This past couple of months since the beginning of January have been really busy here in Samui! The students have settled into their last term at school just as much as the teachers have.
We have had four long-term travellers staying with us from January to the beginning of March!
The Samui team were very happy to have welcomed people from all over the world. We are lucky to have had volunteers from all over the world including England, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, Thailand, China, Ireland, Scotland and the Baliwick of Jersey, Channel Islands.
One of the hardest things for our teachers to do, whilst they are staying with us is always saying goodbye to the children at either Bon Thoop school or Thong Krut Nursery. Whether they have been volunteering with us for two weeks or 8 weeks. Saying goodbye is always difficult. Especially when they can see the benefits of their time here. The children have improved tremendously on their English speaking, reading and writing.
For every topic we teach per week, we have a review of the past lesson, this could involve a little test or a competition on the board to see how well they have understood the lesson. Friday has become a popular ‘Friday Funday’ with the children. We stop teaching from the exercise books, we either split the students into group or teams where they have to correctly spell or say key words, sentences or paragraphs. Otherwise we use colouring felt tips and make posters or diagrams on A4 or A3 sheets of paper.
Alternative teaching techniques for encouraging the children to speak English has been phonics. It has really helped the children to grasp the very different phonetics between Thai to English. And keeps it entertaining for the children to experiment saying the various sounds of English words.
We thoroughly enjoy giving our new volunteers an island tour and orientation. This tour includes a trip to Grandmother and Grandfather Rock, the spectacular 360 degree views at Jungle Club, the stunning Namuang waterfall and the Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram, where you can come and test your luck, collecting your fortune. Afterwards we finish our tour at the beautiful white sandy beach on Crystal beach. This gives our travellers time to recover from their jet lag and gain a tan in the process!
We have usually finished our weekend in the evenings at the Lamai walk-in markets. This is a great place for our travellers to sample some authentic Thai street food, purchase a few elephant trousers and a souvenir or two for family members back home.
We have had a lot of fun taking some of our travellers to Koh Tan for the weekends. Koh Tan is a beautiful island located opposite our local village, Thong Krut Pier. It has approximately 15 inhabitants living on the island and is completely covered with rainforests.
We’ve enjoyed the unique insight into a more simple Thai way of living when they visit this island. Our travellers spend most of the day sunbathing but there are also opportunities to kayak and snorkel.
Afterwards at 17:00pm, we take our travellers for a hike around the island. On the journey we were able to see some of the islands wildlife, buffalos, wild boar and tropical birds. Along the way we stopped off at a boardwalk so that we could see the spectacular views of the sunset.
On our way back to the bungalows, the travellers were able to spot some of the island’s local residents migrating to Koh Samui for the evening for food… Fruit Bats! This is both an exceptional and an eerie sight to see.
On Friday the schools were closed, so we booked a snorkelling trip to Koh Tan and Koh Mudsom. We swam in the coral reefs for two hours. The local fisherman brought with him two loafs of bread to feed the fish. Our travellers were so surprised at how close the fish came to touching them whilst they swam in the sea surrounding Koh Tan.
After this, we continued in the boat to the white, sandy beaches of Koh Mudsom for a spot of sunbathing. We sat for hours in the sea, drinking cold beers and sharing stories. We headed back home to Thong Krut as the sun began to set, exhausted from our swim and ready for the weekend ahead!
In Thong Krut village (where the volunteer house is located in Koh Samui) there are many beachside restaurants where one can enjoy thai food, seafood, italian food and other western food. Thong Krut Village is one of the fishing villages in Koh Samui so it is a great location to eat fresh seafood caught on the same day.
A great way for our travellers to relish and feast up on all of the Thai foods is in Chaweng, for a mouth-watering, all you can eat thai buffet meal.
Another good place to enjoy a meal (as well as a drink) is Gringo’s Restaurant, we had a volunteer who came from Mexico. She was missing her food from home and we took her to a Mexican-style restaurant. They served huge, delicious taco’s, nachos, tortillas and we drank from huge pitchers of sangria and margarita! It was a fun, festive Mexican night before the guys hit all of the bars in Chaweng.
