We’re definitely deep into the hot season now with maximum daytime temperatures on Koh Chang up into the high thirties. At this time of year a kind of lassitude settles on Koh Chang. The madness of the Songkran festival is over and whilst there are still plenty of visitors on the island you don’t see much of them by day – probably because everyone is sleepily sweltering under any shade that they can find. This year water is becoming an issue since lower than average rainfall has led to many provinces of Thailand suffering drought conditions. Fortunately Koh Chang is saved by the occasional quick thunderstorm – just hope that we get one today. But the monsoon rains aren’t expected until around the end of June – it’s going to be a long hot two months.
(confession – this article was written in aircon)
We spent a couple of days in Trat’s neighbouring province of Chanthaburi this week. Chanthaburi is a pleasant little riverside town that thrives on Gem trading and fruit farming. In an alarming outbreak of spirituality we managed to visit both a cathedral and a temple on the same day. Chanthaburi has Thailand’s largest church in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception which has stood beside the river in the centre of town for 105 years. It has some nice stained glass and interior decor and is all the more impressive for being such an unusual feature in a Thai provincial town.
Then there is Wat Sukim, a huge temple perched on top of a hill about 20 kilometres out of Chanthaburi. You get up there either by climbing 350 ornate steps or, as most of the other visitors seemed to be doing, riding up on the the small railway beside the steps laughing and pointing at the silly people walking up the steps. They had a point. The view from the top is great though.
This construction work is going on at the end of the pier in Salak Phet. Apparently this is going to be a toll gate so that anyone who wants to go onto the pier will have to pay a (200B?) National Park entry fee in the same way as visitors to Than Mayom and Klong Plu waterfalls. Apparently the same thing is due to happen at the much busier Bang Bao Pier. For years the Koh Chang Marine National Park have been trying to increase their revenue from visitors to the island. They tried to take money as people arrived at the ferries. Then they began boarding boat trips and demanding payment from confused tourists. This latest step may work. Of course it isn’t equitable and unfairly punishes boat trips and tours that leave from Bang Bao whilst doing nothing to collect payments from the customers of boats that leave from elsewhere. Of course the National Park is Koh Chang’s greatest treasure and should be preserved. Most people would agree that 200 Baht per foreign visitor is a small price to pay to look after the environment. Perhaps people would be a lot happier to pay the fee if there was better evidence that the National Park was actually re-investing this revenue in the protection of Koh Chang’s unique environment?
We also have some interesting new property listings. The new Hummingbird Residence is now underway in in Bang Bao. It offers some very nice and affordable apartments with fantastic views. Another interesting new listing is a backpacker resort franchise in Bang Bao. Most of the hard work has been done so it offers a great opportunity to enter a new business with the benifit of a good marketing and management support structure. And then there is a well-etablished Koh Chang dive business for sale. Live the dream!