A not particularly seasonal update as Christmas begins at 0000 on 25 December and ends at 2359 on 25 December and that’s long enough for me to get my fill of Jingle Bells. One of the things I will be missing out on, unlike many of you reading this, is the festive Gala Buffet Dinner. Which is as enjoyable an experience as any overpriced, compulsory dinner can be. The majority of resorts force a New Year dinner on guests, fortunately fewer make the Christmas Dinner compulsory and there are some – for example – Koh Chang Resortel, Coconut Beach Resort, Keereeele, Noren Resort and Mac Resort who don’t festively force feed guests.
For the Christmas meal, the Amari Emerald Cove leads the way with the most expensive meal at 3,700 Baht, closely followed by Tropicana Resort, Gajapuri, Chivapuri, The Dewa and KC Grande at around the 3,000 Baht per head mark. The Chill in Kai Bae makes up for not having an obligatory Christmas meal by charging a laughable ( unless you’re staying there ) 5,500 Baht for their New Year meal. Easily the most expensive on Koh Chang and I’d hope for that price the menu includes exotic entrees such as ‘Pan-seared wild unicorn with an angel tear reduction.’
But all this pales into insignificance when you see prices at Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood where guests will fork out US$300 and US$450 each, for their Christmas and New Year meals. It does sound a lot, but as guests are already paying around US$4,000/night for their room they can probably afford it.
I had a few emails about garbage on Koh Chang and stories on the garbage problem on the island are a recurring theme. As is blaming market traders and promising to crack down on them – as though they were the root cause of the problem. Visitors see rubbish, but what they don’t see is where it all goes when it is eventually removed from the beaches and roadsides. So, let’s take a look inside Koh Chang’s state of the art garbage disposal facility.
Predicting a quiet New Year. New Year is pretty much the busiest time of year on the island with both Thai and foreign tourists heading to the island. This year it looks like being the quietest New Year for a while. Foreign visitors will still be here in similar numbers to last year, but a couple of factors are deterring Thais.
Firstly the price of rooms. The first two weekends of December were both long weekends with public holidays that should have encouraged Thais to visit Koh Chang. In the past I remember seeing tent cities set up outside some resorts to cater to all the Thai groups visiting. In addition there were often long tailbacks on the roads when people leave the island. Not so during the last two weekends. Thai friends in Bangkok – the type who travel regularly – pin the blame on hotels not offering competitive prices and overcharging for average rooms. Given the choice, people have been heading to the north of Thailand or to the opposite side of the Gulf instead. (This isn’t a new trend, the number of Thai visitors to Koh Chang has been decreasing according to the TAT’s own figures since 2007.)
For the coming New Year the reason for Thais staying away are the rumours of a tsunami heading Koh Chang’s way. This rumour began in the south of Thailand when a well known fortune teller predicted a tsunami would hit Phuket and the southeast of Thailand at some point over the New Year holiday. The news then spread, jumped over the the Gulf of Thailand and has now landed on Koh Chang. You can laugh about it, but the result is that there a lot of Thai shopkeepers and business owners here who are seriously thinking about shutting up shop after Christmas and leaving the island for a week just in case. ( I know several who say they definitely won’t be here over New Year.) So, although many people realise that common sense dictates that a fortune teller can’t accurately predict seismic events, at the back of their mind is the nagging feeling that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Add to this friends and family upcountry, who have read the stories of impending doom in the Thai papers, are contacting relatives on Koh Chang telling them to come home and you end up with a lot of superstitious people not really knowing what they should do for the best.
The official countdown for 2011 will be held on Bangbao pier. Presumably as the organisers want the event to be exclusive and held well away from the areas where the vast majority of tourists, locals and workers on Koh Chang all stay.
Last update I mentioned that the scooter riding skills of many visitors to the island aren’t up to scratch. Since then I’ve seen afirst hand a couple more examples of people doing stupid things that really deserved to get themselves killed in order to teach them a lesson they wouldn’t forget. Unfortunately whilst I’m trying to avoid idiots I don’t have time to take photos.
Fortunately, this video features the type of person who was happy to film himself proving that he shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a scooter. No need to pay any attention until around 1 minute 10 seconds into it. Then just have fun watching it for the next minute or so.
And in case you thought it was only scooter riders who shouldn’t be allowed on the road . . . here’s a video that will leave you wondering what happened in the seconds prior to the clip starting. ( One minibus, no brakes, Kai Bae beach.)
The Lonely Beach Extravaganza went off as smoothly as can be expected with around 1,500 people joining the 12 hour party on 11 December. A few pics below but more photos and a video in the Extravaganza photo gallery. The next big, all night out, will be on Valentine’s Day 2011 at the same location, adjacent to Siam Beach Resort.
And finally, if anyone has used a well known lawyer on Koh Chang to set up their company you might want to check that all the Social Security contributions for your fictional staff – the ones you are supposedly employing in order to get the extension of stay based on your Work Permit – have been paid. A few people are apparently having or have had ‘issues’.