For 2008

January – March 2008

refugees-koh-chang6 January -Happy New Year, but it isn’t. Out of respect for HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana and in order to avoid falling foul of the government’s decree that all merry making activities in Thailand should be suspended for 15 days to mourn her passing, there will be no attempts at humour in this update. Only factual information and sepia toned reminiscences of times gone by. It is pleasing to see that all other sites about the island have followed this lead, dulling down the information in them to the point of making reading a sombre, sobering experience.

High Season is officially over now. Following a record breaking 5 days of packed hotels the crowds have now left Koh Chang and it’s back to normal. However, with the next New Year holiday a mere 359 days away, the island’s hoteliers and business owners are now hard at work figuring out how to extract even more money from visitors during the 2008-09 high season.

What’s the most embarrassing question one yachtie can ask another? “Excuse me. Do you know where my boat is?“. A few days ago, during strong overnight winds, a nice new 50′ catamaran broke free of it’s mooring off Koh Mak and drifted off into the ocean. No crew were aboard, so when the owner awoke the next morning and looked out into sea where his pride and joy should be moored, he found it wasn’t – it had disappeared. A search by speedboat around Koh Kood turned up nothing, except one yachtsman – who was asked the question above. However, the following day, the Thai Navy found the cat out in the gulf and all was well.

The same bad weather i.e. a bit of wind, led to 30 tourists having to be rescued from the island of Koh Wai. In what can only be described as barely imaginable hardship, the tourists who might have had to endure a night in a 200 baht/night fan bungalow on Koh Wai, were saved from this fate and whisked away by rescue vessels to civilisation in the form of 24-hour air-conditioning on Koh Chang.

Looking at one site for a new restaurant on Koh Chang this week I learnt something new about the word ‘Paradise’. The Greek word came from the Avestan word “pairidaêza-” (an Eastern Old Iranian language) = “walled enclosure”, which is a compound of pairi- (= “around”) (a cognate of Greek περί peri-) and -diz (= “to create, make”), a cognate of English “dough”. So now you know how Paradise got it’s name, how that’s relevant to Koh Chang I haven’t a clue but it’s worth committing to memory in case it pops up in a pub quiz.

Magic Garden Resort in Lonely beach can now be yours for a mere 7.9 million if you’re looking for what could be a nice business for a hands on boss who understands today’s backpackers. I don’t. One look at the Lonely Planet discussion board and I begin to start all my sentences with “In my day . . .

None of the big hotel international hotel chains have got plans for Koh Chang yet, one reason may be the high land prices ,another may be that they are looking for exclusivity and not mid range mediocrity. So where have Sheraton Hotels chosen to build a resort? Not on Koh Chang, given the amount of crap being built here we’d be lucky to get a Best Western or a Travel Lodge, but on a very private peninsula on Koh Mak.

I was looking around the other day to see what 140,000 Euros would buy me nowadays. I found a couple of places that caught my eye. For example the house below could be mine for this amount. It comes complete with 2 bedrooms, a back yard, panic alarm button, shrub borders, a vestibule and a mock Georgian front door. It’s located in St Helens which is the posh part of Liverpool so you get a better class of happy slapping hoodie hanging around the street corner.

However, it was this little beauty that really got my attention as, despite being a centre terrace house and being in Birmingham, it not only possesses a rear hall but also an inglenook feature fireplace and by the looks of things has already been pebble dashed – thus saving me a job. However, as I had set my limit at 140,000 Euros it was a few thousand over the budget and I was forced to look further a field.

Thinking I would never find my dream home I stumbled upon this place. Sure the selling price may include all fittings & furniture, but it still lacks an inglenook and those tropical palms are a poor substitute for a good deciduous hedge. Gas central heating? – forget about it; and there’s no sturdy brick wall built around the back yard.Therefore, I decided to forgo the opportunity to buy it, despite it being within my 140,000 Euro budget.

However, if you are looking for an island home which, whilst not offering all the attractions of an end-terrace in St Helens or the vista of a mid-terrace in a Birmingham suburb, does come with with sea views and an an annual mean temperature of around 30C then just let me know.   i just added some very nice homes for that very amount to the site.

