21 May – The Fourth Annual Underwater Cleanup 2009
Admit it. You didn’t know there had already been three. Which isn’t surprising as this is another of those badly publicised events that Koh Chang is famous for. Or would be famous for, if anyone bothered to publicise how badly publicised the events on Koh Chang are.
A total of zero results on Google relating to this year’s cleanup that was held on May 19. No mention either on the half dozen Koh Chang dive school websites I quickly looked at. Strange, as you’d think dive schools would want to clients to know they are active coral huggers. But there was a banner put up a few days ago announcing to Kai Bae residents the date of the cleanup.
Since 2006 DASTA, the organisation in charge of killing the island in the environmental equivalent of death by a thousand cuts, and local dive operators and boat tour businesses; have joined forces to spend one day a year clearing up garbage from the seabed. Apparently, a few hours is all it takes to get the seabed spick & span again.
There were around a dozen foreigners from dive schools present at the at the ‘Opening Ceremony’ at the end of Bangbao Pier, from where the boats left. There were also hordes of school kids, presumably brought in to fill up seats and provide an audience, plus local dignitaries, businessmen and liggers only there for the free food & t-shirt. After a light meal and several speeches, the boats eventually departed for different locations. Upon their return there was a closing ceremony and yet more free food.
Organisers and participants got a pat on the back, commemorative t-shirts and that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you do something once a year to help Mother Nature and also get a free meal to boot. However, it does seem that not promoting it at all and having it midweek, in low season, at a time when many dive instructors have already returned home and with are very few tourists on the island, isn’t exactly going to make the world sit up and notice Koh Chang’s ‘green’ credentials. Maybe it’s an event only for local consumption?
Here we have a very respectable lady wearing a shirt from 1972 and exceedingly sensible shoes, presenting someone important from the police with what looks like an empty cardboard box wrapped in gold foil; as others, already clutching their gold packages with pride, look on.
More unknown people with an ‘I was there’ banner
Bringing garbage onto the boat, under the watchful eye of a Channel 7 TV cameraman.
The sun is shining on most days; the sea is calm, and what’s more since 19 May entirely free of garbage; and it’s very, very quiet on the beach. Some beachfront resorts are currently empty – zero guests.
Even in this age of political correctness and equal rights, there are some rules that really should be restricted by sex, age and weight.
Jungle Trekking For Beginners
So you want to explore the jungle but you don’t want to walk too far and also don’t want to pay for a guide. What to do?
Head to Chai Chet Resort, at the north end of Klong Prao beach where they have made an easy to follow trekking route that will take you around the peninsula, with the sea below you for the first half of the walk. It’s free and a very nice way to spend an hour. Some good views too.
Koh Chang has it’s own little wannabe mafia element comprising the wealthy sons of local land and resort owners. They can pretty do what they please, safe in the knowledge that their parents always sort out any mess they got into. And if all the stories locals tell are to be believed this includes rather a lot of activities that usually result in spending years or life in jail.
However, it was a sad day for the gang last week when the son of one resort owner shot and killed a guy in Trat and put another two in hospital. Not sad because he did that. Sad because he didn’t get away with it.
His parents advised to go into hiding and not to return to Koh Chang until Mum & Dad had smoothed things over. However, he was homesick after one night in Trat and so the next morning he headed back. As luck would have it he found himself on the same ferry as a dozen police who were all looking for him. They recognised his car and arrested him on the boat.
So now Mum & Dad aren’t happy with Number 1 son for coming back to Koh Chang too soon and thus screwing up any plan to get him off the hook relatively cheaply.
It looks like room rates at ———- Resort will rise again next year to cover the additional operating expenses.