Ko Samui ( Thai: เกาะสมุย, pronunciation: [ kɔʔ samǔj ] ) is an east of the Isthmus of Kra, about 35 km away from the mainland, in the Gulf of Thailand located island ( Thai: Ko) in the province of Surat Thani (Thailand).
Ko Samui is also the headquarters of the administration of the district ( Amphoe ) Ko Samui.
With 233 km ² area is Ko Samui, Ko Phuket and Ko Chang, the third largest island of Thailand. It is part of the Samui Archipelago ( Muu Ko Samui), among which about 60 other islands, including Ko Phangan, Ko Tao, Ko Nang Yuan, Ko Taen and the 40 islands of the Ang Thong National Park. Samui is located 258 miles south of Bangkok. At its narrowest point, it is 21 km at its widest point and 25 kilometers wide.
The interior is a large part of secondary forest covered mountain landscape. The original forest was long ago cut down to a few residues to make room for plantations. The highest mountain is 635 m high Khao Kwai Thai in the southwest of the island. A 51 km long ring road around the island, mainly along the coast.
Ferries connect the capital Na Thon, among others, the provincial capital of Surat Thani on the mainland as well as with the northern neighboring islands Phangan (also accessible from the villages of Mae Nam and Bo Phut ) and Tao.
History and Culture
The origin of the present name Samui has not yet been finally resolved. Maybe he derives from the name of a local tree, the Mui ago. Another explanation is the derivation from the Malay word Saboey, the "safe haven".
Samui is, if you believe the legends that are told about it, has been inhabited since 1500 to 2000 years, at least temporarily. At that time, to Chinese sailors landed on the island to take fresh drinking water and to repair their ships. In old maps from the Ming Dynasty in Imperial China, the island under the name Pulo Cornam was first drawn in 1687. Shipwrecks discovered off the coast of Samui containing Chinese ceramics from the 17th century. Samui has long been known also fishermen from the south Malaysia. In the 18th century, coming from the Chinese island of Hainan settlers established permanent, which soon also met Thais from the mainland. It came very quickly to mixing with the locals. During this period, the artificial ' plant of nearly closed coconut trees along the beaches belt is well developed. Beginning of the 20th century finally came still Muslim fishermen from the southern provinces of Thailand added. This mixture of different ethnicities and religions and a largely self-sufficient existence let the islanders develop a special self-confidence. So they see themselves not only as Thai, but also as Chao Samui, the "people of Samui ".
The majority of the population is now followers of Theravada Buddhism. As in other southern provinces of Thailand, the proportion of Muslims 20% is relatively high. But while partially erupt on the mainland for decades repeatedly even violent conflict between the Buddhist and Muslim Thai, they live on Samui peacefully alongside each other. The difference is primarily the that the Chao Samui have a common history, while the provinces were autonomous principalities or Muslim sultanates earlier on the mainland near the border with Malaysia.
On Samui there is a row of Buddhist temple ( Wat ). ( พระ ใหญ่ - Phra Yai ) Most Popular the gilded twelve feet tall Buddha statue, the "Big Buddha" is the Wat Phra Yai ( วัด พระ ใหญ่ ) in 1972 on the small offshore island of Ko Fan ( เกาะ ฟาน ) compared to the northern beach was built by Bang Rak. Less well known is the built on the southernmost cape of the island, also gilded Chedi Laem So ( เจดีย์ แหลม สอ ). In Wat Khunaram ( วัด คุณา ราม ), near the village of Ban Hua Thanon, the mummified corpse of the monk Luang Phor Daeng Payasilo ( หลวง พ่อ แดง ปิย สี โล ) is to be seen, who died in 1973 as a 79 -year-old during meditation and whose body, still has few signs of decay in the same sitting position.
The oldest still inhabited house in Koh Samui was built in 1850.
Traditionally, fishing and the cultivation of palm plantations, the most important economic sectors. Even today, the products of the plantations after tourism, the largest source of income. It exports in addition to more than two million coconuts per month - and they are considered the best in Thailand - especially the product obtained from coconuts copra. In addition, mats are made from the fibers of the nuts produced, used the wood as a building material and for everyday objects and the leaves are still sometimes used for ceilings of houses. Other agricultural products are especially notorious because of its smell Durian and Rambutan ( Thai: Ngo, เงาะ pronunciation: [ ŋɔʔ ] ).