16 January – This week sees the annual commemoration of the ‘Battle of Koh Chang’ which took place in 1941. The most remarkable aspect of which is the way the outcome is viewed. Sixty years on and everyone is a winner. Depending on your viewpoint, the result was either “At a stroke the cream of the Royal Thai Navy (except the four submarines) had been wiped out.” (Wikipedia) or “The Thai navy successfully drove French navy out of Thai territorial waters.” (TravelKohChang.com) Regardless of whether you are rooting for the Thai or French navies, expect to see lots of naval vessels off Laem Ngop and along the east of Koh Chang in the next few days as ceremonies for the war dead will take place at the mainland memorial and at Hat Yuthanavy on Koh Chang from 17 – 21 January.

Thailand’s largest expat discussion board, Thaivisa.com, now has it’s own sub-forum for all things Koh Chang related. Worth a look to get alternative views on the island.

Porn’s Bungalows in Kai Bae have a new website. Nice photos of the place and the beach, but no online booking. It’s still walk in guests only. Bungalows from 500 – 800 baht a night.

Another new website. Without a doubt the best source of info for Koh Mak is www.kohmak-island.com Pages of interviews and insight into the lives of Koh Mak’s local & expat community. Plus places to stay & all the tourist info you need.

More signs of Koh Chang going upmarket. Tarnsilah Bungalows used to be a collection of 200 baht/night bamboo huts by the sea. Went there a couple of nights ago and it’s now 2,500 baht/night designer concrete bungalows – very swish. I think there will be more of this type of development in the area as the same thing happened in Khao San Road in Bangkok a few years ago with new guesthouses & small hotels springing up catering to people who have more money to spend on accommodation but don’t was a package tour atmosphere. And who are still young enough to want to stay in an area with a wide range of places to eat, drink & party the night away.

The restaurant should be worth a visit as it’s dirt cheap but also nicely designed with seating on the floor in small salas and one large open-sided, covered deck. However, the staff still seem to think they are selling to people staying in 200 baht/night rooms and so both the food & service was pretty poor. But give the owners a while to sack everyone and find new staff who can cook & serve food and it’ll be OK. This is the bar area:

Want to visit Koh Kood on a day trip? You can on the Amari Emerald Cove’s ‘Supercat’. It’s a tad more expensive than your normal 600 baht snorkelling trip by converted wooden trawler, but it’d make a unique day out at sea and it’s pretty much your only option if you want to see Koh Kood and aren’t planning on staying there the night.

Luxury Villa for Rent on Koh Chang. If you don’t want to stay in a hotel but want some luxury there is now an alternative that should appeal to families and small groups. ‘Inspiration’ is a 4 bedroom beachfront villa with private pool and huge garden area. Located mid-way between White Sand Beach & Klong Prao beach this is the only property of it’s type on the island. Booking info & photos.

More from Koh Chang’s troop of fun loving jokermen, the Tourist Police, custodians of the Kai Bae viewpoint. I noticed that they are now reaching out to visitors by offering free stones to all from a table situated outside their office. (Hurry, only two left.) Why they are doing this and what they hope to achieve I haven’t a clue, but the phrase ‘Island Fever’ springs to mind as being cooped up in a Portakabin on a clifftop for weeks on end can’t be good for you.

I’m not into subliminal advertising, so this poster works for me, although whether the ‘Ultimate place to be’ is in the Casa Del Mar Guesthouse & Lounge Bar, Bangbao or in the bikini clad model’s knickers isn’t clear.

25 January – Desperately seeking Carlos. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Carlos do Nascimento, a 40 year old, tall, thin South African guy whose family last heard from him 2 weeks ago when he was on Koh Chang, please ask him to contact his brother Laurice urgently.

On the way to Koh Chang? According to maritime rumour the world’s 62nd largest private yacht is heading towards Koh Chang from Samui. Where will they park this 68 metre long super yacht? In Monaco they just parked on the main street. When you’ve got a boat this big you can moor pretty much anywhere you like. It now has a helipad and each of it’s three tenders are powered by 2 x 250HP outboards.

Signs of a sheltered life – Number 34: How many of you realised that Koh Chang was the only Thai island to have a variety of Marijuana named after it? Do your bit to help local weed exporters and get your Koh Chang Landrace Sativa seeds online.

Worth a mention for anyone visiting Koh Mak. Call in and see Ball at ‘Ball Cafe’ located near Ao Nid Pier. Nice guy, good coffee and a great source of info about the island.

