Travel days are tiring, border crossing days are just darn frustrating. We booked a ticket all the way from Kep to Ko Chang for $35. We started on a minibus down to the bus station, changing buses there we headed to kampot (very glad we didn't stay there!) and sianoukville, where we changed onto a large bus taking us to the border. The staff took our bags, saying it meant they didn't get searched and saved them time, then took us to the Cambodian border, where they tried to get 400 baht out of people to do their non-existent visas.... Getting into Thailand we were glad to see we did indeed get 30 days again, rather than the 15 STA quoted. However getting to the bus on the other side the owner refused to give us our new bus tickets until we paid $1 for our bag. Now I know it's only a dollar, but after a while people charging you for s*** you didn't ask for gets tiring. So 5 of us took our bags and declined to pay, here ensues a pissed off driver and us waiting 45 mins for him to decide to actually take us to the next bus (we went ourselves but naturally we had to be sold on by the original company before we could travel). We eventually ended up on the bus, half an hour after the first load left. Arriving at Trat we went to get our transfer to the pier, dubious that the red stickers given to us would constitute a ticket. We were told to sit, feeling like we were back in Laos, the driver wasn't leaving until he was full. An hour and a half later a bus from bangkok arrives and we can leave. Getting dropped off at a little restaurant at the side of the road, by some miracle our red stickers were exchanged for a ferry ticket and we made the last ferry of the day! Finally getting to Koh Chang we realised we had booked a hotel 30km from the pier... Dropping everyone off on the way, we made it to our hotel an hour later, think that driver earnt his 120 baht from us!! So 14 hours after we left we had made it, just about still friends as well (I definately do not get grumpy when I'm messed around like that!).
We were upgraded to a superior double room, although I'm not sure how superior it was with concrete floors and bare walls.... But we had a single bed on the floor downstairs and a king bed upstairs. Naturally I bagsed the upstairs bed and it took Tash two days to venture up there and realised what short straw she had drawn, and then proceed to invade the comfort!
I felt Koh Chang had lost a lot of charm. We were in a sleepy area, our hotel was on the waterfront with hammocks and a pool, it was great for a chill, but it felt like tourism had taken over the charm. A 15 minute walk down unlit roads took us to lonely beach, party land, which felt like Malaga. It seems 10 years ago the island was untouched, now it's just all tourism.
We did however enjoy our time, sneaking in a day snorkelling trip to the national marine park, which was simply stunning. Taking a little bit of bread with us seemed a good idea until a swarm of fish were biting my bum to get at it!!! We were initially dissapointed getting on a massive boat, but half the Asians on board couldn't swim, opting to float around in life jackets near the boat meant we could swim ahead and get around the sites in relative peace. It had to be one of the best snorkel trips I've ever done, making the northern island stops totally worth any hassle.
After 4 nights we headed on the slow boat to the smaller Koh Mak. We had been advised it was relatively untouched, retaining its natural charm. So a 2hr, 400 baht, slow boat it was.