Ultra relaxing on Ko Chang (Thailand)
Trip Start Oct 16, 2009
15Trip End Nov 15, 2009
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Loooong overland trip
I knew the trip here was going to be a tough one because I wanted to try and avoid flying, one because I hate flying and airports and security checks, two because of the environment. I was expecting it to take two or three days, so in hindsight 28 hours of travelling + waiting was not so bad.
The good thing was I was able to book direct transport from Don Khon island all the way to Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand. During the whole departure and arrivals hassle on the border I chatted a bit with a nice Swiss girl and later we ate some dinner together at the bus station. She was very attractive but I don't even know her name and will probably never see her again. :-)
I was still a bit in shock by the big difference between Laos and Thailand: there are so many more buildings, people and cars and motorbikes in Thailand! Laos doesn't have so many inhabitants (I think it was between 6 and 7 million) and not that many tourists either. Thailand has many of both!
From Rayong I needed a few more minibuses and songthaew (tuk-tuks) and a ferry. It was a bit annoying because the tuk-tuk driver had kept me waiting in some office for over an hour, and when we finally go to the ferry it had just left and I had to wait two hours for the next one, in the middle of the blastingly hot day, when all I wanted to do was get to my destination and take a shower and dive into the ocean or a pool!
Finding my perfect home on Ko Chang
But in the end I arrived in Ko Chang after that day + night + day of travelling. The tuk-tuk on the island went smoothly and charged a fair price. I felt completely exhausted and smelly. But I spent some good time looking for a nice place to stay because I wanted the one I chose to be perfect (I didn't want to pack again and move after one night... such hassle with check-out times and all that).
So after seeing some places I had found on the internet but deciding against them (way too isolated, or ugly depressing rooms), taking some taxis, I finally came across a resort in Lonely Beach that was pricier than what I was looking for but the girl tempted me to just have a look at the room without obligations... and I was sold!! It's just the most perfect luxurious apartment, split levels, designery but cosy, ocean view, a pool... super friendly service, great restaurant attached with cheap food and amazing sunset views (my daily one hour free entertainment programme), free dvd's to borrow, and close to shops and other restaurants. The only small downside is it is based on a rocky beach and the sandy beach is about 10 minutes walk away. But I haven't even felt the need to actually lie on that one. Have enjoyed myself by the pool, and on another beach altogether.
On Ko Chang I'm not being very active either. I have no interest in seeing any more waterfalls or temples or whatever. Just spend my days shopping for cheap clothes, exploring some other beach, swimming in the ocean or the pool, getting a massage a day, drinking and eating nice stuff, and enjoying the sunsets. Mmmmmm.
10th November - Snorkel trip
No matter where you go on the island, the same snorkel trip is offered everywhere: 4 islands in one day. So I booked it and brought my own snorkel-for-dummies which I've been carrying around for a month for just this occasion! :-) (just the snorkel, not the mask) It's a snorkel that allows you to very easily blow out the excess water
The company provided one that was supposed to have this same valve system but I kept choking on sea water anyway, so at the third island I replaced it with my own and was finally able to blow out the water after dives. :-)
It took much longer to get there than I'd expected, about an hour and a half till we got to the first island, but it was a nice boat ride. It was also a much bigger boat than I'd expected, two decks and about a hundred tourists! After a while I had some nice chats with a couple: a French guy and his Polish girlfriend who lived in London. Somehow we got talking about the world's problems, poor versus rich, Thai women (prostitutes?) and fat hairy old westerners. I guess because there were many of those dubious 'sets' on the boat!
The corals and fish at the third island were nicest and most colourful. The zebra-style fish were not so shy and came to inspect you from up close. Other fish were more careful. It's so cool when you lie still for a while more and more fish come near you and behave normally. I could even hear (!) the ones that were feeding, biting off the sea grass.
At the first two islands something bizarre was happening under water and later on I discovered most other people experienced it too: the feeling like you were being pricked by many small electric shocks or bitten by tiny fish all over your body or something. I kept looking whether they were tiny fish sucking my skin or something but couldn't see what did it. It even left all these little red marks on my arms and legs for hours afterwards. The Thai guides couldn't really explain it well (their English failing) but said that it wasn't going to be there at the 3rd and 4th island, and to just not scratch it and it would go away automatically. And it did, so it was fine in the end.
So I don't know what it was but a few times it was bloody annoying - almost painful - when it happened and it confused me. Perhaps some sea creatures, I don't know the word for 'kwal' or 'sidderaal' in English. But all in all the snorkel trip was great fun!
Halfway during the trip we got a delicious lunch, and later on some more snacks (fruit and shrimps). All this for only about 10 euros. It was pretty well organised.
At first it seemed like my new friend Kimm (Canadian) who lives in Bangkok, might come over to spend a few days on Ko Chang together, but in the end work obligations prevented her from being able to make it. She teaches kids at an international school. It was a shame she couldn't make it, I'd have loved to go snorkeling and kayaking together and she can also ride a motorbike. But we'll meet up in Bangkok later.
For a minute I considered renting a motorbike myself and explore Ko Chang. Everybody does it... and most of them don't even wear helmets. But not even an hour later a French girl stumbled into the restaurant I was at, on crutches and with a broken foot from a motorbike accident. Which is not surprising if you see the rollercoaster steep and curvy roads they have here on this mountainous island! So I decided against it after all and will first practice somewhere flat. :-)
So I spent my last day here just lazing by the pool with my book and yes, getting another massage.
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