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The 2010 Koh Chang Chronicles – Week 2

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

© 2010 Frank P. Schneidewind


This is the sequel to week 1 of the Koh Chang Chronicles, it will cover week 2 of our second summer 2010 trip, with the usual updates.

To get some actual facts on travel options and how to get here, check our 2010 report on Koh Chang travel options.

Day 8 (July 12th)

Today marks the second leg of our current trip to Koh Chang. We hope to share some of the beauty here with you and give you some travel ideas. Koh Chang covers the whole spectrum of accommodations from bamboo huts for a few hundred Baht to DeLuxe Resorts with plenty of stars for over 5 figures in daily rates. Here are some rather basic beach accommodations, quite a few kilometers to the south of White Sand Beach

Today was also a special day with a birthday bash for our host, the owner of the Top Resort. He invited every guest and plenty of his friends to come and celebrate.

Your Team Hinigugma will be enhanced by Rogielyn’s photos here, she’s a good friend of ours and a perfect auntie for Teddy too:).

It was a fun filled event with mountains of free food and drinks being served. The generous host is famed for his splendid catering for all kinds of events, so I learned from other guests during some chitchat at the party. He hosted a great number of weddings and all kinds of parties. The F & B manager is a master at his field and supplies his bakery goods, wines and delicatessen throughout Koh Chang and the neighboring islands.

This party was cool and all party guests had much fun. Dancing lasted well into the night. The entire resort celebrated, guests and staff alike.

Jhez, the Filipino baker victimized a lot of his female co-workers by tossing them in the pool. But they retaliated smartly and organized the dumper being dumped. Mr. Gaeng, an assistant manager, who is well trained and physically fit, choreographed this toss much to the delight of the female crew.

We went to bed late, but our bungalow is only meters from the party site. More explorations of the other beaches and sites here on Koh Chang are on our agenda for the remaining days, as long as the weather doesn’t play foul.


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Day 9

Accommodation on Koh Chang comes for all budgets. Simple bamboo huts are still to be found in locations south of White Sand Beach, some are rather run down and without any facilities, others are in prime location on fantastic beaches. Take a pick according to your budget and taste.  

Food on Koh Chang is not a hard to get commodity. Specify your likings and pick a location to grab your proteins and vitamins. Some restaurants have seating on the beach, a great choice for a sunset-dinner, just make sure to have an insect-repellent on hand.

There are many choices on Koh Chang. Besides great Thaifood and seafood everywhere, we have spotted a Mexican restaurant and a Steakhouse right in the village of White Sand Beach. Khlong Prao also sports a variation of eateries and Bang Bao has a reputation for Seafood. We’ll dig more into this and will inform you accordingly in a future update.:)

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Day 10

Another day with exceptional weather, we are seriously thinking about an extension of the previously planned time here, we just have so much fun and the well working WiFi within the Top Resort lets us do some minor work with the aid of my old laptop just like at home. Did meet Micky, the Manager of a resort property on neighboring Koh Mak again, he spends his leisure time on the more active Koh Chang. We learned about a daily fire-show on the beach and Martin captured the event later. For tomorrow, we will visit some waterfall, and maybe the Laguna Beach.

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Day 11

Martin and Vivien went for an elephant ride experience with a bath along with the pachyderms, the weather again was as perfect as a holidaying person wishes for. We have absolutely no reason to complain about anything. We have decided to stay as long as we can, here in paradisic Koh Chang. A few more phonecalls have to be made and a few meetings postponed, but that task can be accomplished. Wish us luck for the remaining days, it’s “Rainy Season” in Thailand – but obviously not on Koh Chang!

Laguna Beach marks the southernmost point on Koh Chang’s ring road, which remains uncompleted for a short stretch of road (200m) since at least 6 years. A large resort occupies this area, but they seem to have no guests staying at their fancy boats, which have been dragged onshore. The beach here is narrow, but almost tourist-free.

