Thursday, 21 August 2014

Koh Samui Hospitals

Picture from Beyond the Sea at the ShaSa Resort

In recent years, medical tourism has grown to become an important segment in the travel and tour industry in the island of Koh Samui located in the Gulf of Thailand, about an hour’s flight from the Thai capital Bangkok.  Substantially lower hospitalization rates, coupled with the island’s resort ambience, makes Samui an attractive destination for patients seeking either minor or major treatment.

Indeed, a lot of savings can be realized by those who opt to have a major operation, cosmetic procedures or dental work during their stay at ShaSa Resort. For a heart bypass, for instance, the medical expenses which a patient will incur in the island can approximately be only about 10% of the cost of a similar procedure in the States. Similar lesser-priced services are available too in Bangkok and Phuket, but still the best deals can be had in Samui.

Available choices

The medical facilities in the island are at par with the high Western standards. The local hospital’s staff members, particularly its doctors, are fluent in English. Some are even conversant in French and German, having taken their schooling in reputable medical schools overseas.  Bangkok Hospital Samui is a popular choice for expats and foreigners seeking treatment in the island, precisely because of its English-speaking doctors, superb facilities, and value-for-money services.

There are at least two other suitable alternatives should doctor appointments are a bit heavy at Bangkok Hospital Samui. An alternative is the Thai International Hospital, one of the newly established facilities in the island. It has a convenient location too, as its campus straddles the boundaries of the Lamai and Bophut districts in Koh Samui.

Resort-like alternative

Up-to-date facilities await those who choose to avail of the hospital’s highly professional services. Besides an A&E trauma center available 24/7, this hospital also has a haemodialysis center. Cosmetic surgery is one of the specializations at this hospital which a resident plastic surgeon under its employ.

Samui International is another new private hospital in the island which has already elicited high ratings among patients from overseas. It specializes in both inpatient and outpatient treatments. Confinement in this hospital is like a resort stay as it has a swimming pool onsite. Pediatrics, orthopedics, gynecology, and dental treatment are among the hospital’s services.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Koh Samui Early History

ShaSa is the finest hotel in Koh Samui
Like many island destinations in Southeast Asia, the settlement of communities in Koh Samui owes much to its protected coast hospitable to seafarers. Its early settlers were either Malays or of Chinese descent who found the Samui coast a haven suitable for fishermen and island-hopping traders. The island’s name, in fact, is thought to have been derived from the Chinese word saboey which translates into “safe haven.”

Besides fishing and trading, growing coconuts also contributed to the growth of the early settlements in Koh Samui which traces as far back as the 17th century. The warm, tropical climate in the island likewise encouraged the cultivation of other crops, such as fruit-bearing trees which became another source of livelihood for the early inhabitants. To this day, fruit exports contribute significantly to Samui’s economy, thanks to such produce as the lang san, a tiny, lychee-like fruit, and the durian, a pungent but sought-after fruit by its aficionados.

Rich economic and cultural mix

Rubber plantations constitute another income source which helped shape Koh Samui as it today. As the years rolled by, the island became one of the important sources of rubber raw material and coconut produce in Thailand. Given these products’ economic potential, enterprising businessmen from the mainland soon came into the picture in Samui.

Settling permanently in the island is only but practical for these early entrepreneurs, as sailing from the mainland in Surat Thani in the early days can take from seven to eight hours. With the ensuing rise in migration, the island’s cultural mix has been enriched to include Muslims, although Buddhism remained as the principal religion.

Tourism spark from backpackers

Tourism only started to have its presence felt in Koh Samui during the 1970s. These early visitors were mostly Europeans, young and adventurous backpackers who were drawn by the unspoiled natural environment and laid-back lifestyle in the island. Accommodations in Samui were pretty basic then, but these are hardy visitors who sure don’t mind and even relish such Spartan conditions.

