2010 Posts

December 28th

koh man nai - koh changThis photo is a view of Koh Chang from Koh Man Nai, the little island that lies just off the beach at Kai Bae. We hired a kayak and went out there at the request of Wess. He contacted us from Canada asking us to get him an updated photo of the palm tree that he and his girlfriend carved their initials on on a day that they walked out to the island at low tide and later had to swim back. Not your everyday request so we thought we’d give it a try but despite being provided with a pretty detailed tree location map we couldn’t find the tree in question. But it was an interesting mission and despite one random braking/near-capsizing manouvre it was a pretty good laugh. There are a few places on Kai Bae beach that hire out Kayaks at 100 Baht an hour/150 for two.

There is heavy wind at night at the moment; meteorologically thankfully rather than physiologically although if the threatened Turkey Red Curry arrives today this could all change. Windy weather is pretty usual for this time of year which is Thailand’s “cool” season. Obviously the word cool here refers to a tropical cool that roughly equates to a hot European summers day and daytime temperatures are still up around 30 degrees. But the wind is gusting heavily so be careful out on the roads at night as sudden gusts can easily blow motorbikes across a lane.

Earlier this month Eco-Divers had a reef clean-up day at Koh Wai. They managed to clean up 180Kg of rubbish from the reef there. It’s always good when the local dive businesses do their bit to clean up dive and snorkelling sites so all credit to them. They put a video of the day up here on YouTube.

In other local news White Sand Beach got a shiny new tarmac road surface for Christmas. It is just what the place has always wanted and since it is the season of goodwill let’s not be picky about the quality of the job, it is a massive improvement on the hideous peaks and troughs of the old surface and it should certainly help with road safety.

The last few days of the year are slipping away quicker than a crowd at the MCG and again the New Year Extravaganzas are competing for attention. It seems that the main, “official” party is being held on Bang Bao Pier this time. An interesting choice of location both for its narrowness and its extreme southern location. There is also a fair down on the road at Klong Prao, with, no doubt, super loud loudspeakers and meat on sticks. Alternatively all of the beaches should be busy with the usual crowds, fireworks and mayhem.

Southern meeting places seem to be all the rage at the moment and it appears that Koh Kood island to the South of Koh Chang is one of the places being considered by the Thai Prime Minister for the location of his Democrat Party’s annual conference. This obviously brings publicity and attention but Koh Kood might seem a rather unusual choice. It is a beautiful spot and well worth a visit but it seems just a little bit too sleepy to play host to the cut and thrust of party politics.

The print versions of our the new issues of our Koh Chang Guide and the Koh Chang Treasure Map arrive tomorrow so if you are here on Koh Chang then be sure to pick up copies. Oh, and we hope that you have a happy New Year!

December 15th – New Guides Online

koh mak sunsetThe January issues of the Koh Chang Guide and the Koh Chang Treasure Map are now online and you can download them by clicking the cover images above. We’ll be distributing the printed versions just before New Year so at the moment this is the only place that you can get the latest versions. Remember that the files are pretty big so give them a couple of minutes to load. Enjoy!

The weather’s a bit weird at the moment. It is a lot warmer than is usual at this time of year and we are getting the odd spot of rain. But mainly it is clear and sunny and hot hot hot. The tropical sunset photo to your left was taken recently on Koh Mak. Apologies if you’re looking at it whilst trapped in a European blizzard. You know the solution, pack your bags!

Poor old Phuket. Just as everyone finally moves on from the appalling tragedy of the tsunami a few years ago a famous Thai astrologerannounces that he has seen the future through the stars, tea leaves, pointing bone or whatever mystical tools he purports to use and predicts another tsunami before the end of the month. Despite having absolutely zero scientific foundation this has made major headlines in Thailand and according to this Bangkok Post article has led to a 10% drop in hotel bookings. With reports stating that this tsunami is also predicted to strike the Gulf of Thailand as well as the Andaman Sea there is even fear that Koh Chang could be affected. But don’t worry, the geological events that would have to happen to make this possible are about as likely as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe suddenly descending from the moon riding Aardvarks.
Basically there are two possibilities. This guy could be an unnaturally gifted conduit to the future, he could be an astonishing seer whose every word should be taken as the truth and we should prepare for the worst.
OR he could be a snake oil salesman riding on the back of a natural disaster and using the gullibility of his audience to gain exposure and publicity.
I’m not a psychic but I’m getting a strange, almost mystical feeling that the latter of these two explanations is the most likely.

south thai restaurant on koh changSouthern Thai Food (The Return) Regular readers – if you exist – will be aware that we are crazy for the spicy delights of the food of Southern Thailand. Our regular source in White Sand Beach has been closed for a few months so it is with great pleasure that we can report another great place to sample good Southern Thai cuisine. We mentioned it in passing last post but here we’re giving the full seal of approval after we went the other day and had three main dishes with dips, vegetables, drinks and rice for… 130 baht! There’s no sign in English but you’ll know the place when you walk 100 metres south of the Klong Prao Elephant Camp and see a restaurant with a sign with, appropriately enough, chillies on it. Enjoy.

If you are interested in learning more about the Thai language then you might be interested in www.thai-flashcards.com, a handy little website we’ve found that helps you with learning Thai at a range of different levels. You can choose your own list of words and sentences to learn and they’ll send you a daily e-mail with words and sentences of the day. Basic use is free and there is an enhanced membership at a reasonable rate. It’s well worth a look.

December 2nd – In Return

koh chang map excerptDone! The latest Guide and Treasure Map are finished barring the inevitable couple of late changes/cock-ups/disasters. They will be available on Koh Chang at the end of this month and we’ll put them up online in a couple of weeks. So now we have a bit more time to do stuff like update the site. Brace yourselves. We have today loaded up new versions of our detailed maps on this site so if you head to our map section you’ll be able to navigate by the latest and most accurate maps of Koh Chang and around.

