Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Koh Samui - Surat Thani

Ko Samui island of Surat Thani Province (or Koh Samui, Thai: เกาะสมุย), or often, simply Samui as it is referred to by locals, is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus in Thailand, close to the mainland Surat Thani town. It is Thailand's second largest island, with an area of 228.7 km2 and a population of over 50,000 (2008). It is rich with natural resources, white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees.
History
The island was probably first inhabited about 15 centuries ago, settled by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula and Southern China. It appears on Chinese maps dating back to 1687, under the name Pulo Cornam. The name Samui is mysterious in itself. Perhaps it is an extension of the name of one of the native trees, mui, or from the Malay word Saboey, meaning "safe haven". Ko is the Thai word for "island".
Until the late 20th century, Ko Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand. The island was even without roads until the early 1970s, and the 15 km journey from one side of the island to the other involved a whole-day trek through the mountainous central jungles.
Ko Samui has a population of about fifty-five thousand (source: Samui Mayor's Office) and is based primarily on a successful tourist industry, as well as exports of coconut and rubber. It even has its own international airport, Samui Airport, with flights daily to Bangkok and other major airports in Southeast Asia such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Whilst the island presents an unspoiled image to the public perception, economic growth has brought not only prosperity, but changes to the island's environment and culture, a source of conflict between local residents and migrants from other parts of Thailand and other countries. Reflecting Samui's growth as a tourist destination, the Cunard ship MS Queen Victoria (a 2000-plus passenger ship) docked at Samui during its 2008 world cruise.
Ko Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand, about 35 km northeast of Surat Thani town (9°N, 100°E). The island measures some 25 km at its widest point. It is surrounded by about sixty other islands, which compose the Ang Thong Marine National Park (Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park) and include other tourist destinations (Ko Phangan, Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan).
The central part of the island is an almost uninhabitable jungle mountain, Khao Pom, peaking at 635 m. The various lowland areas are connected together by a single 51 km road, running mostly along the coast to encircle the bulk of the island.
The old capital is Nathon, on the southwest coast of the island. It remains the major port for fishing and inter-island transportation. Nathon is the seat of the regional government, and the true commercial hub of the Samui locals. It has a charming pace, and is almost small enough to walk everywhere. The old Chinese shop houses along the middle street whisper of an exotic history.
Each of Samui's primary beaches is now also nominally considered as a small town, due to the number of hotels, restaurants and nightlife that have sprung up in recent years.
Ko Samui, being in Surat Thani Province, has essentially two seasons; warm and tropical most of the year, with a short rainy season. Unlike Phuket and most of the rest of Southern Thailand which has a 6-month rainy season between May and November, Samui's weather is relatively dry for the vast majority of the year, with the rainy season being primarily confined to November. For the rest of the year, since the weather is tropical, when it does rain, it usually doesn’t last long; rain showers of 20–60 minutes are typical.
Historically the island's economy has been based around subsistence agriculture and fishing, with coconuts as the main cash crop. From the 1980s onwards, tourism has become an economic factor and is now the dominant industry. The construction of a stable, high-speed internet connection in recent years has also made the island a feasible location for IT-based enterprises, which are beginning to provide a certain degree of economic diversity. The island's climate and accessibility make it particularly attractive for international investors.
Transportation
Ko Samui Airport (USM) is a private airport originally built by Bangkok Airways, which is still the main operator and was for a long time the only airline with services to Ko Samui from mainland Thailand. The airport is additionally served by Thai Airways International. Several ferries connect the island with the mainland, including the car ferry from Don Sak to a pier in the west of the island, south of the main town Nathon. Public buses to all parts of the mainland operate from a small bus station located in the south of Nathon. Songthaews (tuk-tuk style buses) circle the ring road, and private taxis are available throughout the island although these are often criticized for failure to use meters and flagrant overcharging.
Lifestyle
Although Ko Samui is in southern Thailand, where Islam has a strong influence, the original inhabitants of the island, known as 'Chao Samui', are predominantly Buddhist. In the past, most of the locals made their living in the coconut farming business. Nowadays, however, most work in jobs related to tourism.
