December 10-13 2009
For the sixth consecutive year, Rotary Club of Koh Samui, ROCKS, prepared to welcome children from the Mercy Centre, an orphanage set in the slums of Bangkok. For the first time, though, the holiday would be for 4 rather than the usual 3 days. Planning the trip had been ongoing for over 3 months, and an exciting programme was in place for these delightful children, 31 in all and aged between 3 and 18.
4 days later, the children left Bangkok in a fleet of 3 minibuses, and made the overnight journey, arriving at Donsak on Thursday 10th December to be greeted by Immediate Past President Philip Parker, and Rotarians Adèle and Wally Smith. The party boarded the 9am ferry, their fares being generously sponsored by Seatran. Arriving at Nathon, the children and their sponsors boarded their minibuses for the short trip to Baan Taling Ngam Resort, where GM Nigel Tovey was waiting to greet them, having generously offered to host the children’s stay for the second consecutive year. The children were also greeted by Baan Taling Ngam staff, and Fr Joe Meier and Khun Ratana who run the Mercy Centre. After finding their allocated rooms, the children made their way to the tennis court area, where 3 marquees had been erected for mealtimes. Within minutes, they were tucking in to a feast provided by Beach Republic, followed by pastries, courtesy of New Star Resort.
The afternoon was spent in splashing about happily in the Baan Taling Ngam Beachside swimming pool. Then it was time to get dressed, and once again board their minibuses, and set off to Bang Rak where a sumptuous supper awaited them, hosted by Stephano, the owner of an Italian Restaurant, Antica Locanda, The party was escorted by IPP Philip, Adèle and Wally Smith, Fr Joe and Khun Ratana. At the restaurant they were joined by Lorraine and her husband Tony. The entire party enjoyed an excellent repast provided by Stephano and his indefatigable staff. The children rounded off the evening by thanking their hosts in their own inimitable fashion. They were then taken back to Baan Taling Ngam for a welcome sleep!
After another afternoon spent splashing in the Resort pool, the children rounded off their day with an evening spent at Tropical Murphys, hosted by Rotarian Paul Watson. After their meal, the children delighted all guests and Rotarians present with a display of dancing. The little ones put on an endearing display, while the older girls gave an elegant and graceful performance.
The third morning found the children back in the pool, but they were lured out by promises of an excellent lunch, courtesy of KC Resort, followed by a Sports and Games afternoon. Rotarians IPP Philip, Adèle and Wally Smith, Nicolas Emmert with his wife, Tad, and Colin Jones were joined by ‘Friends of Rotary’ volunteers to help with the games. Events such as ‘Egg and Spoon Race’, 3 Legged Race’ and Musical Chairs were brought to a close by the arrival of the Samui Pirates! The Pirates, with host Nigel Tovey as a prominent member, had already given generous financial sponsorship, and then put forward the idea of showing the children their high motorbikes. The highlight of the afternoon would be a pillion ride for any of the children who wanted it, on a motorbike of their choice. All the children delightedly took up the generous offer! The exciting afternoon was rounded off by a BBQ provided by Nigel Mills, rightly dubbed the ‘BBQ King’!
The children then went back to their rooms for a much needed rest, as they had promised to entertain the Resort guests dining on the beach with their wonderful show. Guests were enthralled and delighted, as the show was opened by the charming younger girls, followed by a graceful performance from the older ones. The show was rounded off by a vigorous display of Muay Thai from the boys.
The final day of the visit found the children once again in the pool immediately after breakfast, where they enjoyed their final swim. They almost had to be dragged out to go and pack ahead of their departure. They then made their way to the marquees, where they were encouraged to use their ‘Round Table gifts’ of drawing equipment, to produce a picture of their ‘Koh Samui experience’. Their reward was a tasty lunch courtesy of Rocky Resort, while Rotarians Philip, Adèle, Wally, Nicolas and Colin judged the pictures, and awarded prizes for each age category. There was a final surprise when staff and children from Panyadee School arrived, with the children very quickly joining in games of football, or just ‘letting off steam’. Then it was time for the Panyadee children to present their gifts to the children, followed the saddest moment of all, when the Mercy Centre children prepared to leave.They had one last surprise for their hosts, Rotary Club of Koh Samui members, giving them Christmas cards made by themselves, and carrying a photograph inside.
A short while later, the minibuses were waved off as they headed towards Nathon and the Seatran Ferry.They carried with them all their gifts, including some very large soft toys for the children ‘back home’, and an excellent repast for the journey courtesy of The Library Resort.
The weekend was voted by all as ‘the best ever’ with the extra day, and ROCKS members were already looking ahead to the year to come!