On the Road 2007 (Part 3) – Koh Chang

There are several ferries running from Trat to Koh Chang. We chose the Center Point Ferry because it was the only one that looked like it wouldn’t sink if hit by a stiff breeze. The signs for it on the roadway emphasized the fact that they were using Japanese ferries, which was somehow very comforting (I don’t know how I would feel about trusting my life, wife, and car to a ferry made in, say, Kazakhstan or Luxembourg, you know?). It might be since I rode the ferry so many times between Awaji Island and Osaka, but I guess it’s the same thing applied to electronics or cars.

Ferries are great places to check out other people’s cars. Check out the gravel truck.

All of the trucks are carrying building materials!
As it turns out, even though Koh Chang is the second largest island in Thailand, most of it consists of protected forest so everything has to be carried over.

At first I thought these life jackets were solid proof of this ship’s Japanese origin. However…

Not exactly comforting
I couldn’t decide which was more unsettling, the date of manufacture or the implication that these life jackets don’t work well immersed in petroleum products… Surely these weren’t made for papyrus rafts or galleons, right? Steamships?
Like many tourist boomtowns, Koh Chang has a bit of a confused identity due to the high turnover of businesses. Businesses have to evolve in order to survive, and this also results in some curious hybrids:

A barber shop/real estate company

A burger joint turned into tattoo parlor and postcard shop

This sign, complete with roof, somehow reminded me of the dark wooden ones for onsen in Kurokawa, Kyushu.
We had arrived on the island in the afternoon and just followed the stream of cars off the ferry. Most seemed to be heading down the west coast of the island, so we just followed them since I was worried about getting stuck in the mud since it had been raining off and on all week. The strips of shops and whatnot defining the town areas were, quite honestly, depressing. We hadn’t driven a thousand kilometers away from home to be surrounded by druggie loser expat scum and backpackers in search of The Island, but that’s exactly who most of the island (and especially the town areas) catered to… My wanderlust soon kicked in and I pointed the car south and drove up and down hills, around blind corners, and past breathtaking views of the ocean from the tops of jungle cliffs.
We were on a search for the best accomodations possible, not too expensive yet in a nice location, and preferably away from fat sweaty Europeans in thongs and college students having mushroom epiphanies. Of couse, this led us somewhat off the beaten track:

My car said “oh hell no!” I said, “mush, bitch!” … and of course, that puddle was covering a foot-deep hole.
After following several muddy roads and doubling back after notfinding suitable accomodation, we drove as far as the main road went before reaching a guard shack and this ridiculously pompous sign:

Five bucks just to enter? In Thailand?
So here’s where we hit a curveball. The guard came out of the shack speaking furiously into a two-way and asked if we had reservations. I said no but asked if we could take a look around inside and decide there. He said we would have to pay to even drive onto the resort property. I said no way. He told me to wait a minute and spoke into the two-way. The man on the other end asked what kind of car we were driving.

Membership has its privileges, yo.
Welcome to the Koh Chang Grand Lagoona. The manager was nice and sympathetic to a poor teaching couple from the country and offered us a private boat at one-third of the standard rate. Oh yes.

Morning view. The lagoon is salt water and contains approximately ten hundred thousand million fish.
We borrowed some bicycles and rode through the surf and around the huge resort grounds.

Covering up the resort’s unfortunate little secret.
This resort is pretty much perfect, and priced accordingly. That’s why it hosts royal family members, Miss Universe, and rich Thai families. We felt a bit out of place there, but everyone was really nice about it anyway. There were only two disappointing things about the resort: Weak water pressure on the botas, and an extremely rocky beach. The workers comb the beach all day, but in the surf there are fist-size rocks rolling around and waiting to break your ankle. This beach, in effect, is unswimmable and unwadeable, which is just a damn shame since it defeats the purpose of a beach resort. I guess rich people don’t like getting sand in their ass cracks or something, because none of them seemed even slightly interested in the water.

Our future parking space?
Conclusion: The western coast of Koh Chang is just okay. Sometimes beautiful but always expensive. It’s also overrun by foreign shitheads and the weasely natives that follow in their wake. If we’re down that way again, we might check out the eastern coast, though.
All links for the On the Road 2007 series:
On the Road 2007 (Part 1)
On the Road 2007 (Part 2)
On the Road 2007 (Part 3) – Koh Chang
On the Road 2007 (Part 4) – Overloaded
On the Road 2007 (Part 5) – Tamnanpar
On the Road 2007 (Part 6) – The Animatronic Chicken Roasters of Rayong, Thailand

2 thoughts on “On the Road 2007 (Part 3) – Koh Chang

  1. So fascinating! I’m happy you’re continuing the travel writing, keeping us educated about your yonderings. I can’t believe a beach resort where you cannot swim or enjoy the beach! Do they have regional food? You gotta post about yummy food, not just about ants and dead frogs!

  2. What’s with the weaselly natives? I’m all for helping out the local economy, but shit, when we went to Jamaica, it’s almost as if the natives were wrenching our dollars out of our pockets, appealing to white guilt or something…it’s enough to make me not want to leave a cruise ship or an all inclusive resort.

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