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Older and archives of samui and thailand news

We thought that you would appreciate of being able to read the older Samui (and beyond) news any time. We display them throughout the year to let you be aware of life on the island. Some of the news contain useful information and tips. These are the reasons why we decided to make them available to you from now on.
Have a good reading!     ;-)

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July 25th, 2008
Bangkok voted world's best city in travel poll
One night in Bangkok... Bangkok was voted the world's best city for 2008 and the Galapagos were picked as the best islands in an online poll by Travel + Leisure magazine, winning over last year's winners Florence, Italy and Bali, Indonesia. US-based magazine readers also voted Singita Sabi Sand, at the Kruger National Park, South Africa, as the world's top hotel while Singapore Airlines grabbed the best airline award again. It was the first time that Bangkok and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador topped their respective categories, said Nancy Novogrod, editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure. Last year, Bangkok was ranked number 3 and the Galapagos number 8. The 2007 winners of best city and best island -- Florence and Bali -- fell to number 5 and number 2 respectively. The results were complied from votes by magazine subscribers in an Internet poll which went live between January and March. Travel + Leisure honoured winners on July 24 in New York City.

April 11th, 2008
Samui Airport in the Top Ten!
Samui - The Most Beatiful Airport in The World The Samui Airport as well as Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi are both ranked in the Top Ten of the Best Airports Worldwide by the respectable Smart Travel Asia magazine and travel portal! There are many airports in picturesque exotic locations around the world, but Samui airport holds the crown as the most beautiful and the best designed in tune with its gorgeous natural surroundings.
Bangkok Airways, the airline company owning Samui Airport, has also been selected in the Top Ten of the "Worldwide Best Cabin Service". And Thai Airways International ranks third of the Worldwide Best Airline Top Ten.
And in the annual report of the American TripAdvisor (accurate barometer of the tendencies and the preferred tourist destinations amidst the travellers community), the island of Koh Pha-Ngan is listed among the 10 more wanted destinations for the year 2008 (7th position).
2007 Statistics about Samui Airport:
Movements - 15,783 Flights
Departure Passenger - 611,554
Arrival Passenger - 577,600
Total Passenger - 1,189,154

January 20th, 2008
Thai Airways to open Bangkok-Samui flights
Thai Airways to open Bangkok-Samui domestic route. TO BE CONTINUED... Thai Airways International (Thai) will inaugurate daily Bangkok-Samui flights on February 15, according to Chaisak Angkasuwan, director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).
Mr. Chaisak said the DCA on Thursday morning met executives of the national flag carrier and Bangkok Airways, a private firm which owns Samui airport. After the meeting, he told journalists that starting from mid-February, Thai Airways would offer passengers two flights a day from Suvarnabhumi airport to Samui airport. The opening of the new route is in line with the policy of the Transport Ministry to give more alternatives to passengers.
The airfare is expected to be similar to that currently offered by Bangkok Airways.
The new route is expected to be popular among foreign tourists as they will be able to travel by a direct flight from Suvarnbhumi to Samui's tourist destinations in the southern province of Surat Thani.
-Thai News Agency-

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January 2nd, 2008
Season's Greetings
**SAWATDEE PHIMAI!!** HAPPY NEW YEAR! BONNE ANNEE! BUON ANNO! GUTES NEUES JAHR! FELIZ ANO! New Year is the time to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the coming year. It is the time to forget and get past memories that are no longer useful or worth pondering upon. It is the time for new beginnings and new starts in life. New Year has a message for each one of us. One should let go of the past that has bad memories and accept what has happened, has happened for some reason. Instead of clinging onto your past and things that have gone, it is better to let go.
There is an old saying that goes, "Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened". This essentially means that there is no use crying over spilt milk. You cannot turn back time and do things that would benefit you. Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days you are the statue. New year is the time of new beginnings. It is time to start afresh and do things that would make someone else smile. Make a pledge to make at least one person happy. You will see the difference it can make in both your lives. The essential message of New Year is let go off the past and embrace life as it comes to you. You will be happier and merrier that way.

We jump at the opportunity of New Year's Eve to warmly thank each of our visitors. We are more than ever thankful to you for your evidences of trust, and hope that our services will continue to satisfy you in future. It is thanks to you that we exist.
Many thanks from the bottom of the heart!

August 16th, 2007
A Buddhist lifestyle of sufficiency
Ajarn Pho when I visited him at Theepapawan on the hills of Lamai Phra Ajarn Phothikun, the abbot of Wat Suan Moke, or Phra Ajarn Pho, is a well-known disciple who follows the dharma of Buddhathas Phikku. He is a native of Samui and has been studying the dharma and teaching of the Lord Buddha for almost all of his life. Phra Ajarn Pho believes Buddhist principles can cure every disease, so long as the patient is be ready to follow them with his heart. Phra Ajarn Pho is now 75 years old. He is the founder of ‘Theepapawan’, a new place for dharma practice on Koh Samui, which was built on land donated by Khun Siriwan Pongchababnapha. Dharma practice courses are organized twice a month, one for Thai people on 14th – 17th and the other for foreigners on 21st- 27th of every month under the guidance and instruction of Phra Ajarn Pho himself. Phra Ajarn Pho teaches that dharma is essential for life in the world today and also the cure for all ills. Those who become infected by physical or even social diseases will eventually gain access to dharma, but only when they are ready. For this reason, many people turn to dharma when they face problems and seek to fi nd a solution from inside. Samui is an international travel destination and at ‘Theepapawan’ visitors have the chance to experience deep spiritual relaxation and develop the tools they need to use dharma to detoxify their mind and enhance their mental strength. For many, this is a unique form of tourism. ‘Theepapawan’ is the only place on Samui that offers authentic Buddhist teaching to people regardless of their age, gender, race or religion. According to the Lord Buddha, everything has two sides. But there are three paths in Buddhism – satisfaction, the dark side of satisfaction, and dharma. People are often infatuated by the dark side of satisfaction because they reap instant gratification, but they don’t often know that there is danger in such benefits. We need dharma as the permanent truth, that is, to maintain mindfulness in everything we do, without infatuation or attachment to material things. We should make use of dharma to fi nd balance, because all our problems are caused by unawareness and infatuation. “We can take benefi t from what we have,” explained the teacher, “but should not let it control our heart. We should always be the masters of our hearts. Nowadays, people let possessions rule their lives and many problems occur as a result. People should know their own power and do everything within their own limit. As an easy example, Buddhism, sees debt as a sign of trouble, but Thailand’s modern economic system, business is based on a system of debt, which is not Buddhist value. Buddhism values the action of working for money and its subsequent expansion, not taking money from other people to invest in business. Some may succeed, some may not but people in debt are like slaves.” Phra Ajarn Pho sees an important way out for Samui people. It sounds easy but is actually quite diffi cult in real practice for those who are not mentally ready. Ajarn Pho when I attended a meditation retreat in Wat Suan Mokkh. He is such a great master and great also is his wisdom and simplicity “Samui has such a rich and abundant land,” he said, “which is ideal for an agricultural approach and subsistence living. Why does nobody choose that? Nobody wants to grow plants because they imagine other people earning millions from selling the land without any effort. However, once people are blinded by money they lose the power to work. Samui people in the past lived happily from the land. Nowadays we still have that land to grow plants and fruit and there are still possibilities because hotels and resorts here still need to buy these products.” Another product of this limited thinking is a jealous mind, which Ajarn Pho says will also make us unhappy. “We should live in harmony and show respect for each other so that we can live and survive together.” He says. “There are plenty of job opportunities on Samui and there are still many plots of land waiting to be developed. But this will bring more sadness. The coconut leaf stalk that we find falling on the ground can also be made into a broom and sold to earn a living, yet few people on this island bother to collect them. Samui has enough rain all year to build an agricultural society. If we live with sufficiency, there will be less problems.” “I believe that if Samui people realize the importance of a simple life then we can get back to our origins very easily.” Says Ajarn Pho. “We still have some land left. If we don’t sell it, we will enjoy great benefi ts from it and live happily. We should look back and see our land mindfully. It’s never too late to hold on to the ‘Buddhist Way’.”

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May 22nd, 2007
Solution to Samui flooding discussed
Floodings are frequent on Samui... Suratthani deputy governor Vinyu Tongsakul said that deforestation is the main cause of flooding on Koh Samui. He said this after a meeting of provincial and municipality officials to solve flooding in some areas of the island. The meeting concluded that the solution for floods is the prevention of forest denudation, especially where the water sources are located. The Forest Department had surveyed the mountain and forest areas on the island before declaring 23 546 rai of mountain land as protected forest zone. This means that no forest encroachment or land issuance of title deed for both possession and ownership rights are allowed. The Land Department is specifically delegated to issue land title deeds according to rules to prevent more land scandals, which had happened before. "I asked the Koh Samui municipality to seriously tackle this issue by putting strict measures before building-project permits granted. All matters related to building must be processed according to the town-planning regulations. I noticed that many constructions barricade the natural drainage system and these have destroyed the tropical island look of Samui", Vinyu said. Vinyu said that Bt87 million had been allotted to improve the drainage system and upgrading of four bridges.

