This is the view Michael and I woke up to out of the bungalow window our first morning in Lonely Beach, Koh Chang island.
In true backpacker fashion we arrived at night (after an eight hour bus/ferry/bus ride from Bangkok) with no reservations. We set Bob and Nancy up at the closest roadside restaurant with all of our bags and headed off in search of accommodations. After many "Sorry, we're full's" and a few pretty scary options for very cheap we finally found one air conditioned room for the parents for one night. For ourselves we found a rustic little bungalow up the hill with fan, mosquito net and outdoor bathroom. We set Nancy and Bob up at their hotel and told them we would see them in the morning promising that we would get everything settled the next day. Back at our hut we decided to venture into town for a drink. Michael had been here six years before and was surprised by how much the place has changed.
Koh Chang is a long island in the east gulf of Thailand, close to the Cambodian border. A few kilometers from the ferry landing, the island's west coast is cut into a chain of small towns. Driving though the first towns feels like Myrtle Beach.
Tacky t-shirt shops, cheap souvenirs and giant resorts have overrun the
jungle. Lonely Beach, at the southern end of the island, has managed to maintain a bit of its hippie charm and is the least commercialized; catering to young backpackers over wealthy European tourists. At the far end of town the jungle reclaims its territory. The roads wind up and down and around the forested hills. The interior of the island is a protected national park, impenetrable to human development.
The first morning we had breakfast in a tree fort with views overlooking the jungle to the ocean. We drank strong coffee and watched the monkeys chase each other in the trees below. By the time we caught up with Nancy and Bob they had already taken it upon themselves to improve the living situation and booked us two rooms in a beautiful waterfront boutique hotel at the edge of town. We slept so well under our dirty mosquito net, but the sight of that big, fluffy, clean, white bed and the feel of cold air conditioning on our skin was never more welcomed. We spent the next week relishing it all.
|treehouse breakfast views|
|Nest Sense bungalows|
|downtown Lonely Beach|
|the trusty Rasta bar|
We rented a moped and rode the roller coaster roads everyday to the last beach at the southern most point of the island. We drank fruit shakes of every imaginable combination, ate fresh seafood and whole spitfire roasted chickens and lot of late night Magnum bars from 7/11. One day Michael and I took an impromptu road trip all the way up and
around to the opposite side of the island. The east coast is what the
west coast must have looked like twenty years ago. People living with
the jungle rather than treating it as an enemy. Three hours later, after
two minor accidents and almost running out of gas in the middle of
nowhere, we found ourselves in paradise. I can't tell you too much about
it because then it wouldn't be a secret, but we decided we must come
back to this place. Yes, this was the Thailand I had always imagined. The sun set on our way back and we had to traverse the last km of switchbacks in the dark with very sore asses. 7 hours on a moped....
Back on the west coast, we swam in a flat crystalline ocean and floated in a fresh waterfall pool. Bob posted up in his chair, Nancy got a massage in the shade and Michael got chased by a pack of hungry monkeys. I played on a slack line strung between two palm trees to the soundtrack of the Train Brake Orchestra
at full cacophony. (Every afternoon the jungle explodes in a simultaneous screech of millions of crazy Thai cicadas). Incredible people watching. Bob almost got braids in Every night a blazing orange sun sank into the ocean right below our balcony. And we slept to the voracious symphony of winds howling through the trees. Morning sunshine kisses and butterflies everywhere.
|baby palm tree|
|this may look like friendly curiosity but I assure you it was a full fledged attack. I was laughing too hard to do anything Wish I had taken a video. (Sorry babe)|
|two mangoes, a bunch of bananas and trail mix were sacrificed in the battle|
|our other little monkey friends|
|the love birds|
|infinity pool sunsets|
|Khlong Pklu waterfall|
|white guys with braids|
|busted! eating ice cream when you're supposed to be working out|
|yes, that is a lamb. on a leash|
|white girl tattoo paradise|
|street piece by our French friend, Alias. Graffiti artist, Light painter|
|Christmas lights at lonely beach|
The week drifted by deliciously slow but eventually the dream had to
end. After four weeks in Asia, Nancy and Bob left to catch their plane
in Bangkok. Yet another excellent vacation for the books. Michael and I had a little more time before we had to be back so we sneaked away to our secret little beach for a couple days...
|off to the jungle|