This was the first holiday that Annie (my wife) and I took together. We took our holiday here during the Song Kran Festival. I was confident that we would be able to acquire accommodation on arrival, but how wrong I was going to be.
Koh Chang is the largest Thai island in the Gulf of Thailand. The attraction for me was its dense, steep jungles and its coral reefs.
We caught the BTS train across to Ekkamai, everyone it seemed was heading for the coast, most were armed with their colourful plastic water guns. I carried mine too, but to my annoyance, it didn’t work. So much for attempting to protect Queen and country. However, the water mobs were already at it, squirting literally anything that moved. Good fun if you don’t mind getting wet.
When we arrived at a place called Trad, Annie had to negotiate our passage to the harbour, which was another 30 minutes. Our sea crossing took 40 minutes, the queues were nearly two kilometres long. Was mainland Thailand that bad? It looked more like some evacuation plan or a mad exodus.
Once on the Island of Koh Chang, we caught another songthaew to the White Sands Resort. An Irish worker suggested that we’d be lucky if we could find anywhere to stay in the resort, as he was under the impression that the resort was already fully booked.
On the way to the White Sands Resort, I nicely advised a Russian couple and their son to put their fancy camera away, just in case we got ambushed on the way by a water mob. My concerns were echoed by a man from Dublin, who also reiterated my concerns regarding their expensive Canon camera equipment. I think they were happy for our advice because later on they got drenched by water thugs. Luckily, their camera had been secured away.
The White Sands Resort was about two kilometres long, and I think we had virtually walked from one end to the other before we eventually found somewhere to stay.
Saturday, April 14th 2012, I woke up, to find Annie looking at me with the sweetest of smile you could ever imagine.
After breakfast, we went for a walk along the beach, there were small shallow pools, with many tiny fish and crabs swimming in the ever-decreasing pools of water. Towards the far end of the beach was a rugged outcrop with large pebbles, stones and rocks. Annie seemed to have mastered walking over them quite well, even though she was only wearing flip-flops. Here we found sensitive crabs. They scurried away every time we tried to approach them.
Later, we spent around an hour swimming in the sea. I didn’t see many fish, but that was probably because I’d scared them all off.
Sunday, April 15th, 2012. Today was 5 months since Annie and I first started communicating with each other. Today we planned an island tour. The first part of the journey itself was slightly rough with a stiff headwind. The scenery, however, was beautiful, looking more like some mysterious Jurassic landscape. The low clouds dusting the tops of some of the mountains gave it an eerie and spooky look to it. Dracula thankfully came from Transylvania and not from Thailand, or at least according to Bram Stroker.
The boat rocked slightly from port to starboard, as the wind seemed to intensify. Kho Wai was the first island we encountered. Snorkels were given out, Annie and myself took the plunge and climbed over the side of the boat and went swimming, in and amongst the fish. Yellow striped fish swam amongst us, curious to see what type of fish we were or even to see what we tasted like. Annie was in her element. She’d never swum amongst fish like this before. She absolutely loved it! For a joke, I called Annie, Miss Monster of the Deep. She said that I could call her anything I wanted.
The rain started and as we approached the island of Koh Yak Lek. Knowing that we were going snorkelling again, I said to Annie “I think we are going to get wet.”
Her response was. “Don’t worry, you’re British you should have brought your umbrella with you. Hahaha!”
I hadn’t anticipated her coming out with an answer like that, but it was funny!
We anchored near the island of Koh Yak Lek. Here there was a beautiful coral reef with loads of schools of fish swimming around, an ideal scuba diving environment.
While swimming around here, I actually managed to catch a crab. Koh Yak Lek also had a beach area too. Apart from a few trees, there was little else of interest here it was an island about the size of a cricket pitch.
We visited two more islands; Koh Thong Lang and Koh Rang. At one of these islands, I took photos of Annie swimming around with fish surrounding her. She was over the moon with the pictures.
On the way back, it nearly all went wrong. Annie and I watched the antics of the captain. He’d obviously been drinking heavily and was steering the boat with his feet. If that wasn’t bad enough at one point, he left a four-year-old boy to steer the boat for him in these turbulent seas. The small boy could not even see out of the window, even when standing on his tip-toes.
The wakes that he produced sent the adjacent boat rocking like a damned rocking-chair. I could hear the combinations of both laughter and screams. Our boat rocked too as he abruptly changed course again. Annie had the look of sheer disbelief on her face, alarmed by what he was doing. I personally felt obliged to comment to the captain that as far as I was concerned, he had a duty of care to us all and that if he didn’t stop his larking around somebody would get seriously hurt.
He ignored my plea, soon the passengers were slipping and sliding due to the angle sway of the deck. Again, I told him more firmly that there were small children on board. An American woman told me that I was spoiling the fun. I asked her if she could swim, she answered seethingly, of course, I can! Then I said to her with eyes like daggers in an apoplectic voice, “Well consider this then, most Thais can’t, and are you going to attempt to save any of them if we capsize!”
Then suddenly everything came to ahead. Bags of water started to be thrown at another vessel that was too close for company. How on earth we didn’t collide with it, I don’t know. It was then when our captain looked concerned. As an innocent six-year-old girl received a direct hit that had been thrown from the other boat. She screamed as blood ran from her eye. It looked quite serious.
Monday, April 16th 2012. Today’s mission was to attempt to travel to the next beach resort called Chai Chet Resort. The resort looked like something out of one of those old Bounty Hunter adverts. White sand, blue seas, palm trees and everything else, apart from of course milk chocolate. We walked on the short beachfront, along the water’s edge. The temperature must have been about 40C, or at least it felt like that.
To the left of the beach was the forested mountain ranges which still looked as menacing and as challenging as it probably did thousands of years ago.
It didn’t take Annie long to find the only beach swing around. I pushed her hard, which was difficult as my feet kept sinking into the fine baked white sand. Annie laughed, but she didn’t like the energy that I was exerting.
The bay was peaceful, especially now that the Song Kran festivities had finished and families had now but all gone back home, leaving it deserted.
The day was wonderful, with the sea rippling in as if helping to bleach the beach white. The waves were breaking thirty metres out to sea. With the slight breeze and the slight smell of warm sea air, it felt idyllic.
The sea looked so inviting, relatively calm, although there were those signs that warned you of the strong currents. I took the plunge. It was like walking into a very warm bath, well, that was while you were in the shallows. I swam out to where some of the boats were anchored, some 100 metres away. Behind me, I could see the shadows of the clouds slowly blanketing the forest’s green landscape. Swimming around here, I wondered just how many different types of snake the forest might harbour in its virgin vastness. Koh Chang is a wonderful Island destination. Probably one of Thailand’s best.