In the 1970s, Ko Samui was of dropouts (see also hippy ) "discovered" that had previously been already in Ibiza, Goa and Bali to involuntary pioneers of mass tourism. However, it took until the late 1980s that Samui goal of "normal" long-distance traveler was. Until then, was the arrival, one night trip by train from Bangkok to Phunphin, the main railway station of Surat Thani, followed by at least a three hour journey by boat to the island's capital, Na Thon, been complicated and very tiring. Then the journey was first progressively improved with air-conditioned buses and ferries own and in 1989 finally in the northeast of the island also made possible by the opening of the airport Ko Samui and package holidays.
The approximately 70-minute flight from Bangkok to Samui made easily attainable " dream island " for international travel agents and their customers. The airport is now also served by direct flights from Singapore, Phuket, Pattaya, Krabi and Hong Kong ( 2005). Today around 1.2 million tourists visit each year from around the world the island.
As a result of the tsunami of 26 December 2004, part of the tourism infrastructure destroyed in the Thai tourist resorts of Phuket and Khao Lak, the number of package tourists has almost doubled on account of their location in the Gulf of Thailand from the consequences of the earthquake uncontaminated island Samui.
The most popular with tourists because of the wide beaches of fine sand and coastal areas are the beaches of Chawaeng, the tourist center of Samui, Lamai and each in the east and the somewhat more exotic bays of Mae Nam and Bo Phut in the north. On Samui may only maximum "palm up", ie usually two storeys to be built so that large hotel buildings avoided and original character to be obtained. In the vicinity of Ko Samui and Ko Phangan, especially the islands of the Ang Thong National parks are destinations for day trips.
The dark side of tourism on a " dream island " advertised Samui are noticeable especially for the original inhabitants. Many complain that they have lost their land to entrepreneurs from the mainland and from abroad. The coconut palm groves that once lined the numerous beaches all along the coast, have already disappeared in many places today. The road to the beaches, which are public space anywhere in Thailand, is hampered in the most touristy developed areas by hotels and bungalow resorts or obstructed.
Food prices are generally increased so much that even the locals now pay the same prices as the tourists. The prices of meat and rice have increased by 300% within a few years. While it was customary to buy at the markets fish in divided pieces, only whole fish are offered, as this is preferred by tourist restaurants today often. Due to the population growth on the island of quality and quantity of drinking water have suffered, which could be traditionally promoted from wells. So the islanders often have to rely on bottled water today.
The easy accessibility - the airline Bangkok Airways currently operates 10-20 flights daily to the island, two shipping companies control more than 30 times per day the island by car ferries - has let the traffic on the 53 km ring road grow very large, which also the risk of accidents increased. Although there are four private hospitals on the island, can not afford all the high prices. The 40,000 locals and the more than 100,000 seasonal laborers often have to make do with the state 166 -bed hospital, in which only 11 doctors work. On the other hand, many new (private ) clinics were built until 2014 in the last few years. The numerous distributed over the island Pharmacies ( pharmacies) provide for simple diseases fast and cheap supply of drugs in counseling by pharmacists. Not infrequently employ nurses pharmacies also which offer similar activities such as home care service in Germany.
Since the summer of 2005, the blue coconut leaf beetle spreads ( Tetrastichus brontispae ) on Samui, the leaves die off, the coconut trees. There are supposed to be already infected 80 % of the palm trees. Since the end of October 2005, trying to get the plague with biological agents in the handle. These wasps are used ( called Tanbian ), which were introduced specifically for Vietnam. With the help of wasps that have already proven themselves as agents against the coconut leaf beetle in other countries, the insects of the palm trees in a period of two years to be brought under control. As the triggers of the disturbances in the ecological system of the island is also the tourism with all its sequelae, such as the construction activity and the partial destruction of the original flora and fauna considered.
A monk from Samui explained the relationship as follows: "He who for many years polluted the origins who also destroyed the essentials. And the essence of this island happens to be the coconut trees. That they disappear now, you could almost thus able to predict already. "
Located in the tropics, the climate on the island is humid and changeable. There are year-round temperatures of over 30 ° C was measured, and the water is rarely colder than 28 ° C. From February to April the sea is calm. Rain means at this time short, heavy showers in the afternoon. From November to mid-December is the rainy season with often heavy monsoon rains. Until the end of September drag at night sometimes storms over the island from May.
The coral reefs from Ko Samui are threatened by deforestation of the country and related to excessive soil erosion, as well as a lack of sewage treatment plants. There was a massive marine pollution. In addition, the reefs are under further pressure by commercial fishing, overexploitation for aquariums using the cyanide fishing, tourism and increased water temperature. These circumstances have the reefs not only at risk, but already largely destroyed. On the north coast and the west coast there are no living reefs more. The marine scientist Dr. Tom Goreau, together with the Global Coral Reef Alliance created an artificial coral reef off Koh Samui, which was created using the developed by Wolf Hilbertz Biorock technology.