The term ‘paradise’ is bandied around a lot by travel agents and travel bloggers, but Koh Chang is hard to fault in its idyllic beaches, tropical jungles and laid-back way of life. But would our first experience of a Thai island live up to all the expectation?
After leaving my phone in the hostel and having to get trains across the city to retrieve it, we had missed our bus to Koh Samet so bought another one to Trat with the aim of heading straight to Koh Chang by nightfall.
The coach journey to Trat took about five hours, then us and Ben and Francesca, a German couple, boarded the back of a ‘taxi’. I say taxi, it was a kind of wagon driven crazy fast by our driver. We were hanging out the back with the wind racing past, feeling utterly alive. It was such a nice feeling and so great to be back in a northern hemisphere summer! We had been snowboarding in the Southern Alps a week earlier; now we were in the tropics!
We were just in the nick of time to get the last ferry from Trat to Koh Chang, which took around 45 minutes. As I cracked open a beer, having successfully made the ferry after having been rushed through glorious tropical countryside on the back of a taxi that would fail health and safety checks in pretty much every country I had hitherto been to, I felt a content, excited and very, very happy with life.
We boarded another ‘taxi’ that took us halfway round the island to Lonely Beach Resort. We and no idea what to expect or what to look for in a decent place to stay, but after checking out a couple we plumped for a nice beachside guesthouse called Seaview Resort and set up for the night. It was dark but the village seemed cute and friendly. We grabbed dinner at a gorgeous place where you it on the floor on mats and a band started playing. I bought some flip flops with elephants on them and decided Thailand was somewhere I liked. A lot.
For breakfast the next morning, we headed up to the main street for nice mango pancakes. We enquired next door about elephant treks and booked one for 15 minutes later! The guy picked us up from our guesthouse and we were driven by ‘taxi’ up a windy mountain/hill pass to Kai Bae Meechai Elephant Camp! There were two elephants in a pen when we got there, one trying to mount the other!
We climbed some steps to board a large elephant called Milo. Sat in a seat atop him, we were soon bouncing around trying not to lose our flip flops whilst the ‘driver’ sat on Milo’s neck and steered him with his feet behind Milo’s ears! It was a lot like being on a horse in many ways. Milo stopped to drink and we walked through a clear stream where he picked pomilo fruit off a tree with his trunk and passed them to us to eat! Milo was only 13, but amazingly, they can live to 100. We had an hour’s trek and got our photo taken, which we bought in a lovely homemade frame.
Next we had an ‘elephant show’ from Meechai, a baby elephant who danced to Gangnam Style, put a hat on our heads and tucked a blanket over us when we laid down, punching me in the balls in the process!
We walked with Meechai to the beach and climbed aboard hims s he walked into the sea. When he was pretty submerged, he rolled on his side and dunked us in the ocean! We spent a while swimming with him, stroking him, being showered by his trunk and ‘holding hands’ where he wraps his trunk around your hand and wrist tightly. He was so playful, it was a joy to watch. I took some epic pictures of Jodes riding him on the beach whilst he was on his hind legs, effectively doing a wheelie.
We got driven back to Lonely Beah from Kaibae Beach and grabbed lunch at the cafe. From there we walked through the jungle path to the beach and swam in the sea. It was so much fun as it was our first time in the sea since Agnes Water surfing in Australia ten months earlier. That night we returned to the beach through the jungle path for beers, pina coladas and more wonderful Thai food.
The next morning we had pancakes and smoothies for breakfast on the main street before packing up, checking out and getting a ‘taxi’ (all Thai taxis thus far had been pick up trucks with a roof/cage to sit in). We took the taxi to the ferry at the top of Koh Chang and crossed back to the mainland. It was time for another new country: Cambodia…
Next time: Koh Kong – Entering Cambodia