First foray into the Eastern Thai Islands
Following two eventful nights in Chiang Mai, Tom and I headed South. We chose the night train to Bangkok to use time efficiently. Arriving into Bangkok at 7am, the city was already busy with street vendors, pedestrians and traffic. Our aim was to reach Koh Chang by nightfall, the first stop en route being Ekkamai bus station. This involved a boat trip along the Chao Phraya River from Ratchawongse to Tha Maharaj. After docking we took a train from Thonburi to Ekkamai where the bus left for Trat at 6pm. Once arriving in Trat, close to the Cambodian border, we jumped in a Songthaew (red taxi) to the port.
Koh Chang – the second largest Thai Island
Boarding the last ferry, the crossing was smoother and quicker than I expected. Meanwhile, we needed accommodation so, using Google maps and judging locations from a taxi, we hopped out at Lonely Beach. Lonely Beach was a small settlement, offset by rugged terrain, but appeared to have decent night activity. Finding a guesthouse for the night, we had a seafood meal with a couple of acrobats from the ferry.
Day trips around Koh Chang
Tom, myself and Canadian friends hired scooters to drive the twisty and precarious coastal road from Lonely Beach. We looked for interesting walks to obtain views out to sea. These included an area of forest leading to an amazing viewpoint and several beaches and beauty spots including White Sand Beach. On route back we stopped at Siam Bay Resort and consumed some deliciously interesting local food and fruit shakes. Additionally, this was a wonderful place to witness the stunning sunset.
The area where we were staying comprised many bars, including our the ground floor of our guesthouse. Music kept playing until at least 5am so sleeping was a little challenging. Koh Chang is by far the largest of the Eastern Thai islands, however, there weren’t large amounts of tourists which was surprising. Nevertheless, the island has seen an increase in tourism in recent years and is a popular destination. We finished the trip by playing Pool and drinking some beers and Sangsom (Thai Rum) before departing the following morning.
Koh Kood – a remote paradise south of Koh Chang
Tom and I got the speedboat to the smaller Koh Kood at 8am the next morning. The route involved passing Ko Mak and many other islets to the farthest eastern gulf of Thailand. My first impressions were that Koh Kood was better maintained with less tourists than Koh Chang. On arrival you are surrounded by views of palm trees and thick vegetation engulfing tranquil retreats and beautiful resorts. Our first few hours consisted of exploring beaches, many of which secluded, and a visit to Klong Chao waterfall. A homemade swing harnessed onto the rocks above the water became one of the highlights of a beautiful setting.
In the evening I tried an authentic Green Curry whilst enjoying the sunset. We stayed in a picturesque bungalow near the port, and as night fell reunited with friends in a local bar. This led to meeting locals and walking to a beach before one local invited us to continue drinking. We declined, heading to a tree house in the palms and taking a fully clothed dip in the sea. The millions of tiny, illuminous plankton in the shallow water were a real spectacle. Our last day was more relaxed, recovering from the Sangsom we had consumed. Tom and I scooted several hair raising roads and took turns to film the views.
One night in Bangkok
The return boat trip was short and direct but the return bus trip was lengthy due to Bangkok traffic. However, this gave me an insight into the sheer size of the city. When reaching central Bangkok we alighted in the Khao San area, close to streets full of locals, tourists and backpackers. We headed to the main Khao San Road to find a hostel amongst the copious street food, bars and restaurants. Returning to Chiang Mai, I reflected on my enjoyment of discovering Bangkok and the islands for the first time.