There many fascinating aspects about Thailand and its people. The most popular ones are definitely Thai cuisine and culture which are highly appreciated by people around the world. Thai expats in Mauritius share with News on Sunday.
Wanida Binda Jirarungsakunruang: “Both countries have a rich religious diversity and both have unique and flavourful cuisines”
Wanida has been living in Mauritius for fifteen years already. “You can also call me Sang. I am from Bangkok. I am married to a Mauritian since 2008 and we have a son. So, I have been in Mauritius for around fifteen years. We live in the East coast of Mauritius, namely at Belle Mare, Flacq.”
There are several reasons behind the Thai woman’s settlement in Mauritius. “We have been working abroad for quite long, so we had decided to settle in Mauritius because the weather, the culture and also the people are friendly and very welcoming. There are also many opportunities to start a business in Mauritius. In addition, the environment and the education are good for our son. In Mauritius, the fact that people speak French and English is beneficial for one’s future, while in Thailand people only speak Thai language.”
The expat woman entrepreneur works in the hospitality sector in the island. “I am taking care of an authentic stay called ‘Horisun’, at Belle Mare village. Our authentic stay is an accommodation experience that allows travellers to immerse themselves in the local culture, food and lifestyle of Mauritius. The aim is to provide visitors with an authentic and meaningful travel experience by connecting them with the local,” she explains.
Sang utters that Mauritius as a financially and politically stable country is a great advantage for both locals and expats. “Mauritius has a well-developed economy, with a strong focus on sectors such as tourism, finance, and information technology. The country has attracted foreign investments and multinational companies, creating job opportunities for both locals and expatriates. Additionally, Mauritius has a stable political environment and a well-regulated financial sector, which contributes to a sense of security for individuals seeking financial stability.”
When it comes to Thai culture and the Mauritian lifestyle, the expat says that both are quite similar. “Families and family values are important and we love to be with family as well, we respect the elders, follow the cultures. Whenever we have family meetings, I always prepare Thai dishes and most of Mauritians love Thai cuisine. As I am a Buddhist, and the fact that I married into Hindu’s family, I follow all ceremonies, prayers and festivals as well. However, we should all keep in mind that cultural blending should always be done with respect and understanding for both cultures involved. It’s important to consult with local communities and experts to ensure the process is carried out in a culturally sensitive manner,” she asserts.
Sang adds that both Mauritius and Thailand are diverse and unique in terms of culture and culinary traditions. “Both countries have a rich religious diversity and both have unique and flavourful cuisines. In Mauritius, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism are practiced, while Thailand is predominantly Buddhist but also has significant Muslim and other religious communities. Thai cuisine is known for its spicy and aromatic flavours, while Mauritian cuisine is a fusion of different culinary traditions, with dishes like curries and fried noodles being popular. Both countries also celebrate a variety of festivals. In Thailand, Songkran (Thai New Year) and Loy Krathong are important celebrations, while Mauritius observes Hindu festivals like Diwali and Chinese festivals like the Spring Festival.”
Speaking about Thai cuisine, Sang utters that she is delighted to find many Thai products in Mauritius. “When I just arrived in Mauritius, it is quite difficult to get Thai herbs or some ingredients. But now there are many imported Thai products and a few Thai restaurants around the island. Of course, I have been to Thai restaurants as they are my friends. I do recommend our guests to try Thai restaurant as well. I also cook Tahi food. When we cannot find all the ingredients, we sometimes share our herds, ingredients and dishes among Thai expats,” she states.
The Thai woman declares that she is content to have a group of Thai friends. “We do meet sometime but it depends on our free time. However, we always keep in touch, update each other about the news or organise events such as birthdays, new year celebrations and Songkarn’s day (Thai New Year).”
Sang advises those looking forward to move to Mauritius to be patient and open-minded. “Here are a few key points to consider. In terms of visa and work permits, one must ensure that he/she has the necessary visa and work permits required to live and work in Mauritius. You must familiarise yourself with the cost of living in Mauritius. While it may vary depending on your lifestyle and location, it’s generally affordable compared to many other countries. You must make sure to budget accordingly. When it comes to language, the official language in Mauritius is English, but French and Creole are widely spoken.
