The rainy season is upon us. This means that from now until mid-October all weather forecasts for the island will show an icon that combines a cloud, lightning bolt, rain and sunshine. As that’s what you can expect, often in the same day and sometimes within the space of an hour. The forecast will show that there’s a good chance of rain daily, which is true. What it doesn’t tell you is that the heaviest rain is late night / early morning. From late morning onwards the sun is often shining and the only rain is isolated showers. The sky is also clear, making it a good time of year for photographers to visit. During the main High Season the sky is often hazy and shots of distant island or mountains are no more than blurry, grey silhouettes. you also get some very good sunsets at this time of year . . .
Mark 1 June in your diaries, it’s the date when the National Park start charging divers and snorkellers 200 Baht entrance fee to visit the main dive & snorkelling spots around Koh Rang. Expect some chaos as it appears that the fees will only be collected at Bangbao & Salakphet piers. Which obviously puts boat departing from other locations on the island at an advantage. Bangkok Post story.
One of the boy’s toys I’ve been thinking of getting myself in order to stave off a mid-life crisis is a drone. It’s cheaper than a Harley and will add a different perspective to photos of the island. There have already been a few good drone videos taken on Koh Chang, which have also added to my desire to empty my bank account on a flying camera. This one shows the river outside our house and was taken just over a week ago. Look for the near miss of the phone lines over the river and workers standing on the roof of a neighbour’s new teak wood house that’s currently under construction.
If you were thinking of going down to Koh Mak or Koh Kood from Koh Chang, you’re now too late the inter island boat services have stopped running. So you need to go via the mainland. The good news is that Boonsiri Catamaran have lowered their rates for the Low Season and offer all in prices including transfer by bus or minibus from Bangkok to the pier and boat ticket which makes getting to the islands a lot less hassle. For more details see: http://www.boonsiriferry.com/en/service/set.html They also have a special one way fee of 300 Baht for people coming from Koh Mak to the mainland.
Just before the boats to Koh Mak stopped running, we did a quick trip down to the island. As Allen & Kat, from Thaidaho Vista, the best guesthouse on the island had already headed back to the snows of Idaho for the ‘summer’, we opted for the 4 star Seavana Resort. Partly because this is the best resort on the island and partly because the owner was kind enough to let us have a room for free for a couple of nights. The 22 room Seavana was originally part of the sprawling Koh Mak Resort, but is now being run, very successfully according to guest reviews, by Champ, son of the owner of Koh Mak Resort. He designed and built the bungalows which are spacious - the bathrooms are larger than some hotel rooms I’ve stayed in – and have all the conveniences that you need. Don’t expect five star luxury, but expect a good 4 star standard, with friendly, unobtrusive, personal service.
If you are down on Koh Mak, make a point of stopping off at the new Coco Cafe, in the centre of the island, near the entrance of Ao Kao Resort. run by Ball and Oy, two of the most helpful people you will meet. Good cheap coffee, free wifi and free bicycles to rent. It’s the best way to explore the island.
We’ve also been spending time this month in Pattaya taking niece and nephew for a holiday before they head back to Netherlands. Tried the Amari Orchid and the Hard Rock Hotel. Both very nice places to stay but the Hard Rock definitely has the best toddlers pool, complete with real sand.
Centrepoint Ferry – more than just a pier. Where else can you see a fighting cock; buy a souvenir puffer fish lamp and dine on grilled eggs and pot noodle – all whilst waiting, for what seems like a lifetime, for a boat.
Quick tip: How to get proper bank rates when exchanging money at Suvarnabhumi Airport? Most people know that the rates at airports are much lower than those you’d get from a bank in any town or city. But check out the two photos below. These are two photos taken 10 seconds apart at exchange booths about 10 metres apart. You’ll notice a very big difference in Buying rates – which is what you need to pay attention to if you want to get your hands on Thai Baht.
All the exchange booths on Airport property have lower rates than normal bank rates. The photos below were taken at the entrance to the City Line train into Bangkok at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Right photo is just inside the airport and shows ‘airport’ rates. Left photo, 10 metres away, is in the station area and offers ‘normal’ rates. Just take the elevator down to the station in the basement if you want to save 5% or more on your currency exchanges.