A quick update before we get into the final push to get our January Koh Chang Guide and Treasure Map issues off to print in time. By the way – and with shameless self promotion – if you would like to run an ad in our January publications then please let us know as soon as possible – our deadline is next week.
You’ll be happy to know that we’re into the good weather. It’s sunny by day and hot, but not too hot and it’s breezy and cool at night. The sea is never more welcoming than at this time of year. The images left and right were taken from Klong Prao beach yesterday.
This is the time of year when everyone on Koh Chang is putting the finishing touches on their business changes and improvements to be open and ready in time for the tourist rush. Anyone who hasn’t finished by now is running it a bit fine.
We were pleased to attend the re-opening last week of Barrio Bonito Mexican restaurant. They have just relocated from their old Lonely Beach location to the middle of Kai Bae village at the front of Garden Resort. The new place looks great – the food is excellent – and, from a purely selfish viewpoint – it’s closer to us. It is well worth a visit.
The latest dubious public works project on Koh Chang has seen the filling up of all the drains in White Sand Beach with concrete. Again. These ditches were, admittedly, pretty poor but there is a pattern developing here. We’re getting deja vu – maybe even treja vu. Check out our November 11th 2010 post for the full saga on the creation and filling of drains. Here’s a radical plan for a two step drainage improvement program:-
1 – Make good drains.
2 – Leave them.
This season local National Park representatives plan to start to charge visitors 200 Baht per person for visiting Koh Rang Island by boat. This has happened before and has proved very difficult to administer. The principal is the same as for Koh Samet Island where all foreign visitors have to pay 200 baht on arrival at the island. Koh Chang is also a Marine National Park so, in principle, a park entry fee should be paid on arrival to Koh Chang. Previous efforts to bring this in haven’t worked very well though so instead you are charged to visit areas like the main two waterfalls on the island. This is simple to do – someone walks up the waterfall path and they pay. Boat trips are much harder to police though. Previous efforts that involved park rangers speeding up to boats on Koh Rang and charging tourists directly were a little embarrassing for all concerned. If someone refuses to pay you can’t exactly throw them into the sea can you?
So another previous sytem of charging everyone who leaves Koh Chang from Bang Bao Pier is apparently to be used again. The many boats that visit Koh Rang after departing from other piers, locations and islands will again not be charged. It’s not really fair is it?
Koh Chang’s tourist season is fast approaching. The weather is better (check out this photo of Kai Bae viewpoint a couple of days ago if you don’t believe us) and an increasing number of visitors are arriving. At the moment there are quite a few Thai tourists due to the school holidays but the growing numbers of minibuses bursting forth from the ferries are crammed with visitors from all over the world. All the signs are that bookings are good for the coming season so, crossing our fingers and hoping for no sudden changes, all seems to be well on the rock.
Immigration Office in Klong Prao Opens
Good news, particularly for long term visitors to Koh Chang, is that the immigration office in Klong Prao is now open. Before you get too excited be aware that most immigration tasks like visa extensions and applications still need to be performed at the main immigration office in Laem Ngop on the mainland.
However the new office can now process the 90 day reporting required of foreigners on one year visas saving you a trip off the island. And of course the immigration officers there are available to answer your queries.
And in a year or two, who knows?
Apologies beforehand to any vegetarians out there but it is great news to welcome the return of Butchery on Koh Chang. Ollie at Mitzgerei Baum is halfway up the road to Klong Plu waterfall in Klong Prao. They produce all kinds of German meats and sausages as well as ham and cold cuts and German salads and pickles – and all very tasty as our recent meat-fest proved. Max pf Max’s place in Pearl Beach is also in the process of opening a shop on the hill out of white sands selling all kinds of meat products.
And let’s not forget some of Koh Chang’s oldest and longest established supermarkets. We were in Bangkok a coupel of weeks ago and noticed on visits to the Villa and Foodland supermarkets thatthe prices for most western goods that are available were generally more expensive than in Anna Store on White Sand Beach and Sing Tong on Klong Prao. So let’s give them a pat on the back. They both stock an impressive range of imported foods (a lot more than even the biggest of Thailand’s Tesco or Makro stores) and they don’t overcharge for them. They have served their customers pretty well over the years (unlike a certain competitor in Chai Chet) and so in our opinion have nothing to fear from the arrival of the big boys.
Plenty more work has gone into this website over the last month. Our Restaurants, Bars & Nightlife section now contains lots of detailed pages on some of the better places on the island. We have also added lots more articles and features in our Features section. This has been divided up into Koh Chang & Thailand, Food and Drink and Recipes.
New properties and businesses for sale are being added all the time as well. This house on half a rai of chanote land in Klong Son is a good deal.