May 13th, 2007
Opening of a new cash-and-carry wholesale store on Samui
Makro Cash & Carry Koh Samui, Thailand The wholesale trade lands on Koh Samui.
Indeed the chain (29 locations in Thailand since 1989 to 2006) "Makro" (a 100 % subsidiary of the Dutch SHV Holdings N.V. group) has just opened its first store on the island on April 25, a few hundreds of meters away from the retail supermarket "Tesco Lotus" on the main road in Chaweng on the way to Bophut. Makro is a high volume, low cost - low price, no frills cash & carry wholesaler, selling to registered professional customers a full range of food and non-food products, with communication solely based on direct mailing. It focuses on HoReCa (Hotels, Restaurants, Caterers) products to serve tourism industry here on Samui. The core customer base is the retailer, caterer and professional in the service sector. Therefore it is necessary to get a membercard to be able to make purchases at Makro. Opening from 6am to 11pm everyday. In the meanwhile, another huge building site is being outlined, with the scheduled opening towards the end of the year of another shopping centre (this time it will be a store of the "Big C" chain). Koh Samui will be equipped with three among the largest store chains in the country...

The website of Makro C&C in Thailand: www.SiamMakro.co.th

April 27th, 2007
Budget airline to serve Samui, Phuket
Firefly - The new low-cost carrier serving Samui from Malaysia's Penang Firefly, the new no-frills carrier created by Malaysia Airlines (MAS), will today begin offering services out of Malaysia, with Thailand as its first foreign destination. Its two maiden outbound flights, from Penang to Phuket and Penang-Samui, will operate on a daily basis using the airline's two Dutch-made Fokker F50 turboprop airliners, each capable of carrying 50 passengers. The two routes are not served by any other commercial airlines and the Malaysian low-cost carrier (LCC) hopes to capture new traffic potential, especially for leisure, according to industry sources. Applying the LCC internet-based booking systems, Firefly is offering tickets on the Thailand-bound flights at one-way rates starting from as low as 39 ringgit (367 baht), excluding taxes and surcharges. Firefly began commercial operations on April 3 between Penang and the Malaysian cities of Langkawi, Kota Bahru, Kuantan and Kuala Trengganu, with a total of 14 weekly flights.

Route Map  |  Flight Schedule

March 26th, 2007
Don Muang Airport reopens
Don Muang - Bangkok's legendary international airport reopens to host domestic flights... Bangkok's nearly century-old Don Muang airport reopened to domestic flights Sunday to ease the crowds at the city's troubled new airport, authorities said. Don Muang was one of Asia's busiest hubs until it was shuttered in September, following the opening of the sparkling new Suvarnabhumi Airport. Some 140 flights carrying 20,000 passengers daily are now set to use the airport, beloved by many for its quirks -- including a golf course between the main runways -- and its relatively easy access to downtown Bangkok. The revived airport's first flight took off for flag carrier Thai Airways at 6:00 am for the northeastern city of Ubon Ratchathani, an airline spokesman said. A sign draped across the check-in counters read: "Welcome back to Don Muang". "Don Muang has reopened and is running smoothly," said a spokeswoman. Thai Airways is keeping some flights to popular tourist destinations like Phuket and Chiang Mai at Suvarnabhumi in hopes of minimising inconvenience to the more than 13 million holidaymakers who visit Thailand each year. Two other airlines, low-cost carriers Nok Airways and One-Two-Go, have moved their flights to Don Muang but international carriers have refused to leave Suvarnabhumi. Don Muang had been shuttered six months ago as officials hoped Suvarnabhumi would establish Bangkok as Southeast Asia's preeminent air hub. Instead, the three-billion-dollar facility has been plagued by problems from cracks in the runways to complaints about safety and sanitation. Officials say that moving domestic flights to the old airport will ease overcrowding at Suvarnabhumi and make it easier to repair the runways and fix other problems.
-AFP 25.03.2007-

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March 13th, 2007
High season booms again
The New Year saw large numbers of visitors arriving on Samui The New Year saw large numbers of visitors arriving on Koh Samui despite bad weather that caused rough seas and high winds accross the Thai Gulf. Bangkok Airways flights were full both arriving and departing the island during the holiday period and many resorts reported high levels of occupancy, with most rooms full between Christmas and New Year. The early signs suggest that for this year at least, Samui's tourism industry will continue to boom. More visitors from regional Asian countries may compensate for a drop in European visitors and a number of top end hotels such as the highly acclaimed Four Seasons resort, which was scheduled to open in February, and the recently announced Conrad Resort to be built on the island's south coast, will place the island firmly on the international destination lists. The high season usually lasts until late March, but some tourism experts on Samui are worried that the poor island infrastructure, combined with Phuket's economic recovery may damage Samui's popularity. The head of the Tha Hotels Association on Samui, Khun Ruengnam Jaikwan recently said it was time for Samui to opt for "quality over quantity" and called for faster solutions to the island's waste and transport problems.

February 26th, 2007
Samui - Trat plane toute to open
Trat The Tourism Authority of Thailand in Central Region 5 (Trat) said Bangkok Airways would launch a flight route between Trat province and Koh Samui.
TAT Central Region 5 Director Chuchat Orncharoen disclosed that Trat would be promoting new tourist spots and attractions to provide more alternatives for tourists on Samui who desire to visit Trat. The two destinations will particularly support the spa industry, which is now popular among tourists and locals. Chuchart said new information regarding Trat has been forwarded to travel agencies across the world. Trat is Thailand's eastermost province, with 52 large and small offshore islands with long, whitesand beaches and unspoiled coral reefs. The province also serves as a major fruit-growing and fishing area. Bangkok Airways is confident over the potentials of the new tourism route between the two destinations despite reports of uncertainty in the aftermath of the New Year's Eve explosions in Bangkok. Pitikan Paungrot, manager of the Tha Som airport in Khao Saming, Trat, claimed that the tragic event in Bangkok did not affect Trat tourism as he disclosed that the number of visitors to Trat did not drop as was expected. He also said the new Bangkok Airways Samui-Trat route would boost the tourism market in the eastern and upper-southern regions. The flight will take less than one hour, he said.

Have a look at the Route Map!

January 8th, 2007
IT Complex II under construction
Samui Lamai IT Complex II A new IT Complex is being built, just next to the first one, between Lamai and Chaweng.
It will include office spaces, food court, retail shopping area, helicopter port, car park etc. The total area will be about 8000 sqm. “The Intelligent Office” construction commenced in December 2005 and will be completed in early 2007; with 39 units spread over six stories of office and retail space. The complex will act as a one stop shop for any property investor. Developers, Constructors, Interior Designers, Lawyers and Accountants as well as a Restaurant, Bank and Cyber Café will be part of this exciting venture. It will boast the highest technology on the island. Internet speeds of 10 MB/s, 2-way satellite back up systems, fibre optic cabling and individually controlled air conditioning for each unit are just a few facilities on offer. 24 hour access and security and only 25 minutes drive from the airport this development is the future of Samui. Building materials of the highest technology provide safety and ecologically friendly and energy saving mechanisms help towards retaining Koh Samui’s beauty.

Visit the official website!

December 13th, 2006
Thailand Has The World's Lowest Unemployment Rate
Thai workers Thailand has the lowest unemployment rate in the world and South Africa the highest, Germany's Federal Statistics Office said Thursday, quoting data from the International Labour Organization (ILO). Unemployment in Thailand was pegged at 1.9 per cent in 2005, according to comparative data from 43 countries collated by the ILO, the German office said. The Thais were followed by South Korea and New Zealand, which both had a jobless rate of 3.7 per cent, according to the survey. Ireland and Switzerland had the lowest unemployment rate in Europe at 4.4 per cent each, while Poland had the highest at 17.7 per cent. Germany's unemployment rate of 9.1 per cent placed it in 32nd place among the countries surveyed. Bottom of the list was South Africa with an unemployment rate of 26.6 per cent. The ILO classes unemployed people as those of working age who do not have paid employment or who are self-employed even though they actively seek work.

