For 2005

April – July 2005

weaving-koh-chang5 Apr – A sad day . . . Cookie restaurant on White Sand Beach is now closed for total demolition / refurbishment until October.

9 Apr – News of another bar closure – ‘Paris London Cocktail Bar’, the classiest roadside watering hole in all of Pearl Beach, shut up shop recently.   Koh Chang’s nightlife will never be the same again . . .thankfully.

The police were out last night protecting, serving and lightening the wallet of motorists and motorcyclists in the run up to Songkran.   Put your seatbelt on, wear a helmet and keep some small notes handy over the next week or so.

10 Apr – A friend headed over to the new Treehouse on Long Beach where 100 baht will get you a no frills mattress on the floor of a no frills hut.   Plenty of ‘keep the beach clean’ signs to distract the   mellow guests from noticing that a hillside was leveled to build the car park. Motionless bodies lay in   hammocks and the cause, two large bags of ‘herbs’, lay nearby on the restaurant tables.   Bit sad, if you have to off your head in order to enjoy your travels.   but I guess it helps numb the pain of having to put up with fellow travellers

12 Apr – Another day on KC, another of the things you don’t get back home . . . an elephant with your name on it.

13 Apr – Signs warning of the perils of drink driving have been posted in anticipation of Songkran deaths.   Why the signs are in English is anyone’s guess – perhaps the police want to improve the average Thai driver’s language skills as well as issuing a warning.   My favourite sign so far is the succinct ‘Drink don’t drive’.

15 Apr – Just noticed there was a story in the paper last week about illegal logging on KC.   This ties in nicely with the huge pile of freshly cut lumber that I found hidden when I was taking the dog for a walk a few days ago. So if anyone wants any 3 metre long, 12 inch diameter trunks – let me know.

18 Apr – You have to worry about some people and their suitability as independent traveller’s when you receive emails like this:

“I’m thinking about going to Koh Chang in late May/early June and I’d like to know about the clarity of the water at that time for snorkeling and diving . . . . If I spend all this money to go there, I want to be able to snorkel/dive in clear water”

No problem, I’ll contact the weather gods, book a few calm, sunny days   and also arrange to have the seas around popular dive sites filtered in advance.   Miracle working . . . it’s what separates this site from the others.

20 Apr – There’s very little hilltop land with panoramic sea views available on the west coast of Koh Chang.   This plot would be great for a house or two.

Centrepoint ferry put their prices up last week – 50 baht/person one way (up from 30 baht), My missus was told this was due to the to the increase in cost of fuel. But I don’t recall diesel going up 66% overnight recently.

21 Apr – Down in Bangbao ‘Ocean Blue’ is a lovely place to stay with great views from their sundeck, however this page of info on their website has got to be the dullest copy ever written about Koh Chang.   It’s as though all the dull bits from other websites were cut and paste onto one page.

Enjoyed a free meal at Chowlay Seafood in Bangbao this evening, an excellent place to dine . . . even more so if you don’t have to pay.   Minor celebrity has it’s minor privileges.

Koh Chang & Beyond‘ a new monthly expat & tourist guide to KC will be out in June (possibly).   I’m writing most of it so it’ll be fun to see what I can get away with in print.

22 Apr – Got 3.5 million baht/year to spare and you fancy renting a 36 room resort on Koh Chang?   Look no further then the White House Resort in ‘any quieter and it’d be in a coma‘   Bailan. Alternatively,   fight the temptation for no other reason than to prove that a fool and his money are not always easily parted.

2 May – Been busy trying to adapt content from this site for the ‘Koh Chang & Beyond’ magazine.   From sow’s ear to silk purse . . .can it be done? (Probably not)

Weather is still good here, less rain than in Bangkok, and aside from this holiday weekend the place is deserted.

Couple more Koh Chang related stories from the newspapers.   One warning that when Bangkok’s new airport opens Koh Chang will boom and rich foreigners will buy up all the land.   It neglects to mention that the Thai businessmen who will be selling the land to the foreigners will be laughing as they’ll have 500 – 1000% returns on their investment of a few years ago.

