Koh Chang, Thailand has been my favorite Thai Island since visiting it last in 2012. I was excited to get back and show Shelly the island and experience it's laid back vibe. We decided to hit the road again and after working a wonderful 13 week nursing contract at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, California. Koh Chang, Thailand was the perfect place to decompress and work on our tan before heading to hectic India.
On The Ferry Coming Into Koh Chang
Mini-Bus to Koh Chang, Thailand
We arrived in Bangkok and took the next day mini-bus to Koh Chang. The bus can be taken from Suvarnabhumi Airport on the bottom floor near the food court. Koh Chang is the largest of the Thai island in the far east section of the Bay of Thailand. After nearly 6 hours we reached the ferry port on the mainland and there was a long line for the ferry.
We waited another hour there and got to talking to a Canadian guy named Wes who had just spent some measurable time in Denmark studying. He was just beginning some time traveling and was going to Koh Chang for the first time. I had spent Christmas and New Year of 2012 in Koh Chang and knew it was the perfect place to do absolutely nothing. We all took a pickup truck called a songthaew (sp) to our perspective hostels and hotels and Shelly and I continued on to Lonely Beach where I had stayed in 2012.
Barbeque at Yo's
Running Into An Old Friend
We strapped our packs on our back and headed into town and we came across my old friend Yo who runs a bamboo tattoo shop and built a few bungalow behind his house/business. He didn't have any of his 3 bigger bungalows available but he turned his old tool shed into another smaller bungalow which we took for 400 Baht (equivalent of about 11 dollars). It only had a fan in small room but, suited our needs.
Dinner With a Thai Family
Yo decided to have a BBQ with his wife, two small children and their two friends. One of the "friends" is a good friend and local Thai who is married and now lives in Sweden with her Swede husband. If you have never had a BBQ with a Thai family you should! It's an amazing cultural experience.
The food is cooked and brought to the table one dish at a time and everyone eats from same center dish by scooping what you want on your plate. We ate pork ribs, fish, chicken, papaya salad, roasted potatoes and some spicy dipping sauces. The plates just kept coming. We gorged ourselves and sat with the family as more people showed up that were friends of Yo. Thais are very generous and they share everything with their neighbors when it comes to food. We had a great time sitting and talking and feeding on great food and Thai culture.
Shelly Getting a Massage at the beach
Relaxing and Getting Some Sun
In Lonely Beach, really enjoyed walking around town and finding our little restaurants and coffee bars we liked to frequent. There was little to do and the beginning of the slow season for Koh Chang due to the increasing heat. It was around 90-95 every day and for the first two days we really felt it. Day two we went and laid on the beach to get a base coat tan.
It was sweltering but, nice to finally get some sun on our skin. It was relaxing and we enjoyed every minute of it. The people of Koh Chang are lovely. We have found that on many Thai islands, the locals can be a bit "jaded" when it comes to travelers and tourists. Not so here on Koh Chang. The people are relaxed and welcoming of tourists and travelers. It really is a great place to simply relax and enjoy life.
Thai Green Curry - Nectar of the gods
Thai Curry The Nectar of the Gods
If you haven't ever eaten Thai curries, you should! The curries are incredible and we ate Thai food everyday for every meal. The Thai curries are generally thick soups with vegetables and your choice of meat. You also get some rice on the side and using a spoon you get some rice and then dip it in the curry. There is a spiciness to Thai curries but, not so much so that they aren't enjoyable.
However, we know that most Thai restaurant owners see westerners and tone the spice down. We always tell them to make it "Thai Spicy". It's hit and miss whether they actually do it or not. We can understand, because they don't want to waste the food and have an unhappy customer if someone can't stand the heat. Our favorite is the Panang which is red to orange in color and have a strong chili flavor and the green which is somehow sweeter and more balanced. Thai cuisine is all about balance. Spicy, Sweet, Sour and Bitter all play a part in
V.J. Searenity Resort
Moving To Klong Prao Beach
After a few days at Yo's bungalow, we decided to move from Lonely Beach to Klong Prao Beach further to the north of the island. The place we stayed was a smaller resort called the V.J. Searenity Koh Chang The mini-resort is right on the beach with a really nice pool and free breakfast buffet. The buffet was less than appealing but, we could eat it. The food generally consisted of starches and fried eggs, but we enjoyed not having to find food at restaurants and it was free.
