After the madness of Bangkok is was time to head to a more peaceful retreat and we had been recommended a place called Koh Chang (translated as Elephant Island). Koh Chang is Thailand`s second biggest island and is around 200km south east of Bangkok. We arranged a bus through a travel agent which was only 250B (£5) which should have only take 6 hours but all in all the journey took around 12 hours with all the usual stops at service stations, ports and every other bus stop imaginable to man!
Many years ago Koh Chang was covered in lush untamed rainforest`s and isolated coastlines, ideal for a backpacker destination. Unfortunately as with most of Thailand this is now being replaced with mass tourism – luxury apartments, air con and all the usual trappings surrounding money and tourism. We were led to believe however there were a few unspoilt places on Koh Chang one of which one was a place called Lonely Beach.
After arriving at the port of Tha Donb Koa we hoped on a tuk tuk and speed off down the winding and steep roads for 45 mins to Natures Resort which was going to be our home for 4 days or so. Our bungalows which were less than 100m from the beach were ideal, big enough rooms, fans, mossie nets (much needed) and a great little porch so enjoy a few sunset beers on!! The resort also had its own bar and restaurant (excellent food) and although the waiters were very lazy (must have been the heat!) and in some cases very rude, all in all it was a great spot!
Although Lonely beach was a quiet spot the number of people seemed to treble in number as the nightlife kicked in. One thing is certain inThailand, you were never too far away from a party. This was going to be a perfect destination to relax as we shared our beach with only a handful of people, before we set our sights on our main goal in Koh Chang – Elephant Trekking.
On our third day in Koh Chang we set out for our Elephant trek which had been recommended by tour guides and locals alike for the tour guides welfare of the elephants. Plus it was indicated that part of our fee was put aside for the elephant retirement home.. I hope so. When we arrived at the elephant lodge we were immediatley greeted by around 6 elephants, although changed up (only loosely around their legs and only to stop them wandering around) they were cleary happy, in good shape and chowing down on some bananas and sugar cane. Kat and I were booked on a 2hr ride thought the jungle with the added experience of being able to bath and scrub the elephants in a the river. This was a great experience to be up close and personal and interact with the huge elephants.
After the scrub down i was lucky enough to ride bareback on the elephant back to lodge where the elephant had her seats fitted and then we were off trekking through the jungle!! Our trek through the jungle was a slow meander mainly through rainforest`s with the odd break for the elephant to have a feed. It was great to just sit back and relax and take in the scenery. The mahout (each elephant only has 1 mahout through their 50 – 60 year lifespan) was great although he couldn`t speak much English but was a budding photographer and took loads of snaps of us on our ride. After our ride we got back to base and gave the elephants some well deserving bananas.
The next time i hoped to see elephants was on safari where i would get to see them in the wild and in big groups, the day however was a truly unforgettable experience. After our trip we chilled out for the rest of our day, still in aure of the trekking and the beautiful elephants. The next couple of days were spent relaxing on the beach topping up our tans and touring a little bit more of the island although there wasn`t much to tour as most of it was or had been commercialized. Soon enough it was time to head back to Bangkok as Tam had to head back to Canada, Laura had to head onto to NZ and Kat had decided to stay for a few extra days on Lonely Beach.
Koh Chang was a beautiful island if a little destroyed by tourism, however if you look hard enough you can break away from this..The journey back was even longer than the trip out and a lot more cramped as they decided to fit 10 of us in a 8 man mini bus. I was sad to see them Tam and Laura go but looking forward to getting back as the next part as my adventure was taking me to meet up with my good friends Gary and Trish and to go diving on a liveaboard off the Similan Islands (off the Andaman coast) 4 days, 14 dives.