Had to call a guest at the Tropicana hotel a couple of days ago, this is my conversation with the receptionist:

Me: “Room 239 please”
Rec: “One moment . . . sorry there’s no reply.”
Me: “OK, I’ll try again   later”
Rec: “Are you English?   Don’t forget the time difference, 7 hours I think.”
Me: (impressed he could recognise my accent) “Yes, I’m English . . but I live in Klong Prao”
Rec: “Ok, sir.   There’s no time difference between here and Klong Prao.   It’s 4pm here”
Me: “Yes, I know. It’s 4 pm here too.”
Rec: “But if you call from England it’s 11pm.   It’s very late.”
Me: “Thanks. But it’s not late here.”
Rec: “No, but it is night time in some countries.”

Sensing the only purpose of this discussion was to provide the receptionist with free conversational English practice, I then said my goodbyes.

4 May – A few photos of our boat and others built by the same guy – Pailan Yacht in Trang.

8 May – Half a dozen helicopters in the skies, convoys of vans with army & police escorts and literally dozens of extremely bored boys in brown hanging around Dan Mai on the east coast . . . looks like some big politicians were on the island today.

9 May – The cost of yesterday’s armed forces love in was around 10 million baht, all so the Environment Minister could personally raid areas where CP Group were allegedly encroaching on mangroves.   Bangkok Post story.

11 May – Raining here, so I’ve been glued to the Royal Ploughing Ceremony which is live on all TV stations.   The idea is simple enough – Nigel, the sacred bull, & his master a.k.a. ‘Lord of the Harvest’ predict the harvest and rainfall for the coming year.   I’m going for ‘plentiful’ on both accounts.

More in the Bangkok Post today about land encroachment etc.

12 May – The bull did indeed predict a good harvest and rain during the rainy season and so survives until next year at least.

17 May – Rain & more rain with rain on the way is the forecast.

Passenger ferries have now stopped running hourly from Laem Ngop, expect them to leave every two hours 9am,11am etc until 5pm.   From Koh Chang departures are at 8am, 10am and so on .

20 May – Cautionary tale if you plan on taking a minibus from KC to Pattaya.   Double check that it goes direct. A friend booked a minibus ticket the other day, the tour agent “forgot” to tell him that he’d be picked up by a Bangkok bound minibus that would then take him to Trat where he’d then be put on another minibus to Pattaya.   Thus the tour company not only managed to piss him off but also the passengers who were heading to Bangkok and presumed they’d be going there direct and not via scenic Trat town, a 40 minute detour.

25 May – A special ‘Retard of the week‘ award goes to the girl from ekohchang.com – a new site for hotel booking, who emailed me asking me to link to her site.   Thus alerting me to the fact that they’ve ripped off loads of text & photos from this site for use on their own – see the ‘Beaches’ section.   Another example of Thai ‘creativity’.

Sick of 199 baht sandals?   At last a ‘real’ shoe store on Koh Chang.   Get your ‘farang’ sized loafers, sandals, trekking boots etc at the new branch of Ecco shoes (a well known, quality Danish brand) in Sabay Plaza, White Sand Beach.

1 June“What’s the weather like in Koh Chang now?” – an FAQ I get by email and on the Lonely Planet discussion board a lot.   Truth is, I’ve not a clue as I’m safe inside a sturdy detached house in a Bangkok suburb, spending some time keeping out of the incessant rain in shopping malls and dining on delights from KFC, Pizza Hut and Swensen’s.   Culinary delights I   can only dream of enjoying in Koh Chang.

4 June – Lots in the Bangkok Post about the problems of developing Koh Chang in accordance with the ‘masterplan’.   articles added to the ‘News’ section.

6 June – A veritable hat full of Koh Chang news stories from the Bangkok Post.   They’re obviously running out of real stories about the island so the dodgy land deal articles have been replaced by tales of hard done by local folk being exploited etc i.e. the kind of stuff you could write about any location in the country.

Coming soon . . . a selection of Bangkok hotels that can be booked in advance.   A dozen or so options for people spending a couple of days in Bangkok on their way to or from Koh Chang.

8 June – Didn’t take the authorities long to find a scapegoat for the all the fuss caused by the stories of land disputes and encroachment by big businessmen.   Problem is the guy who brought the complaints, the boss of KC National Park, was the one that got fired.   No more complaints = no more problems.

Bangkok hotels info added.   Choose from my picks in various categories: Budget, 2-3 star, Luxury and Serviced apartments.