Here’s a nice spot for a swim and a beer by the beach. Ocean Place pool bar, Koh Mak. there’s nothing like this on Koh Chang. More reasons why Koh Mak looks set to become the destination for discerning visitors to this part of  Thailand can be found here.

It’s time to slap a bindi on your forehead, gather fifty good friends, hop onto the roof of the nearest train and spontaneously burst into a choreographed song & dance routine. Yep, Bollywood’s first, and probably last, movie featuring the delights of piers and dull bungalow resorts on the east of Koh Chang has just arrived in a cinema near you – if you happen to live in the Indian subcontinent.

The premise of ‘Bombay to Bangkok’, which was filmed partly on Koh Chang in April last year, is that a guy is mistaken for a thief, flees to Bangkok and meets up with a hooker with a heart – a Julia Roberts ‘Pretty Woman’ type. To cut a blindingly obvious story short, much song, dance and slapstick filled hilarity ensues, they end up on Koh Chang for some reason and in the end they fall in love. ( I know all this because I’ve seen the trailer.)

For those of you fortunate enough not to be able to get to a showing any time soon you can endure the full interactive experience here:

Figure out at which point in the screenplay all credibility does out of the window is it a) When Shankar, a petty thief, in desperate need of money, steals from the local mafia don and escapes by hiding in luggage belonging to a group of doctors heading to Bangkok or b) When he bumps into Jasmine, volunteer medical relief worker by day, massage girl by night. The hitch is that she is Thai and he can’t converse with her at all.

Finally, singalong to the theme song ‘Same Same But Different’ by learning the lyrics which include such Dylan-esque moments as:
“I am Jasmine call me Jammy
Shankar pakka hindustani
Nice to meet u, thanks a lot
You are welcome, mention not”

3 February – Congrats to Clare & Kuy from Kai Bae on their new rugrat Maya – born a few days ago in the UK. Notice how her eyes follow you no matter what angle you look at the photo. Moving swiftly on before this update gets bogged down in a mire of cute photos and admiring ‘Ahhh’s . . .

Last update I mentioned that Koh Chang is the only Thai island to have a marijuana strain named after it. Turns out that the person who took the first seeds from Koh Chang to the west is a regular reader of this site and had also emailed me in the past – small world isn’t it? You’ll find Plural of Mongoose’s site with a quick Google if you’re interested in herbal gardening.

We just had a new toilet built. As civil engineering projects go I didn’t figure it’d be one of the toughest assignments ever. However, we hadn’t counted on Somchai & Uncle Somchai our builders. We used them because they did a good job fixing our wooden deck. Somchai was the skilled one who basically did everything whilst Uncle Somchai carried stuff, smoked and disappeared for hours on end. So they were happy to have a few more days work building a toilet.

Turned out that whilst they were very good with wood, concrete and toilets left them a bit mystified. The first inkling of this was when the concrete was poured for the floor and Mam noticed something was amiss. They’d forgot the pipes leading up through the floor for water, drainage and waste. This was followed by it taking almost 2 days and several attempts to fit and successfully connect water pipes to one sink and one toilet.

But like all things, it eventually got done and I know now that the main difference in construction standards isn’t in the materials used, it’s simply the number of attempts it takes to do something right. You want Western standard, it’ll take at least 3 attempts; Thai standard takes 2 attempts; and certified Isaan quality means they balls it up first time and you say “Sod it, that’ll do.”

On a different scale are these villas at Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood. Yours for US$6 million i.e around 200 million baht, and upwards for what is basically a 4 bedroom, bamboo house with a tent for a roof, a big garden, a big pool and a big fridge a.k.a ‘Glass enclosed, temperature controlled, walk-in wine cellar.’

One place where you are guaranteed to see monkeys (or macaques, depending on how pedantic you are) is opposite the entrance to Bhumiyama Resort, Lonely Beach. See them most afternoons on the power lines and in the trees.

Talking of kayaking, in just over a month’s time the kayaking around the island to raise money for elephants thing will take place. I’ve had several conversations with the guy who organises it about the fact that although padding for 3 days around Koh Chang maybe be fun for the participants, it isn’t a) the type of thing many tourists would do b) particularly spectator friendly c) attention grabbing in the eyes of sponsors.