A lady came by our office a couple of days ago to point out an error on our Treasure Map. We write “Good snorkelling off this peaceful beach”, next to Pearl Beach on the map. She hadn’t found it to be so and hadn’t seen any fish. So I went down yesterday afternoon to check it out again. And she has a point. There is more seaweed than the last time I swam there immediately off the beach. However there are still some corals with quite a few fish as well, you just have to swim a bit further. Quick tip: As you swim over the seaweed and it drags against your skin it is better not to think of the trailing fingers of the drowned dead. But carrying on past the weeds there are some rocks just off the South end of the beach where there was better visibility, some nice corals and reef fish like Parrot fish and some stripy ones and a few other pretty species I don’t know the name of. So it is still a better snorkelling spot than off the main sand beaches on the island but if you do go there then head a little bit further South to find the good stuff.

chao po shrine on koh changOne of the events that we failed to tell you about last month whilst we were up to our necks in the grubby process of guide creation was a festival that took place at the Chao Po Chinese Temple. Held from November 12th-14th this was the first festival of its kind to pay homage at this shrine. There was dragon dancing, walking on hot coals and all kinds of other worshipful activities.
We know this because we just watched the movie. Stanislaus and Saowanee Klaasens filmed the event and have prepared a DVD of the highlights which they are planning to sell. It’s pretty interesting stuff and if you would like to get yourselves a copy then visit them at the office of Koh Chang TV in White Sand Beach.

natsala koh changKlong Prao Resort have just opened a new venture called Natasala Koh Chang on the road near to their resort. Here they will be putting on shows of traditional Thai music and dancing. These types of show are pretty common in other Thai tourist destinations and if anything it is something of a surprise that it has taken so long to set one up here. Anyway it is another different thing to do on Koh Chang and we’ll pass on more information when we’ve had a chance to see the show. We will be more than a little impressed if it turns out that the woman pictured really has 12 arms.

We attended the opening of Buzza’s Bar in Kai Bae a couple of nights ago. It’s a nice and chilled out place at a small backpacker’s place in a nice garden beside the river a couple of minutes walk from the center of the village. We made the mistake of dining at Ciao Restaurant first. This certainly wasn’t a mistake in terms of the food there because we had a great and embarassingly huge Italian feed. Ravioli in a Truffle Mushroom sauce was a highlight – we recommend it. It did mean however that we couldn’t eat any of the free barbeque down at Buzza’s and it is always a great disappointment to turn down a free feed.
While we’re on the subject of dining we ate a cracking Thai meal at Ka-Ti Culinary in Klong Prao the other night and that’s well worth a visit. There is also a little hole-in-the-wall place about 100 metres from Ka-Ti, just past the elephant trekking, that is selling Southern Thai curries during the day. Fierce, fiery and fantastic.

November 11th – Build it and they will come

Things are really picking up on Koh Chang now. There seems to have been a larger than usual increase in visitor arrivals due to tourists re-routing here to avoid the heavy flooding that has been experienced recently in Koh Samui and other tourist spots in Thailand but not, miraculously, in Koh Chang.
Large scale mountain moving work has commenced on the section of road above White Sand Beach that suffered subsidence last month. Large amounts of material are being removed as preparations are made to move the road to a slightly less precipitous position. It seems like the work is being carried out pretty efficiently and without undue hassles or hold ups. Necessity is a great motivator.

digging drains on koh changfilling drains on koh changWork has also begun on a drain at the side of the road through White Sand Beach. Presumably after the frequent flooding of the road over the last two rainy seasons it has been recognised that the perfectly good drainage pipe pictured on the right being (insanely) filled in in February 2008 served a useful purpose. Handy things, drains, they prevent flooding and stuff. Anyway the new one isn’t as big as the last one was but it has to be better than nothing so we hope it will effect some improvements during the next rains.

It emerged this week that the old Nisa Cabana Resort on the hill just out of Bailan Beach has been turned into an upmarket drug and alcohol Rehabilitation centre called Channah.
Whilst it’s no temple of excess Koh Chang does have a huge number of bars and so on the face of it choosing it as the location for an alcohol rehab centre seems to make as much sense as placing a claustrophobia rehab centre at the bottom of a Chilean mine. However Channah is located in a quiet spot a couple of kilometres from temptation – so far. But after the release of its secret location don’t be surprised if you see a rash of opportunistic beer bars opening their doors across the road.

We won’t be updating the site much this month as the January issues of our Koh Chang Guide and Treasure Map bend our spines under the hefty load of their fierce creative demands. We will put updated versions of the maps up though in the next couple of weeks so watch out for those, and if you need to know anything Koh Chang-y then get in touch with us and we’ll try and help.

November 1st – Blowin’ in the Wind

fallen tree on koh changThe slamming doors and mysterious creaks and groans of last night luckily weren’t the sounds of a vengeful Thai spirit come to punish us for not believing in them. Instead it seems that the rains are finally over and we have abruptly entered the “winter” season of (slightly) cooler temperatures, high winds and, most importantly, NO RAIN. It has been blowing a gale for the last couple of days and quite a few trees like the one pictured between Kai Bae and Lonely Beach have fallen, causing minor damage. And on a personal note I was less than amused at having to drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn to prevent our office sign from doing a little Koh Chang tour.
It is great though to finally bid the rains farewell and this weather always marks the beginning of the tourist high season on the island. Indeed there are already quite a few more visitors on Koh Chang than over the last few months so let the good times commence.
One of the highlights of the “cold” season if you’re unlucky enough to come from a savagely cold European country is watching Thai people in four layers of clothing shivering as evening temperatures dip below twenty degrees celsius. Brrrrrrrr! They don’t know how lucky they are.

koh chang phone boxI bet you’ve all forgotten that yesterday was the last day of the Koh Chang Grand Sale that we tried so hard to promote when it began three months ago. Now is a good time to look back over all the fun-filled events and activities that took place. At least it would be if someone had bothered to organise any…
The whole thing was about as useful as this poor neglected phone box next to our office. It is located a little way down a quiet side road but that isn’t really any excuse for it being forgotten since it is on the same side road as the Koh Chang office of the TOT, Thailand’s telecommunications company.

Competition Result!

If you haven’t entered our competition yet then, sorry, but you’re too late. We closed the contest at midnight last night and we have already chosen one lucky winner using Excel’s rather handy random number generator. So join us in congratulating Mr. David Shaw who has won a week’s accommodation in a double room at Paddy’s Palms Resort in White Sands Beach. We had a great response to the competition so many thanks to all who entered. In fact the whole thing was such a success that we will be organising competitions on a regular basis. We’ll let you know when we think up a new one, just keep an eye on this site and on our Facebook Page.

