When it comes time every month to select a topic for our website we are often baffled by the numerous people of relevance who live on Koh Samui. For such a small piece of the Kingdom of Thailand, there are so many people who have risen to the top of their profession, of their community, and of their place in life, reminding us all that despite the fact that we are laden with atrocities occurring on our lonely planet that there is still good remaining in mankind. We have heard stories of those who have inspired us to work hard, to shoot for the stars and to never look back from our dreams. This blog entry is about a leader who takes her role one step further in helping those who need a second voice, and for you as a tourist this gives you a contact should you ever run into some serious trouble where you don’t know which way to turn.
Liz Luxen has been the name on many people’s lips when a time of crisis arises, or simply when a word of advice is required in a different tongue. When confusion is imminent, or where disagreements occur between people of different culture and as language becomes the barrier that must be surpassed, Liz provides the link to universal comprehension and understanding.
If you take a look at her business card, or on her website you will find that the name of her company speaks in volumes, ‘Interpretation & Translation Center’. Her offices are located on the periphery of Lamai, and although her business title is simple in nature it provides a complex list of services that are needed by a variety of people on Koh Samui, as well as abroad. Her mobile phone is never off unless she is in court, her knowledge of the Thai systems impeccable, and her past experience of living with the Thai people detrimental in sustaining her with insight into that which she provides for those in need. She stands as a neutral party among many who find their own words insufficient.
In brief, the services that Liz can provide involve translation of documents, land titles, contracts and agreements, letters, personal escorts to government offices or official escorts to the police. She aids in the interpretation between the prosecution and the accused, she works with authorities in assisting foreign prisoners and foreigners in need of legal council, she assists with lawyers for her clients, and refers people to their respective embassies, often appearing on their behalf. All in all, Liz is the only foreigner accepted to interpret in court, and has been recognised for her skills by the Ministry of Justice. There is no end to the list if you begin to add in those things that we may not think about. Who will help in the planning of a funeral on foreign soil? Who will bring medication or books to foreign prisoners? Who will talk to your landlady about your rental agreement, or to the owner of the motorbike you rented and drove into the ocean by accident? And who will visit you in your holding cell on Koh Phangan after a Full Moon Party gone wrong? As we mentioned before…Liz Luxen is the name in everyone’s vocabulary when concise understanding is the key to avoiding any misinterpretation. Liz can save your ass!
The greatest strength that Liz possesses is her ability for simultaneous interpretation, and she accredits it to her humble beginnings 19 years ago as a dive instructor. It all began as a gift, and it is one that Liz has never forgotten.
Having graduated from her secondary schooling with exceptional grades, her family gave her a trip to Asia and the history began. She worked in the Philippines, Malaysia, and on the Phi Phi Islands where she was one of the first teaching instructors. She became PADI certified as a Master Scuba Trainer that led to 584 students gaining certification under her supervision. Liz was one of the pioneers of female dive instructors in Asia, and began to utilise her skills of the Thai language to translate dive documents, exams and information, something that she recalls as being peculiar to those who hail from her home in Düsseldorf, Germany. In Thailand she met her husband, one of the Urak Lavoy Sea Gypsies, who operated as an underwater videographer. Having completely fallen in love with Thailand in every aspect, Liz began to experience a new life as one of the Urak Lavoy. Liz and her husband began the most successful outdoor company on the Andaman Coast called ‘Wildside’, until the Tsunami in 2004 took their dreams away from them. Liz speaks fondly of these times, but there is a hint of sadness in her voice as she rekindles her memories of living on Koh Jum in her Thai house, which she would have to swim to get to in the high water seasons. Her collection of experiences of living with the Sea Gypsies has given her the voice of wisdom she shares with us today.
After her unfortunate loss in 2004, she found her way to Koh Samui where she gained employment. She improved her high Thai and medical language skills, working as a translator and interpreter for the foreign insurance department at the Thai International Hospital. Pressed by police officials and friends, she opened her own business in June of 2005, leaving the hospital to begin her career as an interpreter for the people on Samui. Today, dignitaries from 11 embassies contact Liz when they are in need of council, or a guided tour of the facilities on Koh Samui. She has court dates booked months in advance, and she is endlessly running to rescue someone in need of her skills. Liz feels that she has found her niche in this point of her life, and she marvels at the magnitude of how she is able to help people.
“I believe that you have ultimate success if you prove to be beneficial to other people.”
What she has gained from her life in Asia has allowed her to bring a wealth of knowledge of the Thai people, their language, and their way of life into the many dealings she is exposed to today. A great respect is delegated to her by the authorities of Thailand and she is revered as one of their own voices. Liz brings to the table a new strategy for her business dealings, and personally ensures that you are properly represented.
Liz Luxen is a survivor. She has lived amongst the Urak Lavoy, acted as an entrepreneur on foreign soil, braved the aftermath of the destruction caused by nature and evolved into a shepherd leading a flock of people who use her voice to speak in a wilderness that is unfamiliar to them. If we could somehow get her to participate in the television series ‘Survivor’, her knowledge of living off of the sea and jungles with nothing but her wits and wisdom to guide her, and with her natural ability to assume a respected position of leadership, it would certainly make her a shoe in for a million dollar prize.