How long after moving to a tropical island, does it stop feeling as though you are on holiday? As I sit writing this, I force myself to focus on my laptop screen, my eyes constantly drawn away to the screensaver-like view from my deck: boats in the bay – million dollar Bayliners are moored next to colourful traditional fishing vessels, strategically positioned as if posing for tourists’ cameras.
Scenes like this make it rather hard to believe that my time on Samui is not one long holiday, but now a way of life. Yes, we go to work and children go to school, but getting into a new routine should not mean slipping back into a rut, or re-entering the proverbial rat race.
Those expats who have been on Samui for some time, may have forgotten what drew them to this island of coconuts in the first place. Perhaps it was for the climate, maybe they stayed for love or perhaps just by chance. Whatever the reason, I challenge you to remember why, and re-ignite that passion that drew you here so long ago.
I often hear expats complaining about life on Samui. They gripe and grumble about matters such as ‘Thai time’, bad roads, frustrating ways of the Thai people, a lack of culture or the fact that Samui is ‘too small’. I say embrace these things. Thai time – fantastic! Who wants to be caught up in the rush again anyway? Too small? There is a lot to be said for living in a small community, rather than just being another nameless face in a city of skyscrapers. If you fancy a bit of city life, Bangkok is not so far away, and Samui is hardly cut off from the world. Perhaps, coming from Africa, my expectations are not as high as those coming from Europe. I am used to erratic services, poor roads and staff communication problems. Other issues aside, nowhere else in the world will you get as many genuine smiles in one day. As a woman, nowhere else on my travels have I felt so safe and never threatened. Is that alone not worth a few frustrations or bumpy roads?
In December, for every plane-load of tourists that arrived to the island, a plane left packed with expats going ‘home’ for Christmas. As the countdown began to the anticipated departure date, you could overhear the conversations in the farang hangouts, all centred along the lines of ‘I can’t wait to experience some culture’ or ‘It will be great to be back in civilization again’ and even ‘I’m looking forward to a proper English breakfast’. Why is it that human nature never allows us to be satisfied with what we have? Lets avoid clichés such as ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’, but this seems so apt in this case. All of those griping about the island and longing to escape back to Europe, have forgotten the flaws of so-called civilization that made Thailand seem so ideal when they first moved here. Walking past these same farang hangouts in mid-January, and you see the same expats recalling their trips back home to each other. Not surprisingly, many cut their trips short, the lure of island life calling them back sooner than anticipated. ‘I couldn’t handle the European weather’ one said. ‘I forgot how irritating my relatives are at family gatherings’ recalled another.
I’ll take bumpy roads any time over toll roads, traffic congestion and road rage. Civilization, what exactly is that? Give me a quaint beach bar any day over a pretentious new place to be seen restaurant, with fickle patrons only there to celebrity watch. So when exactly is the holiday over, you ask? Only when you let it be, I say.