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Life on Samui

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Samui does support a sizeable population of permanent residents. Some have retired here, others start up businesses while the rest come back year after year for extended stays. You won’t be the first nor the last new ex-pat on the island and Samui boasts one of the most dominant ex-pat communities in Thailand.

With a bit of local knowledge you can find the hideaway beaches

Despite Samui being one of the most Westernised places in Thailand, there are of course some cultural differences, and these become more noticeable once you begin to actually live on the island. For a start, you’ll have to reset your watch to ‘Thai time’. Thai people do not have the same obsession for schedule that most Westerners do. Often, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ means that it’ll be done within three or four days. A week could stretch to several weeks, and if they don’t specify a time, then don’t hold your breath. It’s during this time you’ll get to learn the phrase ‘Mai Pen Rai’, which means ‘no problem’ or ‘don’t worry about it’.

Many foreign residents try to cling on to their system from home and just can’t understand why things don’t get done the same way in Thailand. Eventually though we all succumb to the inevitable. Whatever needs to be done will get done at some point and there’s no point shouting and screaming about it. Aggression or angry displays are frowned upon and will likely only make the situation worse anyway, so you might as well just go with the flow. Sit back, pour another Mai Thai and repeat after me…‘Mai Pen Rai”.

Be careful as well when asking questions of the local people. Thai people are very proud and it is always important for them to save face. Asking for directions for example, is always risky. If the person you’ve asked isn’t sure, they’d often rather take their best guess than admit they don’t know the answer or can’t understand your language.

As the numbers of foreign residents and visitors increase, slowly the Thai people are adapting their lifestyle to co-exist in life and in business alongside their Western guests. However, this has always been an inhabited Thai island and Thais make up a sizeable chunk of the people on the island (of course in full season they are possibly outnumbered) and those living here will do well to try and learn theThai language and adopt some Thai civilties, such as offering a ‘wai’ when greeting people of more important status. Ex-pats living on Samui manage to get away without any Thai language skills whatsoever but it’s polite to at least try. Thai society has a well developed protocol of respect and behaviour, mostly centred around harmonious interraction, so remember not to be to pushy.

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Property on Samui
Cost of living on Samui
Learning Thai
The latest visa situation on Samui

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This page last updated: 29 August 2006
This site last updated: 17 June 2005

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