There doesn’t seem to be much of an American expat community on Koh Samui. Not that I looked terribly hard: I sent out a couple of tweets asking if anything was going on. I saw travel message boards from an American traveler asking if there are any events for 2013. Didn’t seem like much.

Not that I expected Thailand to celebrate an American holiday by any means. What I didn’t expect was that the expat population on Koh Samui is mostly European. A big noticeable sect of that expat population is old men drinking beers at noon while enjoying the attention of entirely female bar staff.


How we celebrated Thanksgiving:

Our hotel gave us a fruit basket to devour.

Fruit basket at hotel. Photo by Tina.

We’re staying at a place that is doing some really loud construction projects. The owners put this fruit basket on our patio after the cleaning lady left. I think it was left as more of a thank you for sticking around, but it was nice to receive it on a holiday known for bounties of food.

We ate pie for dinner.

Pies on Koh Samui. Photo by Kiwi.

Down the road from our hotel is a British pie shop with savory and sweet pies. So we ordered pie for Thanksgiving dinner and dessert. Cottage pie for Kiwi; pork, apple and radish for me; apple pie for dessert. (See Americans and Kiwis? Pie! Strengthening trans-Pacific relations one crust at a time.)

Admittedly, I did almost cry when the pies were placed down in front of us. Because for the last 29 years, that plate was turkey. But Kiwi helped me pull it back together. Pie is a legit part of Thanksgiving, and fitting for our first Thanksgiving together.

Kiwi eating pie. Photo by Tina.

We talked about what would comprise a Kiwi-American Thanksgiving.

Manuka honey glazed turkey? Sure. Oyster stuffing? Why not. Sweet potato and kumara? Both. Roast lamb alongside the turkey? Es posible. Cheesecake alongside a pavlova? Yes please.

We had a nightcap on the beach.

Our hotel has a pretty legit beachside bar, so we order nightcaps to top off Samui Thanksgiving. I got a cocktail that the server told me was like drinking tom yum, a sour Thai soup. It was like that, but not really. It was a lychee martini with lime and lemongrass (and it was good). Kiwi had Thai rum on ice. We looked up our favorite Western bands and checked their tour schedules to see if and when they’ll hit Auckland.

I called my family.

While chatting with the east and west coast families, I got to see some amazing food prep, Facetiming with turkeys in mid-roast and stalking Italian desserts on Facebook. The fam all sound like they had tasty meals. And it was nice to know that we can still have chats millions of miles away.

Overall, it was a lovely, unique Thanksgiving. We had an endearing attempt at celebrating the holiday in a far away land while staying in touch with family. It’s a story we can recount for years to come: that one Thanksgiving in Thailand.