Koh Chang – A tropical paradise
-   2017-06-26 | nepaltraveller.com
Koh Chang is one of the largest islands in Thailand, Sunil Maharjan shares with nepaltraveller.com his experience in the relaxing air of Koh Chang.
Having lived in a land lock country for all these years I’ve always been fond of turquoise sea, white beaches and palm trees. It's the perfect place to unwind and relax. Which is why I decided to go to Thailand a country that has retained its remote and rugged spirit. After landing in Bangkok the first thing I did was meet my friend who had come all the way from China. After spending a couple of nights in Bangkok, another friend who has been living there recommended the island of Koh Chang, one of the largest islands in Thailand. As my friend loved nature, and as both me and her preferred a peaceful retreat, the thought of white sandy beaches, hills and small islands made us really happy. We took a 6 hour bus ride to Trat province from where we took a ferry to Koh Chang.
Having taken the decision to go to Koh Chang hurriedly, we reached the island pretty late. As we took the last taxi to get to the hotel I was quite confused at first. I thought we’d taken the wrong decision to go to Koh Chang but as we moved close to the hotel we saw why the place was so famous. The island looked beautiful at night with hills in the back drop followed by a vibrant night life that was complimented by the sea. For a moment I felt I was at lakeside in Pokhara.
After checking in the hotel the first thing on our to-do list was to indulge in the street food. I would recommend the spicy noodles which was delicious and satisfying for Nepali taste bud, but I think my friend didn’t enjoy it as much as she wasn’t fond of spicy food. Since we were tired having travelled by bus and a ferry, we got some beers from the 7x11 and decided to call it a night.
The next day we hired a bike and explored the island. The more time we spent there, the more beautiful and captivating it got. The view of the sea from the hills was quite magnificent and for a moment I was left in awe. As the island is also called Elephant Island, we noticed a lot of elephants around.
While exploring the island we came across a Buddhist temple called Wat Salak Phet which had interesting architecture and colourful statues. Unlike other Buddhist temples in Thailand the composition and architecture of Wat Salak Phet is distinctly different presenting only a single bosot (main hall) and a small museum. Just next to the temple you could get fresh fruits and coconuts (they have cold ones which they open for you).
Further away from the temple was Kai Bae viewpoint, a hilltop from where you can get a breath-taking view of the vast sea and four islands - Koh Yuak, Koh Man Noi, Koh Pli and Koh Man Nok. We spent a few hours there enjoying the view swaying on the swing in the hilltop.
After that we headed over to Ban Bang Bao which had interconnecting piers and was full of tourists. We decided to stay there and explore the place which offered a variety of locally made products. We also tried the various tropical fruits found in the island like the dragon fruit and pomelo. We left Ban Bang Bao to explore the rest of the island. We came across several beaches and Mu Koh Chang National Park which we couldn’t enter as they were about to close. Coming from Nepal, entering the forest wasn’t as tempting so we moved away and sat on a beach and watched on as the sun set under the horizon. After reaching the hotel, we sat in our balcony sipping a cold beer looking at the sea while the pub down stairs played Hotel California. I must say the bands in Thailand are pretty nice.
The next day we geared up to take the 4 island tour. We were tempted to take the 5 island tour and head over to Cambodia as well but thought that would be too hectic as it was our final day there. So we got up at 8 and left for Ban Bang Bao pier where a ferry was waiting for us.
The ferry took us to Koh Wai, Koh Maak, Koh Kham and Koh Rayang. On the ferry I was a bit sea sick but my friend asked me to go with the flow of the waves which helped me calm myself. As I’d never snorkelled in the sea I was nervous most of the time. The fact I am not a good swimmer didn’t help, but my friend kept encouraging me to get into to the water. As I put my head under water, I was pretty blown away. Having seen it only on the television, witnessing the coral reefs and the fishes underwater for the first time was an overwhelming experience. We also snorkelled to the Koh Rayang island and sat down on the white sand beach enjoying the view and taking in the cool sea breeze. For a moment I felt at peace and didn’t want to leave the place but eventually we had to leave. Our tour ended as we visited the Koh Kham Island where we didn’t get off and just sat on the boat taking pictures of the surrounding islands wishing we didn’t have to go back.
On our final night we decided to switch hotels and shifted to one along the beach. While walking along the beach we got to witness the fire dance which was quite unique, interesting and grand. Early morning on our final day we went for a quick walk on the beach while it rained, at that moment both us wished we didn’t have to go back. Since we were short of time and had missed breakfast, we bought some snacks and had them on the ferry back to Trat.