Samui Wining & Dining
But once a Year

Everyone loves Christmas – but what’s it really all about, on the tropical island of Samui?

>Everyone loves Christmas – but what’s it really all about, on the tropical island of Samui?Let’s see if I can remember how it goes . . . not long after the kids start the new school year in September, you start seeing adverts for Christmas. Then, the following month, you have to start thinking about what presents to send your family and friends abroad. These have to be bought and posted-out sometime in November, due to the forthcoming international logjams. But you need to check your calendar, because of the horrific possibility of a five-week month. In the event of which you immediately and hopefully apply to extend the limit on one or more of your credit cards.

Before the end of November, turkeys and holly wreathes have to be ordered. Then you spend a week or so making more lists. And, as it starts to loom, it’s straight out from work and around the stores, buying-in the seasonal supplies; half a ton of alcohol, decorations, Hoover bags, toilet rolls, carpet cleaner, little bulbs for dead fairy lights. Depending on how the days pan out, everybody has to work right up to the edge of Christmas Eve. So this means that several million people are all in your supermarket parking space and running around with your shopping trolley, just when you need them the most.

And then there’s Ground Zero. The day before - Christmas Eve. The kitchen becomes a war zone and the space in front of the TV a no-man’s land. Children are chastised and occasionally thumped. Husbands are seen gurgling inanely, ripping at their hair as they try to trace the one dead bulb that’s stopping all the fairy lights from working. And in-laws and aging parents are continually – every hour – being reassured on the phone. And that’s before any of the actual cooking starts to happen.

Or you can happily, ecstatically, turn your back on the whole frazzled tangle, and head off to a tropical paradise for Christmas instead. This results in three things, the first and most significant of which is sanity. Following closely, number two is a joyful lack of stress about the entire event. And the third thing is, one way and another, by the time you add up all the costs involved – there’s probably not a lot of difference between paying for Christmas at home and spending Christmas here, on Samui.

To be realistic, that’s not quite true if you’re a family with two or three kids. But, for the thousands of couples who descend on our island every December, all wearing happy grins, it is. Most people aim to get here around about the 20th of the month. This way it allows them to fit the flights and connections from Bangkok into a neat 14-day holiday that takes in the New Year as well. Needless to say, this is Samui’s peak season. Room rates are up. Flights too. Even package deals are expensive. But a great many people would prefer to swim in the sunshine over here, rather than to sink into the festive frazzle back home.

If you’ve been here for Christmas before, then you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. Firstly, it’s no big deal for the Thai nation. They don’t bother with preparations and presents, and it’s not a part of their culture anyway. But they do welcome it as yet another looked-forward-to celebration, and everyone wears Santa hats. And they certainly love the tinsel and glitter; so much so, that many of them keep their Christmas decorations up all year round!

And then, what day are you expecting? I mean, when are you expecting to sit and eat a Christmas meal with all the trimmings? German people do this at ‘Heiligabend’, on the evening of the 24th, together with several other European nations. But then there’s our large contingent of Russian-speakers. They’re all a bit muddled about this as, depending upon what denomination they are, they’ll either start twanging their balalaikas on the 25th December (thanks to the Roman Emperor Constantine, who re- arranged all the Christian festival dates in 324 AD) or alternatively on the 7th January. Or both! And then there are all the Chinese and Korean visitors – but, in terms of demographics, this contingent are quite happy to wave a flag at whatever’s going, rather like the Thai people themselves.

There’s another factor at work, too. If you’ve booked a resort for your Christmas break then, unless it’s a small, family bungalow set-up, the chances are that you’ll also be tied to their New Year gala meal and entertainment – it’s part of your payment. But not so for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This provides you with a wonderful opportunity. All the main resorts are offering their own program of festivities for the 24th and the 25th. But, of course, the temptation is to accept what’s closest to hand.

However, you’ll be in your resort for New Year’s Eve, anyway. So why not take the chance to explore a bit and get out and about! There are some tip-top resorts on Samui, and they’re all offering you (the public) access to their celebrations. Most of the ones that we’ve come across are running events over both of these two key days, some with the emphasis on the 24th and others opting for Christmas day itself. To be honest, it’s something of a free-for-all, and with everyone jostling for customers (you!) and lots of promotions or offers (like one free meal for every four people booking.)

It might happen over differing days, but the spirit of it all is the same throughout the world. Christmas on Samui is a time for celebration and festivities, and there’s a whole spectrum of these to pick from. It’s a perfect opportunity to make the most of it. After all – it only happens but once a year!

Rob De Wet


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