Been busy for the last week or so trying to write a few articles about Koh Chang for a new guidebook to Thailand that should be out later this year. So my creative juices have been channeled towards trying not to appear to be too much of a twat in print, rather than this update. However, I’m sure the local tourist authorities will be happy to know that the promotion of their island is in safe hands and they can get back to advertising the delights of Trat province’s numerous varieties of locally grown fruit in an attempt to lure visitors to ‘ The Eastern Corridor of Fruit Paradise‘. (Which really has been used as a tagline by the Tourism Authority of Thailand when promoting Trat and which lost out to Phuket’s seminal ‘The Southern Back Passage of Banana Heaven’ in the annual TAT Fruit Promotion Campaign Awards.)
It wouldn’t be fair to say that the TAT’s reasoning is that people like you, i.e. foreigners, choose their holiday destinations based on the variety of seasonal fruits on offer. It’s more that if they didn’t promote Trat for it’s fruit they’d have to promote one of the province’s other claims to fame, for example that of being home to the Thai Ridgeback dog. However ‘Next time you see snarling mongrel with a line of hair growing in the reverse direction on it’s back . . . think of Trat‘ isn’t going to win any advertising awards. Or how about focusing on history, that’s sure to get the visitors in as everyone likes to learn a little about the past of the area they stay in. Something along the lines of ‘Visit Trat – you’ll love it so much you’ll want to make it your home. Just as Pol Pot did for 6 years in the late 1980s‘. On second thoughts, I can see a problem with that tagline too.
There again, maybe going with the fruit isn’t such a bad idea after all.
I’ve just added a handy, at a glance, ‘Dead Dolphin-o-meter’ so you can keep track of the number of dead dolphins washed up on Koh Chang recently. I’m hoping the possibility of exotic fresh sushi might lure more Japanese visitors who aren’t here solely for the mangosteens. There was another one last week that went unreported, dead dolphin that is, not Japanese tourist. The body of a 2.3 metre long adult Irrawaddy dolphin was found floating in the sea a week ago.
I also found out the French love me: ‘Do you know that you are even in a French guidebook as the disrespectful English specialist who made a very complete guide of Ko Chang’ emailed Sophie a few days ago. So complete that I also bring you a photo of the front door of a karaoke bar in Kai Bae for no reason other than it looks as though you may well find a trouser-less Barack Obama inside.
As you’ve probably figured out for yourself, there’s not a lot of interest happening on Koh Chang right now but when the sun was shining I went to see a couple of new resorts that are now open for business. Chivapuri, on Klong Kloi beach near Bangbao has some very nice accommodation but comes with the overriding impression that no-one was in charge of anything. “Build me some luxury bungalows and houses.” was the command, and they were built. But no-one mentioned not to build them directly behind each other meaning only those on the front row have any views. There is still construction work going on but if the studio bungalows and two bedroom houses are priced competitively they will make a nice place to stay for anyone who wants very spacious, comfortable accommodation in a quiet beachfront location. Getting there and away is a bit of a hassle at the moment though but I’m told transport by boat and road will be laid on in High Season. The other is the far smaller, but more ‘hip’, Gu’s Bay in Bailan, a new flashpacker place by the sea with small individually decorated fan and AC bungalows. The highlights are the funky lobby/restaurant area, spacious garden area and pool. Friendly staff too, who impressed a couple people I recommended the place to last week. It will take a lot of business from some of the more generic hut resorts nearby.
Our dog somehow managed to knacker his paw. As we were heading to Bangkok anyway we took him to Thonglor Pet Hospital, where we paid through the nose for the privilege of seeing him have a thermometer shoved up his ass by a very nice English speaking vet. A couple of x-rays later and a small crack was found on one of his bones – a Beckham-esque metatarsal type of injury. So no cast needed and he’s still hopping on three legs but should recover in a couple of weeks.
There are still interesting things to discover in Pattaya. The new floating market is a real tourist trap for sure, but it is quiet a nice place for an hour or two. Prices for food and in the shops aren’t excessive and it’s a good alternative to wandering round a mall or Beach Road looking for souvenir t-shirts. If you’re visiting Pattaya as part of a Chinese or Russian tour group you’re sure to be taken here. If you could bulldoze Bangbao and build something like this in it’s place then that would get a few more visitors to the island for sure. Retro markets are getting more popular in Thailand now – I think the first was the excellent Plearn Wan in Hua Hin and even in Rayong a small mock traditional floating market has sprung up behind a gasoline station on the bypass.
There are loads of good restaurants in and around Pattaya and the photos below were taken at ‘Mum Aroi’ , in Naklua, about 4km north of the dolphin roundabout in North Pattaya. Monday night in Low Season in a cavernous, stylish, modern restaurant several kilometres from the main tourist centre and you might expect it to be dead. But it wasn’t, by 7pm the place was packed with 95% being Thais. Going off the cars and buses parked in the car park most of these being visitors from Bangkok. Good value food, helpful waitresses, good live band later in the evening and they even have a swimming pool if you want to cool off between courses. Book in advance or get there before sunset if you want to bag a table by the sea. Menu in English & Thai but no signage in English anywhere.