Koh Chang – what a bummer
“Koh Chang – vilken nit” was first published on my Swedish Blog.
Well, without lying or exaggerating I can safely state that Koh Chang isn’t quite what I expected. I expected a “something-close-to-paradise-island”, but basically found just an island with an ordinary main road, which leads from the southern most point on the west coast – the fishing village Bangbao – to the southern most point on the east coast – the fishing village Salakphet. The road doesn’t go all the way around, but from one point to another.
3rd largest island
Koh Chang is the 3rd largest island in Thailand, counting Phuket, which actually is a peninsula, and has approximately 5000 inhabitants. Chang means elephant and the island has gotten its name because it has the form of an elephant head.
Swedes’ new paradise island
Before I left home I googled the island on the internet and found, much to my fear, that it was supposed to be the ”Swedes’ new paradise”. Yikes, I thought, and imagined another Koh Lanta.
I don’t like Koh Lanta at all actually. I don’t really know why; sometimes you just arrive in places and you just don’t like them, but can’t really explain why.
Nothing is really “wrong” with Koh Chang, I just don’t like the island
That’s also the case here. Everything just feels wrong. I’ve actually not run into that many Swedes, so that’s in any case positive, and I have been able to be on my own most of the time, which is also, at the moment, very positive. I’ve been able to focus on me, and that’s extremely positive, since that is why I came here.
Built for tourists
This is an island completely build for tourists, and I hate that. Sure, I like to sit here in my tiny A/C-room and enjoy the cool while I’m surfing on the net, I can’t deny that.
But I also enjoy sitting down in a shabby restaurant where they serve real thai food out of a menu I can’t even read, or having the pleasure not having to see all the indian tailors sitting by the road saying: ”Tjena, hur e leget?” (=Hey, how are you?) in perfectly perfect Swedish.
Or being able to enjoy my lunch at the beach without having a bunch of salesmen harassing me on my own sarong, who want to sell everything they’ve got for a ”special price for you, my friend”.
Another negative thing with Koh Chang – it’s almost disturbingly hard to find a restaurant on the beach.
WHAT??? I thought that was somewhat the Thailand thing. But oh no. On Kai Bae, which is the beach I’m staying at, there is nothing on the beach. It’s hardly not even worth calling a beach anyway, but since it’s been pouring down since the day I came here, I haven’t really cared about the beach.
On White Sand Beach – Had Sai Kao in thai – I found restaurants and bars on the beach, so it’s a bit cosier over there actually. But also so much more of a tourist trap. The beach there is shallow and really beautiful, so I can hardly complain about it.
There are a lot of rip currents here; there are warning signs everywhere, because of all the currents dragging you down. Warning signs and tips on how to get out if you get caught. Yeah, makes you really want to thrown yourself out there after reading one of those. For real!!!
Off I went to Bangbao
The other day I took a ”taxi” – more like a tuktuk, or those cars driving around on Samui – to Bangbao. I wanted to see if it was the kind of place I could see myself staying in for a longer while. It seemed cosy enough; the little I’ve been googling, so off I went.
It cost me 200 baht to get down there, since aaaaaah, it is soooo far away, and nobody wants to go there, and yadayadayada. I agreed to the price. The drivers were pretty sweet, a thai couple, because when they let me off, they made sure I knew what time I could take a taxi home, how much they were and when they stopped going. I had 2 ½ hours before the taxis stopped going. No problem, I thought positively.
Bangbao – the tourist trap
Bangbao was a great dissappointment. Only tourist shops everywhere, and exclusive restaurants. Of course they served seafood, and probably really tasty seafood too, since it is a fishing village, but when you don’t like to eat it, it doesn’t matter how tasty it is. So no food there for me, and after barely 15 minutes I stood by the taxistand, wanting to go home.
I went to Lonely Beach, which is supposed to be a Backpacker paradise. Well, what a disappointment that one too. I managed however, to find a decent restaurant, and then I went home.
Deep fried chicken and Som Tam – favourite food!
Sightseeing towards the other end of the island
Yesterday I went on sightseeing again. It was the first rain free day, so I wanted to make the most of it. I was going to Salakphet – the fishing village on the eastern side. The taxi driver said: “well, you can go with a taxi at 3”.
I thought ”what a load of crap”, so I got in the taxi to the pier. I thought I could get a taxi from there anyway at any time.
Once by the pier the driver said he could take me for 1000 baht. Well duh!!! No, thank you, I said, it was far too expensive. He showed me a price list on the wall in one of the taxi stands. It actually said 1000 baht!!! But at 3 o’clock there was a taxi which would take me for 100 baht. It was now 12 o’clock.
Who had the energy to spend 3 hours by the pier, with absolutely nothing to do?
After a lot of thinking I decided to go back home again. “Well, now you have to wait for more people.” We were only 2 people who wanted to go. That was not enough, we had to be 12 or we had to pay 700 baht. The boat from the mainland came, but still not enough people. We waited and waited. I almost fainted because of the heat. I haven’t really gotten used to it, since I’ve only been inside my A/C-room, which is very cool and nice.
I offered to pay 10 times more than the rest of the bunch, as long as we got going – but no, the others wouldn’t hear of it!?
Finally I got sick of it, so I told the driver I could pay 400 baht, if only the thai people paid their 60 baht each; which would make 640 baht. I thought the driver could give us 60 baht discount. The driver discussed it with the other passengers who simply shook their heads. No, it didn’t seem as if this was something they wanted to do.
Someone got picked up by family members and the rest of us were just sitting there like the 3 idiots.
I got even more sicker of the whole thing and decided to walk. It is only, hm well a lot of km, probably 30 or something, and in this heat and hilly landscape I could hardly get anything else than heatstroke after a km or two. But I was so annoyed I didn’t give a frack. I started to walk and ended up on a small hill with a chinese temple of some kind. I ran around here for a while, or sat mostly. It was a beautiful place.
And then I walked down again, and continued my walk. I’d probably been walking for about half an hour when a taxi showed up behind me. I could now go home for only 100 baht. YEY!
Sometimes it pays off to be stubborn and cheap – a better alternative always shows up around the corner.
And the point of this story was simply that I can’t even go on sightseeing on this island, because I will get ruined, alternatively die of heatstroke.