, what they ended up doing was working harder than they’d ever done before! “We suddenly found ourselves with an excellent business opportunity,” Patrick continued. “It was a prime spot right in the middle of Lamai Beach Road but it was a run-down bar known as ‘The House of the Rising Sun’. The 14-month lease was going cheap and so we reckoned that we’d give it a go and still have our options open at the end.” In 1996, they bought the place, cut the name to ‘The Rising Sun’, extended it to have a 17-metre road frontage and terraced over the derelict garden. And within just a couple of months they realised that it’d become a success one day when they ran out of coffee mugs at 3 o’clock in the afternoon! The Rising Sun went on to become the pub in Lamai: lots of space, terrific food, great service and good company, and the place where everyone went to meet and greet. The effusive Penny and the genial Patrick continued this way until they finally sold up in 2002, in need of a break from the long hours and 7-day weeks, tired but happy and with dozens of new, good, solid friends.


After that they headed for the hills where Patrick designed their stunning 4-bedroom house, near Wat Khunaram in the south of Samui, entirely on his own (including creating the wiring & plumbing diagrams) and supervised the building work. And with their four rai of surrounding land, there’s plenty of space for their two dogs and two cats that are part of the family. Patrick and Penny are now considering utilising a parcel of this land by creating a small enclosed community project with five or six homes and a pool.


When they have the time, that is. For this couple, being retired is a full-time occupation as there’s a huge circle of family and friends to socialise with and entertain. “I wouldn’t want to change one minute of our lives,” Penny says. “We’re here, it’s our home and it’s paradise!”


Rob De Wet


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