For quite some time I have been thinking about spending six to nine months in a year in Asia. And Phuket has always been my favourite place to stay. After having seen Koh Samet first doubts came up. But now being on Koh Chang Phuket is loosing even further ground. Koh Chang! What a beautiful island!
Koh Chang, the name means elephants island, is the second largest island in Thailand situated at the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand. It is pretty mountainous with the highest hill reaching 743 meters. That is why you find only streets alongside the coast but hardly any roads going inland. On the western coast you have most of the beaches. While Koh Samet can surely boast more beaches the ones on Koh Chang are longer and less populated.
I stay in a hotel on the White Sands Beach, Hat Sai Khao. This is the busiest beach with most of the hotels and bars. I always choose the busy places to stay. I just cannot resist the nightlife sometimes although I also like and need quiet places for a change. And this is often difficult to find. But on Koh Chang, and even here on the White Sands Beach, you have it all. If you like to have a few beers at a nice bar you will easily find it. But, and that is the good thing and different to most other touristic centres, all those fun spots are very relaxing and not too loud. They even have a few beer bars at the southern end of the beach on the main road. The locals call it “Little Pattaya” and this says it all.
After sunset the beach restaurants and bars start to setup chairs and tables in the sand and it does not take too long until young Thais turn up and perform an impressive fire show. They hold wooden bars set on fire at their both ends. Then they throw them into the air, twist them and do other incredible moves. All this is accompanied by techno music which I hate. But after half an hour, once these young artists have moved on to the next place, it will be quiet again and you can emjoy the sound of the waves.
Today I rented a motorbike as usual. I was driving down the west coast to take images mainly of the beaches. As mentioned before, the beaches on this island are just as beautiful and exotic as on Koh Samet. But here they seem to be much more secluded and less populated. A dream if you look for tranquillity in a wonderful natural environment.
When I reached the Klong Prao beach I made a break and had a coffee at a small beach bar playing great blues music in the background. I have rarely ever been to such relaxing and peaceful places before. You just don´t want to move on! You sit under palm trees looking out to the ocean and wait for a coconut to fall on your head. Sounds a bit funny. But as a matter of fact dying from a falling killer coconut is among the most frequent causes for unnatural death in Thailand.
Beware the coconuts!
At one end of the beach there is a lagoon.
I moved on to see the small island Koh Man Nai just off the coast of Koh Chang. To get there you must drive down a very steep and curvy road to a resort right on the beach.
The island Koh Man Nai
A photographer friend tipped me off that on this island some dropouts and hippies should indulge in living away from civilization and expanding their consciousness by using the usual suspects. This could have been a nice photo story. The problem was that I could only reach the island by Kayak. And as I never used such a boat before and thinking of my pretty expensive photo equipment I was cautious and asked some locals about these strange species allegedly living there. But they all confirmed that no one is living or camping on this island. I did not have to worry about the Kayak anymore. Instead I took a photo of this guy having sweet dreams on an airbed.
I moved on to more beaches and then reached the village Bang Bao on the southern tip of the island. It is described as a typical fishing village. But as so often once such a nice place has been discovered by the travel pioneers and the word is spread around the world, the local people quickly discover that long noses have big money which needs urgent re-allocation. In consequence small souvenir shops and food stalls will grow like mushrooms and the whole atmosphere is changing completely. And this is exactly what happened here too. All you can actually see in this village is a long narrow wooden pier with lots and lots of little shops and stalls. No reason to go there!
View onto the “fishing village” Bang Bao
Playing a board game with stones, bottle caps and cigarette tips in Bang Bao!
Finally I went to my last beach today, Khong Kloi. There I sat down and recovered with another coffee with milk and a cigarette having a nice view over the whole scenery. And this looked like this:
By now it was 5 pm already. And this means sunset time. So I went all the way back to White Sands Beach but I stopped once more at the viewpoint to see Koh Man Nai, the hippy island, during sunset.
And I also arrived at my home beach just on time.
Koh Chang! What a beautiful island!
Click the slide show above the post to see more images.