But what if you decide to settle down in such an idyllic place?
“If you come here for two or three weeks, you can relax,” says Elisa Gabrel, director of Magic Alambic Rum Distillery.
“But if you live here, you have to do something. We decided to distill alcohol.”
Elisa, a native of the Carribean island of Martinque, and her husband first visited Koh Samui, an island off the Southeastern coast of Thailand, 15 years ago. They moved there in 2002.
“We wanted to distill alcohol from fruit because there is so much here, but it wasn't successful,” Elisa says.
“Then someone suggested we produce rum because there is sugarcane here. And the sugarcane in Thailand is of a very high quality. Because of the humidity, it is very sweet, and it makes very good rum.”
In a distillery that is about two thirds of the size of my living room in Hong Kong, they process 10 tonnes of sugarcane a week.
“The rum is very smooth, not aggressive, and easy to drink,” Elisa says in her charming French accent.
The Magic Alambic Rum Distillery makes five kinds of rum: natural, lime, orange, pineapple, and coconut. It also makes fruit syrups, which make yummy cocktails.
“This started as a hobby, but now we sell to factories, hotels, and restaurants,” Elisa says.
First Koh Samui, Then the World!
The output is sold locally through agents and direct by courier to buyers in Bangkok, Hua Hin, and Phuket. It is also sent by post to enthusiastic buyers around the world.
“About the only place we can't export to is the United States,” Elisa says.
Upon leaving the distillery, the travel writers and photographers on this press trip from Hong Kong to Thailand all purchased at least one bottle of rum and one bottle of lime syrup to take back home.
My two bottles didn't make it past Bangkok.
Address: 44/F Moo 3, Namuang, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84140 Thailand Contact: Magic Alambic Rum Distillery Tel: 077-419 023
Copyright: Michael Taylor Pictured: Michael Taylor (left) and Elisa Gabrel (right) Photo Credit: Alvin Lee