It’s been 5 weeks since the last update, the longest time between updates since the dawn of time, which for the purposes of this site is 2004. Last time I updated the site only a handful of South Koreans were doing the ‘Gangnam Style’ horsey dance. That’s how long ago it was. The main reason for this was my being away on holiday in Europe for 3 weeks. Plus spending a bit of time in
civilisation Bangkok. If you emailed and didn’t receive a reply during the past few weeks, apologies. I was using an Ipad, which is very pretty & shiny but is useless for doing anything productive on. Despite supposedly being on holiday I found that I still had to spend an hour a day minimum to keep up with things and I know there were a couple of emails that got put to one side and then not answered as they seemed particularly boring and/or long winded. No need for a entire life story in the first email, this isn’t a dating site, and even if it were the odds are that I wouldn’t be interested in the trials and tribulations of a 50-something would be retiree from the Midwest. One of the most common questions that our guests ask me is where I spend my holidays – as if you live on an island and in a location that many people consider ‘paradise’ where do you go when you want a vacation?
This rainy season our travels were a bit more extensive than usual – Bali & Sri Lanka in June & July and then mainly Netherlands plus a little bit of Germany & Belgium ( for the beer, pork knuckle and more beer ) plus sunny England ( for as short a time as possible) recently. I haven’t lived in the UK since 1995, and since then have only spent about 3-4 weeks total in the country – so now going there it is as alien to me as visiting any other European country. Technically, it is home, but it doesn’t feel like home any more. I’ve already added Bali & Sri Lanka pics in earlier updates where I didn’t have anything interesting about Koh Chang to say. And this update stays in keeping with that winning format.
There was an alert of impending doom as a tropical storm was supposed to bearing down on Thailand but this doesn’t appear to have happened, no more rainfall than normal and no winds that could rip the palm fronds off a beach hut. Our guesthouse is officially closed, but a couple showed up the other day and wanted to stay so they are here and happily getting sunburnt. ( Yes, it is cloudy, but they’re English. ) Meanwhile back on Koh Mak the nine elephant sculptures, called ‘Art For Ocean’, were successfully lowered into place on the sea bed last Saturday. These stand in 7 metres of water and will be open to divers to visit from 13 October onwards. Photo below from Ball on Koh Mak of one of the elephants being lowered off the barge into the sea off the south west shore of Koh Mak. The boat services between Koh Chang and Koh Mak will start again at the end of the month.
( Keep updated on all things Koh Mak related at http://www.fb.com/ballkohmak )
Coming back into Thailand, JC from Limousine.in.th was kind enough to organise a meet & greet service for us which included being whisked from the plane to Immigration through the airport by golf cart and the use of the Premium i.e. Diplomatic / VIP lanes at Immigration, which means avoiding queuing with several 747’s full of fellow visitors. It’s not the type of thing that will appeal to everyone, but if you are coming off a long flight, are tired, possibly have kids or old folks in tow and just want to get out of the airport as quickly as possible then it’s well worth considering. More details of the Fast Track services offered
Also on Koh Mak, Tom & Melanie, ex Jungle Garden in Bailan, Koh Chang, have set up a new place with a similar concept ‘ Slow Motion Koh Mak‘ which offers cocktails in a garden setting in the centre of the island. Meanwhile, Peter, the new owner of Jungle Garden has now also opened Koh Chang’s first hammock shop – with handmade jumbo hammocks from the north of Thailand. More about this in the next update once I get a chance to go down there to see them.
In late August the government announced that fees for many National Parks across Thailand, including Koh Chang would be increased as of 1 October. This hasn’t happened. Foreigners visiting either of the island’s two main waterfalls still pay 200 Baht / Adult & 100 Baht / Child. That’s the only time you’ll be asked to pay a Park Entrance fee. Trekking companies sometimes advertise that their prices include the NP fee, but you’ll notice that this is never paid as the treks don’t take you past any NP offices.
The price for tickets on the most used ferry service between the mainland and Koh Chang has increased. Children are now 30 Baht, Adults 80 Baht, Motorbikes 40 Baht & Cars 120 Baht. No cheaper return tickets are available as it looks like the owners have cottoned onto the fact that the competing ferry, Centrepoint, is so crap that there’s no need to provide people with an incentive buy return tickets.
The next couple of weeks I’ll be busy updating the area guides on the site with some new photos and info. And when I’m not doing that I’ll be busy trying to work off the weight I put on during the rainy season. The upcoming vegetarian festival which takes place across Thailand, starting 14 October, is a good place to start. Quite a few of the small restaurants which wouldn’t be caught dead serving tofu for 51 weeks of the year suddenly become proponents of a vegan lifestyle and offer some very tasty dishes. Look for the yellow signs which have the Thai word ‘Jay’ on this, this is easy to spot as the way it is written looks like a number ’17’. The shrine for the Godfather of Koh Chang will also be holding events where staunch vegetarians-for-the-week show their commitment to the cause by doing dumb / deeply spiritual ( depending on your viewpoint ) activities such as fire walking.