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October 24th, 2006
New airport in Bangkok
Suvarnabhumi - THE new Asia Hub! Since last September 28th, all the international and domestic flights, arrive and depart to/from the brand new airport of Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi Airport - bye bye Don Muang! The following figures give you an idea of the dimensions of the new Asian giant. With an area of 3’232 hectares and the largest air terminal in the world of a surface of 563'000 sqm as well as the world's tallest control tower (132 meters high), the airport will be able in the long term to accomodate 100 million passengers a year. And still, 4 maintenance hangars being able to accomodate 12 planes simultaneously, 360 check-in counters, 65'000 meals daily for all the companies stationing in Bangkok, a Novotel hotel with 612 rooms,... in brief Bangkok is on the way to become THE Southeast Asia Hub. The new airport being located at the North-East of Bangkok, it will take half an hour more for the transfer to downtown compared to the old one.

To help you find your way, we suggest you to download the map of the airport in .pdf file format (1,04 Mb) Get Acrobat Reader

October 23rd, 2006
10-digit phone numbers - All mobile users need to add an '8'
Additional number to dial when calling a mobile in Thailand... Since next 1st of December, if you wish to join your correspondent in Thailand on his/her handy, it will be absolutely necessary to add the number 8 right after the 0 on all cellular phone numbers in Thailand.
Example: if the number is 01-1234567 you will have to dial 081-1234567, from abroad until now it was +66-1-1234567, now you have to dial +66-81-1234567.
With this little change, Thailand will have more than 30 million new numbers available, which should be enough according to their appraising for the next 30 years. Namely you can already add the number 8 as of now when calling, as both systems work simultaneously since September 1st. It is a transitional period in order to give room to all the users to get used to this change and to update their mobile phone numbers.

More on this topic in the Forum...

October 3rd, 2006
South to prepare for year-end storms
Last year's floodings on Koh Samui At a recent workshop entitled 'Network Building to Prepare for the Prevention of Natural Disaster', Dr. Somchai Baimuang, the Director of Thai Meteorological Department said that since the beginning of 2006 the 'La Niña' effect has seriously affected Thailand's climate. According to experts, large amounts of rain have been brought about by a combination of low air pressure, tropical cyclones, and a heavy seasonal monsoon. In fact, they say that recent patterns should be seen as a warning that the climate this year is extremely abnormal. "There is a much higher amount of rain than in previous years", said Dr. Somchai. "And we will see storms of varying size hit the South from the end of October through to December. It is therefore essential for the Department, as well as the Governors of all provinces in the South to be prepared, and to pay close attention to reports from the Meteorological Department". Dramatic proof of the climate changes came last June when heavy rains caused serious flooding in what are generally considered dry parts of the country such as the lower Northern provinces. After these surprise storms, lecturers from various national Meteorological Deparments joined with leaders of 8 districts and other related government sections to discuss plans to prevent further loss of life and property. A total of 120 people attended the workshop and it is hoped that preventative action can be taken before the October deadline.

More on Climate and Weather...

September 25th, 2006
Pier damages environment, say locals
Hua Thanon too big, useless and deserted pier should serve as a lesson...PLEASE KEEP SAMUI AN ISLAND PARADISE with just the necessary infrastructure! Ban Hua Thanon inhabitants complained to officials and locals in Ban Taling Ngam about the proposed pier to be constructed in the area. Khun Praphan Poonsawat, the village headman in Ban Taling Ngam received the delegation from Ban Hua Thanon and sent their petition onto Samui District Governor Mr. Decha Kangsanam. He has since presented it to the governor of Suratthani, Mr. Wichit Wichaisan. Ban Hua Thanon villagers claimed the pier would destroy the environment. They also said that Solymar Properties, the company responsible for building the pier had never sought to hear their opinion of local people on the matter. The villagers said they would consult the municipal authorities about the pier. Solymar Properties countered by saying that they had the necessary building permit, obtained from the Marine Department in Koh Phangan. The governor of Suratthani has since ordered the project to be suspended and said that the rights and wrongs in the matter would have to be clarified, and the opinion of local people would have to be heard.

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August 22nd, 2006
Sek Loso plays in Chaweng
Sek Loso, the Thai rebel, sings for the Lo-So... CoCo Blues has been attracting top-notch performers and artists for more than a year and recently was no exception, with Sek Loso playing to an extremely appreciative audience at the popular venue in Chaweng. The performance was no less than electrifying. Those who knew his music simply from CDs but who had never seen him play live before were amazed; this was guitar work at its best. The music is international, connecting people over continents and cultures. Sek Loso is one of Thiland's most popular artists, and now he has gone international. He spent a year in the UK where he learned the language and assembled a new band. His first English-speaking album 'For God's Sake' is produced by Owen Morris of Oasis and the Verve, and has further increased the singer's popularity. It contains a dozen new tunes including 'In the Air' inspired by last year's tsunami. Sek Loso started off poor, and was raised by an aunt in Bangkok. He owned just 2 cassettes of music, but it was enough to convince him that what he really wanted was to be a rock star. He traded in his savings - a meagre 600 Baht - and bought a cheap guitar, got onstage locally at a bar and duly became the leader of a small band. He sent demo tapes of his music to the then most successful Thai star, Assinee, who liked it so much that he released the music on his own label. It sold more than a million copies, and shot Sek Loso to stardom. Loso isn't just the name of the guitarist himself, but the band too, and is intended as a put down for what he sees as Thailand's obsession with status. With so many struggling to be Hi-So, or high society, Loso wants nothing to do with it. It's Lo-so fo him, and his music also speaks to those who are underprivileged and underpaid in society.

Sek Loso's Official Website: www.SekLoso.com

August 14th, 2006
Green Cross Beach Cleaning Project
WITH YOUR HELP WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Network Samui is supporting a programme to clean up Samui's beaches. Beach cleaning will be carried out by hand, at first, but the long-term goal is to be able to purchase a beach-cleaning machine. Consequently this project will need local donations to pay for such activities. Volunteers will inspect participating beaches at least once a week during the high season months (1 December to 31 March inclusive) and once a every two weeks during the low season (1 April to 30 November). They will also investigate any complaints from members of public regarding the island's beaches. The group will employ local people to clear litter from the beaches and surrounding land. Two to three participating beaches will be cleaned per month. Additional litter clearance will also be arranged if necessary, for example, if extra rubbish is washed up after storms. Litter is a potential hazard to marine life, and to people using the beach or sea. If marine pollution is not dealt with it could cause lost revenue from spoilt fish catches, damage to property and a decline in tourism as a result of the dirty beaches.
To help keep Samui's beaches clean, please take your litter home with you!

Green Cross Hotline 0 9875 7411  •  greencrosssamui@hotmail.com

August 5th, 2006
RICE to the occasion
In Thailand you can find a variety of rices including of course the Jasmine/perfumed rice (Thai Hom Mali or khao suaey for Thais), the glutinous/sticky rice (khao niaw, which comes from Isaan) and also the raw brown rice among others Food critics all over the world have praised and in turn raised Thai cuisine as one of the most diverse, well developed and exciting cultural must-tries for everyone. Thai cuisine intertwines Chinese, Muslim, Malay and other peripherical ethnic influences to produce an interesting blend of cross-cultural dishes that has come to be known as uniquely Thai. But regardless of how seemingly difficult or intricate Thai cuisine appears there is one thing everyone, regardless of race and gender, can learn to cook perfectly - and this is rice. To have nice rice, the secret is proportion. Depending on your personal preference, a cup of rice should be cooked with 1 1/2 - 2 cups of water. Soft rice is perfect for mixing in with stir fries giving the rice some room to cook evenly while dazzling on the wok. On the other hand, the somewhat drier version matches most little Thai dishes without any other work. Now for the sticky rice, best leave that to the pros. Innovation and the need for a quick fix have long been helping our domestic selves with the cooking of the perfect rice. For about Bt600, you can buy a sturdy rice cooker at Tesco Lotus and save yourself from using the measuring cup that your mother probably slipped inside your suitcase while you were distracted from deciding which board shorts to bring on your first trip to the then mystical but now busy island of Samui. Cooking rice does require practice even when you are armed with a handy dandy rice cooker. Here are a few tips when things get a little messy...

The rice is chewy and hard in the middle?
- Add just enough water to create a little steam - not more than a quarter cup. Turn the gas range to low fire and put the lid on leaving just a little peek-a-boo hole for some steam to escape for another five minutes.
The rice is cooked but wet?
- Uncover the pot and continue cooking at the lowest heat setting possible to let the water evaporate.
The bottom layer is burned?
- Run cold water over the bottom of the rice pot to keep the burnt flavor from seeping to the rest of the rice. Salvage as much rice as you can.

To avoid having not-so-nice rice, lift the lid and check on the rice once every few minutes despite old wive's tales. Just make sure you put the lid back on after every peek.
When all is done, smell your nice rice. Taste it and take some Kodak moments if you can't help yourself. Don't forget though, it's time for lesson two - figuring out how to make tom yam...