Many locals have become wealthy from selling off land they have owned for decades. As a result of the extensive development of the island, many Thai-Chinese have come to Samui from the capital of Bangkok (Khung-Thep). Most of the manual labor needed to keep up with the island’s growth has been provided by people native to the country’s poorer north-eastern region. As a result, there is a wide cross section of economic classes on the island.
The south of Thailand is a melting pot of Buddhists, Thai Chinese, Muslims and traditional sea-faring gypsies. Ko Samui does not seem to suffer from the religious tensions in communities along the southern border of Thailand, and in general the locals live in harmony. Outside of the tourist areas, the Thai language is spoken with a thick Southern dialect which can be difficult even for northern Thais to understand.
With this broad mixture of cultures, Ko Samui is always celebrating some tradition or another, including some western ones.
Resorts & bungalows
After the exploding tourism in Ko Samui there has been a growth in building resorts, bungalows and luxury private villas on the island. This economic growth has led many businessmen from all over the world to invest in Ko Samui. With over 260 resorts and bungalows in Samui, counting from the end of year 2009, it has become Thailand's second largest resort business behind Bangkok and surpassing Phuket.
Events and festivals
Buffalo Fighting Festival One of the best-known festivals on Ko Samui is its Buffalo Fighting Festival, which is held on special occasions such as New Years Day and Songkran. Unlike Spanish bull-fighting, the fighting on Ko Samui is fairly harmless. The fighting season varies according to some ancient customs and ceremonies. The buffalo are beautifully decorated with ribbons and gold-painted leaves. Before the contest which lasts just two rounds, monks spray them with holy water. The winning owner typically takes home millions of baht in prize money.
Ten Stars Samui Art Party A recurring cultural event bringing together art lovers, local Thai and international artists and their new, original artworks. These bi-monthly events, hosted at various high-end resorts and other 5-star venues on the island, focus on building the art community on Ko Samui with presentations by featured artists.
Bowling Championship This is an annual bowling event held in May every year.
Avis Samui Tennis Open The annual amateur tennis tournament held in July.
The Fisherman's Village Festival This five-day festival is celebrated with fun, music and food. The music is usually played by well-known artists and food tents sell inexpensive cuisine provided by local hotels.
Triathlon Event The International Triathlon Union organizes this event every year. This event in Ko Samui draws more than five hundred participants from around the world. The event attracts competitors and visitors as well as locals. This event actually has never taken place and was promoted via a website only.
Samui Regatta The Samui Regatta is a sailing tournament, held every year. The tournament is internationally known and competitors come from as far away as Australia, Singapore, Japan and China. This event, for boats of all sizes and shapes, began in 2002.
Local food
In general, Southern Thai food is renowned for its spiciness. Much of the cuisine has its origins in Malay, Indonesian and Indian food. Favorite dishes from the south include Indian-style Muslim curry (massaman), rice noodles in fish curry sauce (Khanom Jeen) and chicken biryani.
Local food in Ko Samui and its province of Surat Thani are salted eggs and rambutan.
There are four international private hospitals on Samui, Samui International Hospital on the Beach Road in north Chaweng, Thai International off the Lake Road in Chaweng, Bandon Hospital on the ring road and Bangkok Samui Hospital in Chaweng Noi. The Government Hospital is in Nathon. There are also numerous clinics and pharmacies, especially at Chaweng Beach.
There are many retirees living on Ko Samui, making it a popular destination for retirement in Thailand. This is probably due to the climate, natural surroundings, and ease of living on the island.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko_Samui
Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Ko_Samui

4 comments:

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting. Many thanks.

SEO Pondicherry
 
Paulo Travels of Bus Tickets through Ticketgoose.com operates an impressive range of bus services and thus it has achieved a reputable position among the leading bus operators in India. TicketGoose ease the customers to Book Bus Tickets through Online Bus Ticket Reservation by walking into its channel partner outlet which includes Corporate Sectors and Ticketing Agents.
 
Golden Travels is of the best ranked top notch leading bus operators that has served delivering quality bus transportation services in the various inter-city routes. Ticketgoose.com provides the best Online Bus Tickets Booking from chennai to bangalore,bangalore to coimbatore bangalore to hyderabad. Ticketgoose is trusted brand in Online Bus Reservation since 2007. Ticketgoose.com Launched in August 2007 has been a leader in Ticketing Web Portal for Book Bus Tickets Online.They operate over 3000 Destinations in South India and have collaboration with more than 250 Travel Agents.
 
Koh Samui Villas for Sale are located on good hillside area enclosed by prosperous tropical gardens. These villas have elegant combinations of contemporary style and long-established Thai designs.

http://www.koh-samui-property.net/
 

Post a Comment

Followers