You should learn some basic French phrases which can be helpful in daily interactions. Regarding healthcare, Mauritius has a well-developed healthcare system. Explore healthcare options, including private health insurance, and find a doctor or medical facility that meets your needs. Regarding social life, you should engage in social activities and join expat communities or clubs to meet people and make friends. There are numerous recreational opportunities in Mauritius, such as water sports, hiking, and exploring the island’s natural beauty. Remember, adjusting to a new country takes time, so be patient and open-minded. Enjoy the beautiful beaches, warm weather, and unique experiences that Mauritius has to offer.”
Ousaporn Blakeway: “I cook Thai food with ingredients that I buy in Thailand and my husband grows Thai herbs”
Ousaporn Blakeway is the Thai Chef and Director of Ousaporn Thai Restaurant in Mauritius located in Tamarin. In Mauritius since 2007, the Thai Chef explains that she decided to settle in the island after her marriage.
“When I finished University in Thailand, I came to Mauritius and opened a Thai Restaurant with my husband in 2010. Our first Restaurant was in La Preneuse. We had just five tables in a small garden. We were doing Take-Away also. I was the only one in the kitchen, while my husband was helping in front. Then we had the opportunity to open a restaurant in a shopping center at Trianon, Quatre Bornes. After four years, we closed down due to insufficient sales compare to all the costs. Today, we have a proper restaurant in Tamarin, with fifteen tables, and a beautiful garden. In a wooden house, with Thai Style. We wanted to bring back the same concept of the first restaurant, that was in La Preneuse. Now, we can say that we are successful,” she utters.
The expat woman entrepreneur trusts that Mauritius offers many business opportunities. “I think that there are plenty of opportunities in Mauritius. If you want to open a business, and you have a concrete project in your head then you can do it! However, Mauritius is not yet expanded at 100%, and staff is missing.”
Speaking about adaptation to the Mauritian environment and lifestyle, Ousaporn confides that she did face some challenges. “During the first year, it was difficult for me because the mentality is different. Then, with time things got better. I got to meet Thai People who also settled in Mauritius, I cook Thai food with ingredients that I buy in Thailand and my husband grows Thai herbs. Mauritius has many activities and places to discover. Mauritius is a small country but to be honest, since I’ve been here, I haven’t seen everything yet,” she states.
Ousaporn in fact states that Mauritius and Thailand share many similarities when it comes to people and culture. “The Mauritian and Thai Cultures are pretty the same. People are friendly and have great hospitality. Both cultures like to eat good food as well. However, I remember one time, I went to the shop in Mauritius, and the seller did not say thank you and when he gave me the change money back, he threw the money on the table. But after, I understood that it’s normal for some people to behave this way.”
The Thai Chef declares that she is delighted to see the expansion of Thai Restaurants as well as the coming of Thai people in Mauritius. “I am happy to see that there are Thai Restaurants in Mauritius. It provides people the chance to taste Thai cuisine. But some of them do not cook real Thai Cuisine but I understand that it’s business. I am also happy to see that there is a lot of Thai People in Mauritius. Every Monday, I meet with a group of Thai expats and we go out to eat. We even cook together and we play sports together,” she says.
Ousaporn encourages those wishing to settle in Mauritius to do so. “Mauritius is a lovely country with great weather, easy life and good life security. The Government here takes good care of the citizens, for example there are free hospital service, money for retirement, among others.”
Nawasorn: “Mauritians can learn how to make simple Thai dishes at home and we can learn traditional Mauritian dishes”
Originally from Bangkok, Nawasorn, also known as Bibi, has been living in Mauritius for a little over a year. “I moved to Mauritius since July 2022. I mainly came for professional reasons. The head office of the company I work for in Thailand, namely Minor Hotels, sent me here. I’m doing E-commerce and distribution for Mauritius and Seychelles region (Anantara Iko Mauritius and Anantara Maia Seychelles),” she explains.