July 13th, 2006
Thailand battles for global spa lead
Refinement of Thai Spas... The Thai spa industry is thriving and currently represents a seven-billion-baht annual revenue. The industry is expected to show a healthy 20-percent growth in the coming year and the TAT, in collaboration with VISA, recently launched a new campaign called "Thai Spa Invite", to lure new international clientele. The Thai government continues to develop Thailand's health-related services. In order to establish its position as the spa and wellness capital of Asia, the Health Ministry has implemented laws to regulate spa operations. Thailand is one of the only countries in the region that has strict regulations. Some of those within the industry believe in specializing in new areas such as medical spas, for which the government will need to invest heavily in reearch and development. While there is a definite strategy to build international clientele, spa operators are also keen to focus on the domestic Thai market, expanding the business beyond the tourist dollar.

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July 7th, 2006
ITB promotes three-island package
promoting an island paradise... Koh Samui has been represented at the annual ITB Tourism Fair in Berlin for several years in a row. The exhibition is always well attended by members of the German Tourism sector such as agents and travel companies, and is therefore considered a good place to highlight the island's attractions to a wide European audience. This year, 40 representatives from the island's tourism industry travelled to the fair to promote special three-islands packages that also include Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, as well as reaffirming the safety and beauty of Koh Samui as a destination. Although the largest number of visitors to Samui hail from UK, with around 150 000 arriving annually; German tourists account for island's second largest visitor group with 134 000 arrivals per year. Local island businesses are therefore keen to maintain the island's profile in that part of the world and feel the ITB is one of the best events in the region thanks to its efficient organization and popularity within the industry.

May 21st, 2006
5th Samui Regatta
The tropical island regatta With this 5th edition of the Samui Regatta which will take place from May 22nd to 27th, 2006, the regatta is definitely an event impossible to circumvent. With participants coming from Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Thailand, you will be able to attend on Monday 22nd at 10:30 am the first departure of this race and until Saturday 27th for the last one. The whole will end by an official reception dinner at the Central Samui Beach Resort. For impassioned, you will have even the possibility of renting a yacht or another boat, in order to see the competition of even nearer... And for the specialists, you will be able to try to take part in the race as a crew member, skipper, or even if you do not have time to come here with your own boat, it is possible to rent one of them.

You will find more information on the official website: www.samuiregatta.com

March 29th, 2006
Changing gender in Thailand for 5000 dollar
two to three foreigners a day undergo an operation. They are nearly always men High quality, bargain prices and two weeks recovery in hospital, but before there is a psychological selection on the motivations of the patient.
Foreigners, many Americans, above all men and often married are the patients who every year decide to undertake this travel of the hope in which, for deal prices (5.000 dollars comprised the recovery) they can realize their dream, to change what the nature has decided for them. "My patients are happy", says Greechart Pornsinsirirak, aesthetic surgeon to the Yanhee hospital in the Thai Capital. Greechart emphasizes that the number of candidates to a change of sex is strongly increasing. "Who are they?" Among turists - the surgeon explains - 95% of them are men who want to become women and they often are middle aged and married. They say to me: "Help me, I cannot hide myself anymore". Why Thailand has become the privileged destination for the plastic surgery, soon is said: in the first place for recognized reputation of the quality of the services offered and then for the relatively low prices of the tariffs, practically tenth of those practiced in the United States. "Here - Doctor Greechart yet explains - an operation of gender change from man to woman which lasts from four to eight hours, costs 5.000 dollar two weeks recovery included". But there are rules to undergo such operation and a praxis to follow. The patient must take female hormones for two years and undergo psychiatric appraisal. The doctor, who has realized 300 operations of gender change and other 600 of plastic surgery, emphasizes this fundamental psychological aspect: the patient must therefore be convinced of wanting to be a woman whose operation must become "the only last obstacle" of his/her existential course.

February 20th, 2006
A creepy wedding
She is in the Guinness Book of Records!! The Thai king of centipedes, Bunthawee Siengwong, and the queen of scorpions, Kanchana Ketkaew, are flown together to wedding.
Him, on the left, is famous for having stayed 28 days together with thousand centipedes. Her, instead, has established the worldwide record in 2002 for having spent 32 days in a cage out of glass with 3400 scorpions.
The very special think also about this outstanding couple is that they work at the Samui Snake Farm, therefore you can meet them on your next visit to Phangka (the location of the Samui Snake Farm in the southwestern part of the island)!

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February 8th, 2006
In Loving Memory of Katherine On New Year’s Day, a tragedy took place on Koh Samui that sent waves of shock and sorrow across the world. Katherine Horton, a young woman from Wales who came to the island for a holiday was brutally murdered on a beach near Lamai. Koh Samui must take full responsibility for this terrible event, and the people who live here must now work together to make sure similar acts of violence are never allowed to happen again on our island. On January 12th, local people gathered at the site of the murder to pay their respects and give offerings to the spirits. They asked that Katherine’s soul be given special care and apologized on behalf of the island for the evil that led to her demise. A poem of tremendous grief was composed to lament the heartfelt loss of this young guest, Katherine. Composed by Wiratch Pongchababnapa, it is printed below, translated and adapted by Kruakae Pothong and Paul Moynihan:
To Katherine
O it’s here where we first met.
O it’s then the day she was found dead
O all that was left was her lifeless shape
O all was lost, she was murdered and raped.
Tis that night she was hurt;
The sea ’n sand did in pain burst
As she struggled and struggled
Yet her hope to live tumbled.
In vain she screamed and cried help,
Her attempt to escape then failed.
The evil devils’ plot was wickedly done;
Her last breath faded; no more could she run.
For she’s been found cold that day,
We, in tumultuous grief, do pray
For her and her tormented kin
O let the healing now begin.
Now think, Samui, think!
In the crystal sea, she was paddling;
On Lamai sandy beach she did walk and lay,
After all she was our guest, how could they?
Can’t you people stop and think?
Our income… their money, what they bring
Yet her filthy death, forced by our own kind,
Killing her kills our livelihood, we now find.
O be it this case is the last;
May we all leave this horror in the past
May we again regain the trippers’ trust
As they are, indeed, so precious to us.
Though what’s left besides dim light of smoky incense stick
Is a shrine of her death and their foolish trick.
Hear the prayers, feel her pain in silence;
Pray for her eternal peace and beg her penance.
Come come, invoke on us and her
Share our loss, swallow our grief ’n make our island safer
So in peace, Catherine rests
in God’s arms forever blessed.

Source: Community

January 20th, 2006
Chinese New Year - Year of the Dog
Gung Hay Fat Choy! - Chinese for Happy New Year Chinese New Year represents the Chinese Lunar Year, which is annually celebrated in February (but this year will be on late January 29). Despite the Buddhist country, Thailand is home to Thai-Chinese, which is the large ethnic group. Chinese New Year (It is Year 4703 by Chinese calendar) therefore becomes one of the important celebration festivals to be held in Thailand. Some companies even stay closed for a week holiday. The Chinese script hung over the door tells that the establishments are closed. On Koh Samui, celebrations are held in Nathon mainly, at the Chinese temple. They also are processions through the town.
The year of the Dog: is a year for reflection and to assess ones values. There will be disturbances, revolts, but as the Dog is always on the lookout, honesty will always rule the day. This year will see great benevolent and idealistic deeds and various unusual changes; a time when broadmindedness and fairness will be supported. a sense of balance and tranquility will be upheld.

January 8th, 2006
The New Big Buddha
Namo Tassa... Work in progress... The famous statue of Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai), mighty symbol of the Buddhist Faith - which is definitely THE landmark and the pride of Koh Samui - with its unique imposing gilded shape standing out against the blue skies of Samui, will soon be nothing but a memory.
In fact, it has been just rigged up with an enormous wheel in its back and, as if it was not enough, a huge barge is being built behind the statue! The Dharma wheel symbolizes the Buddha's teachings spread throughout the world. The boat reminds us the Thai Monarchy. Indeed, the Royal Barge - called by Thais "Suphannahongsa" - is the symbol of the King and it is used for every major celebration together with the Royal Fleet on the River Chao Phraya in Bangkok. The religious Thai architecture is what it is, it was not thought to satisfy the eyes of the laymen, but the Faith of the faithful ones.
Good taste, bad taste? - Each to his own...

December 26th, 2005
Mourners mark tsunami anniversary
Even the skies are crying with us today... - animation courtesy from TNA Ceremonies have been taking place to mark the first anniversary of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami.
Thailand has been remembering more than 5,000 people who lost their lives there in the tsunami, two in five of them foreign tourists. Worst hit was the stretch of coastline at Khao Lak in southern Thailand, where local Thais and the foreigners who were caught up in the disaster bowed their heads in silent contemplation before laying flowers in memory of those who died. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra attended the ceremony, laying a foundation stone for a memorial. "I think you need to come back," Swedish survivor Pigge Werkelin, who lost his two young sons and his wife in the disaster, told Reuters news agency. "You need to go to the beach, you have to see children on the beach, you have to see everything... I must do it and then afterward I can put it behind me." Around 1.5 million people were left homeless in the region after the wall of water stripped away trees, houses and whole communities, and reconstruction could take between five years and a decade.