Choices of places were made using my knowledge of Bkk from living there for 6 years, so if you’re finding the choice of possibilities a bit bewildering, this might make your life easier.

Had an email from the boss of ekohchang.com (see 25 May update) apologising for ripping off stuff from this site and blaming the web design company.

18 June – Not a great deal happening as we’re back in Bangkok again.

2 July – It’s been a while since the last update as we’ve been in Bangkok for the last couple of weeks. There’s only so much rain I can take. So a few things of note, for Lena in Sweden, whose been worrying about the lack of recent updates. . .

Ever had one of those days where you’re trying to get the dog drunk (Swartland Rose winebox   -15 Euros for 3 litres) and the cat gets wrecked instead.   That happened the other night when a guest put a small bowl of the South African ‘Best Buy’ on the floor. Santa turned his nose up at it, he’s more of a Bordeaux fan, the cat lapped up the lot and spent the night asleep on his back on the deck.   He was still there at 7am next morning, obviously cats can’t take alcohol. You learn something new everyday.

Baan Kwan Chang elephant camp have now embraced the internet age and put up their own website.

In Kai Bae, Koh Chang Wine Gallery have opened up.   At last a good selection of wines, spirits, imported beers at sensible prices.   Aimed mainly at the retail market, but open to all, call in and see Danny if you have a restaurant, resort etc and need a booze supply from a guy who knows his wine.

Dive school websites are usually pretty crap. Not much info and a few pretty pics of fish.   Nice to see an exception . . .   Koh-Chang-Divers.com

On the bottom of each page you’ll notice a plea for Hob Nobs.   Over the past few months I’ve had them brought over from various countries. (Local beers, wines and handmade chocolates have all been gratefully accepted as substitutes.) Ben didn’t make it to Koh Chang, so he put a couple of packets in the mail from the UK.   Feel free to follow his fine example.

Several large construction projects going on now, so parts of the west coast now resemble World War One battlefields.

7am today it was raining as usual, but it’s been bright sunshine for the past few hours.

9 July – Back off Koh Chang and in Bangkok again in preparation for a well deserved holiday followed by a trip to the UK in early August.

If you’re interested in a small plot of cheap, Chanote titled land on which to build a house, then you’ll already know that finding any on the west coast is an impossibility.   But I know of a Thai guy selling 1, 2 or 3 rai of Chanote land in Jek Bae, on the east coast of Salakphet Bay for 850,000 baht/rai.   Very quiet, loads of shade from mature trees, but no sea view.   However, it’s only 10 mins walk down to the shore.   Email me if you’re interested

Aana Resort and Spa has recently opened   -opposite our house – and will offer US$200 a night villas in high season.   (Good low season deals now though) Rich folks can look across the river estuary to see our 800 baht/night rooms in all their glory.   I’m thinking of putting up a large banner for visitors who spend this type of crazy money on very nice rooms   ‘We can walk to the beach . . . can you?’

Anyone in Bangkok who picked up June’s copy of ‘Shakers & Movers’ magazine will have seen a big ad for this website – as I wrote a bit for them on Koh Chang. They’ll be another ad for the site or our guesthouse in August’s issue.   Have to write something on upcountry living.   Not sure what yet.

One big plus about the rainy season is that when the clouds lift the visibility is great.   From the new road going to Hat Yuthanavy you can easily make out all the islands as far south as Koh Kood.   In the high, dry season the sky is universally hazy.

Last week we ate out at three good restaurants – obviously someone else was paying.   KB Beach was the cheapest, but let down by only having one guy acting as waiter and chef.   The regular chef having gone back to tend his rice fields for a couple of months.   Still the food was good and it was good to see that Kai Bae Beach’s long standing policy of not having any items of matching crockery on the table during a meal was still in full effect.   At one time there were at least ten   plates and bowls of assorted sizes and shapes on the table – none of which belonged to the same set.

As far as presentation went, the opposite was true at KB Bungalows.   Very nicely presented by staff   who had obviously had some training and very good food too.   Cost was just under 1,000 baht for 5 people including a few beers, several Thai dishes and a dead fish.