The Thai expat says that she is content with her decision to move to Mauritius. “I normally work remotely for the hotel outside Thailand in countries such as Maldives, India, New Zealand. This was the first opportunity that Anantara Iko Mauritius was looking for someone who could be based on the property. I did a lot of research before I making the decision, and I can say that it is a good decision.”
For Nawasorn, Mauritius is definitely a land of opportunity. “I can see that Mauritius is developing, building roads and there is a strong focus on tourism. I believe that this is the main economic drive which is creating more income and job opportunities for locals as well as expatriate. There is a lot of opportunity for investors and most of the products here are imported. Mauritius has a stable political environment, which I believe contributes to the security for financial stability,” she affirms.
Speaking about adaptation, the Thai expat says that she did not experience many difficulties as Thai and Mauritian culture have a lot in common. “Both Thai and Mauritian people are warm people, they put family first, and care and respect elders. They are also nations who live together peacefully.” However, she also experienced difficulties when it comes to driving culture in Mauritius.
When it comes to Thai cuisine, Nawasorn confides that she could not find many ingredients when she first arrived in the island. “During the first two months when I’ve arrived in Mauritius, it was quite difficult to get Thai herbs and certain ingredients. I tried to grow them by myself, unfortunately it was not successful. But when I drove around to discover the island, I found Ousaporn Thai Restaurant in Tamarin and Kasafe in Curepipe. So, now I can enjoy Thai food in Mauritius,” she declares.
The Thai expat is also fond of cooking Thai food, especially during the weekends. “I brought some ingredients from my birth country, but nowadays it easy to get some ingredients from the local supermarket. Also, we sharing some herbs such as Thai Basil leave Galangal among Thai’s people living in Mauritius,” she confides.
In fact, Nawasorn utters that she is pleased to have made friends with people from the Thai diaspora. “We have a Thai community here. We organise meetings and get together occasionally and we also do some activities together such as BBQ, Beach Volley Ball, Friday Night Out etc. For the Beach Volley activity, different expats such as those from Philippines, France and even Mauritians often join us.”
The expat woman believes that Mauritians can learn how to cook simple but delicious food from Thai people. “We do like cultural exchange – the does and don’ts. Mauritians can learn Thai cuisine and how to make simple Thai dishes at home and we can learn traditional Mauritian dishes.”
Her advice to those wishing to settle in Mauritius is to embrace the many benefits Mauritius has to offer. “You will love the country. You certainly will enjoy the nature, the beautiful beaches, the amazing waterfalls, the nice weather, and experience unique experiences.”
Kate Kawichai: “We can get Thai food in Mauritius which taste very closely to what we get in Thailand”
Kate has recently moved to Mauritius. The mom of two from Thailand, who married a Danish, arrived in November last year. “I worked in hotel and hospitality industry for almost ten years and now only one of us is working. We move to different places base on our work and of course family package is a priority. We consider Mauritius a safe place and a beautiful country and the strong Thai community is a plus,” she says.
The Thai expat shares that Mauritius feels like home to her. “For me coming to Mauritius is just like coming home to a small island where I grew up.” She underlines that both Thai and Mauritian people are very hospitable. “They are both heartwarming people and empathise with each other. We both also like to share food,” she utters. The one culture shock that Kate experienced when she settled in Mauritius was the driving culture. “For example, people honking or stopping on the road to say hello to a friend.”
According to Kate, the Thai food in Mauritius is as good as the one in Thailand. “We can get Thai food in Mauritius which taste very closely to what we get in Thailand. I also seasonally cook Thai food at home,” she declares. However, she underlines that people who make fusion cuisine should name their dishes after traditional Thai dishes. “We should not call a dish like Pad Thai, Thai Green Curry, etc, when we make fusion cuisine. It can be simple named Asian dishes just to avoid disappointment and Thai people on their side should learn that the green condiment is not guacamole,” she declares.
She happily states that she has become close to a very friendly group of Thai expats. “I have found a very team in the west. We’re partying like crazy.” Her advice to future expats is to not be afraid to make the move. “Mauritius is definitely a good destination for family with young children and for couples as well.”