Our volunteers at Gringo’s restaurant, Chaweng. Getting involved and wearing sombrero’s!
Additionally, over the past couple of weeks, we have enjoyed many group meals including a Thai style hot pot. A local Thai couple, owners of one of our favourite restaurants, La Bonne Cuisine prepared one for us. A culture experience for many as they can join in one of the several East Asian varieties of stew.
This consists of a simmering metal pot of stock at the centre of the table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, the foods are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. This includes a great variety of foods such as thinly sliced meat, leaf vegetables, mushrooms, egg dumplings, squid, shrimp and fish.
La Bonne Cuisine:
La Bonne Cuisine has become a haven not just for good coffee or good food, but for our volunteers to go to lesson plan for the next week at school or nursery. Additionally, the chef, Thep offers an incredible French/Thai menu, ‘hot pot’ and cooking lessons for our travellers. These are all available at affordable and discounted prices for our teachers on food and drink because we teach his son English at the villages nursery.
He can see the benefits of our volunteers for his son and the local community and wants to help the best way he can. It is a great way for our teachers to immerse themselves into the community by supporting the local restaurants in the area. And sometimes, after a meal, Thep will play live music for our volunteers and give them the opportunity to have a karaoke!
One of the main attractions for our travellers staying here in Koh Samui are its sunsets. Many have found some good beachside restaurants to sit and watch the sun’s descent each night – namely “La Bonne Cuisine” – easily their favourite restaurant in Thong Krut. A trip here, whether or not it is for food or just a quick coffee, makes any volunteer feel instantly at home.
We have usually taken our volunteers out for their nights in Koh Samui to Chaweng to join in with the exciting nightlife. They have revelled in the lazy talks at the small bars scattered around the main area. Happy hour is a good time to be at these bars such as ‘Henry Africa’s’, ‘Hush Bar’ or ‘Happy Bar’ where they can purchase some good deals on drinks (or buckets)!
This usually preps them for the big party later provided at Ark Bar, Hush Bar or the nightclubs ‘Green Mango’ and ‘Sound Club’.
Ark bar is located on Chaweng Beach and is a great place to enjoy the music (and their dancers) played by popular DJ’s in Samui. It is a great place to enjoy a drink or shisha whilst soaking in the atmosphere. Here you can watch the fire shows hosted on the beach. And if you are brave enough, even take part in the fire limbo!
The popular nightclubs to go to in Koh Samui are Green Mango and Sound Club in Chaweng. The party kicks off around 10pm and lasts until the very hours of the morning. The big dance floor throbs with a crowd sweating it out to the latest tunes. Here, our volunteers can throw all sorts of shapes and moves on the dance floor.
Another popular destination for a night out in Koh Samui for our volunteers is Lamai. On Saturday there is the weekly thai boxing events at the centre bars. If you buy a drink at one of the bars, then it’s free for people to watch. Our volunteers can experience one of the most brutal martial arts in the world and at the same time appreciate the bustling surroundings on offer in this area. Another show that our travellers have to gone to watch when they are in Lamai are the glittering performances of the ladyboy show! During the day Lamai is also very lively. There there is nothing better than sitting on Lamai beach with a drink and smooth music in the background. The area is small compared to Chaweng so it is very easy to stroll around on foot and see all the entertainment there.
There are many trips and sights to see on Koh Samui. We took our travellers to some of the top sights to see on the island, to Big Buddha Temple, Wat Plai Laem temple and then had dinner on the beach in Boput.
Someone who is worth making mention to is, Thum, a local taxi driver. We’ve been using him as a taxi driver since the beginning of the English summer that passed. In Koh Samui, we teach both his daughter, at Primary school and his son, at the nursery.
Koh Samui, is the second largest island in Thailand. Many of our travellers are often surprised at how big the island is when they arrive. Luckily the island is full of many friendly taxi drivers willing to take you wherever you need to go.
Thum is one of the nicest, decent, reliable people on this island. He has always wanted to help out the best way he can because he understands and can see the benefits of our volunteer work that we do across the island. The Koh Samui team and our travellers were overjoyed to have been asked to join him and his family celebrate his 34th birthday, last week on Wednesday 4th March.