This year is a slight improvement with the addition of ‘funny races’ a series of short races which will be held off White Sand Beach on March 13th. These are open to all – so you just need to turn up and you can enter. More info can be found at www.asian-elephant.org but only in the Thai language version of the site. So not much point looking really.

However, sponsorship for this type of annual event is pretty much impossible to get. Very few companies want to payout any money and it’s even a headache getting Feelfree to just provide a few kayaks on loan.
The reason is simple, kayaking may be a nice way to see the islands but it just isn’t sexy. You aren’t going to find corporate sponsors rushing to stick their name on the side of a sea canoe. That won’t sell insurance polices, 5 star hotel rooms, business class plane tickets, Swiss timepieces or luxury housing as the possibility of having wealthy, tanned Europeans, decked out in his & hers Ralph Lauren summer collection, back slapping and popping bottles of champagne at the finish line is non-existent.   So this year may well be the last we see of the Queen’s Cup kayaking event.

However, if it does drop off Koh Chang’s social calendar, the good news is that there would hopefully be a far more high profile and far sexier replacement involving yachts. So if anyone out there is interested in sponsoring a yachting event to raise money for Thai elephants, send me or K. Pittaya, the organiser an email. Not sure what the event would be yet, possibly a Pattaya – Koh Chang regatta or Koh Chang – Koh Kood – Koh Chang sail. But one thing’s for sure it would get more media attention than a dozen canoes do at present.

Some land for sale on Koh Mak if you’re interested . . . 3 or 4 Rai inland for 1 million/rai. 10 Rai by an excellent beach for 4 million/rai. 16 Rai by a stony shoreline, 200 metres of sea frontage, 2 million/rai.

14 February – A belated update as I’ve been busy with other more important stuff.
Love may be in the air today, but it looks like there’s something even more mind altering in the water in Switzerland. Thanks to Gerard for making me famous in Geneva. ;-)

A new section this week entitled ‘Wankers on Jetskis’ this is where we feature rich Thai brats whose parents have bought them a jetski for their birthday and they think it’s a good idea to race it down the river. Like this guy . . .

Another new, niche section I was thinking of creating was one featuring a dozen Thai guys wearing Hawaiian shirts, banging cymbals and holding banana plants whilst being paddled down river aboard a longtail boat on their way to the annual ‘Kumoniwannalaya Luau’ in rustic Klong Prao. But these guys below were just part of a wedding procession – so my plans for the new section are still on hold.

New website for anyone with an interest in sailing around Koh Chang – kohchangsailing.com charter hire from Sam and friends based down in Salakphet Bay at Island View pier. Knowledgeable guys with a wealth of experience sailing in this area.

Looking for a Koh Chang discussion and travel tip exchange for travellers by travellers? If so Joachim would like to stop reading this site and take a look at now . . .
One . .
Two . .
Three . .
Four . .
Five . .
Six . .
Sev . .
Welcome back!

Some more sites to divert your attention, possibly for more than couple of seconds.   A plug for Tec-Evolution on White Sand Beach where mere mortals can learn how to dive with a rebreather, enter the exciting world of ‘Tec diving’ and take an SDI/TDI course. Plus you can stock up on all the scuba gear you always managed to live without until now. Down in Kai Bae at their ‘Scuba-Evolution’ branch they blend their own Nitrox – what more could you want? (Most of that last paragraph means nothing to me either.)

On White Sand Beach, Sven had a novel idea – sensing a fast approaching crime wave of Tsunami-like proportions was set to engulf Koh Chang in the near future, he set about opening the island’s first Safety Deposit Box rental business. All boxes require two keys to open them and are built of triple thick steel, same quality as used in bank deposit boxes. Rent a box short or long term. Good place to store your valuables if you’re staying here for a while as most bungalows or apartments aren’t known for their security features. And for anyone here on holiday who needs a safe place to stash cash, look no further. Located near Top Resort, free internet for their deposit box customers – and not-free internet for anyone just wanting to use the internet.

I don’t know who’s put this webpage online – Toxic Koh Chang, other than they are an English couple who were here on holiday recently, but good luck to them if it makes the powers that be take the issue of refuse collection and sanitation a bit more seriously. Skip the ALL CAPS written blurb where they unfortunately get sidetracked by the unrelated topics of the Thai mafia and prostitution and watch their video that was shot entirely on White Sand beach which by far is the most crowded and polluted of the beaches.

