Koh Chang

Trip Start Jan 28, 2012
Trip End Jul 27, 2013

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What I did
Ban Kwang Chang
Klong Nonsi Waterfall

Flag of Thailand  , Trat,
Thursday, July 25, 2013

Koh Chang, where do I begin! I didn't even think we would get here. Leaving Koh Mak was one of the scariest things I have ever endured. As we packed our bags and set off to the pier a trickle of rain made it’s way down my face. Within moments we were taking cover under a small shelter nearby, not overly to protect us but more of to protect the bags. A smaller boat than we had arrived at the island on was preparing to leave before signalling for us to board. Even though the rain was coming down like tiny bullets the sea was still pretty calm. Pulling out from the pier the rain flowed from the boats protective tarpaulin roof and straight onto us underneath. Before we picked up speed we edged towards another island next to Koh Mak where we noticed a small rowing boat carrying 3 men gaining on us. As the rowing boat pulled in alongside us 2 men crossed over onto our boat. As soon as we started moving again the seas had changed. It was no longer the calm silent ocean it had been before, now it was roaring and as we bounced over the ferocious waves, the wind started blowing the water into the boat. Not even half way into the crossing we were already soaked, it was either the huge waves crashing either side of us or the rain that hit us with such power. As we came out of open water we took cover behind various islands that now surrounded us. Soon the rain died down and we pulled into dock. As we stepped off the boat it was as if nothing had happened. The sky was blue and everyone back on Leamngop was dry. It was safe to say that I was incredibly pleased to find out that we would be on a large ferry to get to Koh Chang. Arriving at Koh Chang gave a very different first impression than Koh Mak had. As the ferry pulled in we saw 40 people most of whom were the colour of oranges from excessive tanning on the beaches. Glad that we had done our relaxing on Koh Mak as we knew that there would be no escaping the masses of travellers here. Next was to find a way from the very north of the island to the very south which was a good 23km, a passing taxi - if you can call it that, it was actually the back of a van that had a couple of benches fitted into it - agreed to take us there. We squeezed into the back and head down the islands one road. Within 5 minutes we came to the first beach sight, this was the busiest and most popular of the beaches and even speeding through it you could tell. Hoards of people flocked to the souvenir shops, bars and restaurants. After 4 more beaches we were the only ones in the "taxi" and we were barely even quarter of the way. Compared to the dirt tracks in Koh Mak this tarmac road seemed a lot safer, until it came to the hills. These weren’t just small speed bump hills, these were basically vertical death traps at nearly a 90degree angle. The ones that weren’t straight up were bending and twisting that even the tarmac on the ground didn’t agree with. Past the hills we arrived at Bang Bao. Our hotel was at the end of an old pier that had, either side of it hundreds of shops and seafood restaurants. At the end was a small wooden walkway out to our hotel. Looking down through the gaps in the walkway we could see the aqua blue sea below. Considering this hotel was around 12 a night we thought we’d hit the jackpot. Not only was out hotel floating on water, our room was kitted out with bamboo furniture and we even had our towels made into swans on our beds. I’m not even sure we can call it a hotel as it only has 8 rooms but it was amazing. The hotel’s restaurant specialised in seafood but also had a delicious selection of curries. Our first night we munched down our food at a table that had no floor so our legs dangled above the water while getting ridiculously drunk on cocktails. The following day we were up and raring to go despite last night’s consumption of the entire islands alcohol. The best thing we found about staying so far away from the main beaches was the price of everything was so much lower. We hired a scooter for the day costing 300baht (6) whereas the next beach over from us had them at 1000baht (20). Anyway we hired a scooter and drove around the entire island checking out the various beaches and waterfalls along the way. Near enough in the middle of nowhere we stumbled upon a shooting range. Just out of curiosity we drove over to have a look. Barely a couple of minutes later Oliver is standing only meters away from me wielding a Glock aiming at a small target. I didn’t realise how loud it would be hearing a gun go off but it made my heart pound. Next was a Magnum another 3 shots fired into the target. Then it was time to pull out the big guns, literally. It was time for the AFP automatic shotgun. The bullet casing flew out of the gun at such speed that when the first was shot I scrambled out of the way of the smoking casing coming towards me. As the target Oliver was aiming at was brought forward he was pleased the he had hit the X in the middle of the sheet. Next was my turn. As I was handed the Glock I took my stance and fired 3 shots toward the target. The owners who we watching us started cheering, as I looked back at the target I had one through the neck and the others through the heart. The