Oh, and if you were wondering, Koh Chang is located in TRAT province.

October 18th – A Visit From the Fun Police

Restaurant and bar owners in White Sand Beach have been visited today by a group of government officials and army generals. They are here to introduce a total ban on alcohol sales between the hours of midnight and 11am and from 2pm to 5pm. So if you are on holiday and fancy a quenching, refreshing drink during these hours then you jolly well can’t can you. All signs and adverts for alcohol must also be removed and any business in contravention of the new law will be subject to a fine of 500,000 Baht.
This is, to say the least, bad news for bar and restaurant owners and the timing of the announcement just as the season is getting under way is a little bit of a blow. You’d think that special exceptions would be made for a tourism industry trying to recover from the political troubles earlier in the year but apparently you’d be wrong. Anyway here’s a picture of some lovely Leo girls for you to look at as you wait for the hours to pass until you are allowed to have a drink.

UPDATE: It seems that the law as it stands makes this alcohol ban compulsory in Bangkok only. In other provinces it as at the discretion of the local authority. Here in Koh Chang it appears that you can obtain a license to serve alcohol within these prohibited hours. And if you have a license you’re OK. Apparently. The ban on alcohol ads is only on those that depict the drink itself so logos, symbols and pretty girls should be OK. This doesn’t mean that someone won’t come into your bar and try and shake you down for some cash though, comes with the territory.

October 18th – Koh Chang in the News

bang bao beachThe weather seems to be improving after the storms and rains of last week that caused floods, landslides and all kinds of mayhem on Koh Chang. We were lucky enough to miss the worst of it due to a fortunately timed trip to Bangkok. However we can expect a couple of power outages over the next couple of weeks whilst repairs are done. The first of these will happen this Wednesday the 20th from 9am until 5pm(ish!) so find something to do that doesn’t require electricty on that day. I know, why don’t you get yourselves something to read? By now we should be right at the end of the Low Green Monsoon Season so let’s cross our fingers that the super-typhoon about to smash the Phillipines steers well clear of us.

We will receive the new Treasure Map at the end of the month but we’ve already put it online so if you want the latest and most accurate maps of the island then you can download them at the top of this page.

September 27th – Koh Chang in the News

The Bangkok Post newspaper ran an article last week about some of the negative effects of development on the island. It was an interesting piece which drew attention to some of the problems facing the island and what things are and aren’t being done to address them. It (quite correctly) placed the blame for the flooding problems in White Sand Beach with two fueding local officials. Will public ridicule make them bury the hatchet and work together for the good of the island? Answers on a postcard please.
The feature also mentioned some other issues facing the island such as the lack of building and planning regulations, environmental damage through habitat loss and land encroachment. Further mention was made of high carbon emissions by local resorts – estimated, god knows how, at 0.2% of Thailand’s total – and how this might cause sea level rise. Whether this sea level rise will be only around Koh Chang wasn’t made clear.
However, mention was also made of some of the good things that are happening on the island such as recycling of waste and efforts by locals to conserve mangrove forests. All in all it was a balanced and reasonable piece that drew attention to some of the problems that need to be addressed on the island and whilst some people might rather that these things weren’t talked about surely it is only by recognising and accepting that the island does have problems that solutions will be found and implemented. Now, about that flooded road…

I was about to remark on the fantastic sunny weather we’ve been having here for the past couple of weeks when the skies, predictably, opened, unleashing a deluge. It’s stopped again now though so let’s hope that the good stuff continues – check out the picture of the beach at Bang Bao above to see how nice it has been. It has been so fine in fact that some optimistic (naive?) locals have whispered the idea that the monsoon might be at an end. For what it’s worth I reckon not yet, but soon.

We’ve had a great response to our competition below so thanks to all of you who have entered. There is still a month to go until we draw the winner so if you haven’t entered yet then see below. You’ve got to be in it to win it!

September 20th – WIN A WEEK ON KOH CHANG!

paddys palms resort koh changTo celebrate the launch of our new Facebook Page we’re having a contest and giving the winner a holiday on Koh Chang. The winner will receive a week’s accommodation in a double room at Paddy’s Palms Resort in White Sands Beach. And there’s no reason that the winner shouldn’t be you. All you need to do is answer the embarrassingly easy question on our Facebook Page and send us your answer. You can join up by clicking that box full of heads over on the right.
We’ll be drawing out a winner on October 31st. Good luck!
And for what it’s worth the weather on Koh Chang is terrific at the moment. The sea’s calm and it there are clear blue skies and sunshine. Tropical paradise!

koh chang lionfishIs it safe to go back into the water?- It seems that the Koh Chang Marine National Park authorities have closed off the waters around Koh Rang island for all diving and snorkelling activities for one month. As usual information is sparse. Apparently the closure began on the 15th of this month so naturally letters were issued informing some but not all of the island’s dive businesses on the 17th. Many of the dive sites around Koh Chang are unaffected by the closure so have no fear, you can still find a good place to submerge yourself and visibility is apparently very good at the moment.
Actually it isn’t a bad idea at all to try and protect the area’s marine ecology and it is a good sign that the National Park are making at least some effort to preserve corals. I hope that they also ensure that the area will also be closed to the drag-fishing boats which sneak into the Marine Park from time to time and do real damage.
Update: The National Park office just confirmed that the closure will operate from the 15th of September to the 15th of October so please give our polyp pals a break and keep clear of Koh Rang for a month.

Freedom of Speech! You might notice a few changes to the site. The first thing is that links to the Forum have been removed. This isn’t some some suspicious suppression of the voice of the people and we aren’t planning to engineer a coup d’etat on the island (although now that you mention it that isn’t such a bad idea…). It’s just that we had a few technical problems that meant we never quite got the Forum working as well as we would have liked. So, sorry, it’s gone; but it might return in a new and improved version in the future. In the meantime if you have any questions about Koh Chang then why not stick ’em up on our Facebook Wall at www.facebook.com/KohChangGuide and we will try and answer them for you. Alternatively you can mail us and we’ll also try and help.

September 13th – Publish and be Damned!

