Five Things About Koh Chang- Keeping with the theme of the week, I figured I would mention some particulars about my recent vacation spot. It’s a theme, go with it.
Before World War II, Koh Chang was one of those remote islands than rarely anyone had heard of, much less visited. During the Japanese occupation, in January 1941, the French and Thai Navy battled in the water southeast of the Island. The French won. Afterwards, things returned to normal with families growing coconuts, fruit, and catching fish until the first backpackers started arriving in the mid-70s. It remained a low-budget paradise until about ten years ago as with major development turned it into a must-see place for both Thai and foreigners alike.
Koh Chang means Elephant Island
You would guess that would mean there are a lot of elephants there. You’d be wrong. Well, sort of. Elephants are not indigenous to the island. There are some now in specific touristy trek adventure places, but not in the wild. The island was named as such because they thought it looked like the profile of an elephant. You be the judge.
Koh Chang was dubbed the next Phuket
Being the second largest island belonging to Thailand, there’s lots of room for resorts and development. Within the past ten years, rapid expansion has affected the atmosphere of the island. It was definitely its own little world with 7/11s, shops galore, restaurants, and bars for both short and long-term visitors. While I didn’t find it as garish or shoddy as Phuket, I’m not sure how much longer it will stay that way.
Koh Chang is mostly an untouched jungle
Seriously. Seventy percent of the island is rainforest, cliffs, waterfalls, mountains and hills. Six waterfalls, an abundance of coral and marine life on the coast and near surround islands, as well as jungle trekking would keep any nature enthusiast well entertained.
West Side represent!
The eastern side of the island, where we stayed, was developed enough for our taste (plenty of farang food and nearly all shop keepers could speak English). It wasn’t too crowded (but it is low season) either. We went to the other side just to explore and I couldn’t believe how Thai it was. Passing by some of the neighborhoods, it could have been my tiny village in Isaan with old women gossiping while chewing beetle root, kids riding around on bikes, and men sitting on a porch drinking whiskey way before 5pm. It was really amazing to see these parallel worlds in such close proximity to each other. There are some hotels on the west side of the island, but there wasn’t much to venture out to do unless you wanted to get your cultural hands dirty in some Thai island life. If I were to stake out some where on the island for the long-term, it would be here.