I managed to visit a few places this month, unfortunately they weren’t the places I had planned to visit, so no pics of nearby islands this update.
Songkran is coming and Klong Prao temple is the main location for festivities on the west of the island. Head there to see a bit of the old fashioned Songkran, paying respect to elders etc in the morning. Plus some games and events in the afternoons and a temple fair in the evening. Outside on the main road expect the usual water throwing. This doesn’t usually start until late morning and will finish at sunset. So if you want to avoid getting wet then stay away from the main road during these hours. Things to remember:
If you are in a pick up truck taxi coming from the ferry pier – put everything in waterproof bags. You are a sitting target and your taxi will be ambushed at some point. Same applies if you are walking around, wear old clothes, keep your camera / phone etc in a waterproof bag.
It may seem like a free for all and everyone is a target but you’ll notice that Thais never go out of their way to hurl water over people carrying babies; staff on their way to work; people off to the temple; those carrying expensive cameras etc. Whereas tourists often do.
If you are riding a scooter don’t be surprised if , without any warning, you get a bucket of ice cold water thrown over you from a passing pick up truck. Also, don’t try to speed up to go past people standing in the street – they are going to throw water over you and far better they do this when you are going very slowly or are stationary than if you are trying to speed past them. Then you’ll come off the bike and will just be a wet, bloody mess in the middle of the road. Don’t expect sympathy from the motorists you are holding up.
Finally, if you are thinking that you’d love to come to Koh Chang for Songkran, but cant get here until the end of the month – fear not. The last weekend of the month is when ‘Songkran 2’ takes place. This is much better than the official Songkran. A parade of decorated floats plus a big waterfight. It’s when the locals and hotel workers who are all busy taking care of guests over the real Songkran holiday get to let their hair down.
Way back at the start of the High Season, the new National Park boss had the idea to charge snorkellers and divers an entrance fee to visit the small islands around Koh Rang ( which lie within the Koh Chang Marina National Park boundaries. However, this wasn’t very well thought through. For example, no-one knew how fees would be collected, which resulted in some bizarre scenes as park officials in RIBs demanded payment from snorkellers who were bobbing around in the water wondering WTF these guys in military uniform demanding money wanted and why. At the time the boss quickly backed down in the face of protests by tour boat operators, but said that the fees would still be implemented in the future. And that time has come. A new sign has quietly been posted by the main ferry pier advertising the fact that from 1 June onwards anyone going on a boat trip will have to pay the entrance fee. 200 Baht for Foreign Adults, 100 Baht for children ( Thai adults and kids are 40 & 20 Baht respectively)
Having the 1 June start date means that there is plenty of time for someone to come up with a good reason to scrap it before the start of the 2014 – 2015 High Season. Should be interesting to see how this money is collected.
We ventured out at night but Kai Bae seemed to have gone to bed early. Hardly anyone around. So we ended up in Mojito Lounge having a few drinks. They have an extended happy hour until 10pm with some pretty decent cocktails for just 85 Baht. Can’t really go wrong at that price.
Pattaya Music Festival was held over the weekend of 22 – 24 March. Always a very good annual event with several stages and numerous bands ranging from school kids up to some of the most famous names in Thai rock music – all for free. Surprisingly, may foreign tourists stay away from it, the audiences at the main stage are overwhelmingly Thai. which is fair enough as the music is all Thai. But you’d think more people would want to go along and check it out as some of the bands are very good. Technically, alcohol was banned during that weekend ( due to Senate elections in Thailand ) so small bars all had to shut but when the main sponsor of the event is the country’s largest alcohol company, you know in advance that the ban wont affect the onsite beer and whisky stalls.
It’s a bit toasty on the island right now. Late March – early April is the time of year when temperatures rise as it’s the start of the Thai summer. When instead of simply being ‘hot’, the temperatures become ‘very hot’. It’s around 34 – 35C every day at the moment, which when coupled with the humidity means that as soon as you do any physical activity you end up soaked in sweat. You’ll need your sunscreen and keep drinking far more water than you think you should. Heatstroke is very common, it’ll leave you with a headache and feeling like you have food poisoning. It could be worse, if you are planning a trip to the central plains or northeastern Thailand it’s 40+C up there.
Feeling Happy on Koh Kood. This is a great video. The sort of thing you’d hope tourism officials would do to promote the island, but of course never would.
Finally, a few photos of the fancy new Parama Resort, or to give it its full title ‘Parama Koh Chang by Epi[K]urean Lifestyle’ down in the southeast of the island. It’s getting a very good reputation as a luxury hideaway for visitors who want to escape the busy west coast beaches and is managed and staffed by people who go out of their way to ensure that guests have a great, personalised holiday. There’s no beach outside the hotel but they do have a free boat service to a private island with pristine white sand beach just 5 minutes away, which more than makes up for it. Check rates and availability on Booking.com