It’s a lovely sunny afternoon now on Koh Chang. Does this mean that the weather will still be good for this afternoon’s game of beach cricket? I’m not betting on it. Anyway hopefully you’ll be pleased to know that the new Koh Chang Guide and the new Restaurants, Bars & Spas Guide are now online and available for download. Click on the images above to access the goodness- hope that you enjoy them!

September 13th – Walkabout: It’s a lovely sunny morning here on Koh Chang so we’re enjoying it while it lasts. Just thought we’d let you know that we have updated all of our detailed maps of Koh Chang and around. Follow them and you’ll never get lost – assuming of course that you are in or around Koh Chang when you follow them, they don’t work for other places.

September 9th – Riding the Rails

bangkok airport rail linkWe’re just back on the rock after another Bangkok magazine distribution run/get-off-the-island-for-sanity trip. I tried out the new rail link from Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi this morning. It took an hour to get from a hotel on Sukhumvit Road to the check-in desk at the airport and cost a total of just 40 Baht. The train made six stops before the airport as well so it fairly zips along. You can save more time if you get the express service but I couldn’t figure out how. Nevertheless it’s a good transport option, especially if you are close to the BTS Skytrain. The Skytrain connects with the service at Phaya Thai – two stops North of Siam Square. The underground doesn’t connect at all which is sadly fairly standard for the many different forms of public transport in Bangkok. If you aren’t staying anywhere near good public transport then a taxi is probably still quicker if quite a bit more pricey.

bangkok art and culture centerWhilst we were up in Bangkok we visited the Bangkok Art & Cultural Center in Siam Square again and checked out the 56th National Exhibition of Art which is on display on the 7th and 8th floors – see the scary drop to the right. This show is on from now until the end of October. A selection of works are on display this month and the work of the winners will be on show in October. There’s some pretty good stuff there including the painting to the left here (apologies to the artist whose name we failed to write down).

Usually September is one of the quietest months of the year for visitors to Koh Chang but for some reason the flight to Trat was nearly full this morning. Could it be a sudden tourist boom?

September 4th – Freedom!

Freedom at last! The new guides are finished and with our printers and barring disasters and touching wood we have some time to catch up on everything else, including this page which we haven’t updated for a couple of weeks. We’ll make the guides available for download in the next week or so. Koh Chang has done us a favour in generating almost no newsworthy events while we’ve been otherwise occupied.
The exercise in inertia that is the Koh Chang Grand Sale continues not to generate any events or news. Their website is now online so now if you would like to find out what their plans are for promoting Koh Chang then you can check out www.kohchangbusinesscenter.com. You’ll have to learn Thai though if you don’t know it already. Or you could use the translate button that they helpfully include and I suggest that you do if only to read the quite marvellous sentence, “Eat shrimp fall merrily with ink islander”; Surrealism at its finest.

Thailand Beer Taste Challenge – The Return

thai beer taste challengeRegular readers will recall a few years ago that we condidered it might be a good idea to do a blind tasting of most of the beers available in Thailand and vote on which were the best and worst beers on the market.
Once again we have assembled a panel of experts to selflessly sacrifice some of their remaining brain cells to provide you with this essential consumer information. Check out the whole story if you want to find out the controversial and surprising results.
Has anyone ever done a tasting of all Thailand’s different spirits and “Whiskeys” and lived? Maybe we’ll do that next…
koh chang bladefish seajetBB Divers have got themselves some of those underwater scooter things. Think James Bond and you’ll know what I mean. They save you the effort of flapping your flippers (yes, i know, fins) as you survey the undersea world. They are light, high-tech and rather cool and yours for the day for a thousand baht.

We’ve updated our property page with a couple of pieces of land in Klong Son and a business in Lonely Beach so feel free to take a look and get in touch if you are interested.

The weather on Koh Chang over the last few days has featured plenty of sun and plenty of rain – sunbathers happy, frogs and jungle happy – it’s all good.

August 19th – Powerage

Our office has been without internet for the last three days after the power lines that fell on Tuesday night severed the island’s main internet connection as well as cutting off power for a night. there are two approaches to this sort of event; you can shrug philosophically and just make the best of it or you can toss and turn throughout the sweltering night and get up in a sleepless rage and bitch and moan about how this always happens just before you finish the new magazines. I find the latter works best.
koh chang scary goldfishDon’t worry – it is safe to go back in the water. You won’t find this frightening beast in the seas of Koh Chang. It inhabits the altogether smaller body of water that is the fishtank in Koh Chang Dental Clinic in Klong Prao, which is frankly something of a relief.

We promised you an update on the latest upcoming activities and events that have been organised as part of the “Ko Chang Grand Sale”. And we’d love to tell you but since nothing at all so far appears to have been scheduled alas we can’t. Perhaps if enough of you call the organisers directly on 084-561-2737 or 086-154-2896 they might, just might, arrange something.

Our new printed guides are approaching completion. But we could use a few more photographs for our gallery page. This is your chance to make you or your friends look silly. We need a few pictures of people having fun on Koh Chang. If you have any then please mail them to us at info@whitesandsthailand.com and we’ll publish them (within reason!)

We’ve updated our property page with a couple of pieces of land in Klong Son and a business in Lonely Beach so feel free to take a look and get in touch if you are interested.

And of course no Koh Chang update is complete without a weather report. The last few days have been delightful in the extreme. Lots of sun, just a few drops of rain and the sea has been as flat as a proverbial millpond. And long may it continue.

August 11th – Lights, Cameras… Action?

Anybody here on Koh Chang will have been wondering about the sudden profusion of “Ko Chang Grand Sale” banners that have appeared over the road in the last week. Now the mystery is over after the “Ko Chang Grand Sale” project was officially launched yesterday at the famous Kai Bae viewpoint. The ceremony (pictured) involved impressive quantities of fruit and some people dressed as jungle dwellers.
The project is an initiative launched by the Trat Tourism Association to try to help tourist businesses on the island by holding events, activities and promotions between August 1st and the end of October to bring attention and hopefully some more visitors to the island.
We have been asked to help by publicising these events as they are arranged. We will, of course, be very happy to do this as soon as we are informed of the dates, locations and the actual nature of the events; important details which we will be sure to pass on to you as soon as we receive them ourselves. In the interim if you would like to know more then please feel free to contact the organisers directly at 084-561-2737 or 086-154-2896.