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Day 12

There are quite a few waterfalls on Koh Chang, neither one is spectacular on a global scale, but the Thais treasure every small creek coming down their hill slopes and rocks. Unfortunately they see every one (but the Nakhon Nayok ones) as a profit center and play their ugly pricing game with foreign visitors. Foreigners are asked to pay a 10 times inflated fee to view these meager falls. Neither Melona nor me felt urged to toss our money away for this.

Martin is here for the first time and needed to check some out. Khlong Phlu is one of them and offers a small and shallow pool for swimming.


The slippery granite rocks draw much attention by the predominantly young crowd, but quite a few visitors to Koh Chang shy away from the very rough walkways from the parking lot to the falls. In the case of Khlong Phlu it is only 700 meters.

Swimming here is only for the brave and tough, as the water is fairly cold and not really deep. Plenty of nasty mosquitos here, but another adventurous option for others.

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Day 13

Today we were lazy again, a bit of beachc ombing and a great homemade lunch with friends filled most of the day, then some pool activity that lasted long into the night. For tomorrow we have plans to take a boat trip to some secret snorkeling reefs, you will see the video later here – weather for the boat ride permitting.


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Day 14

This is the final day of our week 2 here, the weather looked promising in the morning and we set out for the snorkeling trip. Pickup at the Top Resort was at 8 AM, a songtheauw was sent to bring us all to Bang Bao. 500 Baht was the price for the whole trip, that included pick-up and return transport to the hotel, the boat trip with 4 scheduled stops and all kinds of food plus free water and coffee. Not a bad deal, as we soon found out..

The boat was a large wooden vessel with a capacity of about 100 people, we left with 4 guides and roughly 25 persons. First stop was at a micro island far out at sea, it took the boat 90 minutes to get there. Snorkeling there was a smacker, as there were plenty of corals with myriads of smaller fish to watch. Almost everyone circled the island, the reefs were in 2 to 3 meters depth and there was a lot to see. Unfortunately, our camera is not water resistant, but we took a video for you, which we will add here tomorrow.

The 2nd stop was at a beach with great swimming and snorkeling options, the crew prepared 3 different tasty Thai dishes for lunch. Stop 3 was again some islet with plenty of corals and fish, the entire trip was a lot of fun. Why pay multiples of the 500 Baht in Phuket or elsewhere for a fun day out at sea with snorkel gear and food provided.

What you see here in those two picture is actually Koh Wai, our 4th and final stop. Snorkeling from the beach was called for, visibility was good and again we saw so many different colorful fish. We really enjoyed this as our final activity on this trip to Koh Chang and we did promise our friends here to be back next month for another vacation in this tropical paradise and we’re lucky – due to the season, the Top Resort shows still some vacancy for the second half of August, we’ll be back for sure.


The final evening was spent on the terrace at Paul’s Restaurant in the Top Resort, another great meal accompanied by a fabulous sunset lightshow. Paul created another of his signature dishes and the tremendous wine selection did once again round off a splendid feast.


We conclude this trip report and wish you all could witness beautiful Koh Chang for yourself.

The rooms in the Top Resort, White Sand Beach currently sell fast for the reduced rate of under 1000 Baht per room-night. Maybe we’ll meet you there one day!

 

 

The 2010 Koh Chang Chronicles – Week 1

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

© 2010 Frank P. Schneidewind

 

Day 1   (July 5th)

The first morning on the island was, as anticipated, accompanied by wonderful weather and a good breakfast on our garden bungalow’s terrace. The little bit of stress from yesterday’s trip was quickly wiped off, during the previous night’s sleep. Here we were now at White Sand Beach on Top of the cliff in the Top Resort, which has been a home for us on all previous trips. We now have Bungalow B 2, which is halfway down the cliff and stretches our way to the superb pool to 15 m. B 1, the family bungalow, was now occupied by a Danish family with 2 or three little girls. B 1 is only steps away from the pool, and had been a home for us only weeks ago, when we were traveling with my sis-in-law and my niece.:)

Whilst Melona was attending our newborn, I sat on the terrace facing the tropical garden, watching huge butterflies dancing around the flowers right in front of me. A pair of beos  (tropical birds) is nesting directly overhead. I thought of my cellphone having a camera, which enables me to share this with you. This photo shows one of the birds approaching the nest, gives you an idea about the weather and shows the roof of the hotel building, that also hosts our little strip mall with an internet-cafe, a hairdresser/barbershop, a gourmet store with a daily fresh European bakery and a few other businesses, along the island’s ring road.

