Samui Wining & Dining
Dinning from your Beach Towel.

You’ll never go hungry at the beach on Samui.


12You’ve been counting down the days, ticking off each one, getting closer to your tropical island holiday. Finally, it arrived and today has been declared your ‘do nothing but lie on a beach towel’ day. Can you really do nothing but lie on your towel all day? Won’t you get hungry? Well, let’s find out.

      During the day, most beaches are full of various beach vendors selling everything from beach balls to grilled chicken. Eating from these vendors is not for those who are looking for sophisticated or fancy cuisine. This food is simple, carefully and sometimes cleverly prepared, and always very tasty. You might not like the smell of grilled chicken alongside the smell of coconut sun tan oil, but for these vendors this is their livelihood and probably their only source of income, so do give them a chance. A quick check for cleanliness will ensure you don’t end up wasting a day of your holiday ‘confined to your quarters’.

      After you’ve set up on the beach, you won’t have to wait long to notice the food vendors. Covered from head to toe in long clothes and large hats with neck coverings to protect them from their day-long sun exposure, they carry their suspended double-baskets attached to a long pole over their shoulders with practised ease. And you’ll be surprised what you can find in those baskets!

      Where do you begin? How about some fresh, ripe mango and juicy pineapple? One of most popular things sold on the beaches is fresh fruit. Often pineapples in one basket and mangoes, a container for the skins, knives and a chopping board in the other basket. The vendor will peel and chop your pineapple quicker than you can slice an apple, and you’ll have the option of a chilli/salt/sugar mix to go with it. Your mango will be peeled, sliced and placed in a plastic bag with lightning speed. Now you can lie back and relax and continue to top up your tan knowing you’re well on your way to consuming your ‘five-a-day’.

      But the sun takes its toll and after a while you’re thirsty. Sitting up you realise you have a huge choice of vendors. The hot weather ensures that these guys have booming businesses. Do you go for a standard fizzy drink, a beer or enjoy the tropical island specialty of chilled coconut juice from an actual coconut? Hey, you’re on holiday, go for all three!

      As you lie back down, the unmistakable smell of grilled corn-on-the-cob wafts your way. You sip your coconut juice as you scan the beach for the source and finally you find it. A woman with one basket full of ears of corn and a complete barbecue (yes, really!) in the other, smouldering coals and all. This is worth leaving your towel for. You wander over and order not one but two deliciously sweet, golden, grilled corn-on-the-cobs.

       Back at your towel, you’re happily munching on your corn when another delicious smell stops you. Is that barbecued chicken? Another older lady, with a huge smile, has set up a few metres away from you on the sand. She has chicken pieces on sticks grilling on a small barbecue in one of her baskets. She has a little dish of sticky brown marinade and is basting the chicken using a small paintbrush. She must be a regular on this beach judging from the queue of people already forming.

      A young man walks past with dried squid draped over a grid. You decide to pass on that for today. A woman selling small donuts catches your eye and you smile. How can you not eat donuts? After buying a few, she grins and wishes you a nice day and she’s off again already smiling at her next customer. The donuts are sweet and delicious, and while you are enjoying these, another vendor with chicken satay strolls past and is stopped by a group of people that rush over to him - must be another regular.

         Looking for something spicy after the donut, you discover an old lady selling traditional Thai spicy green papaya salad (som tam). Finely sliced green papaya, green beans and cherry tomatoes covered with a mashed juice of garlic, chillies, brown sugar and lime juice. She has all the ingredients in her two baskets, the knives, the containers full of grated papaya and even the pestle and mortar.

         Finally to finish off a rather strenuous day, you call over a young boy selling ice creams. His English is really good and he chats away asking where you’re from and how long you’re staying. He attends school during the week and makes money selling ice-creams on the weekend. How different life is here.

         So we now know. It’s impossible to go hungry on the beach unless you are a vegetarian with a fruit and vegetable allergy! Don’t miss out, support these friendly vendors and enjoy some true tastes of Thailand.


Colleen Setchell

Beach Towel

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