Saranya Lai: “The opening of several Thai Restaurant in Mauritius gives the chance to Mauritians to eat Thai foods without going to Thailand”
Settled in Mauritius since 2012, Saranya Lai has years of experience as a Thai Chef. “I am originally from Bangkok. I am married to Frederick Lai and we have a 9-year-old daughter called Kayla. I am a Thai Chef with 20 years of experience in the domain,” she says.
The Thai expat explains that she was always fascinated by the art of cooking. “After secondary school, I was fascinated by the cultural art and cooking. I have followed cooking classes and obtained my Thai Cook Certificate. I got long term training in many 5-stars hotel in Bangkok. I have worked as a professional chef in hotels like the Conrad Hotel in Bangkok, the Pilabkao Restaurant in Japan, the Intercontinental Hotel in Egypt, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, the U.A.E Ras Al-Khaimah (Anantara Hotel) in the UAE and lastly at Lux Le Morne and Shanti Maurice in Mauritius. I have also worked as Executive Chef in Koh Phangan Santhiya Hotel in Thailand. Now I am owner of a Thai Restaurant named KASAFÉ in Curepipe. I manage the kitchen with the help of two Thai chefs,” she explains.
Saranya confides that she decided to settle in Mauritius due to its thriving tourism industry. “Mauritius is a beautiful, peaceful and safe country. It does a lot of promotion to attract tourists. This is the reason why I decided to come work for Lux Hotel. My destiny made me meet my husband Frederick and after my wedding we decided to open our restaurant.”
She strongly believes that Mauritius is a land that offers many chances. “I have noticed that Mauritians like to eat Chinese food and there are not many restaurants providing delicious Chinese foods. I believe that if I take the opportunity to invest by opening a Thai Restaurant, I can fuse Chinese and Thai cuisine, hence a new type of cuisine is created. My business is successful and provides me financial stability and job security. I create job opportunities as well for the Mauritians,” she asserts.
Regarding adaptation, the Thai expat says that as she married a Mauritian from a Chinese background, she did not find any difference in terms of lifestyle. “As I am married to a Mauritian Chinese my lifestyle is similar to that of my husband because Thai and Chinese cultures are more or less the same.” She also underlines that similarities between Mauritian and Thai culture would more precisely be between Mauritian Chinese Culture and Thai Culture.
The only culture shock that she experienced were in terms of the difference in the way of eating, respect and working style. Indeed, she trusts that Mauritius can learn a lot from Thai people in terms of politeness. “Thai people are very respectful, polite and very religious, a quality that Mauritians can learn from them. Thai eat very spicy foods and Mauritians can adopt this kind of cuisine. Mauritians can also learn Thai language and use it when they visit Thailand. Mauritius being multi-cultured, Thai can learn about their food culture, wedding and religious celebrations.”
Speaking about Thai Cuisine, the expert Chef says that Thai cuisine is very unique. “Thai Cuisine id different from other cuisines mainly in its use of contrasting flavours. Thai food uses hot spices with sweet, light citrus flavours. Thai food taste fresh and savoury. The opening of several Thai Restaurant in Mauritius gives the chance to Mauritians to eat Thai foods without going to Thailand. Many Mauritians go to Thailand and have tasted and adopted Thai dishes. I have tried the Thai Restaurants in Mauritius only to check if they make authentic Thai food,” she states. As a Thai chef, Saranya asserts that she has no difficulty in finding the ingredients she needs.
What about the Thai diaspora in Mauritius? “There is a small community of Thai people in Mauritius. They are here for working, doing business or are married to locals. I have a circle of friends and we do meet from time to time for parties and birthday celebrations, among others.”
She advises those coming to Mauritius in the near future to not worry much. “Expats should not hesitate to come to Mauritius where multi-cultural people live peacefully in harmony. This place is beautiful with white sand beaches, good communications, leisure facilities. Mauritius is safe and visitors definitely like to come again for memorable moments.”
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