It was a nice quick flight back to Bangkok where we had a prearranged minibus waiting to drive us towards the island of Koh Chang. Chris and I tucked into the ribs from dinner the previous evening as we began the six hour ride. The driver only stopped twice (briefly) and seemed as though he was on a mission to arrive at the ferry. This was good for us as after the short ferry crossing we arrived on Koh Chang.
Most tourists head to the west coast of the island where many resorts, hotels, guesthouses, bars, restaurants and even Tesco's are, but for us, mum had booked a private villa on the quieter east coast.
We arrived to the exquisite villa known as 'Camellia', greeted by an idyllic location. A beachfront villa with a private infinity pool, plenty of space and even a mini grand piano! It was perfect, and Chris and I couldn't wait to unpack properly for a weeks holiday!
It didn't take us long before we jumped into the infinity pool and received and unexpected visitor. A young local dog took an instant liking to Chris and was pining after us whilst we were in the pool.
We settled in for the night, ordering a takeaway from down the road along with a couple of beers to help us feel in real holiday mode!
It was bliss waking up to the sound of crashing waves and with no agenda. We spent a lazy morning in the villa waiting for the hire car to arrive. One downside to staying on the less touristic side is that we needed transport to get anywhere or do anything.
Ron drove us around the mountainous roads to reach civilisation and we meandered our way along the coast line searching out the sights. Eventually we came across a lovely looking restaurant (The Lighthouse) on the cliff edge, which looked like the perfect place to stop for lunch. It proved us right. The views, the setting, the food, were all divine. I couldn't resist the fish and chips and it had to be one of the best; Chris' Tom Yum soup was bursting with flavour; mum's prawn, avocado, mango salad was so fresh and elegant; and Ron's club sandwich, well, it was exactly what he wanted!
We completed the length of the west coastal road before being forced to turn back. Having spotted an interesting looking pier along the way we made sure to make a stop. It also seemed as though there was some decent snorkelling near by. Much to Ron's displeasure the pier was lined with trinket shops and seemed never ending. However, the end of the pier had an interesting lighthouse to admire.
By now it was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to set. We found a resort to enjoy a drink on the beach then raced into the sea for a sunset swim. The water was comparable to a lukewarm bath!
On our way back to the east side we made a stop at the supermarket to pick up some supplies. But for dinner we visited 'The Seuk', a Thai restaurant along the beach from us serving delicious Thai food.
One of the many benefits to having a private villa is having the facilities to cook. For Chris and I this was luxury so we didn't hold back in cooking a fry up for breakfast. Set for the day, we headed back over to the west side of the island and ventured inland to visit 'Klong Plu' waterfall. We clambered through the jungle for around half an hour and stumbled across the rocky terrain to be presented with a half decent waterfall. The surrounding pools looked inviting until the heavens opened and there was no need to jump in the water! Mum combined with climbing rocks doesn't normally end well, but mum with wet slippery rocks is a recipe for disaster. Thank god I had hold of her arm as within a second she went from slipping to nearly falling off down the steep rocky decent into the water below. I literally had hold of her full body weight. Can't take her anywhere!
We made a stop around the Kai Bar area and found some beautiful, colourful views of the local fishing boats docked up in a secluded bay. Unfortunately, Koh Chang is home to around six elephant camps equating to a lot of domesticated elephants. In fact 'Chang' means 'elephant' in Thai, so Koh Chang translates to 'elephant island'. However this is not due to the number of elephants living on the island, but because of its size and shape. Along the roadside are many elephant camps with all different ages of elephants chained up with howdahs on ready to provide tourists a ride. The majority of them were showing signs of distress and it was heartbreaking to see. Sadly with the income these camps can earn from tourists this is an 'experience' that will not change until something is put in place by law.
We picked up some final few necessities from the supermarket and headed back to the villa for a much craved cheese and tomato baguette; creamy Brie, tasty Cheddar, and freshly cooked baguette. It went down a treat, especially with the olives, crisps, gherkins, and shandy!
We had some time enjoying the pool before poodling in the car all the way down as far as the road went on the east side. It was here, in 'Baan Salak Phet', that a recommended seafood restaurant was resting over the water. Between us we ordered tom yum, 500g of shrimp, and a 750g grouper. It was a seafood feast and was delicious. We finished off our evening back at the villa munching our way through some of our huge supply of chocolate and playing cards.
Another leisurely morning followed by further exploring. We had two mopeds on hire and headed out to explore even more of the less touristy east side.
Not too far down the road was 'Klong Nonsi' waterfall, which involved a short walk through the jungle and an interesting climb up slippery rocks to see a small trickle! Needless to say it was clear that we were visiting in the dry season!
A little further down the road was a perfectly positioned coffee shop, right on the waters edge, with wonderful views out to sea. Whilst Ron and I couldn't resist the coffee, Chris opted for a mango smoothie and mum chose a green tea. This was a green tea like no other, it was seriously green! Mum couldn't drink it due to the off-putting colour.
