Dec 6, 2006 – Ko Chang

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Thailand Here We Come Again!

After 5 or 6 glorious days of beach bumming and eating fresh seafood and saying Good Bye to our Australian friends, Jenny and Tom, we decided to depart Cambodia, so that we would have the opportunity to test out at least one beach area in Thailand before we headed back to the north, to Chaing Rai.

Hopping on three motor bikes, after heated negotiations and actually refusing to get on one of the motor bikes because the owner was so rude in his communications with us, we finally made our way to the pier. We had heard the it was possible to take a boat across to the border of Thailand and usually if there is an opportunity to take another mode of transportation other than bus, we usually go for it.

However, this time we didn’t realize exactly what we were getting in for, until we were nestled in the boat, which had no windows that opened and an emergency window , that had a gazillion screws to be dealt with before you could open it. There was a very strong wind as we left the port and consequently the waves were probably about 2 metres high causing the boat to rock about from side to side, making it feel like we were on a major roller coaster ride. The boys, that is Ger and Tor, thought it was quite fun, while I was gritting my teeth and praying that this boat would not capsize, as I could not see an easy way out. Thankfully after about 1 hour the waters calmed and I was able to enjoy the remaining 2 1/2 hour ride.

Right after we docked we were wisked into a truck carrying many other tourists and we thought that maybe the ride on this truck to the border was included in the price that we paid. However, that was naive thinking and NOT TRUE. After we got off the truck we were asked to pay $3 per person, for a 5 minute ride. This really was a ridiculously high price and the truck driver knew that but as the saying goes, he had a “captive market” and could charge whatever he wanted. Ger was not quite so willing to give in and once again we were in a battle of negotioating a fair price for the service. Needless to say it was an interesting set of communications between the driver and Ger and although the driver insisted on the full amount, Ger somehow managed to get enough change back from him that we only ended up paying $2 per person. Language Barrier? Intense discussion while standing in a line to exit the country with 20 other people standing right beside you? Poor Math Skills? Who knows but it worked in our favour this time.

Ahh yes, the challenges of travelling in developing countries.

After we crossed the border, we made our way in a minibus to the town of Trat, for an overnighter and to deal with some errands before we made our way to Ko Chang.

Ko Chang, what can I say, crossing over with the ferry, we got a glimpse of the size and beauty of the island. Upon are arrival we were successful, this time in negotioating a fair price to rent two motor bikes for 5 days. Yippee! Freedom! So with our packs on our backs we hopped on to find a place to stay. We were told that Lonely Beach was a quieter place to hang your shoes. We indeed found a shack, right on the beach, although on the other side of the line of shack there was also a hotel and a very nice pool, so how could we go wrong. This shack only had one king size mattress on the floor and there was no way they were going to give us an extra mattress. So Tor decided to try his hammock on the deck but after a night and a half, it was too uncomfortable and now we were all three cozily sleeping together under a mosquito net. What fun!

The island of Ko Chang is a national park and so the vegetation is lush and green and that coupled with a very blue sky and the emerald colored ocean waters makes it feel like your are indeed in paradise. The island has one main road that is very hilly, with many switchbacks and very steep hills and curves to negotiate on a motorbike. We actually met two Thai people suffering from motor bike injuries (broken collar bone, bruised faces, legs and arms) during our stay. So we were pretty careful as we were driving about and Tor proved to be an expert motor bike driver. His parents were pretty proud of him.

So nothing but sea, sand and beautiful trees, as Ger put it on one of the pics, I was a pretty happy girl. We enjoyed a day of snorkelling, which none of us had ever done before. Tor absolutely loved it and figured it was the best tour we have done. After stops at 4 different islands and swimming with the fish, centimeters from our faces and gazing at the coral reefs through our masks, we were pickled (our hands and feet) but completely content.

We spent another day going as far as we could on the west side of the island and happened to find a shopping market, out on the water. You walked along this long floating pier of restaurants, shops, tour companies and yes, even guest houses. It was totally quaint and I know Cheryl and Kari would have absolutely loved it. We decided to take in the moment by stopping for a good strong cup of coffee and a pastry. It was sooooo delicious.

You can at this point not circle the island because of some very large mountains, but I guess there are plans in the works to make this possible in the future. So on our last day we decided to explore the east side of the island. I had seen signs for a guest house called The Treehouse at Long Beach and it sounded enticing because it was at the end of the road on the other side of the island. So off we went, but what we didn’t figure on, was exactly how far it was and how many steep hills and very bad roads we would encounter. We thought we were close to our destination and then realized we were running out of gas. Luckily we met a hiker who told us we were only 2 kms from the Tree House and we could get gas there, so after major hill negotiations, we made it to our destination.

We had a lovely lunch, chatted with a couple from England who had just gotten married and took a few pics and I vowed to come back to this isolated, peaceful and relaxing, paradise retreat.

It was with a heavy sigh that I got up the next morning to pack my bags and hop on the motor bike back to the big city of Bangkok. Just ask Ger and Tor, I was a bit grumpy about departing. We figured that we probably spent about three weeks in total at various beaches in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand and with all of them I have always wanted to stay longer, so I guess there is a strong beach bum side to me. It must be inherited from my dad, who I most definitely know is also a beach lover!