Let’s Check Out Paradise

Finally, the recap video of the fantastical Koh Chang! Such a short time there, I wish we had scheduled a few more days. Koh Chang has it all with plenty of restaurants, shops, and natural attractions to keep you busy or taking a load off beach side. It’s a nice alternative if you don’t have time to go down to famed beaches of the south (fewer people too!). I’m hoping to go back and take in a yoga weekend and a trek into the jungle. Here is a small piece of my experience.

Friday Five

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.

Some Background
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.

You can kind of see it..

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.

Photos from Koh Chang

As promised, here are some of my pictures from Koh Chang. It really is a stunning island paradise.

We went cosmic bowling in Surin. It was kind of like we were real people.

We couldn’t really figure out what this shop was in Janthaburi, but it was quite terrifying.

This is Jeff’s ‘our bus is two hours late, I’m hot, sticky and I hate traveling in Thailand’ face. I saw this expression a lot this trip.

Dogs on the island were a lot more farangish than regular Thai dogs. Look at this pathetic lug.

The line of bungalows at Hat Sai Inn, a good bargain at 500 baht a night for AC, satellite TV, free wifi, a short walk to the beach and very clean.

Walking down the street… oh hey monkey hanging from the electrical lines. That’s normal.

All that uncomfortable travel was worth this view.

But maybe not so much for views like this… whoever told this guy his color was green was definitely greng-jaing the Buddha out of him.

Suddenly it makes a lot a of sense why these trees are called buttress roots.

A jaw-dropping view-point at the top of one of the mountains on Koh Chang. Doesn’t do it justice.

One of the beach creatures.

Not a bad backdrop.

Americans have garden gnomes. Thai people have fat rabbit women singing opera. Or is she just raising the roof?

The awesome Klong Phrao waterfall in the background of this eye-catching flower (and bee)

I like one because not only do you get the crab, but a peek at the mountain behind it too.

It was hard to leave this behind.

I’ve been a little sick from these weird pus-filled bug bites this past week. I’ll be back on the blogging train soon!

Tuesday Travel Photo

Koh Chang and I did not have a long enough relationship for my liking. Our three days there were not nearly enough on this not too crowded, but developed aplenty to satisfy a PCV’s farang food cravings. More photos to follow.

White Sands Beach… sometimes pictures just aren’t enough.