Written by alan_nesbit on 04 May, 2006
It’s not so far from Bangkok, but the bus trip to Si Racha (from where the boat leaves for the island of Koh Si Chang) takes a long time. Bangkok sprawls and progress is slow. Bangkok is a real mixture, with roadside stalls, dusty open-fronted…Read More
It’s not so far from Bangkok, but the bus trip to Si Racha (from where the boat leaves for the island of Koh Si Chang) takes a long time. Bangkok sprawls and progress is slow. Bangkok is a real mixture, with roadside stalls, dusty open-fronted shops and run-down apartment blocks juxtaposed with shining offices and car show rooms.
You put some of that (the traffic, anything modern) behind you when you step on the boat and take the 40-minute journey to the island. It’s small, with a settlement on the east side, a beach on the west side and not much else. Most things are within easy walking distance, and there are tuk-tuks for anything further away.
By looking in at the gate of the Buddhist monastery at the right time, Judy was invited to have breakfast with the monks and nuns, and we returned later to have a tour. Set on a hill above the town, the bright cleanliness of the monastery is in stark contrast to most of the rest of the island. Our guide was a young nun, gentle and shaved-headed, who had joined the monastery 8 months earlier, after her graduation ceremony.
Buddhist monasteries have quite a degree of autonomy and there were several aspects of this one that are not typical. The monks still do the early morning alms round, but they also have a garden in which they grow their own produce. Buddhists normally consider manual labour inappropriate for a monk, but here they had built everything themselves.
As well as showing us around, our guide spoke about her beliefs as a Buddhist. Buddha himself was born into the royal household and was shielded from life’s realities until one day he saw an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a holy man. He decided to become a holy man so that he could avoid old age, sickness, and death, eventually becoming enlightened under a bodhi tree in India. He still became old and died, but at least by becoming enlightened he avoided the endless cycle of life, misery, and death that is the fate of the rest of us.
The idea of karma was graphically illustrated in one small building. Your fate (karma) in one life depends on how you lead your previous life. To enjoy a good and healthy life indicates good karma. A row of deformed foetuses in jars shows what happens if you have bad karma. The row of jars was set in between the legs of a human body, slowly desiccating and decaying, to illustrate of the impermanence of life.
Although encouraged to live in the present and not to look ahead to the future, our guide expressed the hope that she would like to spend the rest of her life there. Hmm. There were many questions I would like to have asked, but decided not to.
Written by misconduct7 on 19 Feb, 2005
Our hotel arranged this snorkeling tour for us for 300 baht. That included transportation to the beach, where the boat was waiting for us, snorkel and fishing gear, and drinks on the boat. There were about a dozen people on the boat with…Read More
Our hotel arranged this snorkeling tour for us for 300 baht. That included transportation to the beach, where the boat was waiting for us, snorkel and fishing gear, and drinks on the boat. There were about a dozen people on the boat with us. The boat had an awning that provided some nice shade.
The snorkeling was okay; I prefer diving, but two of my friends are not certified, and we wanted to stick together. The first location had some fish and a lot of really large and colorful clams. The second location was better, since it had many more fish, colorful anemones, and coral. Even though it was January, the water was quite warm.
They took us fishing for our third stop. Some people caught fish. I did not and spent my time talking with a couple of girls from England who had decided to escape from a volunteer stint with a Thai turtle conservation group. They did not recommend it at all.
The boat staff was nice and helpful, but they did not seem to speak very much English, though this did not seem to bother anyone. My only problem was that they never told us how long we were going to stay at any given location, nor did they tell us how far we could go out. At the first stop, my friends and I were the last out of the water. No one seemed upset, but I was left wondering how long they had been waiting for us. So unless you know how long your boat will be staying at a location, I suggest you check for the boat every few minutes. In all, it wasn’t a bad three-hour trip, especially considering that it cost us less than $10.
Written by Khunwilko on 03 Dec, 2005
This is a quick overview of the state of Koh Chang, the second largest island in Thailand. Now with the sudden unpopularity of the west coast (i.e. Phuket) there is an ever increasing number of Western tourists heading for this island. Here is my polemic…Read More
This is a quick overview of the state of Koh Chang, the second largest island in Thailand. Now with the sudden unpopularity of the west coast (i.e. Phuket) there is an ever increasing number of Western tourists heading for this island. Here is my polemic on why this is not so good: I've been to Koh Chang many times over the past three years, largely because it's near to Sri Racha, where I live, and every time a friend comes to stay, this is the most convenient "paradise island to take them to". My brother even got married there in March.