We laid by the pool for a few days and tanned, walked the beach, saw an amazing fire show at a beach-side restaurant, rented a motorbike and toured around the island, and quite simply, decompressed. The resort itself is great for the budget traveler and the staff are wonderful and helpful. The rooms are with A/C and also very comfortable, however sometimes you can get a room with some minor issues. However, when you're spending so little, it's easy to overlook such problems.
Toma in the Yellow Bikini and Oleg in the Blue.
Toma and Oleg
Much of our time was socializing with our new Ukranian friends Oleg and Toma. Toma is a dentist and Oleg works in a factory as a supervisor. Everyday we would go to the pool and swim and talk about world politics, food, travel and other themes I can't remember anymore. They invited us to Kiev to visit whenever we wanted and were such great people to meet. This is the part of travel that is unexpected and refreshing. Meeting people from a different walk of life than your own, yet becoming friends and spending time together. Someday we will visit perhaps.
Street Food In White Sand Beach
We needed to learn to relax and take it easy before heading off to India where we imagine life a bit more hectic. It was nice to get used to the heat a little, tan in the sun, relax, and eat amazing food. One of the places we went to on the motorbike was the street food stalls in White Sand Beach, about 20 minutes from our hotel. It was so incredibly delicious and we gorged ourselves on snack sized portions for less than a dollar of just about everything we could remember about Thai street food. Pork and chicken on a stick, sausages, noodle dishes, some delectable mushrooms wrapped in bacon then grilled on coals and some really rich coconut puffs that melted in our mouths.
Thai BBQ Buffet
Another night we took the motorbike to a Thai Buffet which is a place where they put bucket of coals on your table and then on top, a domed dish with a trough around the dome. You can go and pick whatever and how much meat you want and then you cook it on the dome. They bring you broth which you put in the trough and then you pick your vegetables for the broth. Glass noodles, eggs, mushrooms, herbs and some spicy sauce we also put into the brew. The meat sizzles and dripping run down the dome into the soup and after about 20 minutes you can eat the soup all the while you are eating meat by the piece and dipping it into spicy peanut sauce. It's simply amazing and one of our favorite things to eat in Thailand.
Last Picture Before Losing My Phone
Back to Bangkok and Off To India
We left the next day for Bangkok and took the 6-hour mini-bus ride to the international airport where we then took a shuttle bus for about an hour to Don Mueang Airport across town. About 2 hours into our journey, I realized I didn't have my phone. I remembered taking a picture with my phone while waiting for the ferry and that was the last time I saw it. While in the shuttle back to Bangkok, I called it from Shelly's phone and no one answered. I waited for about 30 minutes and called again and someone answered. I told them the person on the other end that they had my phone.
They told me not to worry, that they would drop it off at the police station. I was dismayed! I thought I would never see it again. I'm sure it won't get taken to the police station and at that point, my disappointment with myself slowly faded as I realized it was simply gone. (Side note: It wasn't when we went back to Koh Chang, the police did have it and I got it back) We made it to Bangkok in time for our afternoon flight for Chennai, India and would soon be starting an unfamiliar adventure in an unknown land.
Change In Perspective
We loved our time in one of our favorite places, Thailand. While in Koh Chang we also ate some great food and got tan. We are now nervously excited about our next leg which is two-three months in India. No plans when we get there, which is fine with us. We really do believe the best way to experience a country is to just go and see it. No big plans or itineraries, Some might say it's crazy, but the unknown while traveling is what makes traveling interesting and exciting for us. There were times when we planned and set itineraries, but we have found that our expectations and endless planning only complicated things.
Traveling for us is an opportunity to be thrust from our comfort zone and also very liberating to know that we can do it without the help of others or Google/ Lonely Planet telling us where we SHOULD go. Certainty is my enemy and we are very uncertain about what is to come. Welcome my old friend!
Update: After India, we came back to Koh Chang to rest for a while before heading back home. I dropped by the police station, and spoke with the chief of police who said "just a minute" and walked back out with my phone. I couldn't believe it!!! There it was! The Thai People are not only incredibly warm and friendly, they are honest too! AMAZING!