Little Ko Chang..Undiscovered Paradise

Trip Start Jan 25, 2011
1
4
14
Trip End Feb 21, 2011


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Where I stayed
sawasdee

Flag of Thailand  , Ranong,
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I've heard very little about this small island up a corner by Burma, a fellow traveler from Austria shared this special place with me whom I met when traveling thru Laos last year. This island, being a little out of the way, and still very undeveloped was top on my list of islands to visit on this trip. With a short motorbike ride to the ferry, and a small fee of 150 baht, I was on my way. The ferry only makes two trips a day, once at 930 am and once at 2 pm, and the ferry was loaded with supplies ( groceries) for delivery as well for the island. There were about 15 of us on the boat that day, some I found were repeat visitors to Ko Chang, somewhat expressing that they would like to keep their island a secret. I met a traveler from Germany named Stein.. they seem to all be from Germany! And he was coming back to the island after making a visa run to Burma. Thailand only gives you 30 days visa for travel, so when it expires, travelers have to cross the closest border into another country, this one being Burma as the closest, and go in for a few hours, and cross back with their stamp for another 30 days. It seems like a just a lot of paperwork, and a way to beat the system, but as in a lot of things in life, its just the way it is. He said he comes to this island every year, and finds it hard to ever leave. He was one of the only tourists here that didn’t light up a cigarette  while I was talking to him,  everyone here smokes!  These thoughts are coming from a non-smoker..I know, its hard for me to understand.  And as in a lot of things, its just the way it is. But it was a nice treat, so we hung out on the deck of the boat and chatted for the short 1 hour boat ride to the island. He also mentioned that if you are traveling from Maylasia, and visiting panang, they will give you a 90 day visa for travel in Thailand, now that’s a great tip. He had a lot of tattoos, all done in Thailand, bamboo style, you meet so many fascinating people on your travels.

I did not have a reservation at the place I wanted to stay, Sawasdee, a place I read about in a few blogs and my handy Lonely planet guide. This island has very limited Internet, and even though my place had an email listed for booking, very few places check their email very often to receive your request. The phone number listed, I was unable to reach as well, so I was hoping for the best. The ferry made a few stops at a few very remote bungalow "resorts" it’s funny how places call themselves “ resorts”…there is no pool, no gym, no spa, limited electricity, and only cold water in the showers. But I don’t mind, it’s exactly what I’m looking for. A couple of the places had kayaks awaiting the ferry, floating in the water until they could make their approach. The water was too shallow for the ferry to get too close to shore. The supplies were passed down to the awaiting kayaks, with workers from the resorts, and the few passengers loaded into them as well, waiting to be whisked to shore. On a lot of these islands, the ferries can only go so close, they put down a ladder, and with your backpack on your back you climb into the water and walk to shore. It’s almost impossible to do this without a backpack, I’ve seen a few inexperienced travelers with suitcase trying to maneuver themselves down that ladder with one hand and their suitcase above their heads with the other, not an easy task.

I arrived at my bungalow resort with two other German guests. I feel in love with this place the moment I saw it, and was lucky that they had a bungalow for me for two nights, for the whopping prices of 350 baht (about $11). And they say that this is the nicest place on the island, I think it is as well. There are many places that only charge 200 baht a night, yes that’s only $6, and I’ve heard you can even get it cheaper than that if you are staying a while, wow.

My bungalow is super cute, with cold shower bathroom, a toilet that you flush by adding a few scoops of water, a canopy mosquito net bed, and of course a great deck with a hammock, which I'm finding hard to ever leave.  The restaurant has the best food as well, serving real coffee too, so many places in Thailand you will find only instant. There are mainly German tourists here, ranging from the dread lock hippie type, to the older, I have no idea how you got off that boat, European tourist. I have not met another American tourist yet on this trip.

