We’ll get the serious stuff out of the way first. Something strange is going on with the dolphin population around Koh Chang as they are dropping like flies. Most likely due to being caught in fishermen’s nets and then drowning. When people say they would like to swim with dolphins, they usually mean with live ones and not carcasses but in the past 10 days or so there have been eight bodies washed up on the shores of Koh Chang.
Number nine came yesterday evening when I found one more on Klong Prao beach. The fishermen who, presumably, had caught it had cut the meat off, leaving the head, tail, guts, skin and bones. More photos
9 July – Decomposing Dolphin update: How long does it take for local authorities to get round to removing a carcass from a beach? Given all the fuss about how dolphins are a symbol of Trat, I’d have assumed someone might be interested in at least examining the body for cause of death. And seeing as guests staying at Barali, Tropicana and KP Huts must walk past it when they go along the beach, I’d have thought tourism officials might consider a beach with no large, rotting sea mammals on it preferable to one with.
Apparently not. It’s been on the beach for at least 48 hours now and it’s starting to smell pretty bad.
10 July – Decomposing Dolphin update. 72 hours later and it is still recognisable as a dolphin but only just. Only half of it remains on the beach, the rest washed away in the strong waves. No signs yet of anyone interested in picking the pieces up. Smells very bad now.
12 July – Decomposing Dolphin update. Five days on and still no sign of the powers that be on Koh Chang having any interest in removing the remains from the beach. We’re pretty much down to the bones now, so on the plus side there’s not a lot of smell as the flesh has mostly been eroded. If it’s still there tomorrow I’ll take some more pics. If anyone wants a rib or vertebrae as a souvenir, I’ll be putting them on ebay soon.
13 July – Decomposing Dolphin update. I have a feeling that in a few days sand will wash over the bones and in six months time a child building a sandcastle is going to dig up more that he bargained for. Really cant understand why the body hasn’t been moved yet. Something very strange going on here.
One a cheerier note, here are some animals that are still alive, for the moment at least. I went up to see the new Pony Rehabilitation Centre in Klong Son, it was closed with no-one was around and the stalls for the ponies empty. But happily they hadn’t all been shipped off to the knacker’s yard and could be found grazing in a nearby field. Whilst these ponies can be used for trekking, you won’t be doing any showjumping on them as they are only around 10 – 12 Hands high. The horses have all been rescued from the slaughterhouse or from ill treatment by previous owners and can now look forward to a laid back life on Koh Chang. Most of the horses appeared happy enough and enjoyed being petted but a couple looked like little evil bastards, but there again I’m not really a horse person.
Everyone is suffering with the lack of tourists, and at the end of the month, with bills due, people are often found scrabbling around for cash. So it wasn’t a surprise to see the police wheel out their cone collection and set up a checkpoint on White Sand beach to welcome drivers to the island. Usually they only stop motorcyclists for not wearing a helmet, but as they were few and far between they had the idea of stopping drivers and finding away to get a 200 Baht donation out of them checking their documents were all correct and in order, so as to keep the island a safe place for all road users. ( I didn’t have my passport with me, technically you are supposed to carry it at all times. ) But it wasn’t just foreigners being stopped, the person in front of me in the queue to pay up was the Thai owner of a large resort, so I can’t accuse them of discrimination.
But as ensuring the safety of motorists to the island is a noble aim, I am happy to lend my support by adding this accident blackspot map to the site. Accident rates on Koh Chang are way higher than on the mainland, mainly due to the combined effects of alcohol, scooters, pick up trucks and inbreeding that are found on islands. The original graphic was drawn up by Thai researchers working for a university and I have taken a great deal of time to analyse their findings and draw up a simplified map for the benefit of visitors to the island.
The weather has been exceptionally good for the past four days with plenty of sunshine, calm seas and no rain. If you are on the island now and the weather is still good, then take a kayak out the islands off Klong Prao and Kai Bae beaches. The water is amazingly clear, probably the clearest I have ever seen it. Lots of coral and fish to be seen from either the comfort of the kayak or from in the water if you bring a mask & snorkel with you.
A few photos taken in the rainy season sunshine. Above is the deserted Klong Prao beach, with more dead dolphins than tourists at this time of year. Below are more of a 2,000 acre mangrove forest on the mainland in Laem Sok, views of Koh Chang from Laem Sok and from the naval base near the Koh Chang Ferry pier, which they don’t mind you driving into but aren’t so happy when you drive down their pier and ask to go on their ship. I’ll add a full photogallery later this week.
And this week this site also won a prestigious award, some of the blurb: “The criteria on which our panel judged the subsequent award winners were many, including overall presentation, ease of use, accuracy of information and originality of content. Every single site youâ€™ll discover below scored highly in each area, and each is a treasure trove of tips and guides to keep every traveller happy.” OK, so it was given by a London based tour agency specialising in cruises which don’t go anywhere near Koh Chang but that’s an insignificant, minor point as no matter what happens in the future I will always be an Iglu Cruise Website Award Winner. ( Unless they delete my link because I take the piss.)