Holiday in Koh Samui

After much dreaming and planning solidly for the last 6 months, 12 children from Sarnelli House experienced a one week trip of a lifetime in October this year. Christoph Leonard - General Manager of the Amari Palm Reef Koh Samui and long time supporter of Sarnelli House both individually, and through his Reach Out group on Facebook managed to organize the ultimate holiday. Six teenage girls from Nazareth House – Cebo, Geaw, Prieo, Gan, Fah and Eeu and 6 boys from the Jan and Oscar House – Jay, Man, Sahalat, Beer, Nong and Top embarked on a holiday that was the envy of every other child living at Sarnelli House. 

It began with a series of firsts for the lucky twelve. Arriving at Udon Thani airport on the 13 October, they were greeted by the staff of Nok Air who took great care of the whole group from check in, boarding the plane, disembarking to ensuring that they connected effortlessly with the bus and ferry to Koh Samui. Despite the anticipation of travelling on a plane, some of the kids were very quiet during the trip particularly at take off and landing, but the bus and ferry proved no problem to them. And the return flight was viewed with a certain studied nonchalance mixed with sadness at leaving.

A Nok Air welcome at Udon Thani

Accomodation at the Amari Palm Reef Koh Samui was lovely with the boys and girls in separate bungalows and the carers Jit and Kate in their own room close by with a key to each of the bungalows to ensure the kids did some sleeping, showering and medicine taking. The kids loved turning down the air conditioning to 10 degrees and burrowing down into their beds with the covers over their heads – a sure change from sleeping in hot and sweaty temperatures all their lives.

Snorkelling at Koh Nangyuen

on the Catamaran at Bandarra Hotel

The daily list of activities planned by Chris and with the help of the other hotels and tour operators in the region kept everyone busy every day. Snorkelling on Koh Nangyuen, bowling at Tescos, swimming in the sea, sailing in a catamaran, eating out at KFC, Burger King and Sabeinglae Restaurant - the best Thai restaurant on the island, visiting the Safari Park and pool parties at Chris’ place were all exciting firsts for the kids. One of the big surprises was the appearance of a famous Thai pop singer Techin. He attended one of Chris’ pool parties and sang for and with the kids. To the delight of the girls especially, he accompanied the kids on one of their sightseeing days and played games on the beach with them, he was gracious and friendly and the kids were truly star struck.

Bier, Sahalat and Jay singing with superstar Techin

Beer bowling

Jay and Man at Safari Park

The weather stayed perfect with not a drop of rain during the week even though it had rained for 3 weeks previously. Despite the huge meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner the kids still managed to devour tubs of Mama instant noodles at every chance. In the first few days the craving for Som Tam (spicy papaya salad) and sticky rice was fresh, but the children kept it to themselves unless asked. They loved the fresh shrimp, crab and squid and everyone put on a couple of kilos after a week of being fed KFC, Burger King, pasta and fries. 

At Langham Place

The staff of all the hotels and tours were exceptionally kind and thoughtful and the whole experience was a life changing one for these country children. It has inspired and motivated them and now the girls want to be air hostesses and the boys want to be pilots!  The trip also took them  out of their lives lived in rural Thailand and showed them more of their beautiful country, and showcased the opportunities available to them if they are willing to be inspired and work hard. For these kids from the country who cover up in the hottest weather so as not to tan, it raised the perennial and puzzling question of why foreigners want a tan and Thais want to be white. There is no doubt that as the kids’ journey through their lives the memory of the kindness and hospitality of their holiday on Koh Samui will stay with them forever.

Saying thank you and goodbye to Chris

Our sincere thanks and love go to Chris for his motivation and planning and his ongoing desire to help improve the lives of the children living at Sarnelli House. To all the staff who helped the kids have a great time at Amari Palm Reef Koh Samui, Langham Place, Bandarra Hotel, Asian Trails, Amari Don Muang Hotel and Lomphraya High Speed Catamaran a big thank you. To Nok Air and especially Khun Suriyapa Bunnag, Vice President Corporate Communication of Nok Air, who sponsored the flights for 12 children and 2 carers from Udon Thani to Koh Samui and who provided activities for the children while in Koh Samui and arranged for Techin to spend time with the kids we extend our gratitude.


October 25th, 2010

Kate Introna

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