This island is rustic, with jungles and deserted beaches, and lots of butterflies, it’s beautiful. There is limited Internet, only a few bungalow resorts offering wifi for a small fee, and only one mini mart about a half an hour hike away. Electricity is only available from 5-10 pm so it’s important to bring a flashlight and some candles as well.

On my first night here, I joined those two nice German tourists that I met on the boat on the way over. We shared stories of travel and where they’ve been, and how long they are staying. It wasn’t long before then Gentleman asked me” I see that you are writing,,,I see you on your computer at your hammock.” I mentioned that I do some casual writing in a blog when I travel. He said” you are not writing about this place? You are not giving this place away?” I told him that I was just writing in my blog, sharing my stories with a few friends and stuff..I said with a smile. He glared a little but excepted my answer. Now come on now, as if my little blog is going to make a difference in giving some secret away. This island has been around for years, in fact the owner of the bungalow resort next door has lived here for 30 years. It’s a hard balance sometimes wanting to share these great places that you find with the rest of the world and the ambitious travelers as myself, and wanting success and good fortune to the sweet owners of these bungalows whose very existence relay on travelers as myself to stay in business. But the selfish part is wanting things not to change and stay exactly the same way as you found it when you hopefully can return again. It’s a hard balance.

We also talked about the wildlife on the island and that even though you may not see too many too many monkeys, they're around, and it’s a good idea to take all of your belongings in at night from your deck in case they come around while you are asleep. Monkeys are known for being quite the little thieves . They told me of a story of another couple that they met in Khao sok national park, a place where there is much wildlife, and lots of monkeys. One day while they were out on a walk, a few monkeys went in a open window of their bungalow and ate a whole bottle of Malaria pills that they recently bought. Those pills are known for having some crazy side effects, like horrible dreams and delusions. I cant imagine what a whole bottle could do to a couple of monkeys. They probably scared away a few tourists hyped up on those pills!

On this island they're are no TVs, no loud bars and very few tourists. The lights go out at 10pm, so with no other lights, you are left with a star filled sky at night. The long tail boats only make the delivery with supplies and passengers twice a day, compared to other islands where the traffic and noise of their arrival and departure is constant and it can take away the peaceful sound of the waves on the shore. This place is still one of those islands that hasn’t made it to the major mainstream of tourism, it’s a very special. If  you're looking for peace and quiet , this is your place.

Cost for today…

Lodging - $11

Motorbike ride to pier- $1.50

Boat ride here- $4

Meals- $ 10

Total - $26.50
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Comments

Pascale on

Beth, So enjoy your blog. Wish I was there. Looking forward to your next adventure.

Johanna Foote on

Totally beautiful! We are getting ready for the biggest snow storm in ORD, up to 20 inches of snow.:( I should be sitting next to you enjoying a chang beer. But your pictures are taking me away to paradise. Oh ya, my windows are now scheduled for Feb 7th, are you kidding...I've been sitting around for a month waiting for this project, Im starting to become a crazy lady.
I love the picture of that little girl, ahhhhh, adorable, reminds me of the little that was sharing her fruit with me last year:) miss ya

Wendy on

I'm all smiles knowing you are discovering more of your "other home" (Thailand) and abounding with tales that delight us all! Thank You Beth !
When you get back to San Diego, you'll have to see the movie 127 Days. A real-life story of Aron Ralston who solo's it -like yourself, but through the wilds of Utah's canyonland.
Thanks for bringing us along on your journeys
Much love, Wendy

maureen on

the fotos are unreal!! Still amazed by technology-from your hammock to my screen here in SD. Why is the name the same as the other Ko Chang? I want banana pancakes. Chicago is paralyzed by the blizzard. Not Beth. Broke my heart to see the camels brought in to attack the protesters in Cairo. SOOOOOO happy we had such a great trip to Cairo. Hope that wonderful couple and kids from our guest are okay.xoxoxo

Sarah Stone on

Be careful of the monkeys mom! And the european tourists too if they think you will ruin their secret island! You won't of course but they "see you writing"! Haha! Love you!

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