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.

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