Magnum seemed harder to hold but once I had the feel for it another bullet pierced the shoulder of my target with the other going through the chest. The instructor then informed Oliver that if he needed any assistance he should ask for my help. All I was thinking was playing finger guns at school really paid off. Next was the shotgun, compared to me the gun was two thirds of my height. The smaller guns were a lot easier to hold as this one nearly toppled me over. After being told how to hold the gun and where to aim, it was my turn for the shotty. I lifted it up and aimed at the target. I pulled the trigger and….nothing. The safety had been left on. After that I lifted the gun again and took aim and fired. I had 3 tries and by the 3rd my arm was aching under the strain of the heavy gun. I just fired without really aiming as it was too difficult to hold any longer. After having a good joke about my expert marksmanship we hit the road again back to our hotel to relax with a book and a drink. Next day was a big day. We woke up nice and early and had breakfast at the hotel it was a cloudy day and was drizzling with rain. We headed to the end of the pier and jumped into a taxi to lonely beach where we would be picked up. We arrived at the rendezvous point and a car turned up and took us off to … Ban Kwang Chang ELEPHANT camp yay. I had been secretly hoping for the whole trip that we would be able to do some sort of intimate interactions with an elephant and today was that day. We headed off back to the north of the island where the camp was with two Dutch families and a Filipino Family with 3 very small kids. We arrived at the camp and were greeted with some pineapple and some water. Almost immediately after we sat down we were face to face with an elephant that had come over to have a nosey at some of the food we were eating. We specifically chose this camp as it had been recommended due to its humane treatment of the elephants i.e. No chains, no enclosures, well fed etc. throughout the morning however the rain had gradually gotten worse and worse to now almost midday it was torrential. However undeterred from the current weather conditions and feeling super excited we hopped onto the back of our elephant and we were off for the 1 hour trek through the jungle in the pouring rain. We passed through thick jungle and occasionally into a clearing where we could see the full extent of the weather the wind howling and the rain going sideways. We re-entered the jungle interior and found ourselves at an extremely fast flowing river (due to the very heavy rain). The elephant however powered through the river which came up to its neck (the elephant was about 10-11 feet tall) and out the other side. It traversed all the terrain as if it was walking on solid flat ground, a truly remarkable creature. Before long and after a few more river crossing we found ourselves back at the camp. After a short rest with a can of coke we followed one of the mahouts (elephant driver) down to a river as this is where we would be bathing the elephants. We waited a couple of minutes and two huge elephants plunged into the water of a calm part of the river. Needless to say I was the first to jump in with the elephant and climb on top. As I climbed upon the elephants back and saw that no one was in the water yet as they were all faffing around with their clothes, I hadn’t even thought and had gone in fully clothed. Once Oliver had joined me we were almost knocked off by the water being blasted from the elephant’s trunk. It has to be the most memorable and unbelievable experiences on this trip and maybe even on trips to come. As we left the elephants to finish their wash alone we headed back up the path towards the car ready to take us back. Driving away I couldn’t have thought of a better thing to do that day. The next morning we awoke feeling strained from the guns and battered by the river yesterday (at least that’s what we told ourselves) this meant one thing. Thai massage. Walking the streets of Bangkok we noticed Thailand wasn’t short on massage parlours, it wasn’t short on seedy parlours either. Koh Chang was the same, driving down the streets we passed hundreds, most looking worse for wear. We were heading to one that we had found in one of our many guide books, a small one tucked away between buildings called Bodiworks. It didn’t look seedy at all though it had no one inside. The bonus of coming in the monsoon season was most places were gagging for your business. We both opted for the traditional Thai massage which would take 90minutes each. We were shown to a bench just outside the building where we started with having our feet cleaned and moisturised before being led inside. After this I can only partially remember because I’m pretty sure at one point I was so relaxed that I fell asleep. There was lots of rubbing and pushing and stretching that it made me so aware of how much my arms and legs hurt before. I can remember looking over at Oliver on the bed next to me and I was convinced that he was asleep too. 90minuets later we left feeling shiny and new. We also felt like we would fall asleep at any moment. Thai massage is defiantly the way to go. With only one day left we spent it splashing around on a small palm tree fringed beach where the water was warm and sand felt like flour. Next stop Bangkok (again).

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