Sunday, January 17, 2010

Koh Chang: Elephant Island

Boarded the minivan we hired to take us from our Pacific Jomtien hotel to Bang Bao fishing village on Koh Chang, which takes its name (Chang is elephant in Thai) due to the island being the shape of an elephant’s head. Supposedly. We’re picked up promptly at 7:30, thankfully being the first to board, as the van fills up with 10 passengers total. Driver gets lost twice…

Then we’re off and after 4 hours we arrive at the ferry docks where we drive on a waiting vessel. The crossing takes about 40 minutes and en route we purchase a coconut and a lemon “milkshake” for 40 bhat each. Deliciously refreshing – but no dairy involved, solely the fresh fruit/nut and ice along, of course, with sugar syrup. In other words, so far the Thai milkshakes have no milk: another mystery…

Koh Chang is surprisingly mountainous with hairpin roads leading to a western coast lined with resorts, ATMs, diving/snorkel outfitters – and the inevitable sarong & souvenir shops. Everyone is let off and we’re alone heading to the southernmost village, Bang Bao. Here’s where Eric discovered Cliff Cottages for $10/night. Remote, rustic, no partying, the sound of the surf: this is what the website promises. We’re warned on the website to bring a padlock to secure our cabin.

Our first cabin, #20, is lop-sided, threatening to capsize down the cliff & has a glimpsing view of the ocean if you stand just so. We ask to change, selecting #10, a tad more robust and closer to the clean but shared showers/toilets. No view. The pink mosquito nets look great but I am concerned about cockroaches & other creepy crawlies. I have to curb this concern… I know I’ll find them on this trip or, more likely, they will find moi!

We eat here, on-site, choosing two curries, a green and Panang curry, which turns out to be a red curry. Delicious.

We stroll to the pier, amused if not startled by the ubiquitous motorbikes which toot then push past strolling tourists, shopkeepers and snoozing dogs on the 2-metre wide pier! We book a snorkelling trip for tomorrow (why not jump in & have some exercise & fun?!). For 500 bhat apiece (about $13 Cdn) we’ll be fed and tour 4 islands in Mu Koh Chang National Marine Park.

Then to bed amid a whopping, lovely wind storm. We appreciate its cool as we lie in bed with the pink netting billowing about. Lovely.