Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 273: Onto Koh Chang

The Island of Koh Chang is just a 25 minute ferry journey away from the bustle of the mainland. On the other hand, if like me you arrive at the wrong ferry terminal, then it’s more like 55 minutes ….. mai pen rai

The West side of Koh Chang seems to be where everything is located. When I say ’everything’, I of course mean everything in a tourist sense of the word. My first stop is Klong Prow Beach, a few kilometres South of the main tourist area of White Sands, but close enough for rental bikes to be available and for budgets not to be broken.

I try three rental bikes from the same vendor. It’s actually a local seafood restaurant but here in Thailand, diversification is everything. The three bikes are all quite recent model Honda Clicks and all for various reasons are accidents just waiting for inconvenient places to happen. The first has a warped front disk making the brake either ’On’ or ’Off’, there’s simply no middle ground. The second has just been serviced and the mechanic has over-tightened the head races making steering virtually impossible. The third has clearly already taken a giant leap of faith and landed heavily on both wheels, wheels that are now buckled to hell and back. To the eye, all three bikes look perfectly clean and usable, but I fear that many wide eyed tourists wont try before they buy …. mai pen rai

I move along the Soi (Street) and at the ’OK Dive Centre’, I find an identical Honda Click. It looks just as clean as the others but after a brief test ride, I declare this one to be fit and proper. The vendor is impressed with my Thai. Not that I can speak Thai, because I really can’t, but She’s impressed that at least I try. I sign the ’Hire Agreement’ and she asks for my Passport. I refuse and she smiles, ’no problem’. Leaving your passport when renting a bike isn’t necessary, but most people simply don’t question it when asked. The bike’s not only good, but it’s also very cheap. 150 THB per day is 50 THB cheaper than Death Trap Central and yes, I do have my own lovely helmet Ma‘am.

How would you describe Koh Chang? Well, I guess that depends on which particular part of Koh Chang your looking at and how expensive your vantage point is. In Thai, Koh means Island and Chang means Elephant, so Koh Chang is the ‘Island of Elephants‘, but I suspect that the only elephants here now are strictly for the amusement of tourists. Around the Island travelling anti-clockwise, there seems to be a mixture of ’One Stop Vacation Resorts’ where the rich are segregated from the poor and then some less expensive ‘Beach Resorts’ for those who’s Rolex watches did not come with lifetime guarantees. For others, like me, there are small huts that you find via advertisements nailed to palm trees.

As you travel further around the Island, the posh hotel complexes seem to vanish just before the road does. Worry not, the tarmac might be gone but the less trodden path continues. The tarmac becomes a single strip of wandering concrete and then turns to gravel. After that, the way forward becomes slightly less certain and you take your pick from numerous sand tracks with hand painted signs nailed to coconut trees. One sing that I particularly like the look of simply says ‘Nice Beach this way’. These non-roads would have the Tiger screaming for mercy, but the little Honda just ploughs on through them. It’s fun, it’s not scary in the least and I just simply can’t stop laughing … mai pen rai.

Along these sandy tracks you find huts that are available for rent. Electricity and ceiling fan, 300 THB per night, or with air conditioning for 500 THB. It reminds me of Koh Samui some twenty-five years ago. Before they built the airport and kicked the living crap out of the place. It’s now ’High Season’ in the more upmarket areas of Koh Chang, but here in Backpacker Ville ….. all year seems to be ’High’ season.

I lounge on the beach wondering what to do next. I’m drinking cold milk from a freshly chopped coconut. Close to the shoreline, sitting on a rickety old wooden bench in the shade of a tall tree, which I must say is a particularly agreeable place to be right now. The first sign on the tree tells me ''{lease Not to Pick Coconuts'' and the other simply ''Beware of Falling Coconuts'' .... now that would be quite ironic …. mai pen rai

1 comment:

taxi said...