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December 19th, 2005
Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam launch first joint tourism caravan
Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese dignitaries A joint tourism caravan between Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam has been launched for the first time here on Sunday, Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon announced on Friday. The joint caravan, comprising of about 30 sedans and three passengers buses, is aimed to mutually promote the tourism industry and cultural exchange, as well as to boost understanding and sound relations of the three neighbouring countries and their peoples in other areas, Mr. Kantathi told TNA. He said he himself, as well as Cambodia's Tourism Minister Lay Prohas and Deputy Foreign Minister Huy Kanthoul Vora and Vietnam's Deputy Director for Tourism of the People's Committee in Ho Chi Minh City Le Nhut Tan would jointly launch the so-called 'Bangkok-Seam Reab-Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh Caravan' in a ceremony held at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Representatives of the three countries, including leading tour agents, members of the media and business persons--about 160 totally-- take part in the six-day caravan, which is jointly organized by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), as well as Cambodia's Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry and Tourism Ministry and Vietnam's People's Committee in southern Ho Chi Minh City.

December 5th, 2005
Thais honour His Majesty the King
Long Live His Majesty King Rama IV A sea of candlelight and fireworks brightened the sky over Bangkok's Sanam Luang Monday evening--reflecting tens of thousands of tapers and smiling, happy, loving faces, young and old joining a candle-lighting ceremony, offering blessings in honour of His Majesty the King's birthday.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest reigning monarch, turned 78 today.
At exactly 7.29 pm Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra presided over the opening of the monarch's anniversary event. Participating were government officials and members of the public from all walks of life. It was jointly organised by the government and various organisations. Participants at Sanam Luang sang the Royal Anthem and another song, Sadudi Maharaja (Praising the Great King). The entire event--like the birthday speech of His Majesty the King Sunday evening -- was broadcast live on TV and radio. Throughout the kingdom, in every corner of the realm, Thai people happily gathered for activities to celebrate the auspicious occasion.

November 16th, 2005
Loy Krathong 2005
The floating of a ‘Krathong' – a banana–leaf cup – is intended to float away ill fortune as well as to express apologies to Khongkha or Ganga, the River Goddess One of the most beautiful and popular festivals in Thailand is Loy Krathong. This takes place on the full moon night in November. The Loy Krathong festival dates back to the time of the Sukhothai Kingdom, about 700 years ago. It marked the end of the rainy season and the main rice harvest. It is based on a Hindu tradition of thanking the water god for the waters. During the evening of Loy Krathong, many people will go down to their local klong (canal) or river to float their krathongs. They believe this will bring them good luck. The krathongs contain a flower, a candle and three incense sticks which are lighted before being placed on the water. The people usually make a wish at the same time. Some people believe that if the candle remains burning until the krathong is out of sight then their wish will come true. By the end of the evening, there are hundreds of flickering lights bobbing up and down on the water. It is a really memorable evening.

November 1st, 2005
Buddhist summit meeting gets underway
(The Fourth) World Buddhist Summit 2005 - Bangkok, Thailand More than 3,000 Buddhist leaders from 23 countries gathered in Bangkok today for the first day of the World Buddhist Summit. The summit is hosted by Mahamakut Buddhist University. The 4th Conference of the World’s Buddhist Leaders will continue until Saturday. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn chaired the summit’s opening at the conference hall in the compound of Royal Thai Navy.
“I am glad that Buddhist leaders and Buddhists from 23 countries, both Theravada and Mahayana sects, have come together to seek the shared guidelines about the propagation of Dharma teachings to the world,” the Princess said in her opening speech. She said Dharma teachings would promote peace and mutual compassion in the world.
On the agenda are Buddhism and Information Technology, Propagation of Buddhism in the Globalisation Age, Buddhism: Religion of Human Beings, and the Role of Buddhist Community against Terrorism and Natural Disasters.
Buddhism first reached Thailand more than 2,000 years ago. More than 90 per cent of Thais are Buddhists.

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October 23rd, 2005
Tattoo Contest
Bangkok's MBK Tattoo Contest 2005 - more than 60 artists from Thailand and abroad Do you think your tattoo is the coolest of all? Then you shouldn’t miss MBK Tattoo Contest 2005 hold on 24 October 2005 at the 1st Floor of MBK Center in Bangkok. In the event, you’ll find many interesting activities such as several kinds of tattoo contest, examination of making tattoos and henna and many booths of game. In addition, there will be a Guru of Tattoo interview to give thorough information about tattoos.
3 types of contest: 1. Freestyle black and white tattoo; 2. Freestyle color tattoo; 3. Freestyle large tattoo (at least 1 square meter).
Conditions: 1. Applicant should have at least 18 years old; 2. One applicant can compete only one type of contest.
Good luck!

October 3rd, 2005
Koh Samui Music Festival
Asia ’s Big Live Music Event The Koh Samui Music Festival (KSMF 2005) - one of Asia’s biggest live music festivals - took place 23rd September - 2nd October. KSMF 2005 included a heady mix of international headline acts, including world famous UB40 and the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis among many more of the world’s finest Blues performers (promoted by The John Lee Hooker Tribute), Tropical Big Band and World Music sounds from around the Globe as well as Thailand’s leading performers such as Sek Loso. The Festival takes place against a backdrop of ten days of events and theatre celebrations on one of the most beautiful tropical islands in The Gulf of Thailand. Last year KSMF 2004 attracted tens of thousands of visitors to the island. This year over 100,000 visitors were expected to join the party.

For more info: www.kohsamuimusicfestival.com

September 28th, 2005
Suvarnabhumi Airport ready for inaugural flight
THE new Asian Hub - 100 million passengers a year! Bangkok's new international airport, or the Suvarnabhumi Airport, is now ready for the inaugural flight of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on September 29, Airport of Thailand Public Co., Ltd. announced here on Tuesday. Preparations for the inaugural flight by New Bangkok International Airport Co., Ltd., as well as Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Co., Ltd. and other agencies concerned have nearly 100 per cent completed, according to Airport of Thailand Public Co., Ltd.'s Senior Executive Vice President Somchai Sawasdiphol. They include air traffic control and navigation systems, as well as the construction and surface of the airport's eastern runway, which are now 100 per cent completed, he disclosed. The prime minister and cabinet members' Air Bus 340-600 flight is scheduled to leave the Don Muang Airport at 8:29 a.m. and to land on the Suvarnabhumi Airport's eastern runway at 09:09 a.m. on the day. Mr. Somchai told TNA that the construction and surface, as well as other preparations of new airport's western runway, where a Boeing 747-400 flight of journalists will land on the day, and the Gate E1, where the prime minister would walk through a passenger terminal had been nearly completed and would be certainly ready for the auspicious flight debut on September 29, he said. The prime minister is also scheduled to test run the airport's immigration, customs and luggage service systems before leaving the Suvarnabhumi Airport. Security measures had also been well-prepared with about 1,000 security officers to be on duty on the day, said Mr. Somchai. Other activities marking the auspicious openning of the airport, including a mini-marathorn running competition, will also be organized at the airport on the day, from 05:00 a.m. to 02:00 p.m., according to Mr. Somchai. The government earlier announced that the official openning of the Suvarnabhumi Airport would, however, postponed to next year due to delay of the construction of some parts of the airport's structures.