So why can I not recommend this slice of bounty advert? (Deep breath) Koh Chang is a dull, badly developed, overpriced pit of a place, and it's going downhill at a rate of knots. Why? The land for development was all bought up by bigwig friends of the "great and powerful," and now anyone who wants to set up a business there has to pay through the nose for it. All the hotels are overpriced, especially when you compare with Phuket and Samui. Almost all the west coast is now covered with these awful self-contained resorts, which are for the most part badly designed and ill finished. Frequently, you can find your room is on a building site. Health and safety is simply not addressed - some of the pool designs look positively lethal. If you're coming from Europe or the States, you'll find that the cost of living and rooms is cheap, but not compared to elsewhere in Thailand. You'll love the sunsets and the white sand; you won't wonder where all the sewage is going and what happened to the mangroves or the fishing industry that gets smaller catches every year, or the fishing villages being turned into a souvenir arcade-cum-hotel.
The centre of Koh Chang is a national park , but unlike all of Thailand's other national parks, apart from the odd waterfall, no one is allowed inside. You can get a guide who will take you in but strictly speaking that's against the law. There is virtually no effort made to set up a good system of eco-tourism in the park as you might find in Australia. There is only one road around KC and it doesn't go all the way round, it's a horse-shoe affair. There is a motorbike track that connects the two ends but it's not for the faint of heart! The road is barely more than single track (asphalted) but cannot cope with the ever increasing load of traffic pouring onto the island. KC is the second biggest island in Thailand and walking around it in a day is not an option, KC is also very mountainous and the roads are very windy and hilly and as the resorts are all a long way from any shops etc its essential to hire a motorbike or car. These of course are about 50 to 100% more than on the mainland. The baht taxi service is very patchy.
Anywhere you want to go is further than you want to walk. The main town, if you could call it that is White Sands a long strip of hotels ,resorts and motley bars about 3 km long. If you arrive on foot a baht taxi will take you from the ferry to Whitesands and drop you there. (So long as he has a full load or he'll want you to foot the extra money) You will then have to find somewhere to stay this is impossible on foot and with luggage So book in advance at least for the first night. Then get some wheels. There is no airport on KC itself, if you go by plane you'll land at Trat airport which is on the mainland quite near to the ferries to KC. Get a taxi to the ferry - only a few baht. There are several ferries across, the crossing takes 45 to 90 min, depending on which ferry you take. On one ferry I paid 30 e/w for me and my car, on another I paid 360 baht for my car an five people return. Now you may think I hate the place, well I don't, I just get very disappointed in the direction the powers-that-be have taken KC, it's lack of infrastructure and any forward planning will mean that sooner rather than later this place will become a collection of overprice resorts and nothing else.
Where to stay? - Klong Prao Beach is probably as good as it gets, there are about 4 resorts there actually with beach frontage, The Paradise is all nicely built new bungalows, Coconut and Royal Coconut are next to that and Klong Prao resort has a long beach front and good pool beside the sea. However the last time I stayed at Klong Prao Resort in August the place was a building site. They didn't tell me until the day I arrived even though I was a regular guest there. If you do book in advance you must ask about this sort of thing because you will very likely not be told by the staff. Building also precedes a hike in prices. I used to pay 1800 baht to stay there. That time I paid 1750, a discount of 50 baht (just over a dollar) because it was the wet season and there was building going on! I was told the new price is 3500 baht and that was what they would still charge whilst the building was continuing. The problem with Koh Chang is that it is changing and changing rapidly for the worse. Hotels are constantly building and encroaching on the environment. Prices are rising and beach access is getting more and more taken over by private resorts. The days of a hut on the beach for 200 baht are virtually gone. The scuba divers are going further and further a field in search of clear water and fish, and don’t be kidded that so long as the hotel claims to be by the sea that it has a beach!
Remember that it is now high season and what with the tsunami still driving many extra visitors over from thee west coast, you may find many places fully booked. PS – I cannot recommend the Ramayana and Boutique resorts! If you want up to date local info on KC, try this site - IamKohChang.com - Good site for info on Koh Chang and sounds like a good place to stay too!