July 25, 2005
Family friendly ways to fill your days – from ‘Pattaya & Beyond’ magazine
If it’s July, it’s the rainy season, although I’m sure the TAT would prefer to use the euphemism ‘Green season‘ and therefore, (surprise, surprise) it’ll either be wet or very wet on Koh Chang during your visit.
With the clear skies now replaced by overcast grey and gently lapping waves by riptides Koh Chang needs to draw on its wet weather attractions to pull in the tourists. Unlike Samui or Phuket, shopping malls and world class adventure sports centres have yet to be built, and therefore visitors are in a bit of a quandary as to what to do before, during and after downpours. Wandering around aimlessly seems to be popular as does checking and re-checking your email.
Here are a few other alternative ways to pass the time if swimming and sunbathing aren’t viable options:
As any student of outdoor life knows, the amount of rainfall during the preceding week or so is inextricably linked to how worthwhile a visit to a waterfall is on any particular day.
During the main tourist season, the waterfalls are often less than spectacular due to the phenomenon known as “dry season” in which no rain falls for a period of several months, thereby rendering a trip to the falls a rather dull experience unless muddy pools and cliff faces get your juices flowing.
However, visit the large falls at Klong Plu or Than Mayom during the rainy season and you’ll be rewarded with gushing torrents. The drop pools are usually safe to swim in, however each year there’s usually a visitor or two who don’t make it out alive. Therefore, take care on the muddy paths and be sure to leave small kids, old folks and anyone with suicidal tendancies back at the resort.
In Hua Hin, on the opposite side of the Gulf of Thailand, horseback riding along the beach has long been a popular pastime. Here on Koh Chang, elephant riding (trekking) is the thing to be seen doing. Therefore, it remains to be seen how popular this small riding centre – midway between White Sand Beach and Pearl Beach – becomes, especially as no riding will be done on a beach. This equestrian centre comes with its own freeform riding ‘track’, which must be almost 100 metres in circumference. So, if pony rides roadside are your thing, stick this on your ‘Must Do’ list.
Great fun if you’ve got acres of rugged farmland on which to play but a liability if you’re using them on the road, as a few locals with a bit of cash seem to do. Personally, I don’t see the point in buying a 250cc machine for the cost of a small pick-up truck, which does 30 mph on the flat and then having nowhere to use it. There is an ATV rental place just outside White Sand Beach where you can rent a bike to ride around on a couple of hundred square metres of roadside dirt and if that isn’t a fun way to kill an hour and simultaneously lighten your wallet considerably then I don’t know what is – other than a renting a jacuzzi full of hookers.
It’s not that the visibility is bad, bad isn’t the correct word. ‘Crap’ comes closer to describing the sensation of diving, thinking you’ve spotted a manta ray or something equally cool in the distance only to realize that it’s actually your own hand and learning that the shark fin you swore you glimpsed was in fact your dive buddies left flipper. On a more serious note, several dive schools remain open throughout the rainy season and they swear they know dive sites where the visibility can be measured in metres rather than centimeters during July and August.
Spending a bit of time in a peaceful location, just yourself and a good book is a great way to unwind. In the rainy season, there’s no shortage of quiet bungalow resorts where you can sit on your balcony and read as the rain comes down, the only distraction being hoping that the bungalow roof really isn’t as porous as it appears. A couple of minimarts on White Sand Beach have new English language novels for sale direct from Asia Books in Bangkok.
Imported books are pricey in Thailand so if something to keep you busy on the beach or whilst waiting for your girlfriend to get herself tarted up for a night out is what you’re after then a visit to a second hand bookshop is in order. Tantawan restaurant on White Sand Beach save you the expense of buying a book by having a library service which is worth making use of if you can read quickly. Slow readers will be better off checking out the second hand books available at V-Mart supermarket, Klong Prao; Kai Bae where a couple of internet cafes also have books for sale or Nature Books, down at Nature beach Bungalows. Reckon on 140 – 200 baht/book.
What’s more fun than a monkey show? A full frontal lobotomy perhaps. But if dancing animals are your thing, then Koh Chang’s first, and hopefully last, Monkey School is located at the southern end of White Sand Beach.
Eating, sleeping, shopping
Blend in, this is how the locals will be divvying up their days during the rainy season. Three activities, so that’s around 8 hours for each per day. As irony would have it . . . go into a restaurant and you’ll probably find the staff sleeping or are all out shopping. Call into a small bungalow resort and the staff will be tucking into polystyrene cartons of rice and a fiery hot chilli concoction or in the market. Browse round a roadside shop unit and the owner will be either be having lunch or catching 40 winks somewhere in the back.