We’ll show you more of the island, but for now we indulge in this great place and share our daily experiences with you for a while.


This picture, taken on the 5th of July before lunchtime, shows the viewing and eating terrace of Paul’s Restaurant on the left and the pool on the right. Note the solid umbrella-type things, which aid the taller trees to cast shadow in abundance. Great for our baby, most of the pool is shady during the day.


The afternoon was pleasant as well, and we didn’t witness a single raindrop all day. Brochures call this time of the year “rainy season“, which hammers prices and tourists arrivals down to a low level, great for us as this paradise is more affordable now.

Melona and her friends grabbed plenty of oysters for their dinner and obviously enjoyed themselves, Filipinas are seafood lovers (unlike me) and they never pass on a chance for free protein, fresh from the gulf’s warm waters.

A handful of swimmers from other resorts converge in the evening on White Sand Beach for evening swims in the sunset. The TV reports on a flooded Bangkok and torrential rains there, we’re sure glad to have escaped that just in time. Did hang around at the Poolbar back at the Topresort after dinner for a while. A very international crowd was here, with each guest originating from another country.

For being the easternmost of the islands with facilities, we’re once again thankful for another lovely day out here, during the middle of the so called rainy season. To be continued daily (at least for a while )


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Day 2

It started as pleasant as the previous day, with a lot of sun and a great breeze from the ocean below. The blooming hibiscus bush right in front of my little terrace, attracted a specific kind of colorful small bird with a long, straight beak. Reminding me of the colibris, some sort of hummingbird, that I saw in Central America. The colibris I do remember, had a curved bill and were able to hover. The Thai nectar drinking birds had much more legwork to do, finding a twig to hold on to, whilst drinking their flower liquids from those huge flower buds.

The large tropical garden here is a great mix of palms, other trees, bushes, cacti, ferns and shrubs. Below picture shows my view up from the terrace to the cliff’s top with the pool bar’s rooftiles being visible in the left upper corner.

Around midday, the sun hits the pool merciless, and you’ll have to wait 30 minutes, until the tall trees catch the harshest rays again and the sun chairs and other pool furniture can be moved in the shade again. Regular sun umbrellas complinent the fixed ones and can be moved. The pool bar is attended by a charming lady. Thick cushions and pads make the loungers very comfy, sun worshippers may love this, but we keep dragging them out of the sun for our use.

Our son just loves his newest toy, which he received from Vivien (a good friend), an inflatable rhino. He can’t walk or crawl yet (3 1/2 months old), but sure seems to love exercising his legs and paddle a bit in the water. Chances are, he’ll be a real water rat soon :P.

His mom and dad took turns playing tugboat for Teddy and his blue rhino, we “wasted” an entire day, just having much fun and enjoying the great weather we were blessed with, on this island. We sure call this “quality time”.


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Day 3

We take the opportunity and dip into the pool right after breakfast. The gorgeous weather seems to continue and we have no objections. We swim in the morning, because the pool is still fairly shady for Teddy. The water temperature is 31 to 33 degrees, a bit warm for me, but perfect for our baby boy. He is getting accustomed to the water and no other guests are up this early. No wonder with plenty of entertainment places further down in the town, some guests return late and sing happy songs. Their teams probably advanced in the presently running soccer worldcup, we’re much more interested in the continous advances of our child and went to bed early so far. Relaxation a main goal of our trip, but we promise to show you more of White Sand Beach and Koh Chang, as time progresses and more friends arrive:)

The evening faded out, with a picturesque sunset during a dinner with friends on their seaview porch.  An Original Swiss cheese raclette is something, we aren’t treated to too often (yummy!)