Finally, Sand Terrace on White Sand Beach. (Look for the first tree with lanterns in it north of Sabay Bar.) Maybe not quite as food food as the other two but worth a look as the price is good and the Sea Bass in garlic was excellent.   Until Cookie restaurant is rebuilt, this is our White Sand Beach restaurant of choice.

The day we left Koh Chang I got in the mud and   planted loads of   mangrove seed pods around our house.   What’s more noteworthy is that I managed to do it without the presence of a couple of dozen local government officials, TAT staff or PR people and a large banner proclaiming a ‘Grand Mangrove Planting for Nature Program Opening Ceremony’ – or some other crap in badly worded English.

Other mangrove related news . . . Koh Chang Discovery Club are finally doing what I’ve long said someone should be doing and that is running kayak trips in the mangrove forests in Salakkok Bay.   It’s a long way from the west coast but a lovely area of the island.

Kasikorn Bank have recently opened an exchange booth on White Sand Beach.

14 July – Off on holiday until 25 July, so no more updates until then.   Therefore, emails may or may not be answered depending on the weather, boredom threshold, my mood etc.

From Travelfish.org – “This out-of-the-way guesthouse is set in one of the most gorgeous spots on the island.” Not one to blow my own trumpet, but the above quote is from the review of our guesthouse. (No, I didn’t write it.)

Photos of the new Aana Resort can be found on their website.   Take a look at the colour of the water in this photo.   I’m sure if you took the scum off the surface   you could bathe in it.

One of the hardest of hard to come by property deals on Koh Chang is finding a fisherman’s house at a sensible price.   But there’s one for sale now in Salakphet village for 1.5 million baht.   It’s renovated and looks in good condition, painted the same colour as ours.   It’s the kind of place you could move into without having to rebuild first.   Price is about a third of what something comparable would cost in Bangbao.

Koh Chang in early July, David emailed me with his experience: “Just returned from two weeks on Koh Chang. What can I say? Even in the ‘low season’, with some overcast days, some rain, if you are looking for a great, *cheap*, place to unwind and get away from it all Koh Chang is the place. Out of 14 days on the island we had two of rain – beats home! Stayed at White Sands Beach Resort and had an amazing time kicking back with a good book and a Chang beer to while away those lazy days. . . ”

25 July – I was enjoying my holiday only to have it   interrupted by the kind of storm in a teacup   that bored expats like to stir up when they’ve got far too much time on their hands.

It was all due to a piece I write for the, until now, benign ‘Pattaya & Beyond’ mag.   I wrote   an article about stuff to do during the rainy season.

Three business owners apparently didn’t like the tone . . i.e. it wasn’t complimentary enough about the island or the fun filled activities that are available here. (I even ventured to suggest that it may rain here during the rainy season.) So they complained . . . not direct to me of course.   I still don’t know exactly what the problem was, but to the Thai guy who runs the magazine and, in numerous phone calls, to my partnerMam who is about as responsible for the content of the article as she is for the Iraq war.

I just feel that when you read a free tourist guide book – full of glossy adverts and platitudes, you know it’s all bullshit.   Therefore, as I know a lot of people enjoy the style of this site, I decided to challenge the status quo as I’m sure there’s a market for a humourous, piss taking Koh Chang guidebook that’s got all the info you need but will give you a smile & make you think a little too.

Take a look and see if you reckon it’s intended as a something that should be taken literally or whether it is in fact lighthearted, although a bit scathing of a couple of attractions I really don’t have any time for (Monkey Schools etc). Alternatively, does it portray me as a Pattaya-based agent who’s sole mission is to deter folks from visiting Koh Chang? ( Yeah, that was really suggested!!!)

The real irony of it all is that the only people who have been complaining all run business that I have been recommending on this site, or to folks who email me or in the listings page I write for ‘Farang’   travel magazine, for quite a while. (Of course, they never realised that until now as I’ve never asked for commission etc for recommending them.)

And if you are wondering – no names, that wouldn’t be fair but an alcoholic Swedish restaurant owner on White   Sand beach and dodgy Belgian dive instructor in Bangbao were the two main whingers.

28 July – Koh Chang has been featured on ITV’s (Thai TV channel) early evening news every night this week.   They’ve been flying their helicopter over all the areas   – all in the southeast of the island – where there have been widely reported land disputes between locals, the navy & developers.   Also been interviewing local planning, national park officials