August 12th – Free Waterfall Entry

To celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand the Koh Chang National Park are allowing free entry to the island’s two main waterfalls, Klong Plu and Than Mayom. This offer applies from today until the end of the weekend on the 15th. It will save you 200 baht each if you’re a foreigner or 20 Baht if you’re Thai. And there’s plenty of water in the waterfalls at the moment so it’s well worth paying them a visit.

August 11th – Koh Chang Half Marathon

To add to this flurry of activity on what has of late been a pretty lethargic island the “Koh Chang Mini Half Marathon 2010” will be held on Sunday 16th of August – Starting at 6AM. If you fancy a run, stroll or enthusiastic meander to break you out of the green season doldrums then why not go along? It’s free and we know when and where it is. If you do fancy taking part then go to the start point at Than Mayom Waterfall on the East side of the island about 4km after Dan Mai village. You can call Khun Sumitr on 081-949-6489 for more information.

By the way just a reminder that we’re happy to let you all know about any Koh Chang related events – just let us know and it will be our pleasure to help you to publicise them for free.
The well thought out and useful Dive Site Clean Up days are a splendid example. These are organised by PADI in conjunction with the local dive businesses. We have been given plenty of advance notice so you have lots of time to prepare for the next one which will be held on the 25th of September. If you’d like to attend then just contact any of the dive shops on the island and they will be happy to accept your help. Thanks to Kristel of B.B. Divers in Bang Bao for the advance notification.

chang chutiman koh changI also paid a visit to Chang Chuttiman Trekking’s new Elephant Camp yesterday. They are now based at a picturesque new spot deep in the jungle about 1km from their older, far less attractive, roadside base. If you fancy going on a trek with them at the moment then book with a travel agent and let them pick you up. I didn’t and there were a couple of fairly swampy driving moments on the “road” up to the camp. But they are making a good job of the camp and it’s a great place to experience an elephant ride.

August 3rd – Site Updates

The publishing juggernaut that is White Sand Publications thunders on and on. We’ve just sent our new Treasure Map to the printers. You, of course, can view it in advance by clicking on the map images above. Tell us if we’ve made any mistakes will you?
And I’ve brought our Property Page up to date. There are some interesting properties and businesses for sale there and our contact links even work now as we hobble forward into the information age.

July 21st – From Little Acorns…

salak phet mangrove plantingLast year they held a mangrove planting day in Salak Phet. Since I was around there the other day i thought I’d check up on the results. You might not know that there is a Mangrove Forest walkway in Salak Phet as well as the easier to find and vastly more hideous one in Salak Khok. The Salak Phet one uses an ecologically sound if a bit rickety and knackered wooden design as opposed to the utalitarian white concrete of the Salak Khok walkway.
As you can see from the picture there were loads of little mangrove saplings all looking quite healthy to my untrained eyes. The best thing they have done to preserve the area is to hide it from all but the most comitted mangrove enthusiast. There is a sign in Salak Phet village pointing in the vague direction of the walkway and then you have to follow the road until it becomes a broken down footpath – avoiding bottomless puddles of ooze – turn left, go on for a bit and then turn right, pass several abandoned shacks – angry dogs as well of course – and stop at the abandoned public toilets (don’t ask) – You’re there. The idea of protecting spots of natural beauty by hiding them is a good one and could be usefully adopted elsewhere. Grand Canyon? Never heard of it pal.

July 20th – I Can See Clearly…

koh chang white sand beachWe took the photo of White Sand Beach on the right a couple of days ago. Pretty isn’t it? It is the latest installment in our “It Doesn’t Always Rain on Koh Chang During the Monsoon” series of Propoganda pictures. Come on, book your flights and get over here.

We were in Bangkok a few days ago. So I thought I’d add a Bangkok page to the site. Don’t expect an exhaustive travel guide – I will just feature places that we visit and like, starting with an art gallery and, almost inevitably, an Indian restaurant.

July 13th – ..When we could be diving for pearls

Today’s Bangkok Post has an article on the seizure by officials of some ancient artefacts from a vessel in Koh Chang waters. The boat apparently contained 191 items of pottery dated at 400-450 years old. The boat captain, together with several Cambodian and Vietnamese nationals, had been hired to retrieve the items from the sea bed south of Koh Chang by an unnamed antiques dealer. The items are now being held by the National Maritime Museum in Chantaburi.
You can expect that the news that the waters of Koh Chang are home to buried treasure will spur all kinds of gold fever amongst the local diving community. You might want to pick up our next issue of our Koh Chang Treasure Map and look carefully, “X” marks the spot.

In other non-Koh-Chang-related news you might just conceivably be interested to know that we have set up a Whitesandsthailand Fantasy Football league for the forthcoming season of the Premier League. the league code is 1659-1731 and you can sign up at the Premier League’s website so if you want a simple way to avoid having a social life then come and have a go (if you think you’re hard enough).

July 7th – Trat – Samui Flight Schedule announced – at last! And Phuket!

Bangkok Airways have included a new Trat – Samui flight on their service schedule for the coming season. The service begins on December 3rd and will run four times a week on Tuesday, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Whatever your views on the development of Koh Chang this is an important link for the island that should provide great opportunities for businesses here. We can only expect demand for the service to be high. The price seems a little steep though at 4,500 including tax one way. As the airline sees the demand however I’m sure they will arrive at a commercially effective pricing strategy. There have been suggestions that the service has been placed on schedules as a means of testing the level of interest. That’s where you come in. If you think that the service is a good idea and think that you might want to use it then book ahead or at the very least spread the word so that Bangkok Airways can see the the viability of the service. you can find the flight details for services PG260 and PG261 at their website. UPDATE. It escaped our notice the other day but this service will also continue onwards to Phuket. 5,500 baht one way. But this now means that Koh Chang will be linked to Thailand’s two busiest tourist islands. This has to be good news.

Another dead dolphin washed up on the beach here this week. This is becoming a depressingly regular occurence. The most plausible explanation is that they are being drowned in the nets of illegal drag-fishing boats that also tear up coral reef and do all kinds of other damage. This is consistent with net marks found on some of the bodies. This is a Marine National Park remember? There’s a lot of ocean out there but surely somebody should be doing something? Here, like everywhere else, public opinion can provide gentle pursuasion for the powers that be to act on these kinds of thing. Perhaps contacting newspapers, TV, the TAT and the National Park Service would help to spur some action?