Subsequently, Samui’s fame as an escape from well-trodden tourist destinations spread to the mainstream travel industry with resorts like ShaSa Resort & Residences. Slowly, infrastructures encouraging more tourists to come, such as a regular ferry service, were established. These developments culminated in the construction of an airport, eventually resulting in Koh Samui earning its rightful spot in the world’s tourist map.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Visiting Koh Samui: Should I Take Malarials?

Beware of the mosquitos in Koh Samui 

There is no need for you to take malarials if your trip to Thailand is confined to a stay at ShaSa Resort on Koh Samui. This resort island is one of the major Thai tourist destinations wherein visitors and locals face an extremely minimal risk of contracting the mosquito-borne malaria disease. Major Thai cities like the capital Bangkok and other travel hotspots such as Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai are also malaria-free.

However, there’s a possibility of encountering malaria in other places, such as in Koh Pha Ngan, an island north of Koh Samui. Travelling to Thai rural areas, particularly those bordering Burma, Cambodia, and Laos, could also bring you into contact with malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and hence, it would be advisable for visitors taking a trip to these places to take malarials.

Follow what the doctors say

Seek the advice of a qualified or certified medical professional on the best malarial to take if your Koh Samui itinerary extends to areas that are risk-prone to malaria. Be sure to obtain medical advice a good number of days prior to your trip, as some anti-malaria solutions need to be taken early enough in order for them to be effective.

It is also important to consider that malarials don’t provide total protection from the disease. What some solutions can give you is the lead time to go to a hospital and seek further medical treatment should the malaria virus invade your system.

Plain common sense works

Some simple precautions can also be adopted to lessen the risk of contracting malaria or other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever. One logical approach is wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts. It is also advisable to avoid wearing dark-colored and bulky clothing.

Applying insect repellants on exposed areas of the body, particularly on wilderness visits, is also advised. Give preference to well-kept accommodations which observe the rudiments of household pest control. Lodging in rooms, which are adequately screened or sealed, is another smart move.

When staying in mosquito-infested areas, sleeping inside mosquito nets would be another common-sense approach to lessen the risk of malaria infection. Mosquito coils and similar insect-control devices can also be life-savers as malaria can be fatal if left untreated.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Koh Samui Prison Project

Gorgeous view from the ShaSa resort

Doing a good deed while on a holiday in Koh Samui has become an option for many visitors at this popular tourist destination in the Gulf of Thailand. Thanks to the creativity and concern of local socio-civic leaders, a project to help rehabilitate female inmates in the Samui jail has been launched and is now going strong with the conspicuous involvement of those visiting the island.

PKN Legal & Business Consultancy, a local legal agency, organized this undertaking, called the Samui Prison Project (SPP). The local Rotary Club is also a prime mover in this highly focused rehabilitation effort for female offenders via training, education, and community support.

Exclusive cells for mothers

Among the early SPP beneficiaries are the 'nursing female inmates' or those with babies aged below one year old. Through the assistance of the Sisters of Samui, a mother and baby unit has been created in the local detention facility.  This unit is a separate cell which provides a clean and safe environment for mother-inmates and their infants to stay in.

Another important facet of the SPP is the skill-building programs for female detainees. The training given to them includes baking and massage to improve their livelihood opportunities once they are released from detention.

Helping hand from Aussies

A mothers’ group from Australia, the Sisters from Another Mother, is one of the most avid supporters of the SPP. This group has been organizing garage sales to raise funds to support the inmates’ livelihood training activities, particularly in the baking program. With their assistance, inmate-trainees now have an oven, a food mixer, and a commercial-sized ref for their baking classes. More of such facilities can be expected in the future.

Cash donations to support SPP are just one way which Samuivisitors can participate in this laudable project. They can also serve as volunteers in the English training for the inmates as part of their skill-building. The Samui Rotary club has already initiated a fund-raising program to build a classroom for English lessons to be conducted by volunteers.  Other training programs, such as those in women’s health and computer skills, are also being eyed for this classroom.