For anyone coming here on holiday – not all the island is this bad. It did appear as though the garbage problem was being taken more seriously a few months ago when the local authorities made a big play of putting out loads of bins a long the roadside. However, it turned out that this was just for the benefit of the TV cameras that accompanied the ‘Miss Thailand’ contestants on their visit here. A month after they had visited the bins were all taken away.

Definition of ‘irony’ that one of our guests spotted the other day: A construction worker driving home from work on his motorbike. He was wearing his overalls with ‘Safety First’ plastered on the back but had a small dog seated in front of him, was talking on the phone and wasn’t wearing a helmet.

For a less sterile live music experience try JuJu Bar, which is about 400 metres north of the Amari Emerald Cove at the southern end of Klong Prao beach. Live blues, 60s stuff, African drummers, jam sessions etc. Open from early evening but best to eat elsewhere first go around 10pm. You can also catch the band at Thale Bungalows every Sunday at 8pm.

In early March the new Centara Chaan Talay Resort and Villas will open on the mainland just outside Trat. Looks a very nice place with rooms from around 3,000 baht/night upwards. First interesting thing to ponder is that will the be enough international customers to fill a mainland 5-star resort as it’s hard enough getting people to visit Koh Chang let alone a beach miles away from anywhere on the mainland. Also interesting to note that of what are arguably the three best hotels in the area none are managed by their owners. The Amari & Dusit on Koh Chang and the aforementioned Centara in Trat, all manage the hotels rather than own them, which is a far cheaper way to enter the hotel market than buying land and building your own resort.

Nice recently built little house for sale / long term rent in Klong Prao. Quiet area, yet under 10 minutes drive to White Sand beach or Kai Bae. Yours for 1 million baht on 600sqm of land on a long lease.

26 February – Took a day trip on a yacht yesterday courtesy of Bill & Keith who had a chartered a nice 42′ yacht from Gulf Charters and invited us along for a day to Koh Wai. The weather gods were smiling as this was the first clear day with no haze for a few weeks plus the wind was strong enough to get most the way there and back under sail. Moored off Koh Wai below, Koh Chang in the background. More photos.

Undeniable proof that Koh Chang will never be a new Pattaya comes in the form of Koh Chang’s first ‘jumper’. Regular readers of the Pattaya Mail will have become familiar with headlines such as ‘German Man in swan dive from 18th floor balcony’ and ‘Lovelorn pensioner makes high rise suicide leap’. One problem facing anyone with a desire to top themselves on Koh Chang has been the lack of tall buildings from which to throw yourself.

However, a few days ago a guest staying at VJ Apartment didn’t let only being on the 3rd floor put him off and he jumped. His death wish was probably that the apartment had been 10 floors taller, as he landed with a thud but survived with a few broken bones protruding. In Pattaya, alcoholic expats and manic depressive holidaymakers with suicidal tendencies are probably laughing at this inept attempt and thinking to themselves “I’ll show those islanders how it’s really done“.

Keith at Capital TV, Bangkok, wants to hear from you if you want to have a less-than-subliminal plug for your business on an upcoming TV travel show to be filmed on Koh Chang and shown throughout SE Asia to a captive audience of stay at home Mums, pensioners and students waiting for the lunchtime repeat of Survivor Micronesia to come on. Also, if you have any ideas about interesting subjects to film feel free to share your thoughts with him.

Koh Chang 20 years ago (This was the most interesting & enlightening update for me to write. In jan 2009, something similar happened with the Rohingya people in the south of Thailand. the events around Koh Chang 20+ years ago seem to provide the blueprint.)
What could you have seen if you were out at sea off Koh Chang 20 years ago? The odd snorkelling trip, a few fishermen perhaps . . . or maybe dozens of bodies floating in the water.

There isn’t much written about Koh Chang’s history, ancient or recent, but it’s interesting to try to dig up some info on what’s happened around these parts in the past. Exactly 20 years ago this part of Thailand was awash with Vietnamese boat people. The boat people first made the headlines in the late 1970s when they fled Vietnam. The numbers died down in the mid-80s, but in late 1987 & early 1988 following 2 years of famine, a new wave of boat people set out to sea.

