For 2011

September 25

A Koh Chang bike day was held   on 17 September.     It was a well organized event with a big turnout – well over 350 local participants of all ages, who pedaled a tortuous 5km across some of the flattest tarmac-ed terrain on the island in order to promote the joys of eco-friendly, low carbon tourism.   Presumably to encourage more people to fly half way around the world to visit the island or drive down here from Bangkok, to bask in a CO2 free environment.

I’m not too sure about the event’s slogan which was ‘One more bike, one less car. ‘   Sounds like something Pol Pot or Chairman Mao would have come up with.     But regardless, the rain held off and a good time was had by all and global warming was slowed ever so slightly.   But the thing I never understand is that if the purpose of the event is to get people to use bicycles more, then surely there should be some form of cycle lane or MTB trails for people to use on the island. As it is, I doubt whether 90% of the participants will be seen on a bicycle on the roads of Koh Chang until another cycling event is held.

And if you missed this ride, the citizens of Koh Mak will be saving their part of the ozone layer in bike related events on October 16-18. Keep an eye on the Eco-Mak Facebook page for more info.

koh chang bicycle day

Need a cheap, non-bar related, business for a significant other to run on Koh Chang?   Just 199,000 Baht gets you a roadside internet café with all equipment and even a room for staff to stay.   Not a bad deal, but it wont make you rich, but not many things will on Koh Chang.   Some photos and details of what’s included.

A lot of rain recently, in keeping with September’s claim on the crown of the wettest month of the year.     It’s times like this when I would prefer to live in a concrete house.   When the air is this humid, everything in a wooden building, no matter how well ventilated, becomes damp and musty.

There was an article in the papers last week regarding a cracking idea from Thailand’s Science Minister to use the power from the propellers of boats to usher flood waters away from the centre of Bangkok and out to sea.   So far he had 30 boats in place and was appealing for more boat owners to donate their boats to the cause. “We’ll pay for the gasoline” was his selling point.     Apparently this method of dispersing the water works best at low tide – i.e. when water is flowing towards the sea anyway.     If only the good people of New Orleans had known about this method of easily reducing flood waters a few years ago.

I just mentioned that as the Science Minister is a guy called Khun Plodprasop – fondly remembered n Koh Chang for his work in ‘developing’ the island and elsewhere for his role in promoting the search for (non-existent) hidden Japanese WW2 gold that would pay off Thailand’s IMF debt. See the site update for 28 June 2006 for a bit of background and here a couple of interesting news stories from the good old days: Plodprasop’s plan to turn Koh Chang and surrounding islands into a huge Lost World type of theme park & his goal to ban cars from Koh Chang by 2007.   My favourite is his overseeing of the development of Koh Ngam, which resulted in a new resort being built but the legal owner of the island then won a court case to take it back off the National Park who had seized the island from him illegally.

Had a nice meal at ‘Invito Al Cibo’ on White Sand beach the other week.   This opened last year from the ashes of the old Invito restaurant which was regarded as one of the best on the island. We would have chosen another night if we’d have known in advance that the owner of the Koh Chang Hut, where the restaurant is located, had decided to have their young child’s birthday party in the restaurant whilst people were dining.   So whilst the ambiance was spoilt a bit by loveable tykes running around , the food was very good & well presented.   The dessert taster was excellent – a selection of mini versions of four desserts and a great way to round off a meal.   Cocktails are made full strength too – not just sweet and sickly like many places.   We even got a discount, without asking, to compensate for the annoying brat factor which was a nice bit of customer service.   Avoid going there in mid-September and you should be fine – unless Koh Chang Hut owners have more than one child.

Seems that some of you haven’t yet booked your rooms for Christmas and New Year.     The good value accommodation tends to book up very quickly, so if you are still looking for rooms and don’t want to start sending inquiries to every hotel   you see listed on a booking site, here are a few that still have availability as of this week courtesy of Brian from Evolution Tour, Koh Chang.

– KC Grande Resort   – (Only Garden View Deluxe Building & Sea View Grande Deluxe ) Large resort on an excellent stretch of White Sand beach, the bsiest beach on the island.
– Tropicana Resort – Good 3-4* on Klong Prao beach, popular with families. Local village 5 mins walk
– Amari Emerald Cove Resort – Overall probably the best of the large resorts on the island.   A safe bet for people wanting 5* comforts
– VJ Hotel – Adjacent to the Amari, but a few steps down in price and quality.   But great if you want beachfront on a budget.
– Gaja Puri Resort – The best ’boutique’, i.e. small, expensive and luxurious, resort on Koh Chang.   Ideal for couples who want a more personal 5* experience.