We kept riding along the coastal road and eventually found ourselves at the mangroves. It was possible to explore the mangroves by foot along a walkway, which took us a good hour as we were desperately trying to spot some wildlife. Mum and I caught a glimpse of a kingfisher but there didn't seem to be much else around. Mind you it was the hottest time of the day.
We arrived back to the villa mid afternoon and Chris and I prepared and cooked a BBQ for dinner. We tucked into a feast of chicken drumsticks marinated in Chris' red Thai coconut sauce, beef kabab skewers, pork ribs marinated in a Chinese sauce, garlic butter prawns, jacket potato, corn on the cob, and Greek salad, along with plenty of drink and chocolate to finish.
We were collected at 9am in a pickup truck and driven all the way to the south of the west coast, where we climbed aboard a small speed boat. We were off for a days snorkelling around the Koh Rung national marine park. The journey was bumpy to say the least. At some points we were thrown off our seats! So it is fair to say that we were all relieved when the captain stopped the boat for us to go snorkelling.
We made several stops throughout the day but unfortunately the visibility was not great. We saw a fair amount of fish but nothing out of the ordinary. At one spot it was nice to see a huge school of yellow snapper. The Sergeant Majors seemed to be overly protective and were keen to give us a little nip every so often to show who was boss!
Our captain also took us to a private beach for our lunch stop and besides Ron, who was on the prowl for wildlife, we all caught a little rest eye.
It was a terrific day out at sea, ending bizarrely with a stop by 'monkey island', of course to see the monkeys.
We hired the car for one more day to allow us to seek out the 'must do' beaches. With Chris driving and me navigating, first on our list was 'whitesands', but unfortunately we arrived as the tide was in. So we continued further south to 'Haad Kai Mook' where we found a rustic cafe on the beachfront for an iced tea.
Having heard of a good snorkelling site near monkey island, we persisted south, winding our way along the narrow coastal roads, and eventually found the bay. Chris and I, with our snorkels on, headed into the sea to check things out. Sadly the visibility was awful again and there was nothing much to see.
By now we were ready for lunch and knew of the perfect place. It was a revisit to 'The Lighthouse'. Both mum and I had our minds and taste buds set on the prawn salad, but disappointingly they had no avocados, a key ingredient to the dish. However, besides the initial disappointment, the food was again wonderful, and the setting was enchanting. Next to the restaurant was a look out tower to climb, with the last level being reached only via a ladder. It had my heart racing as I pulled myself up to the top, but the views were fantastic.
We raced against the sunset to find the perfect spot along the cliff edge, serving cocktails for a sundowner. In the nick of time we found a bar and watched as the sun melted beyond the horizon. We returned to 'The Lighthouse' after a cheeky cocktail to be entertained by a French singer/songwriter/musician, Jeanette Bearger. It was a very pleasant evening, with excellent choices of songs and a delightful atmosphere.
We had the mopeds back for the day and after a leisurely morning returned to the mangroves. The four of us carefully climbed into a small traditional Thai boat and were rowed around the mangroves by a pirate! Well, he looked like a pirate. It was immensely peaceful and relaxing, but unfortunately the wildlife was scarce again.
We continued along the road, heading to 'Long beach' which was at the most southern part of the island and as far as anyone could possible go. The road, or track, was extremely rugged and covered in potholes. At one point there was a road closure sign, but other mopeds were scooting right past, so we followed suit. We crossed a very precarious bridge and managed to scoot up and down the steep, rocky track. There was a few stops with uncertain looks coming from mum and Ron, but Chris carried on, leading the way, and thankfully we all arrived in one piece.
A final climb down some steps and we were rewarded with paradise. As its name suggested, it was a long beach, with beautiful white sand, palm trees lining the edges, inviting aqua blue water, and a handful of visitors. It even had the cliche swing, waiting for someone to have their picture on!
It didn't take long before Chris raced in for a cool off, but I couldn't resist the refreshing coconuts. The challenging, dangerous track leading to Long beach was definitely worth risking. There was only one small tumble from mum and Ron on the way back, but thankfully no injuries.
After the adventurous day, we welcomed a relaxed late afternoon by the pool and Chris and I had a little nosey along the coast in the villa's kayak.
A combined effort equated to another BBQ feast for dinner, and mum and Ron taught us how to play Crib.
Unpleasantly, both Chris and mum were up all night with severe food poisoning. Mum couldn't even get out of her room all day, but Chris managed to make it out about midday.
Chris and I made the best of a bad situation and relaxed by the pool and beach all day. Ron made use of having the moped and rode back to the mangroves for another mooch around.
Unenthusiastic to risk going out for dinner we ordered a takeaway and lazed in front of the tv for the evening.
Thankfully it was a better night for everyone and we all finished off the corn flakes for breakfast and packed up the minibus for the journey back to Bangkok. It had been another fantastic week in a glorious villa on the beach, but it was back to the city for more goodbyes...