Source: Thai News Agency

August 30th, 2005
Coming of Age
The sole, and hopefully, the latest department store on Samui As with individuals, communities grow and mature, and many believe that Koh Samui, like a person, has grown out of its infancy and is now entering adulthood.
The most obvious evidence of this is physical. The range of services, opportunities and amenities on the island is vast, and the effects can be seen everyday in the influence and actions of an expanding population. But growing up is about more than just getting bigger, it should also mean getting wiser. Most adults learn from the mistakes of their youth and develop an approach to life that is based on experience. Of course, plenty of human beings make the same mistakes more than once, but in general we have the ability to grow out of the indulgences of our youth, and with age look for a balance that allows us to consider more that just ourselves. Samui is a very different place from the one that the first foreign travellers enjoyed thirty years ago, and the island wears many of these changes on its sleeve. A childhood spent living and working with nature helped local people discover new, less finite ways to exploit their natural resources, and this attracted people from around the world who lacked the luxury of natural abundance on their doorstep. But now, as the island approaches middle age, it is crucial that we reflect on the events that brought us to this point, and also look ahead to what we are creating for the future. A number of trends and developments have emerged on Samui in the last few years that could transform the spirit and atmosphere of the island. These elements desperately need to be monitored and regulated in order to make sure that we don't lose what makes Samui special. Scrutiny and controls must come not only from the authorities, but should also be applied by those involved. Construction is one obvious and inevitable part of the island's growth - more people demand more facilities and services. But it is important to consider the damage as well as the benefits which new buildings and developments create. Sensitive designs and considered approaches to construction can improve the island, but stark, urban projects and hastily built commercial complexes clash with the natural environment and give visitors the impression that Samui is covered in an urban rather than a tropical jungle. Likewise, providing regular and efficient transport services may help the local economy, and also ensures that more people come to visit, but allowing unlimited access to cars and trucks also leads to accidents, gridlock and pollution. Another urgent area to consider is cleanliness and hygiene, which have long been on the local agenda, but are yet to be tackled effectively. Water pollution will soon have a serious negative affect on many types of business if it isn't addressed in a practical, responsible way. Then finally, the very essence of Samui - community - may soon be seriously threatened if local people are not allowed to participate in change, and encouraged to work together to make the island safe, friendly and authentic. Important decisions must be made now in order to protect Samui from the irrevocable damage of excess. Grown up choices, backed by positive action will help our island not only reach but also sustain its prime.

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July 20th, 2005
Samui Regatta brings success
The Tropical Island Regatta Khun Panu Woramit from the Tourism Authority of Thailand on Koh Samui was happy to announce that the fourth Samui Regatta was a resounding success. The competition took place from 22-28 May in the seas off Chaweng, Lamai and Bophut, and boats from all over Asia took part with skippers flying in from all over the world. The event is very good for Samui, especially taking place it does during natural low season. Around 5000 people came to the island for the event and it generated estimated earnings of more than 100 million baht. With competitors arriving from so many different countries, communications presented the organizers with a challenge, but fortunately one the event‚ co-sponsors was CAT Telecom, who provided two high speed wireless networks, one at the Regatta head office and another located at the beachside. The latter meant that even on board the vessels navigators were able to check online weather forecasts. A highspeed ADSL network with seven workstations was also provided for visitors, as well as international and domestic phone lines. Thanks largely to the regatta, more and more sailing professionals from the Asian yachting circuit recognise Koh Samui as a quality boating destination. Proposals for a marina are remain vague, but the interest is definitely there, and with the continued success of this annual event, the waters around Samui may soon become one of the region premiere sailing spots.

June 26th, 2005
Developing Responsibility
What actually is a developed country? Koh Samui is a developing island, in what the world still sees as a developing country. Despite its prominent international status and regional influence Thailand is yet to be accepted by the west as one of the world’s elite nations. But what exactly qualifies a country for ‘developed’ status? If it is money, then as one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a major export industry and considerable national wealth, Thailand should surely be a strong candidate. If it is education and training, then this country also leads the field with a relatively large percentage of the population attending university, and a consequent pool of highly skilled professionals. If it is political structure, then as a young democracy Thailand appears to have achieved high levels of participation and accountability. In fact, with a sophisticated transport system, cutting edge technology, and some of the best medical care in the world it’s not surprising that Thailand’s appeal as a tourist destination has managed to survive both natural and human catastrophes. Yet all this is not enough to earn the title ‘developed’ nation. Some academics argue that strong ethics and morality distinguish developed countries from their peers. Institutions such as a criminal justice system and a public welfare department are designed to ensure that every citizen is given the same basic human rights. In theory, those who are unable to help themselves can ask their fellow countrymen for support and assistance, and high taxes are used to improve living standards for everybody. Yet even when these organisations exist and receive adequate funds, there are still plenty of cases where people are forced to live in poverty or find themselves the victims of unfair treatment. But the essential factor is the existence of principles, because without a society based on principles there can be no real human development. Is Thailand based on principles? Of course it is. Family values, strong traditions and the Buddhist notions of right and wrong are deeply embedded within Thai culture. Most young people still treat their elders with respect, and there is also a strong sense of community, especially in smaller locations like Samui. Sometimes, in fact, Thai principles are so heartfelt that ‘liberated’ foreign ways can cause considerable offence. Yet even when this happens the Thai character prefers to avoid confrontation and leave it up to each individual to decide how best to behave. Perhaps this is one reason why the west believes Thailand still needs to develop? Here, people have not yet reached the point where they rely completely on others to make their judgements and enforce rules - freewill and personal responsibility still count. Perhaps development is not just about principles or choices after all, but consequences. However big, powerful or successful a society may be, its money, education, politics and morality matter little when people refuse to accept the consequences of their actions. When we destroy nature there will be disasters, when we exploit our fellow human beings they will find ways to seek revenge, when we live only for profit we will die with an empty heart. Only when we face these consequences can we hope to avoid them, and only by avoiding them can will truly earn the right to call ourselves developed.

Source: Community

May 21st, 2005
Samui Regatta
The Koh Samui Regatta The 4th edition of the Samui Regatta takes place from May 21st to 28th. The regatta officially starts today but the races will begin on Monday May 23rd at 10:30 am, with a day off on Thursday (in order to play golf), and will end on Saturday May 28th. On the same day, at 7 pm, the winners will be awarder with a prize. To close the annual event, a big party will then be held at the Central Samui Beach Resort in Chaweng.

For more details, please visit the official site: http://www.samuiregatta.com

May 11th, 2005
Miss Tiffany's Universe 2005
Miss Tiffany Universe 2005 Tiptantree Ruksuutisanti, 20 years old, has been awarded Miss Tiffany 2005, annual beauty contest set aside for transvestites held in Pattaya, Thailand.
Tiffany's Show Pattaya Co., Ltd. has started organizing the popular beauty pageant for the women of "the second category" called "MISS TIFFANY'S UNIVERSE" since 1998. The popularity of the Contest has become well recognized among Thais and international publics & medias and drawn tourists from all over the world to see and prove the talents of these beautiful women of the second category. Some of the objectives of the contest include: to make a donation to HIV infected children and create awareness of the disease, to create a human right awareness and to promote a positive transvestite image internationally.

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April 10th, 2005
Songkran is coming
Originally this tradition started from the bathing ceremony, in which the Buddha images in the temples get cleaned. The young people poured small amount of scented water on the hands of their elders as a sign of respect Songkran is a word from the Sanskrit language that means to "move into", and it refers to the orbit of the sun moving into Aries. It marks the end of a 12-month cycle and the beginning of a new solar year and is therefore Thailand’s New Year. Despite the setbacks suffered by the Thai economy recently, Songkran will certainly be celebrated with the usual energy and abandon. Many local people may even see the New Year as a chance to move forward, out of the shadow of the tsunami and into more stable existence - a time to wash away misfortune. The Thai New Year is celebrated every year on April 13 to April 15. Of all the feasts and festivals in Thailand, which are many, the Songkran Festival is the most striking, for it is widely observed not only in this country but also in Burma, Cambodia and Laos. The most significant tradition on Songkran is the throwing of water. Everybody meets on the streets with bowls of water, water guns or even a garden hose, and everyone passing by will be soaking wet quickly. Some even mix coloured powder into the water. In general, Songkran is a time for cleaning and renewal. Many Thais take this opportunity to give their home a thorough cleaning. Originally this tradition started from the bathing ceremony, in which the Buddha images in the temples get cleaned. The young people poured small amount of scented water on the hands of their elders as a sign of respect, however nowadays this ritual changed from its traditional origins to just having fun.

April 2nd, 2005
Tsunami Prayer
December 26th, 2005: The infamous day that jolted Asia and the World... Religious leaders on Samui recently held a multi-religious prayer meeting for the victims of the Asian tsunami. The event brought together Muslims, Christians and Buddhists who joined faiths to send a message of spiritual support to their cousins in on the Andaman coast, as well as all those who were hurt or badly affected in other parts of the region. The prayers were recited at the ferry pier in Nathon, and those in attendance reported that despite religious differences, there was an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect throughout the proceedings. One Million baht in aid was also presented to the Suratthani Governor, Khun Vijit Vitchaisarn, which will go towards helping rebuild lives and homes in the worst affected areas.