More info in the links above or just use this form and Brian will reply to you.

As you head over the big hill between Klong Son and White Sand beach, you might notice what, at first glance, appears to be clumps of rice or even lemongrass growing on the hillside.   Whilst it might be wet enough to grow rice right now, and the smell of lemongrass in the air would complement the exhaust fumes of trucks wonderfully, the stuff that you are looking at is called Vetiver grass.   It isn’t photogenic and doesn’t add anything got the beauty of the hillside, but it has been planted for a purpose.   This grass has extremely long roots – 2 to 4 metres.   So is now used on slopes and roadsides to prevent erosion and keep soil intact in areas where it could easily be washed away or eroded.   Planting this type of grass has become widespread in Thailand thanks to an initiative from HM the King, so you’ll notice it by roadsides across the country.

Whilst the grass does offer some protection, it can’t stop a falling tree, as was demonstrated a couple of days ago when, during a storm, one fell across the road and took out the power supply to the west coast for a day and the phone lines for a couple of days.

The annual vegetarian festival starts tomorrow in Thailand.   If you are a hard-core veggie this entails 10 days with no meat, alcohol, spicy food or fornication.   Phuket is famous as a haven for veggie zealots who stick sharp metal objects through their bodies in the name of vegetarianism, whereas the more sensible folk of Koh Chang just stick to eating a bit more soya for a week.   You will notice a handful  of restaurants on the island that transform themselves into vegetarian only places for the duration.   One of the best is opposite the turning for the waterfall in Klong Prao.   Look for yellow signs with the Thai word for ‘Jae’   (vegetarian) on them, written in red in a mock Chinese font.   This is easy to spot as the word looks a like the number ‘17’ at first glance.

A reminder of the perils of doing business on Koh Chang (and elsewhere in Thailand ) The vast majority of small businesses are located either on rented land or in rented shop units.   In the vast majority of cases the leases are only legal for upto 3 years, regardless of what is written on the contract, as, unless the contract is registered at the Land Office, anything longer than 3 years is in no way guaranteed.   The tenant is at the mercy of the landlord.   In many cases this is no problem as the landlord is happy to have a well behaved tenant who takes care of the land/premises and pays their rent on time.

Problems arise when a business is set up, does well and the landlord realizes that they aren’t benefitting from this success as much as they think they should.   For example, when the initial 3 year period is up, the rent might suddenly double, or the landlord ask for all 3 years paid in advance in order to continue the contract.   A hassle, but not a catastrophe if you are in a rented shop unit and can move to another unit elsewhere.   However, if you have spent 3 years putting up bricks & mortar and building a business from scratch, only to see it taken off overnight , then it can be a bit upsetting.   As happened to a Thai friend from Lonely Beach last month. He spent over 2 million Baht during the past 3 years to establish a business and got 15,000 Baht for the rubble after having to knock it down as his lease wasn’t renewed.   ( Or rather, it could be renewed but for a sky high rent payable 3 years in advance. Apparently the landlord had a foreign tenant who offered to pay a high rental for the land.)   Another bar, also Thai owned, in Lonely Beach saw its annual rent double recently.   It was either pay up or move out.

Having mentioned that, if you are looking for a business then this bar & restaurant on 1,600sqm of land (plenty of space to add bungalows or another business) is the only small one I know of at the moment that comes with a registered, i.e 100% legally binding, 10 year lease.   It also includes a Thai registered company with 2 Work Permits. Yours for 1,500,000 Baht ( 36,000 Euros ) Photos and info

Last, and least, I got   a bit of stick for suggesting that as a fun rainy season activity people went along to the volunteer rescue booth   which has been erected at the turning for Klong Plu waterfall, to take a look at the display of photos of people who have died in a variety of grisly ways on Koh Chang.     Thais have a different attitude to death than most Europeans and it is common to see all manner of decapitated,   bloodied, mutilated bodies   in print and on the TV news.     The volunteers are all normal people who attend deaths in order to retrieve the bodies and take them to hospital which makes for good karma.   Every town in Thailand has a similar volunteer rescue organization, all of which operate on donations.   ( They also attend non-fatal emergencies eg. flood, landslides, accidents etc   to offer help to the usually understaffed local police.)

Some of the photos are pretty gruesome, but they do serve as a warning as to what your family will be seeing if you have a motorbike accident or decide that swimming in rip currents is a good idea.   Worth a look and make a donation if you do, as they might be the guys who will be scooping your brains up off the street or dragging your blotchy,blue, bloated corpse off the beach one day.

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