Meet Floris And Marieke, a couple from Holland that made their dream come true in Thailand.
- Why did you decide to move to Thailand and how long have you lived abroad?
From October 2006 until November 2008 we travelled overland with a Mercedes Unimog from the Netherlands to Namibia in Africa, and back. We drove roughly 70.000 KM through many different countries and gained work experience in a lodge in Tanzania and a backpackers hostel in Malawi. We both loved the travelling and where enthusiastic about working in hospitality.
Back in the Netherlands we lived cheap and worked hard; Floris as free-lance web designer and Marieke as social worker in forensic psychiatry. In May 2011 we saved quite a lot of money and took a flight to Singapore. The plan was to make an overland trip with our Toyota Landcruiser (which we shipped from the Netherlands to Malaysia) through South East Asia and see if there was a possibility to start a business in tourism ourselves. If not, we would drive all the way from South East Asia back to the Netherlands.
After travelling for 6 months through Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, we stayed on the island Koh Chang in Thailand and went for a little walk. On our walk we found Oasis and it was love at first side. The former owners wanted to sell the business and after another 6 month of living at Oasis, gaining information, investigating, negotiating and talking with many people, we bought it in May 2012.
- What made you fall in love with Koh Chang?
Koh Chang is located only 330 KM from Bangkok and has all the modern facilities that we need, like glass fibre internet, an International Clinic, supermarkets and many great restaurants. But on the other hand: Koh Chang is still ‘wild’ and the nature is absolutely amazing!! 70% of the island is untouched rainforest with steep mountains, waterfalls and a great diversity of wildlife. And then, off course, there are the beautiful beaches and the ocean.
Mu Koh Chang National Marine Park makes sure that the jungle on the island and the ocean around the island stays protected. So no jet ski or banana boats here, but unique dive or snorkel sites and you can explore the ocean with a kayak or paddle board.
- How would you describe the island life?
Easy-going and relaxed. Being outside on the beach or in nature, with a party every now and then.
- Do you miss the hustle and bustle of the big city?
Sometimes we do. But Bangkok is just a half day traveling away, so we make regular trips to the city.
- What do you do in Koh Chang?
We run Oasis which has a restaurant with tree house, a co-working space, 16 bungalows in a large garden and a team of 6 Thai and Cambodian workers. Running Oasis, managing the staff and being host to our guests keeps us busy and is something that we love to do. Floris also works as a free-lance wed designer for his clients in Bangkok. A passion of Floris is photography and he spends a lot of his free time on this hobby (check out his IG here).
- How did the pandemic affect your business?
We are mostly depended on European tourists and normally our high season ends at the end of April, after Songkran. But this year, because of the corona crisis, it has been very quiet since mid-March already. Next high season should start in November and at this point we can only hope that by then tourism in Thailand picked-up again.
- Would say you have a better or wose work-life balance since movin abroad? How would you rate the quality of live compared to Holland?
Definitely better, lthough running your own business in a foreign country can be stressful at times, the amount of freedom that it gives us makes it all worth it! We live in the jungle, with monkeys running around in our garden and we can be on the beach in a few minutes. We plan our work ourselves; we decide when we do it and how we do it. In the Netherlands, this would never be possible.
- What was the worst part and the biggest initial challenge about moving to Thailand? Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?
Learning to be a boss to our staff, as young and un-experienced as we were, was difficult at the beginning. The culture differences and the language barrier didn’t helped us either.
- How is the expat scene on the island? Have you made friends with the locals or do you min mainly with other expats?
The population of Koh Chang is a multi-cultural mix of Thai, Cambodians, Chinese and ‘falang’, so we didn’t found it very difficult to integrate. We have both locals and expats as friends.
- Which is your favorite place on the island?
- Can you share your best insider trip about the island?
Rent a scooter or jeep and tour around the east-coast of the island. It’s quiet, peaceful and beautiful over there!
- What is the cost of living in Koh Chang?
This depends on your lifestyle. There are simple fan bungalows for a few 100 Baht per night and there are 5-star resorts for a few 100 Euro’s per night. Local food is cheap, Western food in general a bit more expensive.
- If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Thailand, what would it be?
Talk with a lot of people (local or ‘falang’) who already live and work in the area that you are interested in and ask them about living costs, business perspectives, etc. If you need legal advice; use a well-known and reliable law firm.
Have a look at Floris and Marieke’s jungle resort here.