Koh Samui is an island off the coast of Surat Thani Province. Ko Samui, an island off the coast of Surat Thani Province, has to be the world most picturesque location for a private investigator to operate.
Samui, (เกาะสมุย) is relatively close (35km northeast) to the main town of Surat Thani and is Thailand’s third largest island, with an area of 228.7 km² and a resident population of about 48,000 (2006) however this is boosted considerably by the tourist trade in the high season.
The island measures some 21 kilometers at its widest point, and 25 kilometers at it’s longest. There is a 51-kilometre ring and largely coastal road encircles the island. There are many small coves and beaches scattered around the island that do not need the skills of a private investigator to locate. Koh Samui is an oasis of natural beauty with its white sandy beaches, dazzling coral, luscious lagoons, picturesque waterfalls, swaying coconut trees and crystal clear water. Tourism is now ahead of coconuts as the islands main industry, however, even today it is still possible to find that perfect spot to relax in peace and tranquility.
Surrounded by about sixty other islands, most of which comprise the Ang Thong National Marine Park, and also include other tourist destinations as Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan, Koh Samui is rich with natural resources, white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees. The island was probably first inhabited about 15 centuries ago, settled by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula and Southern China. Shown on Chinese maps dating back to 1687, under the name Pulo Cornam. The name Samui is mysterious in itself. Perhaps it is an extension of the name of one of the native trees, mui, or it is a corruption of the Chinese word Saboey, meaning “safe haven”. Until the late 20th century, Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand.
The island was even without roads until the early 1970’s, and the 15km journey from one side of the island to the other involved a whole-day trek through the mountainous central, of which some small pockets remain. The central part of the island is an (almost) uninhabitable mountain jungle (peak Khao Pom, 635m) and the various lowland areas are connected together by a single road. In addition to the airport, several ferries connect the island with the mainland, including the car ferry from Don Sak to a pier in the west of the island, south of the main town Nathon.
The old capital of Nathon, on the southwest coast of the island, remains the major port for fishing and inter-island transportation. Nathon is the seat of the regional government, and the true commercial hub of the Samui locals. It has a charming pace, and is almost small enough to walk everywhere. The old Chinese shop houses along the middle street whisper of an exotic history.
Koh Samui thrives on the successful tourist industry, fuelling the need for a professional private investigator service, as well as exports of coconuts and latex/rubber. It even has its own international airport, with flights daily to Bangkok and other major airports in Southeast Asia. It is truly an enjoyable experience being a private investigator in such a beautiful setting. However, while the island presents an unspoiled image to the public perception, economic growth and prosperity has brought with it some unwelcome changes to the island’s environment and culture.
This change of pace is a source of conflict between local residents and migrants from other parts of Thailand and other countries. Koh Samui, like the rest of the south of Thailand has only the two seasons. The rainy season is from May to December and the dry season is from January to April. Since the weather is tropical however, the rain when it does fall, does so heavily but doesn’t last long.
One of the unique attractions on the island is the Grandmother and Grandfather rocks on the south end of Lamai beach are an occasional source of amusement for tourists due to their striking similarity to a vagina and penis. For those who would like to hear a legend or two surrounding the rocks, there is no need to hire an investigator; you need only ask a local.
Even though, Ko Samui is located in the south of Thailand the original inhabitants of the island are predominantly Buddhist. Once upon a time, most the island folk made their living by the coconut business, however many of them now work in tourism. A lot of them have become wealthy due to the cost of their land they have had for decades.
Due to the development of the island, Thai-Chinese Bangkokians have come to Samui by the plane-load to do business. And because of the manual labour needed to keep up with the island’s growth, a great deal of folk from the country’s poorer north-eastern region has come to work and reside there. The south of
Thailand is a melting pot of Buddhists, Thai Chinese, Muslims and even sea gypsies. The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. Ko Samui however, does not suffer from any religious tension and the folk live in peace and harmony. Outside of the tourist areas, the rural folk speak with a thick Southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand.
With this kind of mixture, Ko Samui is always celebrating something be it part of Thai Buddhist, Thai-Chinese or Thai-Islamic tradition. Koh Samui also presents unique challenges for a private investigator.