In the mid-1970s this area had got a reputation as a haven for pirates who attacked the boats carrying the refugees. The women were taken by pirates and the men usually killed. In the book ‘Stranded at Sea’ by Ellen Linnihan, a case of 160 refugees dieing on the island of Koh Kradad, just off Koh Mak, in a single 12 month period, is mentioned.

However, a decade later the pirates weren’t as much of a problem, the locals had chilled and the boat people heading to Trat province were tolerated and put in camps on the mainland. People smuggling was a good business and money could be made by corrupt officials.

In late December 1987 the Interior Minister visited a refugee camp and was shocked see the over crowding and hear stories of human trafficking. His initial reaction was a good thing, but his new policy only made matters far worse for the boat people.

The solution was to turn back all boat people. In January 1988 the Deputy Interior Minister presided over a ‘pushing off’ ceremony where refugees in a camp at Klong Yai, near the Cambodia border, were put on a boat and sent back to where they came from. Local fishermen were also encouraged to blockade ports to stop any boats carrying refuges from entering. The navy also ensured that no boats would be allowed to reach the Thai mainland.

Any boat found carrying refugees was subject to a heavy fine and the owners subject to 10 years imprisonment. In early 1988 the governor and police chief of Trat were both replaced. This clampdown also served to stir up & encourage nationalist spirit amongst the locals to prevent boat people from landing by any all means necessary.

The smugglers now had to face attacks by the vigilante fishermen if they were seen with boat people on their boats. So, rather than be found with ‘illegal immigrants’ (as the boat people were now classified) on their boats the captains dumped the refugees on islands in this area. That was the best the boat people could expect. The unlucky ones were on boats that were sunk at sea after being rammed by Thai fishing boats.

On 29 January 1988 a fishing boat rammed a boat carrying refugees near Hat Lek, 29 bodies were found.

On 2 February Thai language newspapers reported stories of five overturned boats and 80 dead Vietnamese also near Hat Lek.

Just over a week later the UNHCR voiced their concerns to the world

During the first weeks of the pushback policy hundreds were victimised. On Koh Salak, a tiny rocky outcrop of an island, just of the east coast of Koh Chang, over 100 women and children were found – they had been without food or water for 3 days.

71 people were set ashore on Koh Kood, where they were robbed of all possessions and 17 died. One survivor documented the events on the island in letters written later to her husband who had already made it to America.

On 19 February UNHCR officials were allowed access to the islands around Koh Chang and within a few days a total of 520 dehydrated, malnourished refugees were picked up and consolidated on Koh Rang, the large island where all the snorkelling trips now go.

Thai officials discouraged any further boat trips by aid agencies to search for survivors. No accurate figures of the number who died in the waters around Koh Chang only 20 years ago exist.

15 March – We’ve just had a couple of weeks off from the stresses and strains of doing as little as possible in order to make a living here on the island. My parents just visited Thailand and this trip we took them to drive around for a couple of weeks. Came back to KC yesterday and don’t appear to have missed anything exciting happening.

But if you’re in Kai Bae on the 18th then pop into Blues Cha Cha where one of Thailand’s better live ska/blues/reggae bands, T-Bone, is playing a free concert.

On 30 March there will be a ‘Mini-Half Marathon’ which is being organised/sponsored by the Bangkok Trat Hospital, not as a way to get more outpatients at a slow time of year, but as an event to help local children’s charities. Two weeks is plenty of time to get in training, so there’s no excuse for you not to grab a pair of fake Nike’s from the market and willingly give yourself a good case of heatstroke by jogging in the name of charity at what is probably the hottest, most humid time of the year.

Alternatively, just stick a few hundred baht in a donation box and save yourself the pain. Let’s be honest, little orphan Somchai doesn’t care where the money for his new tricycle came from or how much suffering you endured in order for him to get his first set of wheels. I know which option I’ll be going for.

Good post, from a guy running a backpacker place on KC, on the Lonely Planet discussion board about the perils of renting motorbikes on the island. An excerpt below:
“Some things I just don’t understand on this issue..
1) If you have limited or no experience with a motorbike why start on an island with such dangerous roads?.
2) Why, so often, drink and drive?. You wouldn’t do it at home.
3) Why go for the cheapest option. Its cheapest for a reason. Is saving a 100 baht really worth it?
4) Why be surprised at inflated repair prices. Try returning a damaged vehicle back home. The same rules apply.
5) Why race the locals?. They have been riding motorbikes from a very early age.”