March 28th, 2005
8.7 Quake rocks Indonesia
Tsunami alerts cause panic across Asia after huge quake off Indonesia A major earthquake in the Indian Ocean has hit the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, just over three months after last year's tsunami.
It struck just before midnight local time, with an estimated magnitude of 8.7, and caused widespread panic. Its epicentre was located at about 200km (125 miles) off the Sumatran mainland. There were unconfirmed reports of dozens killed by the tremor on the Indonesian island of Nias.
A tidal gauge has detected a small tsunami in the Indian Ocean several hundred miles southwest of the earthquake that struck off the coast of Indonesia on Monday. The U.S. Geological Survey reported that an instrument near the Cocos Islands recorded the passing wave, but the magnitude of the "small" tsunami was not clear. Scientists say the threat of a tsunami striking Indonesia and Thailand may have passed because a wave like the one that hit the region on December 26 would have reached those countries almost immediately.
Residents of coastal regions around the Indian Ocean have been rapidly evacuating after the earthquake. In Thailand, thousands of people in the six provinces affected by the December 26 tsunami were moving to higher ground or 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) inland, the governor of Phang Nga province said. Thailand and India, badly hit by the 26 December disaster, issued tsunami alerts while Sri Lanka evacuated coastal areas. However, Thai officials later told local television the threat of a tsunami appeared to have passed. "Three hours after the earthquake, there is no sign of a tsunami in any of the six provinces where the warning was issued," said Chalermchai Akekantrong, deputy director general of the meteorological department. "The people can now return home, it's safe," he said.

March 24th, 2005
Spa certificates
Koh Samui is world fsmous for its high quality standards Spas The health department recently began to issue certificates of quality to Spas on Samui based on discussions last year with both Koh Samui and the national Thai Spa associations. The idea is to encourage cleanliness, service, quality and professionalism throughout the health spa industry, and to set a benchmark for new establishments to follow and adhere to. Spas that pass an inspection test and fit the criteria required by the government are issued with assign and logo which identifies them to clients as achieving the highest quality standards. This well help customers choose a good spa while they are on Samui, while at the same time adding to the distinction between health centre and massage parlors, a distinction that all the spa associations in Thailand are keen for the government to recognize officially.

Source: Community

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March 12th, 2005
Blue Sky Value
Quality products and services at reasonable prices, that's exactly what Koh Samui needs to remain a pure Thailand's tropical paradise The government recently launched a campaign designed to help consumers choose outlets that offer them the best value for money. As of this month, "Blue Sky" shops and food outlets will display a flag to guarantee their customers the best quality at reasonable prices. Local restaurants and street stalls that join the scheme will be required to charge no more than 20 baht for a portion of food, but in return they will receive free advertising via the campaign's publicity materials, and their customers will also know that they offer the best for less. Training will also be provided free of charge to the staff of those establishments that join the initiative, and it is hoped that in this way the province will become known for quality products and services at reasonable prices.

Source: Community

March 6th, 2005
New Bangkok Airport To Operate March 2006
The Suvarnabhumi Airport is envisioned to stand as one of Thailand’s landmarks. The target is for it to become Asia’s aviation hub. The whole complex covers an area of 3,200 hectares entailing an investment estimated at Baht 125 Billion. State-owned Airports of Thailand PCL said late Friday that commercial operations at Bangkok's new international airport will begin in March 2006, six months later than its previously scheduled Sept. 29, 2005 opening. Srisook Chandrangsu, AOT's chairman, said construction of the Suvarnabhumi Airport would be completed by September, but it may take around six more months to test all the systems. "On Sept. 29, there will certainly be tests by aircraft," he said, referring to take-offs and landings. "However, we need to have tests of all systems. If we can complete all the tests sooner, it's possible that we may start commercial operation before March," Srisook said, responding to reporters questions. A source at AOT said overall construction work at the new airport is currently 86% complete. The new airport is designed to accommodate up to 45 million passengers a year. Italian-Thai Development PCL (ITD.TH), together with Japanese partners Takenaka Corp. (TNA.YY) and Obayashi Corp. (1802.TO), hold the contract to build the passenger terminal and concourse buildings of the airport. AOT operates five airports in Thailand, including Bangkok's existing international airport and the facility, officially called New Bangkok International Airport.

Source: Yahoo News

February 28th, 2005
Suratthani Food and Tourism Fair
Diversity and refinement of Thai food To compliment the province's "100 islands" marketing campaign, Suratthani governor Khun Wichit Widjaisan has introduced the "Hundred Kitchens" concept to Suratthani province which aims to promote the region's excellent range of seafood products, many of which are already exported both nationally and internationally. The annual Suratthani food fair will focus this year specifically on prawns and shellfish, and national expert and respected food critic "Mueck Deng" or "red Ink" will be in attendance to provide his much respected professional opinion. Mainland Suratthani Province as a whole is very popular with Thai visitors, as well as foreigners, and places like the spectacular Ratchprapa Dam and lake, as well as the beautiful Khao Sok national park have seen a major increase in visitors over the last year. Apart from domestic Thai tourists, the area is also particularly popular with visitors from the UK, Germany, China and Japan. In fact, according to official reports, many of the hotels and guest houses in the province enjoy one hundred percent occupancy during peak periods.

Source: Community

February 25th, 2005
New Run of Water Projects
Samui, Phangan and Tao need more and more water to supply demand... The director of the Irrigation department, Khun Samart Chokurapisak, says that the water supply to Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao remains a high priority in the face of imminent shortages caused by the increasing imbalance between supply and demand. Despite continuous discussion and regular attempts to improve the situation, the Municipality Offices on each island are still far short of providing enough fresh water to cope tourism needs. The latest round of water projects is listed below, along with approximate budgets and timescales. Hin Lad Dam and reservoir at a cost of 189 million baht will take 2 years to complete. Bang Rak Lake will be excavated to a further 3 metres with a plastic basin inserted to prevent salt water contamination. This will provide 300 000 cubic metres of water per year at a cost of 72 million baht, and will take several months to complete. A lake will also be dug in Baan Tai on Koh Phangan. This will provide a round 2 000 000 cubic metres of water for the island annually and will also be developed into a recreational area. The cost is 295 million baht and the project will last three years. An additional area will then be excavated in Baan Tai to provide a further 1.2 million cubic metres of water at a cost of 72 million baht over two years. On Koh Tao, a water basin costing 130 million baht will be constructed to provide the island with around 2 million cubic metres of water annually. This project will take two years to complete. The above projects will provide fresh water, parks and recreational areas for the 700 000 tourists that visit these islands every year. The government justifies the disruption that will be caused based on the subsequent benefit to the local environment and economy.

Source: Community

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February 21st, 2005
Chinese people like Samui
Chinese people Increasing numbers of Chinese visitors are expected in Thailand this year, especially at the country's beach resorts in places like Samui, Phuket and Koh Chang. There have been a number of promotional campaigns in Chinese cities, especially in and around Shanghai which has a large middle class population, most of whom are interested in four and five star resort accommodation and package tours. Koh Samui holds particular appeal for Chinese tourists thanks to a Chinese-influenced history and culture, and also because of the recreational opportunities on offer such as golf and diving. The tourism authority expects China to become Thailand's third largest tourist source by the end of the coming year, and many businesses on Samui are keen to tap into this growing market.

February 17th, 2005
TAT Statistics
The laidback life of Koh Samui attracts always more holiday makers... Khun Panu Woramit, the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand on Koh Samui says that tourism figures showed an overall increase of 23% last year, and that the Italian and Canadian markets represented the most significant rise in visitor numbers. He also released financial data that showed the island as a whole making around 5900 million baht from tourism in 2004, which is around 30 million pounds and 50 million Euros. The average lenght of stay for foreigners was four days, and they spent around 3000 baht per person per day, whilst Thai visitors stayed for an average of two and a half days, and spent between 1500 and 2000 baht on their holiday. High season occupancy is already approaching 100% in most of the larger resorts, with the vast majority of bookings coming from Europe, and most visitors still opting to stay in Chaweng. Khun Woramit adds that Samui now enjoys a strong reputation in a number of countries around the world.

Source: Community

February 9th, 2005
Chinese New Year - Year of the Rooster
Chinese celebrations are always colorful and funny... Chinese New Year is a time when gifts, flowers and sweets are exchanged and all debts are paid before the new year begins. The festival celebrates the earth coming back to life and the beginning of ploughing and sowing. It is regarded as the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The date for the beginning of the new year falls on the 24th day of the 12th month of the lunar year. This year New Year's Day falls on February 9th in the Western calendar and it is the year of the rooster. The Chinese believe the animal that rules the year in which you were born has a big influence on your personality. Rooster, hen and chick People born in the Year of the Rooster are said to be decisive and hard working. Famous roosters include: Yoko Ono and Michael Aspel. In Thailand during trut jinn (Thai for Chinese new year), temples become crowded with worshippers burning incense, making offerings and praying for fortune and happiness in the coming year (11% of the population is Chinese). On Koh Samui, the celebration takes part in Nathon (where the local Chinese community was first established) at the Chinese temple and with a procession in the streets, as well as at the Chinese temple close to the Laem Din market in Chaweng. The streets are decorated with paper scrolls and squares inscribed with blessings and auspicious words such as happiness, wealth and longevity. It is not unusual to see worshippers pierce their body with needles and to be in a trance during the procession.
Kung Hei Fat Choi! (Chinese for Happy New Year!)

