Water. Unsurprisingly, there isn’t any central water supply on Koh Chang. But some villages do have a limited distribution system to homes. Since the development of Koh Chang was first mooted in 2002, newspaper reports have continued to state that an undersea pipe from Khao Rakham reservoir on the mainland is a priority. Then in 2009 plans for a small reservoir in the hills in Klong Prao were announced. No sign of a ny construction work yet, although land has been appropriated.
Residents and resort operators are left to their own devices when it comes to securing a source. The most common way is to dig a bore hole or lay several kilometres of pipe and syphon off water from mountain streams and waterfalls. As 90% of the rainfall on Koh Chang falls during the rainy season, this means that come January/February time the natural water supplies begin to run low.
Some beaches are affected more than others – if you stay on Lonely Beach don’t expect running water in your bathroom during the day as the majority of resorts have to buy water from the owners of boreholes in Bailan or Kai Bae. As more resorts are built so the water shortage will worsen, as on Koh Samui where even the plush hotels have to ration water. On Koh Chang large, more remote resorts cope by hiring water tankers to bring water in from other areas of the island on a daily basis.
Waterfalls. The most visited falls are Klong Plu on the west of the island and Than Mayom on the east. The first is popular because it’s in a touristy area, the second because a couple of Thai kings carved their names in the rocks near the falls whilst on holiday a 100 or more years ago. The tallest falls are down near Salakphet in the south-east.
Waterfalls are great in low season, crap in late high season for the simple reason that they only have a decent amount of water in them during the rainy, i.e. low, season and the notion of paying a 200 baht entrance fee to see a cliff with a dribble of water running down it’s face into a rancid mud pool isn’t my idea of value for money and shouldn’t be yours either.
You’ll find ‘secret’ waterfalls inland from Klong Prao, Kai Bae and Lonely Beach. These aren’t noted on maps or mentioned in guidebooks and require a bit of effort to reach. they aren’t anything spectacular but worth seeking out if you want a mini adventure. Just ask around when you are here and someone will point you in the right direction.
Weather Report. Worth a look is the Thai meteorological department’s site: www.tmd.go.th/en/
Webcams. There are a couple of live webcams on Koh Chang. Both set up by Colin from CocoDeeBo Tours. They are located at their beachfront office at the northern end of Klong Prao beach and on the roof of their office on the main road nearby . (Note that they aren’t always on, especially in the rainy season.)
Welcome Drinks. You arrive at your resort and the smiling receptionist checks you in, explains how the coupon for breakfast system works and hands you a voucher for your free welcome drink in the bar. Great, an ice cold beer would go down well – even if it’s a small one. Read the small print: “This voucher is valid for non-alcoholic drinks only. Excluding coke, pepsi, water and any commercially available soft drinks you may have come across during your time on this planet.“
Therefore, if you’re the slightest bit sensitive to ‘E-numbers’ and/or are diabetic then avoid all welcome drinks. Mid-afternoon and the bar will be empty, one of the saddest things in the world is a newly arrived couple sitting in an empty reception area grimacing as they sip from a tumbler of sickly sweet, gooey orange liquid decorated with a slice of pineapple and a purple orchid.
They want to get up and leave but as they’re the only two new arrivals it’s obvious the barman will know who left the unfinished drinks and they don’t want to piss him off as they’ve set their heart on a sunset pina colada served in a hollowed out pineapple.
So you have to suck the unknown concoction down and just hope the orange pigment now lining the interior of your mouth isn’t permanent or won’t be proved to be carcinogenic by scientists in the coming years.
Wi-Fi Internet Access. Until recently ‘wireless’ meant simply not having electric or phone lines. However, Koh Chang has now leapt forward into the late 20th Century and there are a growing number of restaurants and bars that offer free wi-fi to guests. Resorts are slower on the uptake and the notion that someone paying 4,000 baht/night may expect free wi-fi with their room is alien to hoteliers on Koh Chang. So expect to pay hefty access charges if you use wi-fi in your hotel here.
There’s no reason for this, other than greed. We’ve got free wi-fi for laptop carrying customers at our little guesthouse, so if we can afford the 1,000baht/month cost for an unlimited use 6MB connection and a couple of thousand baht for a wireless router, you’d have thought that larger resorts and luxury hotels could also provide the same service for their guests. Seems most still can’t.
Wildlife. A veritable host of wild things inhabit the interior of the island. 70 plus species of bird, about 30 different mammal type things and over 40 reptiles of varying kinds can be found by those looking to get themselves bitten, stung or poisoned.
To simplify matters I now refer to all potentially dangerous forms of wildlife as “Bob” far easier than remembering Thai names for various spiders, jellyfish, snakes, spiders etc although, admittedly, not really threat specific enough for emergency situations and probably not going to gain sympathy with care givers. Still we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. “I was bitten by Bob, do you think it’s serious?”, “I’ve no idea, now piss off and come back when you grow up.”
I’ve encountered several snakes since I’ve been here although they aren’t that common in our area of the island. (The largest that has been caught & photographed on Koh Chang was a python which was about 8 metres long. ) But a couple of years ago I did see the biggest snake I’ve ever seen outside a zoo – approx 3 metres long. It came up out of the river and into our kitchen where it looked around as we, & our neighbour, tried to figure out just how deadly it was. A moving snake looks a lot more hostile, and a lot larger, than a photo of a carefully positioned stationary snake in the ‘Idiot’s Guide to Dangerous Reptiles.’ We all decided that we were too chicken to take it on and so, using long pieces of wood, we gently ushered it back into the mangroves.