How has Koh Chang changed?
Google Earth gives you the ability to not only see the current satellite photos of pretty much any location worldwide but also those from the past. Although they don’t go too far back, 2000 is pretty much the earliest. But for tourist areas, which have a habit of developing quickly, that is enough to see the changes. I found a few comparisons on Koh Chang, not as many as I’d hoped as , for some reason, Google still uses images from 2006 for all the west coast beach areas of the island i.e. the areas that have changed the most.
But here are a few comparisons.
The first time I went kayaking around the south east of the island, I remember seeing a community of fishermen living on ramshackle stilt houses in a bay in the south east of the island. There were quite a few homes, some were large structures. Some connected to the land and others were entirely in the sea. Nearby on the land is a small National Park office. The stilt houses have virtually all gone. I think about 3-4 years ago. I’m not sure if they were destroyed in a storm or the fishermen forced to move on. The National Park office still remains in the area.
Another comparison in the south east of the island, which for some reason has good images taken 10 years or more apart. In the past Long Beach was totally deserted – no road access. The road was built in 2002 -03. Since then someone has been busy clearing land & removing hillsides. Google says the older image is from 2003, but that can’t be the case as I remember driving along the road there to the tip of Koh Chang in 2003. That was in an old Nissan Sunny, nowadays you need a pick up truck – you wouldn’t take a car along the ‘road’.
Some places don’t change, tourism didn’t affect Laem Ngop village on the mainland, the closest village to the island, at all by the looks of things.
Likewise, on the east coast of Koh Chang, Dan Mai, the island’s administrative centre, hasn’t really changed over the years. The pier in the top left of the old photo is outside a small Chinese shrine. Funds are being raised to rebuild it.
Koh Chang’s largest housing development is Siam Royal View, set in Klong Son Bay. The area that is now occupied by luxury villas was once mainly mangrove swamp. There was an old bungalow resort ‘Premwadee Resort’ on the beach – the bungalows are visible at the north end of the beach in the early satellite photo.
This is the best example I can find of large scale changes during the past decade or so. When Google sends their satellites over the island again, there should be some good comparisons from west coast beach areas.