February 6th, 2005
Thai PM heads for landslide win
Thaksin said a single-party cabinet would speed things up Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is heading for an unprecedented second term after apparently winning a landslide victory in general elections.
Mr Thaksin claimed victory after exit polls gave his Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party 399 seats in the 500-seat parliament. "The numbers are more than enough to establish a one-party government," Mr Thaksin declared. The opposition, which has admitted defeat, has said Thailand risks becoming a one-party state. But his management of the situation after the 26 December tsunami - and the Thai economy's strong performance - appear to have convinced voters to give him an unprecedented second consecutive term. Policies such as providing health care for less than a dollar, and promises to eradicate poverty across the kingdom, have made him immensely popular among the poor.

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February 2nd, 2005
More Links with China
China, a huge human potential! Suratthani's trade and tourism links with China received a further boost last month, firstly, when a twenty one person delegation visited the province to see its most famous sights, which included trips to Koh Samui and the Angthong Marine Park. They were invited by the new provincial governor, Vichit Vichaisan, who is keen to build closer relations with China, and who was therefore pleased to announce after the trip that his guests were impressed and delighted by everything they saw. In addition to this visit, a team of officials from Suratthani were sent to the China Expo in Nan Ning, where they set up a stand promoting Thai frozen seafood, and furniture made in Suratthani from rubber wood. The Thai officials also provided information on skills and services for the tourism industry, and were well received by their Chinese counterparts. China is becoming a major market for several of Suratthani province's products and services, and both these events will undoubtedly result in greater co-operation between the two regions in terms of trade, tourism and the exchange of skills and expertise.

Source: Community

January 25th, 2005
Speedboat sinks
The rescue operations... Seven people have drowned and another six or seven are still missing after a speedboat returning to Koh Samui after a full moon party on Koh Pha-ngan abruptly capsized and sank early this morning. Col Arkom Saisamai, Superintendent of Samui Police Station, told the seven victims were three Thais, an American man, an Israeli woman and two other foreign men who have yet to be identified. Police divers who examined the sunken speedboat said that it appeared that the steering shaft had snapped. This would have caused the boat to swerve violently and uncontrollably. Asked whether any of the passengers were wearing life vests, Col Arkom said he did not know, but added that life vests had been found in the wreckage of the boat. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, although the boat was not meant to carry more than 30 passengers. Thai marine police said they suspected the accident was caused by overloading...

January 24th, 2005
Underwater World
Project A.W.A.R.E - Support and protect the fragile underwater ecosystem by collecting rubbish next February ¦ photo courtesy from Big Blue Diving Centre Samui Due to the success of the Koh Tao Diving Association's 'Underwater World' occasion last year, the island plans to repeat the occasion on an annual basis. Khun Wichit Sri Sang, the Director of the association says that with Koh Tao now certifying five thousand new divers every year, events like 'Underwater World' are important promotional tools, and also help to protect the environment through the collection of rubbish at many of the popular dive sites in the region. The event will take place in early February, and it is hoped that greater awareness of the fragile nature of the marine world will also help preserve the island's reefs for future generations to enjoy.

Source: Community

January 20th, 2005
Forest Threatened
Samui offers beautiful viewpoints up in its hills, help keep Samui a paradise island As well as the coconut trees, Samui’s mountain forests are now also under threat, both by logging and excessive development.
The Samui District Office recently proposed monthly surveys by helicopter to measure the extent of deforestation around the island, and also to identify the landowners and developers responsible for this deforestation. Khun Theerayut Eintrakul, the busy District Chief is behind the idea, which he hopes will reduce the speed of deforestation in areas that have, until now been difficult to monitor.

Source: Community

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January 12th, 2005
Oil and Gas Solutions
PTT, the state-owned petroleum company PTT, the state-owned petroleum company, has been working on a number of ways to find domestic and regional solutions to the rising price of oil. The company is carrying out new exploration inside Thailand, and is also working with neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam to find new sources of oil and gas in the region as a whole. A survey is under way in the Thai gulf, and in the Nanuang area oil is already being drilled and refined by Thai Shell, a company with previous experience in handling local grades of gas and oil. Four other sites are also being explored and tapped, and through these and the above-mentioned international measures, PTT hopes to increase the Thai reserve, which currently stands at 937 million barrels, by up to 20% in the coming years. This may prevent fuel prices rising to levels that would spell economic disaster for many citizens and businesses in the Kingdom.

January 4th, 2005   (Happy New Year!)
Nathon Pier Update
Nathon, where tiny fishing boats mingle with ferries A new pier is to be constructed in Nathon, in order to provide for the increase in ferry services, traffic, and goods arriving on the island. The original pier was not designed to handle the volume and weight of traffic that currently passes over it, and parts of the structure are therefore beginning to show signs of deterioration. The new pier will be built opposite the large meeting hall in Nathon very close to the existing facility, and two ferries will be able to moor and unload their passengers and cargo simultaneously. The government are currently taking bids for the construction of the pier, which is expected to cost around 200 million baht to build, and should be finished in two years time. The old pier will remain as a mooring for smaller vessels such as fishing boats, and it is hoped that separating the two facilities will also create a more efficient, organized service for passengers travelling to and from the mainland.

Source: Community

December 31st, 2004
the first casualty of disasters is innocence... The death toll from Sunday's tsunamis has jumped to more than 134,000 after Indonesia reported nearly 80,000 people were killed in that country alone. Many who did survive are struggling to stay alive, and the World Health Organization estimates that five million people are without basic needs. Saying an unprecedented catastrophe requires an unprecedented response, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed for the international community to come together to help aid the areas ravaged by the tsunami. He said the international community had reacted well to the wave aftermath but long-term commitment was required.
Please remember to donate, each single donation is important (here for your donation). Thank you very much.
In Thailand, officials have confirmed more than 4,000 deaths, 1,000 of which are believed to have been in the low-lying coastal province of Phang Na. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Thursday that casualties reach 7,000.
At Koh Samui Info, we created a special Asian quake/tsunami aftermath page which will provide our visitors with some useful information, maps, links about the missing persons in Thailand as well as emergency numbers, embassies addresses, etc.:

December 27th, 2004
Patong beach in Phuket, Thailand, on Sunday. An 9-magnitude undersea earthquake off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island prompted massive tsunamis across Asia Yesterday morning at 7:59 am (local time; 0:59 GMT) massive waves caused by the world's largest earthquake recorded in 40 years (9.0 on Richter scale) have killed more than 14'000 across South and South-East Asia. Giant waves - Tsunamis - triggered by the earthquake, hit off west coast of Sumatra Indonesia in the Indian Ocean, have swept across an area from Indonesia to the Eastern cost of Africa! Coastal villages have been swamped and homes destroyed in Sri Lanka, Southern India, Indonesia, Maldives, Malaysia and the Southwestern tourist resort coasts of Thailand (Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Trang).
In Thailand, after the massive sea surges, more than 430 people have died, 3'500 were injured and hundreds are missing. The worst hit areas were on beaches near Phuket, with reports of divers and sunbathers being suddenly swept out to sea. Phuket's major beach town, Patong, was flooded and extensive damage had been reported. At 8:30 local time (1:30 GMT), hotels were under water after 5m-10m (16 to 33 feet) waves hit the coast and there were reports of tourist bungalows being carried away by the water. There were particular fears for divers, since the tidal wave hit when hundreds of tourists and instructors were in the water for a Boxing Day dive. Around 80 divers were reportedly rescued from the famous Emerald Cave, which divers can only reach by swimming underwater. Another two are said to have died. On the island of Koh Phi Phi, made famous as the location for Hollywood film The Beach, officials spoke of widespread damage and islanders and tourists being airlifted to safety. PM Thaksin Shinawatra ordered immediate evacuation of tourist areas.
The Samui Archipelago (Koh Samui, Koh Pha-Ngan, Koh Tao, Angthong, etc.) luckily was not hit as it is situated on the Eastern Coast of Thailand (Gulf of Thailand-South China Sea, thus Pacific Ocean) and for this reason, we do not expect here damages caused by the Indian Ocean earthquake. Here on Samui everything is perfectly normal, there are many tourists in the main spots of the island as it is the peak season, and we can hardly imagine things so huge and tremendous have happened a few hundreds kilometres away...
Throughout this morning many foreign embassies have been busy organizing people at Provincial Hall in Phuket Town to be contacted for information about their nationals who may have been caught in yesterday’s deadly tidal wave.
Note! Tidal waves did NOT affect Koh Samui Archipelago.

List with the names of victims in Thailand
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