Kristina's Cambodia & Thailand 2002 Journal
Ko Chang, Thailand
July 21-23, 2002- Koh Chang, Thailand $1=43 Baht
In the morning, after a rough night, I walked out onto the beach at low tide. It was going to be a beautiful day and the island looked much like my idea of paradise; tropical jungle leading up to a palm fringed beach. We'd heard though from some other people who had been there for a while, that the sea was especially dangerous and that there had been quite a few drownings recently due to strong currents and rip tides. We were warned by no fewer than three different people not to go too far out into the water.
After breakfast, we took a walk up the back to the far north end of White Sand beach. Returning, we walked back past Cookies and checked out a few other resorts looking for a better place to stay. Everything seemed to be fairly deserted. Some of the other resorts were nicer, but rooms were going for $30-$40 a night for ones with A/C and they just didn't fit my fantasy of a bungalow on the beach. When we got back to Cookies, we checked out their other options and as it turned out, they had a beachfront A/C bungalow for 800 baht a night ($20). More than we wanted to spend, but worth it for a good night's sleep. The bed was a little better and the A/C would allow us to sleep in comfort (and drown out any noise). Plus, it had a front porch with a couch on which we could sit and read and stare out at the ocean. Ahhhhhh......
Ko Chang has plenty of offer in terms of tourist activities. There are scuba and snorkel trips in season, elephant treks, a waterfall, and miles of beautiful beaches. I wish I could say we took advantage of all these, but we did not. The highlight of each day was an hour long massage on the beach, given by one of the "official" blue smocked, massage ladies that ply the beaches. After the first day, we had a daily standing apointment with one of these women. She would lay a sheet on the sand in the shade of a palm tree and we'd lay our sarong on top. Clad only in our bathing suits, for 200 baht an hour we were stretched, rubbed, and pummeled into bliss.
One day we rented a motor bike (100 baht for a few hours) and took a ride down the road to check out the other beaches further south. Of course, first we had to stop and get gas because the tank was empty. Gas stations here are nothing like the States. They are not much more than an oil drum and rubber hoses (see photo above). In Cambodia, we saw tables set up roadside, stacked with plastic sodas bottles filled with gasoline. Of course, on the main highways of Thailand and Cambodia there are plenty of "regular" gas stations, just not out here on the island. After we filled up, we were off, both of us on one bike. The road was smooth and we turned off to go look at the waterfall. Once we arrived however, the weather was starting to turn cloudy and we decided we didn't want to risk leaving the bike to walk to the falls. Off we went, in search of a pictureque beach on which to have lunch. We went down another 7 or 8 miles until we hit the town of Kae Bae and turned off on a side road headed to the beach. There, we found Kae Bae Hut resort, all but deserted, along with a restaurant and a few mini markets. The view was that of a few small islands just off the coast. They look as if you could swim to them at low tide. We stopped and had lunch in the restaurant. The bike would not start when it was time to leave and after much fiddling and pushing, David finally managed to get it started. As we drove back we found ourselves in a rainstorm that only a monsoon can create. Instantly drenched, we kept going much to the amusement of the people we passed along the way.
As it was, we passed our days much in the same way, reading, resting, eating. We even had laundry done (170 baht for 2 big bags). We had some good converstions with other travelers. In the bungalow next to ours were a few were Peace Corps volunteers who gave us some intersting insight into what it's like to live in rural Thailand and the challenges they face trying to teach English within the Thai school system.
According to the news in Thailand, Ko Chang is slated to become the next hot tourist destination. Once a haven for backpackers and Thai tourists, the large resorts are expected to move in force, driving up prices and overcrowding the beaches. But as of right now, the island is still a haven, and in the off season, it's not hard to find a quiet slice of paradise.
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last updated on January 5, 2003