July 5th – Cambodian Kids School

It has been a while since we wrote about the Cambodian Kids School in Klong Prao on Koh Chang. This is a voluntary undertaking administered by the Proudly Open Minded organisiation. Basically they provide education and a place to go during the day for the children of Cambodian workers, who seve as the cheap labour pool on Koh Chang and have few rights. Otherwise these kids wouldn’t receive any help at all and it is a fine thing that they do. They have just posted a short video about the school on Facebook which you can access here. They welcome support and donations so if you’d like to help then you can contact Brian Boysen of Evolution Tour on 089-748-9643 or manager@evolutiontour.com or look at the Facebook page of Proudly Open Minded.

We’re doing more work on the website by the way. There’s a “share this” button below should you wish to inflict all this on another human being. And we’re getting the Archived stories in order and adding some features that previously featured in the guides but never made it to the site.

July 3rd – If you like pinacoladas (and getting caught in the rain – a bit).

klong son bay koh changI know we keep banging on about it but we took this photo of the beach at Klong Son on a lovely sunny day this week. See! There is plenty of sunny weather down here at this time of year. But when it rains it pours – just ask the disappointed supporters of certain football teams.
hole in the road on koh changFixing a Hole? There is frenzied activity at the moment between White Sand Beach and Chai Chet as workers rush to complete a new lay-by/insane-overtaking-area at the side of the road. Quite why the work is being carried out at such speed is something of a mystery and a novelty. But if the mayhem ends soon then that’s all to the good. But before the workers leave let’s hope that they do something about the death trap pictured which is just round the corner of the first bend coming back downhill from White Sand Beach where the extra lane thins to nothing to allow the passage of a river. The planners have clearly anticipated this hazard and have added some rugged metal posts that will skewer motorists like seafood kebabs on a beach barbeque instead of allowing them to tumble into the abyss when the road disappears. Be warned and keep yourselves off the menu.

koh chang animal signJabberwocky! It probably points to the fact that there isn’t much happening on Koh Chang but we had to bring you this sign directing you to the “Koh Chang Animal”. Even if we exclude the many humans on the island we know to whom this title could be comfortably applied it is still intriguing to speculate what beast it refers to. Remember that we are on a shaggy rock smothered in a rain forest that is packed to bursting with all manner of multi-coloured tropical monstrosities. Just imagine the horror and splendour of one that is so spectacular that they had to erect a sign to it.
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

June 22nd – Goooaaaallll!

small snake on koh changSorry everyone, we’re still on the subject of football. We’ll be back to normal after England get knocked out tomorrow – or maybe not. There isn’t much to report from Koh Chang anyway – plenty of rain – some sun as well, that kind of thing. The snake pictured popped round to see us the other day and that’s the most exciting thing that’s happened for some time.
So, back to the World Cup. If you’re watching here in Thailand you will have noticed that all the commentary is in Thai language only.If you aren’t a Thai speaker then thankfully this is no longer a problem because here is a Thai Football Commentators Language Course. We hope that is helps you to understand what the commentators are talking about.

Oh-ho-ho-ho! – A quick turn and strike from distance has regrettably passed slightly over the crossbar.
Oh-Hwiiieeee! – A savage and deliberate foul has occurred and the referee has failed to punish the guilty player.
Nnnnhh-Hhhhnnnhhh! – A delightfully threaded pass has found a forward who has slotted home clinically only to be unfairly found to have been slightly offside.
Ohhhhhhoooyyyy! – A yellow card has been unfairly awarded after a dive.
Oooooooh-Hooooooo! – Splendid shot, terrific save.

June 16th – Is there anybody out there?

white sand beach koh changThis picture was taken yesterday on White Sand Beach, Koh Chang. Sun, sand and scarcely a soul in sight. That’s what you want from your holiday isn’t it? To be quite honest it’s quite nice having the island to ourselves for a while. The office is closed for some building work so there’s not much to do; the sun is shining and there are three top quality football games to watch later. Life is good. So there’s no hurry, we’ll see you when we see you.
New Issues! We have now finalised the designs for the new issues of the guide and map. The printed versions will arrive in a couple of weeks but you can download advance PDF’s above. For those of you that only want to see the gallery page – and we know there’s a few of you out there – it’s on Page 33 and there’s a quite touching image of Vince with a flower.

June 12th – We’re Gonna Score One More Than You!

basketball vs footballNow let’s be absolutely clear here, whitesandsthailand isn’t at all biased towards any team in the World Cup. Not at all. Three Lions? What are they? By the way, if you don’t like football and you’ve come to this tropical travel website to get away from it all then what can we say. Tough.
Moving on, regular readers – if you’re out there somewhere – will notice a few changes to the site layout. Hopefully it serves to make the site easier to get around. If not then let us know what you would like us to do.
You will also see that, floundering pitifully in the wake of the wave of progress, we finally now have a Facebook group. Join it please.
And if you wear your best clothes, put on some perfume and ask us really nicely then who knows, we might even Twitter you some Tweets in the near future.
We have also updated the Photo Gallery page with some new photos. Some are scenic Koh Chang shots and some are silly photographs of people. Hope that you like them.

If you were wondering what was actually happening on Koh Chang then we don’t have much to report. The latest weather report is rain, sun, sun, rain, rain, sun, RAIN, sun. And it’s hot, always.

The diggers are out widening the road south of White Sand Beach and generally causing havoc. This is inconvenient in the short term but should serve to make the road safer in the long run. We’ll keep you posted on what develops.

Now, what to do to stay awake and sober until 1.30am?

June 5th – Pluvial Plethora

monsoon on koh changYes wordsmiths the rain is here at last! Thank God, or Buddha or the extreme altitude of the Tibetan Plateau or whoever you like. In fact it’s actually sunny as I write this but we’ve had rumbling thunderstorms and buckets of rain over the last week or so. People aren’t missing their water because their wells have not run dry. The Monsoon is a bit early this year so it might finish early as well. Or it might not. Or it might stop and start a few times like it normally does. This is where we all shake our heads and mutter “Global warming has really messed up the weather”. But it’s always been pretty messed up hasn’t it? Anyway at this time of year Koh Chang is a green emerald of verdant beauty nestled in the azure splendour of the Gulf of Thailand. Come on pack your bags and get down here.

