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Hi, my name's Michelle Taylor. I’ve been living in Koh Samui for about a year now. My story is simple: I visited it, fell in love, and never left. No, I did not fall in love with a Thai guy, I fell in love with the island itself. I went here for a vacation with my boyfriend –he went home, I didn’t. I found my home here.

I left a great job, a good apartment, and a busy city where everyone speaks the same language for the sun, the sand, and the sea in Koh Samui. Why? Because from here in my new apartment, I can simply look out and see paradise right from my bedroom window.

Besides, Samui is not really an isolated place—it’s a whole city in itself! I never get bored or lonely here. Every day I meet new people from different countries with their own stories as to how they got here and why they stayed. Some of the foreign citizens here even own the nicest and coziest hotels and tastiest restaurants.

The great thing about this island is that the whole place is so diverse—the people (and I’m not just talking about the ladyboys), the different cultures they have with them, the sights (the entire city built around nature), the sounds—it’s infinitely interesting. There’s always something new to discover in Samui.

It’s not a weird story that I went here as a tourist and am now staying as a resident. You know, once you get here, the place really has a pull on you and it’s really hard to leave and go back to wherever you came from. All you’d want to do is to stay and settle.

This is where I learned to try all kinds of sports which I never would have done otherwise—bungee jumping, diving (they have the world’s greatest diving teachers!), sailing (I’m saving up to buy my own boat, or yacht if I can afford it), and kiteboarding. I even tried my hand at Muay Thai (it’s not very easy, really).

And after a hard day playing or a hard day at work (I’m a real estate agent, but on peak months I can work as a guide too; I’m working on building a small inn within two years), I just have to pick a spa for my R&R. I tried all those meditation things too, but they’re not really for me. Of course, you won’t get upset looking for a meditation retreat here. A lot of groups offer retreats with certain specializations. Some organizations even hold free retreats.

For me, if I need an escape or if I need some time for soul searching, I’d simply rent a boat and sail to any of the surrounding islands. My personal favorite is Koh Nang Yuan. That is one of the most peaceful islands here. A bit far, yes; but if you want nothing but the sea and the sand, if you wanna get away from it all, then Koh Nang Yuan is the perfect place for you. It’s one of the few islands in the world where you can experience nature in its almost raw beauty.

If you want a personal escape to paradise, believe me, you’ll never go wrong with Koh Samui. But don’t take my word for it, you have to see and experience the island for yourself.