Looking at the islands just over the border from Cambodia, Koh Chang seemed like a good stop due to its nice beaches and nightlife. We aimed for the Lonely Beach side of the island based on some recommendations on things to see and do.
Continuing with the unplanned theme, we left the taxi and walked around a few places looking for somewhere nice to stay. In theory just turning up gives you flexibility, haggling power and the ability to stay in the best location. All of that goes out the window when you are carrying 25kg on your back with the midday sun beating down on you. Viewing a few is essential but it can quickly descend in to “sod it, this will do” with sweat running down your face. After first viewing a rickety wooden hut with no windows, we soldiered on and found a nice small bungalow hut off the main street, hopefully away from the late, late night karaoke noise.
Koh Chang is quite big and there’s no easy way to get around without taxis, as per most of South East Asia motorbikes are king here. Passport theft is always an issue over here, one of the two fake passports used on the Malaysia flight that crashed was stolen from a traveller who handed it in as a motorbike deposit. Refusing to hand ours over we previously used the excuse that an embassy had our passports (that was sort of true – they had them a few days before) but this time just declined until we found somewhere who would take a driver’s licence and extra cash.
Biking around the island was fun, the bike was powerful enough to cope with the hills and let us see tons of scenery, open waters and lots of trees! Stopping at a pier, the water looked far too nice not to have a swim, why was no-one else in there? Jumping in at the end of the pier, we had fun until I noticed the crabs walking around where we needed to climb in, shit. Waiting for a gap, we made various failed attempt to climb up before falling in over and over, shit again. Eventually I threw myself at the side, climbed up with cuts and scrapes on my hands, legs and feet – great idea! Time to move on, from the viewpoints we could see quite a few neighbouring islands which were not inhabited but had kayaks rowing back from them in the sunset, looked like fun.
The following day, we hired a kayak and hit the water and rowed over to the closest island that we could see. This was finally the desert island that the postcards show, no shops, no bars, nothing expect for crystal clear water, sand and trees, beautiful.
Spending a few nights on the island, we first noticed that the Thai people, famous for their smiles, are friendly and warm people who are interested in where you are from and just wanting to say hello. Thailand isn’t coming across as cheap as we expected, beers range from £1.50 – £2.00, a far cry from what the neighbouring countries offer but still not going to break the bank. Food is still cheap, interesting and quite varied – western options available to break up the monotony.
A fine stop.