We had a good lunch at Paradise Behind the Sea yesterday which only slightly lessened the pain of our monthly trip to The Tax Office. It’s a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant on the road to Salak Phet a couple of Kilometres after the Than Mayon Waterfall. We had Pho and Tom Yam Seafood. Both of which were right tasty. They’ve gone to a lot of trouble decorating the place, dare we say, tastefully and there are great views over the sea. Recommended.

Important people alert! The last three days saw Koh Chang Resort in Chai Chet hosting some high-powered local government seminars. You might think that we’ve got this news to you a bit late but we saw teams of workers erecting huge expensive posters around the island publicizing the event on its final day yesterday. Following this interesting trend of announcing the past apparently the 2006 World Cup is being held in Germany. Any money on Italy anyone?

May 21st – Aftermath

The smoke’s clearing, the “Siege of Bangkok” – or whatever silly name the media decide to give to the recent events – is over, and hopefully some degree of normality is returning to the Kingdom. Hopefully. Here in the island fortress of Koh Chang we were completely unaffected by all the goings on and life carried on as normal – except without the tourists. May is always one of the quietest months of the year and apart from the weekends when the island has been thronged with people getting away from Bangkok it has been doubly quiet. If the lush jungle climate was conducive to the growing of tumbleweeds you can be sure they would have been tumbling by.

So what next? Many visitors to this site will be wanting information on the safety of visiting Thailand in general and Koh Chang in particular. Especially given the apocalyptic travel advisories given by many countries. We particularly enjoyed New Zealand’s rabid advice to its nationals in Thailand which went something along the lines of “get out! right now! run! drop your things! Leg it!”. Other countries weren’t much better either. We can only assume that many countries think that their citizens aren’t intelligent enough to appreciate and act on reasoned and rational advice. Surely making people panic only increases the chance of putting them in a risky situation?

So, for what it’s worth here is our Whitesandsthailand Travel Advisory for Koh Chang and Thailand;
Koh Chang is safe to visit* (see below). Thailand is also safe to visit if you have a brain. Security is high at places such as the airport so the likelihood of trouble there is very slim. Thailand depends massively on foreign tourism and so will take huge steps to ensure visitor safety. Add to this that most potential risk areas are in the North-East of the country and well off the tourist map. Chang Mai is an exception, but that is certainly no reason to avoid it. Take obvious steps to ensure that you’re safe. In the unlikely event that you see a large group of protesters then do the obvious thing and go somewhere else.
If you do decide to visit now you can expect rock bottom prices, quiet beaches, a super-friendly welcome and on your return home you can impress your more timid friends by nonchalantly letting slip that you were just in Thailand.

sanaes restaurant koh changYes people, it is roasting hot here on Koh Chang at the moment. You could fry eggs on the road if you so chose. But it would be a much better idea to get your eggs fried at the newly opened, newly relocated Sanae’s at Pearl Beach. It’s across the road and down the hill from its old location. But they are still serving great Thai and English meals including their famous home-made sausages. Pay them a visit.

Thai TV Channel 7 has had some in-depth news features on Koh Chang over the last few nights. They started out by covering (alleged) misdeeds in land deals. Of particular note was the acquisition of the plot of land that used to house the memorial to the Thai Navy soldiers who died in the Koh Chang Naval Battle. People were a bit put out when this was suddenly fenced off having been bought by a private investor. It is probably no coincidence that the memorial was on a lovely, very developable private beach down past Long Beach in the South East of the island. Could the land papers have been doctored to allow the purchase of what was thought to be national park land? Surely not, bad things like that don’t happen in paradise do they?

Last nights “expose” rounded upon the Siam Royal View development in Klong Son. A few locals were protesting that a traditional right of way across the development had been blocked.
We were subsequently told that after several break-ins to properties in the development the security staff now ask for ID from people wishing to enter. This sounds quite reasonable but you wouldn’t have known about this from Channel Seven who didn’t seem to bother to interview anyone from Siam Royal View.

April 29th – Anagram Contest

chinese temple sign koh changIn a new feature on this website we’re running an anagram competition. Our first one is to the left. The sign is located at one of Koh Chang’s most notable landmarks. Can you unjumble the letters and tell us where it is? OK it’s tricky so we’ll give you a clue. It is a place of worship related to one of Thailand’s neighbours. Good luck. The winner will receive a plate of Pat Gapow and we’ll even throw in a fried egg on top. Send us the answer here. Hope that our evil sarcasm doesn’t get us into trouble with The Godfather of Koh Chang 😉

Our office has been closed whilst we nipped up for a quick holiday in Luang Prabang in Laos. A nice sleepy little place with great scenery, good restaurants and lots of temples. The locals are understandably a little unhappy that China seems to have stolen the Mekong river from them, it’s more of a dribble than a mighty torrent these days. This was particularly annoying since temperatures were in the low 40’s and a bit of extra water would have been handy. Then we stayed in Bangkok for a couple of days, it was safe, it was fine, we suffered no inconveniences of any kind. There were only eight people on the flight down to Koh Chang yesterday. So if you want peace and quiet on an idyllic tropical island then why not

April 16th – Room Bookings

Exciting times! Our new room booking service went live today. So now you can read all about Koh Chang on our site and then book your holiday here as well. We list around 80 hotels and resorts in a wide range of price groups so you’re sure to be able to find something that suits your requirements. So take a look at our hotel listings.

We didn’t do the web design on this one, well beyond our meagre abilities. Instead a good friend of ours helped us. He also did the work on the splendid new Books Thailand site. If you need a website or help with web design he’s your man. Contact us and we’ll put you in touch with him.

April 15th – The Carnival is Over

misspuke massageThis isn’t the day to be leaving Koh Chang in a car. The Queue for the ferries currently stretches some five kilometres back to the middle of White Sand Beach. You’d be better off parking up and waiting for the traffic to ease.
The charmingly named massage place to the left was spotted on a recent Bangkok visit. Let’s face it, when you’re tired of laughing childishly at signs that sound funny in English you’re tired of life.

Google Translate: Songkran hasn’t been all play here at whitesandsthailand.com. If you look up you will see that we have added a Google Translate box to this page which allows you to read it in the language of your choice. Swaheli is our current favourite. This great function will be added to all our pages when we’re satisfied that we aren’t doing something spectacularly cretinous with the coding.

