Adventures on Koh Chang

Adventures on Koh Chang

The last time I wrote, I promised a post on my trip to Koh Chang, so here it is!


An idea of the location


Postcard picture!

A few weekends ago, I went with the friends I’ve made here in Rayong (which I’ll come to call the “Ultimate Gang” based on our shared characteristic of we all live in The Ultimate Condo) to Koh Chang, an island about 3 hours east of Rayong.  Koh Chang, or “elephant island” is one of the less touristy islands, with smaller, more secluded islands dotting around the coastline.  It’s located in the northeastern part of the Gulf of Thailand and close to the Cambodian border.  The trip to Koh Chang is involves taking a van to Trat, a songteaw to the ferry, and a ferry to the island.  Or, for a few baht more, you can hire a van to take you all the way there, which we found out about when we left.  I think our total transport costs to get to and from the island were around $30 round-trip.  So incredibly cheap! (for the States, but sort of expensive for Thailand)


View from the ferry in Trat


Joanna and Staci on the ferry


Big old welcome sign

There was a Thai holiday on December 10th (a Tuesday), so we decided to call in sick the Monday before so we could have a long weekend in Koh Chang.  And it’s kind of “just my luck”…I was actually sick with laryngitis the entire weekend, so could barely use my voice.  There was no way I was about to handle 30 5 year olds without a voice.  The best way to get over laryngitis is rest, for sure.  I’ve been having bouts of it here though, which I think are from some annoying allergies I’ve developed.  With all the walking I do, the dirt and grime I inhale, combined with the many factories that pollute the air in my city, I’m sure there are a variety of factors to cause them.  It doesn’t help that the weather is constantly changing.  Think mid-July in Virginia one day and a cool spring day the next.  I’ve started taking some allergy meds, but I don’t think they work well.  Oh, and my go-to drug, Sudafed, is banned here.  Sadness.  Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to suck it up.

Anyways, back to Koh Chang.  It was beautiful and I didn’t want to leave.  There are a handful of beaches on the island, and we stayed on White Sands Beach, which is very pretty, but more touristy.  There’s not much of a “beach” as little beach bars dot the shoreline, and take up most of the sand.  They provide beach chairs if you eat/drink there.  You get a real, laid back, chill feeling in White Sands.  The hotel we stayed at was, well, buggy and old.  Mosquitos the size of my hand in my room!  Lizards and spiders too.  But we were on a budget, so that’s life when you’re a school teacher in Thailand.


What “the strip” looks like in White Sands


White Sands Beach


Beach and a beer

We ended up spending a lot of time at a little shack restaurant on the beach that served drinks and pretty decent food.  Our group made friends with the staff, who were also fire dancers.  Obviously.  They told us to come back that first night to watch them perform, and it was one of those experiences you have once in a lifetime.  So neat.


Fire dancing friend


Curry…om nom nom.


Playing with fire


Grand finale

The next day was filled with pampering…my friend and I ended up getting pedicures, which are really different than the pedicures we get in the States.  You basically pay for each service…you want your feet massaged, you pay extra.  You want the dead skin exfoliated off…extra Baht.  They used some crazy chemical on our feet that basically peeled off the top layer of rough, dead skin.  Yay?  I also got a 1.5 hour Thai massage for about $12.  You don’t know pain until you have had a Thai massage, however, you will probably feel like a new person afterwards.

That night we went to Lonely Beach, which is known as the backpacker’s beach at the south end of the island.  It’s about 15 minutes on a curvy road in the back of a Songteaw.  It’s a bit less touristy but has a lot more party-vibes and prices are cheaper…we ended up staying until 4 am.  I honestly felt the greatest vibes from Lonely Beach!  Nobody was judgy and you don’t feel like there’s an air of “I’m better than you”, which you sometimes get at bars in the States.


New friends! One of them even played basketball at AU. It’s a small world!


The “Ultimate” ladies at dinner


Cute guesthouse where we ate dinner

A side note, the Songteaw taxis in Koh Chang have a monopoly on the industry, so to go from one beach to another will cost you around $5 – $ 10US a person.  A PERSON.  This is the only form of transportation for tourists, so you just have to bite the bullet.  This is crazy expensive for Thailand, but there’s no competition against them.  Apparently if someone were to compete, the Songteaw taxi company would threaten them…physically.

Anyway, on our final day, me and one of the girls in my group decided to book a day trip on a catamaran that would take us around some of the islands off the coast to snorkel.  I wanted to do something “different” and even though this day-trip was a bit pricey (about $55 US – yikes!), I felt thought would be a really neat experience.  I’m only on an island every…never.  I also had a huge debacle with my bank accounts getting hacked and learning of this the first day on the island, with no voice, having to call all my banks to be like “What the heck!?” (while sounding like a raspy smoker and damaging my vocal chords further), calling my parents (at 3 am their time) overly frustrated, and so I wanted to do something nice that would get my mind off that incident.

Since I was up until 4 am the night before, I mostly napped and tanned.  I snorkeled once, but didn’t have my contacts in, so it’s kind of a lost cause since everything is blurry.  When I snorkeled, I swam to the beach on one of the islands, and it was crazy how crystal clear the water was.  So pretty.  Being in Thailand, you sometimes get the feeling that if you aren’t learning about the culture or seeing amazing temples or trekking up a mountain then you’re wasting time.  But to be completely honest, sometimes, time is meant to be spent relaxing.  Even the greatest adventurers need a little downtime.


Thai fishing boat


Not much wind that day, but we opened the sail for a bit


Our captain caught a giant squid




Boats and ropes


One more…

And speaking of downtime, and completely unrelated, it’s been nice to decompress after work with a good movie downloaded off iTunes.  I never watched movies at home, but here, they’ve become my connection to home, a way to keep my sanity.  I absolutely love being in Thailand and value this experience so much, but the States will always be home and I need a little connection to westernization every now and then!

Anyways, until the next post, happy adventures!

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