30 September – Apologies for the lack of recent updates. I’ve been on holiday in Europe for 3 weeks and then enjoying doing as little as possible in Bangkok for the past few days. I tried to answer emails as quickly as possible whilst on my hols but if you contacted me and didn’t receive a reply, send a gentle reminder. I also know some probably got deleted / overlooked as replying to emails after a few select Belgian Trappist beers is probably not the best idea ever. There’s also quite a lot of stuff I need to update & add and I hope to get round to that when I am back on Koh Chang later this week.
As you can probably tell by the infrequent updates there isn’t a great deal of interest happening on Koh Chang right now. There is a lot of activity though with a surprising number of new shops , bars and restaurants being renovated or built in some areas of the island. Some time in October, I’ll take a proper look around to see what’s changed and what’s new – no point posting too may photos of construction sites now.
The new wreck, that was due to be sunk with great fanfare on August 16th, is still very much afloat and no-one seems to know when it will now hit the seabed. But in the absence of a 100 metre wreck, divers will have to make do with ten concrete elephant statues, currently on display in the centre of Trat town. These are scheduled to be dropped on the ocean floor off Ao Kao Beach, Koh Mak next month, although I’d have thought it would be more sensible to wait until the end of the rainy season and clear, calm seas.
Koh Mak may have monthly beach clean ups ( Every 2nd Wednesday of the month, free food & drink for volunteers. All are welcome.), something that Koh Chang doesn’t need as it is a pristine island paradise and so only requires an annual clean up. But there’s more to being eco-friendly than just picking up garbage on a regular basis. Ideally you’d stop the garbage from every reaching the beaches and indeed from reaching the landfill sites. And that’s where the new pilot system being trialled on Koh Chang comes into play.
Having now trained local business owners to dump all their garbage in strategically placed roadside locations, rather than at random roadside locations, it soon became evident that the island’s garbage truck couldn’t keep up with the demands of carting off an ever increasing amount of waste. If only there was a natural, easily sourced, ‘Made in Thailand’, environmentally friendly solution, that could reduce the amount of waste left for the over worked garbage collectors.
And now there is. Introducing Florence, the Albino Water buffalo, a breed renowned for their ability to much through their own bodyweight in garbage daily. Organic waste is digested internally, whilst inorganic waste – glass, metal etc is crapped out in easily collectible , plastic wrapped turds. At least that’s the theory. If this pilot is successful, expect to see a buffalo or two tethered to all garbage dumps on the island by the end of the year.
Down in Lonely Beach, there’s a bit of a building boom going on. All manner of cheap huts are going up including one where the liberal use of chicken wire and metal reminds me of an Balkan POW camp. If you’re looking for a bungalow in a much nicer Lonely Beach location, with the same accessibility to bars & restaurants, then you could do worse than check out Oasis Bungalows. Oasis was the first small resort to be built on the hill above the busy bar area. As such it occupies a prime, peaceful spot with uninterrupted sunset sea views from the restaurant and has long been popular with budget travellers in need of a good night’s sleep in very pleasant surroundings. Earlier this year the resort was taken over by a Dutch couple, Floris & Marieke, who have been busy renovating the fan huts and building some rather nice AC bungalows. A couple of pics below and more details on Facebook.com/OasisKohChang
And in Kai Bae a new elephant camp will open in the very near future. Located near the 7-eleven opposite the turning for Kai Bae Hut. It should do well as there is plenty of foot traffic in the area and at present anyone staying in the south of Koh Chang wanting to go for an elephant trek has to go to Klong Prao.
News that will affect as lot of people planning to visit Koh Chang is that the Thai govt, in its infinite wisdom, recently decided to raise the admission fees at 29 National Parks across the country to 500 Baht for foreign adults & 300 Baht for foreign kids, effective 1 October. This means that anyone wanting to visit either of the two main waterfalls on Koh Chang would now have to pay over double the current prices to do so. Needless to say tour companies across the country who have already sold tours for the coming High Season aren’t too happy and today it was announced that the Tourism Ministry is going to look into complaints. So there is a chance that increases will be delayed or reversed.
If you happen to be passing through Bangkok and want a night out coupled with inexpensive shopping head to Asiatique on the riverside. It’s a redevelopment of early 20th century warehouses which have been converted into an indoor market – with similar prices & items as Chatuchak weekend market, plus numerous restaurants which vary from KFC to upmarket Thai and western riverfront eateries. Very good place for a night out, plus they provide a free shuttle boat service from the pier at Saphan Taksin BTS station ( adjacent to Shangri-La Hotel. )
Last year there was a Koh Chang Bicycle Day in mid September, so it will be interesting to see if that happens again as it was very well attended but I doubt 95% of participants have been on a bicycle again since then. So whilst is was a good photo op for the island’s VIPs, nothing much came of it.
Finally, there’s a great thread on one of the Pattaya discussion boards regarding the pitfalls of ‘investing’ in a small business on Koh Chang with a Thai girlfriend. The business in question is a massage shop on White Sand beach. It’s the written equivalent of watching a car crash happen in slow-mo in front of you. You can see what’s going to happen next, but unfortunately the lovestruck author couldn’t. Head over to Pattaya-addicts.com and find ‘The Adventure to open business at Koh Chang’ to discover which massage it is :-)
Last update for a while as I’ll be away in exotic Europe most of September.