April 12th – Under The Bridge

koh chang post flower gardenOK it’s time to put your phones, wallets, and passports into plastic bags and prepare for the orgy of inundation that is Songkran on Koh Chang. Yestarday’s water throwing was restricted to small children and self-employed representatives of the female companionship industry but early signs are that the outbreak is spreading and by tomorrow every man and his dog will be hurling water every which way. So get ready, get involved or lock yourselves in the your rooms.
Take extra care on the roads as well since there are about a million cars down from Bangkok as people understandably try and get away from all the trouble up there. And remember that during the Songkran public holiday it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle without being under the influence of alcohol.

The Post Office have asked us to let people know about this post box and floral dispaly at the Viewpoint just outside Kai Bae. So we are. You can write and Post your cards to your loved ones here in a charming setting with a great view.

April 9th – Direct Marketing

koh chang diving hippiesThis Lonely Beach Dive Shop seems to be taking a refreshingly direct approach to marketing its wares.

Is it Safe to Come to Koh Chang? Imagine that you are still at school and that your school is a huge one with thousands of pupils. The school is set in enormous grounds and at break times you like to play in a pretty garden close to the water. There are only two bullies in your school. Let’s, for the sake of argument, say that one wears a red shirt and the other one a yellow shirt. You don’t know them at all because they never come anywhere near your nice little spot in the garden. One day they have an argument and do that bully thing where they face-off and try to look tough. But they do this by the school fence and someone from outside sees them and starts to tell everyone that the school is dangerous. You know that you’re safe but soon word spreads and suddenly the whole town thinks that your school is full of crazy bullies. You know that this isn’t true.
Now if you can forget the bullies and try and extract yourself from this clumsy analogy then get on the plane and get yourselves down to Koh Chang where it’s hot and sunny, with lashings of beach.

April 1st: Guinea Pigs

We’re just back from a trip to Bangkok where we saw even more red shirts than you’d find on the road from London to Old Trafford on a matchday. Plunging straight back into work we are now distributing the new guide and Restaurant Guide and we have now made the Treasure map available for download online (see below). You can get the front of the map here and the back here.

Congratulations to Bang Bao Cliff Cottages who have been given the 2010 award for Best Atmosphere by www.hostelbookers.com. It is a nice spot down there and they deserve this recognition of their efforts.

March 26th: Guinea Pigs

OK our latest daring innovation is to try and make our printed guides available to you online, worldwide, 24 hours a day. We’re still working out how to shrink the Koh Chang Guide down to a manageable size but in the interim you can view and download our latest issue of Koh Chang Restaurants, Bars and Spas by clicking here on this red bit. It should open up in Adobe Reader, unless of course you don’t have Adobe Reader, in which case go here to get yourselves a copy. And of course things may go wrong, in fact they almost certainly will go wrong, so please help us out and let us know if you have any problems.

UPDATE: Now we have a version of the Koh Chang Guide ready to download. Click on this to access the goodness. We’ve sat on it, squashed it and squeezed it but it is still a pretty big file. However if you have a decent connection it shouldn’t take too long for you to be sampling the delights of the guide. Again if you have any problems with the download then let us know and we’ll try and sort it out.

“The Hut” is the impressively to-the-point rebranding of the old Thale Bungalows in Klong Prao. Rooms are clean, simple and economical and in an absolutely stunning location on Klong Prao beach at the mouth of a lagoon. The slightly more extravagantly named “The Hut Restaurant” is the old Klong Prao Seafood, also now under the same western management and also in a fantastic location. And if you ask nicely they might even play you a song.

Lights in the sky! The skies of White Sands Beach have recently been pierced by a mysterious beam. Not that mysterious as it transpires. About one minute of enquiries revealed that Jungle Queen bar in the new Chang Kao Plaza that was the old Grand View Plaza have got a pretty neat searchlight. You can check it out when you check out the newest plans to launch a “Koh Chang Walking Street.” This is what Chang Kao Plaza will now become on Friday and Saturday nights. Expect bars, restaurants, stalls and all of that classic walking street paraphernalia.

March 22nd: Site Updates

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice some changes to the site. Firstly all of the maps have been updated so you can navigate the island with confidence. We’re also changing quite a few of the other pages as we get the chance.

Be careful who you drink with on White Sand Beach. Two Westerners were drugged and robbed in seperate incidents over the weekend. They both stated that they had got into conversation with two Thai ladies – presumably the same ones in each incident – and then woke up, minus valuables, late the following afternoon. It’s a jungle out there.

March 14th: Phew!

The new issues of our guides have finally gone off to print so we get a bit of a breather. Or time to catch up on all the other jobs we’ve been putting off anyway. There will be a new Koh Chang Guide along in a fortnight or so together with the new and improved Koh Chang Restaurants Bars and Spas. We have added a Spa section to the guide and have stuck a bigger and better map of Koh Chang in there. Pick up a copy from April 1st.

Pier 112 & English Education: Whilst in Trat recently we had a right cracking feed at Pier 112 down in the backpacker part of town. Really good Thai food in a pleasant garden by the water and well worth checking out. If you are a parent living on Koh Chang then you may be interested to learn that one of the schools in Trat has an English language teaching program. That’s why we were in Trat – enrolling Whitesands jnr. All subjects except, obviously, for Thai are taught in English by international teaching staff. contact us if you would like to know more.

January 27th: Spirited Away!

The image to the left might ring a bell. It pictures a small conurbation of Spirit Houses that used to be located at the top of the huge hill between White Sand Beach and Klong Son. Well recently they have all been removed to form a small shady little stopping place, a viewpointless viewpoint if you like.
Now this is all very well until you consider what Spirit Houses actually are. Thai people still have strong animist beliefs and so it is commonly held that all manner of spirits dwell in the trees of the forest. Spirit Houses are small shrines in which offerings are placed to keep the spirits appeased, chilled out and generally not angry.
But surely if you suddenly bulldoze a spirit’s shrine he (she/it?) is likely to be pretty displeased? We at White Sands Publications have slightly varying views on the actual threat posed by irate spirits but nevertheless we will be picking a different lay-by to stop for sandwiches and a thermos of tea.

 

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