9/2/2009 – Koh Chang – The island that looks like elephants
I seem to be putting myself through far too many early mornings and long journeys – I guess that`s travelling for you. I was up at 6am to check out of my hostel in On Nut and catch the Skytrain to Ekamai where I boarded my bus to Trat. It was a fairly short 5 hour trip on the empty coach and pretty cheap too. At Trat the bus stopped outside of town at the Bus company/travel agents where we had no choice but to buy their ticket for taxi to the pier and the ferry across to Koh Chang. This is a popular ploy with bus companies, they`ll drop you somewhere obscure in the hope of securing more onward travel from you. But for the price I was happy to do so and it meant that I was straight into the minibus and driven to the pier where a ferry was just pulling in. From the pier I could see the majestic hills of Koh Chang rising out of the sea covered in thick green vegetation. I imagine that elephants use to wander freely around this island before it became a tourist mecca.
Koh Chang has only recently, in the last 10 years or so, become a popular tourist destination and at only 5 hours away from Bangkok you can see why. With all the charm and beauty of the southern Thai islands, the conveniences of a tourist ghetto and the super efficient transport infrastructure easing the passage there, it has it all.
The roads are what I would call treacherous, especially when travelling in a open-backed pickup truck `taxi`. The island is literally a bunch of hills covered in forest so the roads are tight up against the hills sweeping up and down and all around. The island is also not short of traffic, particularly on the two-wheeled motorized variety. It took over half an hour to get to Bang Bao where I had booked into an idyllic hill side hostel. Well, so I thought. The accommodation consisted of shoddy little bamboo huts with holes the size of my fist in the walls and the floor. The huts were set amongst the trees and the open air bathrooms were about a 5 minute walk away. I tried to talk myself into it, but it was no use. I was sweaty, tired and in need of some home comforts, and I was not in the mood for rude awakenings from creepy crawlies or hazardous treks to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I got my money back and left.
I caught a taxi to Lonely Beach, a backpacker spot further up the west coast. The taxi driver had refused to drive until 3 o`clock exactly and I was sat waiting for 20 minutes. This ultimately cost me a room at Janina`s, a place recommended to me by Neil. By this point I`d been on the go for a while and not in the mood for lugging my huge backpack around whilst I was told there was no room at the inn.
I settled for a pricier room with air con, a TV and my own bathroom. It was wonderful to have such creature comforts.
I took a walk down to the beach, past all the usual tourist shops selling sarongs and the like, where I watched the sunset onto and behind the sea. I realised that I was in need of some quiet time and reflection after a rather intense few weeks. I haven`t been on my own since before Christmas so its nice to have the space to think for a while.