For 2008

January 1

Don't Get Too Excited

Don't Get Too Excited

1 January – Will Koh Chang make it into the Guinness Book of World Records? (Deep down, you know the answer to that already, but read on.) From the Thai Govt. Public Relations Dept:
Biggest postcard in the world from Koh Chang.

Thai and foreign tourists participate in writing New Year greetings on the world’s biggest postcard in Koh Chang Island.
Post Office Chief in Koh Chang Thaweesak Wongwilat said that the province, in collaboration with the Trat Tourism Association and the Tourism Authority of Thailand Trat Office, organized “Koh Chang Countdown and Seafood Festival 2009” at Hat Sai Khao beach in Koh Chang district. During the festival, the participants wrote New Year greetings on the biggest postcard of 18X13 meters.
The festival would last until the last night of 2008 and the Koh Chang post office would send the postcard to Guinness Book of Records for approval.

Somehow, my sixth sense – the one that tells me that anything organised by the TAT will be pointless – guessed that no-one would have bothered to check the record for the world’s biggest postcard before embarking on an attempt to beat it. If they had spent 10 seconds Googling it would have revealed a Russian postcard sent in 2007 that was over 400sqm in area.

24 December – The Christmas spirit seems a little subdued here with barely a santa hat in sight. I went out looking to see what the resorts had done to put a Jesus-like smile on people’s faces. A few have token trees and a bit of tinsel in the lobby but the only one that made an effort to put something by their main roadside entrance was Kacha . . . .

But if that doesn’t get you in the Xmas mood maybe this will

Merry Christmas

Cooking on Koh Mak
Something else I forgot to mention a while ago . . . Leng, who used to run the cooking school at Blue Lagoon and also the nearby Pumpkin Restaurant relocated to Koh Mak to open the island’s first cooking school at Pano Resort. Price 1,200 Baht. Email: < smilekohmak@yahoo.com > or Call her on 081.901.9972

If you prefer to eat fancy food and have someone else make it while you are on Koh Mak, ‘Pasta e papaya’ at GoodTime Resort is the island’s first Italian/Thai bistro complete with European chef.

Real Estate Woes
But it isn’t just Koh Chang that’s suffering. CB Richard Ellis, seen as having credibility in the property world and winner of ‘Best International Agent’ award for 2007 & 2008 at the corporate love-in known simply as the ‘Thailand Property Awards’ came up with this statement in mid October: “Thailand’s property market is well insulated from the global financial crisis” How these presumably well paid, well educated folks figured that Thailand isn’t part of the ‘global’ is anyone’s guess.
In November, the Chairman of CBRE Thailand, said ” . . the Thai political situation may be messy right now, but this is not new and will not result in the market crashing”.

And yesterday, the MD of CBRE (Thailand) stated “Thailand’s property market cannot be expected to recover from the present slump until 2011” Why 2011? Well, why not? Maybe Thailand will be re-insulated from the world by then? A mere six weeks from ‘Nothing to worry about’ to a slump? They don’t provide any reasoning in their press release which lends the casual observer to think that they really don’t have any more of an idea than you or I do, but they just hope people have short memories and don’t actually read everything the PR Dept churns out.

Hanging By A Thread – A Metaphor?

As I have said to a some emailers in the past few months, if I had a decent amount of cash on hand I’d be waiting for property prices to go down further in Europe & US in 2009, especially if you are from the UK as the exchange rate isn’t in your favour now. A house on an island is a nice dream, but remove sunshine from the equation and, as much as I’d like the commission, buying at home makes far more sense at present. Look for desperate sellers in 9-12 months from now. Things should bottom out within this time with house prices beginning to stabilise as economies gradually improve. Wait a couple of years for the feel good factor to come back to the middle classes and then you sell your property for a tidy profit. Then use this money to buy in Thailand. So next boom here will be in 3 years in Q4 2011, and on a Tuesday, if my calculations are correct. Now, where can I buy my ‘Thailand Property Award’?

The Great Fire of Koh Chang
I got a phone a call at 4am:
“There’s a big fire at VJ Plaza”.
“How big?”
“Very big, lots of people here.”
“Where are you?”
“In the car driving to my friend’s house.”
“Did you take some photos?”
“No.”
“Turn round and go back then.”
With the benefit of hindsight, I should also have mentioned, check you know how to use ‘Night’ mode on your phone cam before taking any pictures.

The Great Fire of Koh Chang

It was quite a large blaze and destroyed several shop units. According to gossip, the fire may, or may not, have started in the only unit that was insured by it’s occupier. Which around these parts is more than enough to apportion blame. It could also be that only one person was sensible enough to take out insurance for their shop unit, something that would seem sensible, rather than suspicious.

Day After The Fire

Island logic thus runs something like this . . . when you check into your hotel, ask if they are insured against fire damage. If they are, don’t stay there as the owner will inevitably plan to torch the place sooner or later.

The Great Koh Chang Fire Sales
I’ve noticed quite a few more businesses coming up for sale. For example, a very large restaurant with lounge bar for 20 million baht. Been established 5 years, covers over 500sqm on two floors and the owner is moving to Indonesia according to the advert. Doesn’t say which restaurant it is but I’d hazard guess that it’d appeal to someone who knows their way around an upmarket Italian menu. Nearby you could get a rental contract for five old fan bungalows by the roadside for a mere 2 million baht per year, but that doesn’t include a license to print money, which you’d need in order to turn a profit.

In Kai Bae, a single payment of 2 million would buy you one of the island’s longest established dive schools, and that might not be such a bad deal. On Pearl Beach a small supermarket that has been in business since the last business occupying the premises went bust, is a snip at 1.25 million, which gets you shelves lined with stuff that obviously isn’t selling very well.

The moral of all this is, if you have got cash on hand wait till after the ‘High Season’, which is what we used to call the period between now and March, and you might be able to pick up some turnkey businesses for a good price i.e. far less than the examples above, providing of course they haven’t burnt down.

Better Than Most Backpacker Huts

This henhouse in Klong Son is built to a better standard than half the beach huts on the island. Look closely and you’ll see that there is also a little stool near the entrance so the chickens can hop inside easily.

Closed – Go Watch TV

Dan Mai has     a Library! More accurately, a closed shop unit with a sign saying ‘library’ on it. Now if only the kids could read, then they could make use of it. ‘Having a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, so better to have none.‘ (Motto of the Koh Chang Education Dept.)

Special price for you, sir
(Relatively) Cheap deals on rooms at the five star, Amari Emerald Cove after New Year. Superior = 4,400 Baht/night Deluxe = 5,900 Baht/night. Booking enquiries.

Not everyone is deterred by the downturn. The spot of land that is probably the most ideal for a luxury resort on Koh Chang will soon become home to, unsurprisingly, a luxury resort. Plans are being drawn up for a five star resort that will be built on the site of old Thale Bungalows on Klong Prao beach.

Check your notes
There are a lot of fake 1,000 Baht notes around at present. I haven’t heard of any on Koh Chang yet, but it’s big news on Thai TV and in the papers. Money taken out of ATMs will be fine but avoid changing your Dollars or Euros for a good rate with some bloke in a pub.

Finally, a nice view I found this week . . .

Old East Coast Pier

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