Before deciding whether to move on to Ko Tao or Samui from Ko Pha Ngan, we did one last Google search for karate training on the southern gulf islands (we have been training whenever possible on our trip around the world), and Samui Dojo Resort came up.
We learned from their website and through an exchange of emails that there is no longer regular karate training here (other than seminars organised for groups from time to time), but that kung fu & tai chi were on offer, and we were welcome to self-train outside of regular classes.
Although a bit more idle island time would have been pleasant, we decided to book in for two nights initially, but ended up staying four. The warm welcome from Aell and Tony, the excellent training we received, and the great company of the other guests made this a special and very
memorable stay for us.
Samui Dojo Resort is located about 400 metres from the main road, about 3 kms south of Lamai beach. The area feels a lot more local rather than touristy, but there are a fair few restaurants not far away, and a 7-11 and a small Tesco within about a 15 minute walk. A regular songthaew (taxi-truck) runs down the main road from Jubilee Restaurant to Nathon Pier, at 60 THB per person. Aell hires out near-new, automatic scooters for a reasonable price, with heavy discounts for longer term use.
There are (I think) 8 bungalows, mostly in duplex pairs, all set amongst lovely, well-tended gardens. The rooms can be hired with or without air con, and there are fans both inside and on the pleasant garden-view balconies. There is no onsite restaurant, however guests are welcome to use the kitchen to prepare their own food (filtered water available on tap in the kitchen). Inquire about the generous discounts for longer stays. I recommend you check online or contact Samui Dojo Resort to make sure there's a room available before you rock up, as they tend to have several long-term guests. This, by the way, is a strictly non-smoking resort.
Our bungalow was quite spacious, and had a flat-screen cable TV and DVD player, fridge and a nice balcony area. Wifi was very good. The bed was quite comfortable and there was a lot of storage space, including a lockable drawer for valuables. The cupboards smelled a little musty from the humidity, but everything was quite clean. The cleaning staff do a very thorough job, and supply fresh water daily and fresh new blankets and towels every other day. The bathroom could use a bit of a freshen up, but was spacious and the shower was good and hot. There is no pool here, but next door is the lovely Gilda's Guest House, Bar and Restaurant, which is open to the public. I've done a separate review of this as well - suffice it to say that we were there nearly daily for a nice meal and a refreshing dip.
The purpose-built dojo itself is spacious and airy, perched up high to catch the breezes. It is well-equipped, with a nice timber floor, large mirrors, kick bags, makiwara, and some weights and fitballs. Tony runs regular Yang-style tai chi and Wing Chun gung fu classes, and I believe
he gives private lessons as well - check the rates with Tony. He is an excellent teacher and all-around good guy, and was able to accommodate us newbies while still giving the more experienced other students enough to keep them occupied and challenged. Tony was kind enough to invite us to his birthday gig (he is also an accomplished reggae producer and DJ), and gave us a nice tag-along scooter tour around the island the next day, introducing us to a few wats and couple of his favourite vegetarian/vegan cafes along the way (I've done separate reviews of these).
In addition to the regular classes, there are a few regular training camps who meet here - one is a Goju Ryu karate club from the UK, and another is an American-run Ninja camp.
There are links to the dojo programs and training camps on the Samui Dojo Resort website:
Overall, this was a very enjoyable experience - and a nice place to stay. We hope to come back, to train in lovely surrounds with good people.
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