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Day 4

Unbelievably, we had a 4th day of great weather, but finally a few more clouds, which served us a 5 minute shower in the afternoon, so our friends on Phuket and in Bangkok with their storms and floodings were not lying, it’s rainy season here too. But they have reason to complain about the missing sun and an overload of precipitation.

My sunburn is mild, because we avoid direct sunlight during most of the day, but we sure have no deficit in sunshine. The days here are so identically idyllic, I caught myself giving names to my favorite beos already. Jack ‘n Jill are almost done with their nestbuilding, the pool was a tad warmer today (33 degrees), but we were too lazy to leave the resort. For tomorrow we plan to do so and have more pictures for you. Today, we share this sunset with you, the picture was taken by Rogielyn, my wife’s wonderful friend – it beats our crappy version, taken with the cellphone, hands down.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s episode of the Koh Chang Chronicles with pictures from outside the Topresort. Besides, this place can be booked by anyone for less than 1000 THB/day presently, with A/C, fridge, cable TV, DVD player, roomsafe and the whole 9 yards. There are cheaper places to be had (none this nice) on Koh Chang and pricier high-end hotel rooms as well, we’ll get to those later.

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Day 5

Only the first half of the day was sunny. It stayed dry, but big cloud layers drifted ashore, coming from the West. The mountainrange, which protects White Sand Beach from most rainclouds coming from the East. Our plan to venture outside was postponed to tomorrow. We will borrow a salaeng (local tricycle) for that purpose and zoom a bit around. Sorry for not keeping our promise to get you the island pictures yet, but we were a bit scared to expose our baby to a possible torrential monsoon rain. We will make up for this lapse at the first possible chance!

The fun seekers were enjoying the warm waters and took a break from sun bathing. We had another happy day here, despite an overcasted ceiling.

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Day 6

Today, the great weather with very little cloud cover returned to our surprise, we took the tricycle for a spin and ended up with a number of pictures outside our beloved Topresort. Below picture shows almost the whole village, we’ll end this 1st part of our report after tomorrow to reduce your scrolling needs and to be able to serve you some more details on Koh Chang. Martin (the Germany dude in the raclette picture) will help out Team Hinigugma with some of his snapshots, he also stays at Topresort and is a first timer to Thailand!

The rip currents here can be fatal to inexperienced swimmers, signage explains, warns and teaches the swimmers here.

We’re here near the first resort on White Sand Beach, once you cross the hill and the road reaches sea level, when coming from the ferry. Melona is standing out there, on the sand, doing a camswing for you;).

Here´s a short video clip by Melona with a full 1800 View of White Sand Beach, you can’t ask for a better proof of quality:


The sandy beach is a 400m walk down the road from the Topresort and stretches for roughly two miles uninterrupted to the North. Melona’s camswing gives you an idea about the dimensions of the sandy beach paradise here.

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Day 7

Our first leg of this report ends today and will be followed by a sequel immediately. Today, we’ll show you the secluded pebble beach below the cliff of the Top Resort, just follow the path to the right of the Sea-view Bungalows down. A steep stairway leads down, it is illuminated after dark.

On the bottom, chrystal clear waters and a small, private pebble beach awaits you for snorkeling or a swim in the warm waters. Plenty of privacy in this cove here, as only the guests have access. Watch the occasional fishing boat go by or watch the sun from midday until it dives into the ocean due West of here.

A bunch of crabs call this mini-beach a home presently. Further developments of the resort may include some pier at this location, but at present, it just stays as it is for now.

We conclude this first week of our vacation diary and will progress into week 2 tomorrow with a big party. We’re all invited to a big birthday-bash, resort-owner style and will surely take a lot of pictures, of which the best ones will be shown in the sequel to this report.