A garden of stone statues lies deep in Koh Samui’s south, which can be found at the top of Kao Yai, the island’s highest peak, offering the most spectacular views over the whole of Koh Samui’s mountains towards the sea. Finding Tarnim’s Magic Garden, is in itself a fun challenge, driving south towards Taling Ngam on the main ring road, one must fi rst fi nd Baan Saket and the road to the Air Force Camp. On the right hand side after the Namuang waterfalls, following the Land Offi ce and a Police Station, just after the main intersection, you will see the right turning and from hereon one follows the signs for Tarnim’s Magic Garden. Passing through the Air force Camp barrier, you have another 5 kilometres climbing up Koh Samui’s highest peak, Kao Yai, before reaching the entrance to Tarnim’s Garden on your right hand side.
Built over a period of more than twenty-fi ve years, this garden is a unique creation of a, a local gardener and farmer by trade. Once parked in the car park you will fi rst notice a beautiful sculpture on a large rock, which is entangled with the roots of a large, old tree and stands like a protector of the garden. The sculpture was hand made by Khun Lung Chai, in memory of his father Khun Nim Thongsuk. The engraving simply states: Khun Paw Nim Thongsuk, which is adjacent to a sculpture of his father and stands as a constant reminder of the garden’s history. At the top of what has become known as the Magic Garden you’re then faced by a tree-lined stone stairway, winding its way slowly down to the beautiful garden below. Almost mimicking a stairway to heaven, upon reaching the bottom there is a house, which is over-grown with mosses and tropical vegetation. These houses, of which there are a few, were built in order to house travelling or wandering monks who needed a place to sleep for the night. Khun Nim initially started visiting the site on Kao Yai from Namuang where he lived, to farm durian fruit and coffee plantations and over the years fell more and more in love with the place. And it’s easy to see why, there’s beautiful tropical jungle and vegetation with fl owering trees all over the place give way to natural water springs, rivers and waterfalls it’s an extraordinarily peaceful and harmonizing location. As his attachment to this special placegrew so did his dream of constructing a beautiful heaven garden for his fi nal resting place upon passing away, as a reflection of the heaven he believed he would be going to.
Built purely for his own use, as tourism was not yet established on Koh Samui, he set about the huge task of bringing concrete up the mountain in order to be able to make the statue garden. A very kind-hearted and considerate man, one of the fi rst things you come across to your left, after the first monk house, comfortably laid out by the river, are two sculptures of a grandmother and grandfather from the paternal side, as Tarnim felt the island had already paid respect to the grandparents of the maternal side with Hinta Hinya in Hua Thanon, he felt inclined to also honour the paternal grandparents. An intricate belief system in Thai means the paternal grandparents are called Bu, the grandfather, and Ya, the grandmother, whereas for the maternal side the grandfather is called Ta and the grandmother Yai. The word for stone or rock is Hin, hence the name HinTa and HinYai. Slowly making your way through this incredible garden is like taking a wonderful journey of discovery as you notice more and moreimages revealing themselves from out of the foliage. Amid the sometimes dense tropical foliage, turtles and frogs are some of the animal statues that are to be found in this completely natural haven.