And by coincidence a Thai guy died when his motorbike hit a pick up truck near Ramayana Resort last night.

A bar owner from Pattaya brought his bunch of happy hookers for a works outing to Bangbao recently, here’s a photo of the good time had by all being taken home along Bangbao pier after their night out.

So a few photos of our travels around Thailand to fill space until I think of anything interesting to write about life on KC:

First priority was to find a nice resort with AC room, pool, spa, 3 meals a day . . .

. . .for the dog. In hindsight it would have been cheaper to leave him on KC and hire a couple of people to look after him fulltime for 2 weeks. But ‘Pet Paradise’ did their job well.

After checking the dog in, we headed to the airport to pick up my parents and drove up to Korat where we stayed a 4 nights. Korat itself is basically a large concrete sprawl with no redeeming features other than it’s a handy base from which to explore the area. After seeing quite a lot of old ruins and doing some walking in Khao Yai National Park we went up to Khon Kaen primarily for the silk, as my Mum is a fan of ‘mudmee’.
Khon Kaen city itself is similar to Korat, only not quite as awful. On the drive up there we stopped at a couple of silk villages – one well known and the other not on any map, but from where one of the Thai royals always buys her silk from.

We then had a long drive west to Sukhothai, saw more old stuff and also had a look around the Burmese border. Finally it was down to Kanchanaburi for 3 nights at the Oriental Kwai Resort, which is a place that all resort owners on Koh Chang should visit to see how a resort should be planned, built and run. You won’t find a nicer place with better staff within a couple of hours drive of Bangkok.

24 March – Last update in response to a post on a discussion board about the dangers of riding a motorbike on Koh Chang I noted that a Thai guy died in a motorbike accident just the day before. Worse was to come for the family, in a horrible twist of fate his wife also died in a motorbike accident on the same stretch of road 3 days later – just after his funeral.

Last month I had wondered why I had a sudden influx of Estonian emailers. Turns out that at a tourism fair in Talin, Estonia recently; Koh Chang was being touted as a new island to visit in Thailand and were being recommended to take a look at this site for more info.

House to sublet for up to 4 months. Furnished, western kitchen, 2 ensuite bedrooms, large garden, available until July 31. Available now, make me a sensible offer and it’s yours.

March 13th was intended to be the date of the annual Queens Cup Kayaking for Elephants thing, but it didn’t take place due to total lack of interest. Therefore, barring an act of God, that will be the last chance anyone has of competing in the Queens Cup Kayak event on Koh Chang. As I mentioned a month or so ago, it looks like it will be replaced with a far sexier, more advertiser friendly, yachting event.

Visit Koh Kood Year 2008.
Why visit Koh Kood now? Simple, the new government has plans to develop the island and transform it into the new Samui. As you’d expect all the cheap beachfront land was snapped up long ago, a lot of it by prominent cabinet members of the pre-coup government who apparently bought huge chunks of land on Koh Kood several years ago.

The Deputy Finance Minister responsible for drawing up the masterplan is the wife of one of the MPs banned from politics after the 2006 coup, also a trained nurse. (How many other countries have nursing graduates heading up their tourism development strategy?)

So this new plan shouldn’t come as a total shock. This plan calls for an eco-tourism development with the construction of an airport, a waste management facility, ports and water and electricity plants.   One hurdle to overcome is that the Thai Navy would have to hand back most of the 80,000 Rai of land on the island that has been under its control since 1967.

And if you’re looking to invest on the island, how about a 19 Rai (3 hectare) plot with 500 metres of beachfront and a sunset view. Ideal for a resort or beachfront villas. Price: 6 million baht/Rai

The new 4* Centara Chaan Talay Resort is now open on the mainland, 45 minutes drive southeast from Trat town. Nice pool, an even nicer white sand beach that stretches for several kilometres. But the hotel is a a bit remote. Not a shop or restaurant of any description for several kilometres in either direction. Also some minor design faults e.g. in the beachfront villa with outdoor bath. Mmmmm romantic . . . or maybe not if people walking past can stare at you as you are soaking in the tub.