The big event in the coming weeks is the ‘Koh Chang Big Cleaning Day’ which will be held on 27 July. Anyone on the island and wanting to volunteer to pick is welcome to join. This is the day hotel staff, islanders and visitors can join together to pick up the garbage they have been throwing on the ground for the previous 364 days and go home with a free t-shirt for their efforts and the knowledge that Koh Chang is now a clean, green, eco-friendly island. Pats on the back all round and a job well done. Who needs more bins and a budget for promoting better garbage disposal year round when the money could be spent on banners, a grand opening ceremony, a ladyboy cabaret show and souvenir t-shirts? ( At this point I should stress that my views may differ from those responsible for organising the event.)
But in case you do feel like doing your bit to save (part of) the world, here’s the day’s itinerary which has been sent to businesses and hotels on the island, not an exact translation from the original Thai but you’ll get the gist:
0800 – 0900 Register at KC Pub, KC Grande Resort and receive your free t-shirt.
0900 Opening Ceremony
0930 A parade will be held on the main road on White Sand beach featuring students from Klong Prao school playing some traditional drum type of instrument; banners that have been designed with the top 20 slogans for cleaning day; participants in a fancy dress competion – the theme being recycling; entrants in a photography competition and . . . . baby elephants.
Once the important stuff is out of the way, a fleet of 30 songtaews take the workers to two locations in Klong Prao & Kai Bae from where they will disperse and clean the island thoroughly from top to bottom.
1230 After a couple of hours of strenuous work, it’s time for lunch for everyone, at Gung Kata Restaurant in Kai Bae, free food from restaurants on the island will be provided. The competitors in the fancy dress competition will parade once more and a winner will be voted for. Entertainment is courtesy of a ladyboy cabaret show from Nang Nual Seafood, Kai Bae. Educational content highlighting ‘Low Carbon’ tourism and living will be provided by the local authorities via large pinboard with info and pictures on it.
1400 The team which collected the most garbage will be announced as will the winners of the photography and fancy dress competitions. There will then be speeches and a closing ceremony.
Making people aware of the idea that picking up garbage is a good thing to do is a worthwhile cause of course. But contrast this exercise in mutual self-congratulation, which is what is has to be if more time is devoted to back slapping than picking up garbage, and bear in mind the heralded ‘big clean up’ only includes around a couple of hours of actual cleaning up in two locations on the island anyway, with the manner in which the recent beach clean up on Koh Mak was undertaken . . . .
This had no ceremonies, no official backing from the local government, no VIPs, not even a ladyboy cabaret, just good old fashioned volunteers and donations from resorts and businesses on the island. All organised by Ball from KohMak.com. The volunteers met at 0800, dispersed to different points on the island, worked until lunchtime, rested 30 minutes then worked until nightfall. At the end of the day there was a small party with food & drinks again donated by islanders. End result was that 2 tons of garbage was removed from the island’s beaches. That’s a proper clean up day. In addition plans are now in place to hire workers to clean the beaches regularly during the High Season, again funded by donations from resorts and organised privately.
So if you want to clean up Koh Chang, my advice, go along, pick up a free t-shirt, bugger off and just tidy up the area around your resort as best you can as the chances are the volunteers may well miss a bit here and there. A far more productive way to spend a ‘Cleaning Day’, although you will miss the lunchtime cabaret – but life is all about sacrifice.
I’ll be away on holiday so will unfortunately miss the event. So here are some pics of the Koh Mak clean up:
I’m pretty sure that when Trat’s tourism bosses commissioned several 2.5 metre high concrete elephant statues last year, at a cost of10 Million baht, for use as an artificial reef and dive attraction they didn’t know about the plan to sink a full size naval vessel, for free, with the same objective in mind. The HTMS Chang, formerly USS Lincoln County arrived on Koh Chang a few days ago. This 100 metre long vessel will be sunk on 16 August off the southwest of Koh Chang in order to create an artificial reef and new diving attraction for the region. It is currently moored at the Navy pier on the east coast of Koh Chang, midway between both car ferry piers. Go along and take a look, good fun scrambling around an old boat but don’t expect to much in the way of health and safety regulations. The good news for divers is that come next High Season they will have the choice of exploring a wreck the length of a football field or swimming underneath and around a few underwater elephants.
Until now Lisa the vet in Klong Son has been doing her best to take care of an ever increasing number of badly treated and abandoned animals that are brought to her, but there is definitely a need for a shelter where rescued animals can stay and hopefully one day be adopted. To fulfill this need, a new dog rescue organisation, Happy Dogs Koh Chang, has been set up by animal lovers in Kai Bae, to provide care and shelter for unwanted dogs on the island. The organisation officially starts operations on 15 August. In the meantime if you are interested in supporting them in any way check out their Facebook page for updates and info.
As a side note , at the start of last High Season, I posted a photo of a mangy, scrawny puppy that was dumped by the side of the road in Klong Prao, some tourists had left food & water for it. A couple of days later the dog was gone and a note was left saying to was being taken care of. I didn’t know by whom until this week when I got a photo of the dog, now named ‘Bunny’, enjoying life on a farm in the north of Thailand. It was Dirk and his family from O&D Travel in Klong Prao who had taken care of it and given it a good home. The Before & After photos are below:
If you are staying in the south of Koh Chang and need to workout, BB Divers have just opened their new gym in Lonely Beach, a ground floor with loads of brand new exercise equipment and a covered, upper floor deck where Yoga classes are already being held. There are plans for Pilates classes and possibly Muay Thai training in the future. More info: Facebook.com/bbkohchanggym
And staying on health related topics, there is now a branch of the AA ( Alcoholics Anoymous not Automobile Association ) on Koh Chang. Weekly meetings are being held every Saturday at 8pm at Mojo’s Cafe in Bangbao, (located on the road leading to Nirvana Resort). For more details contact David on 090 983 0910. NA ( Narcotics Anonymous) meetings will be held at the same time & venue on Friday evenings.