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I spent 20 years punching a time clock... then decided there had to be another way. Right now I'm sitting in a comfortable chair on a beautiful beach. There's a sweet, soft breeze in the air. In front of me, on the clear blue water, a boat drifts by. Maybe I'll go snorkeling this afternoon, or work on my tan. This is my kind of tropical paradise... cheap and unspoiled!
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Ko Chang    

By Ken Silver About Asia
2623 Views | 0 Comments | 1/29/2011 3:51:35 PM
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Some Thai islands can’t get no respect. That used to be sort of the case with Ko Chang, a massive island all by its lonesome off the Cambodian border. Heavily forested, not on any convenient travelers’ circuit, Ko Chang used to be pretty quiet.

You had to take a mini bus out of Bangkok, and then take the same service back to Bangkok to continue with your Thailand adventures. Pretty much an isolated trip, especially considering that such popular islands as Ko Phi Phi could be conveniently partied in sequence along with Puket and the spectacular limestone cliffs of the Krabi coast.

Or, you could do the triple crown of Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, and Ko Tao. One after the other by frequent ferry.

That’s beginning to change, as word has gotten out about the scenic grandeur of Ko Chang. Visually, it’s a big, massive green covered hill filled rock of an island. Riding the shuttle bus the length of the main western road is like a toned down rollercoaster ride. Plenty of beaches also, mostly concentrated along its accessible western coast. As a matter of fact, the eastern side, towards the mainland, is dirt road simple, still frequented only by hardy travelers who don’t mind getting their motor bikes dirty and sleeping in native huts.

You’ve got places to travel to also when you are ready to leave the island. Catch a dedicated bus to the Cambodian temple city of Angkor Wat.

A friend of mine likes Ko Chang, but she says the Feng shui of it is wrong. The nearest I can figure out is that she would like the sunrise to be on the western side, and the sunset on the unvisited east. Well, the Thai government may be working on that… years back they announced a massive plan to resort Ko Chang, and in the Prime Ministers words, get a more upscale crowd than those young backpackers.

Another minor problem, compared to switching east for west and west for east, is that Ko Chang is just so big. Riding the shuttles around can cost around $5 each time. People solve that issue by sticking to one beach or another.

My favorite is White Sand Beach, the first major one from the dock. Rooms are cheap here, starting with small huts closed with a padlock for about $6 a night. This beach has wall to wall bars and cafes churning out a tsunami of music each evening, so that one can hardly hear high tide. My favorite place here is - can’t remember the name - but as you face the water, it’s the last guest house on the right, before the hill becomes too sheer. Its on the cliff edge, and its outdoor dining area gives marvelous views.

There is a very good snorkel trip for about $8, and an elephant camp where you can take a ride through the jungle on ol’ Jumbo. When I did it, the “driver” let me “take the wheel”; I must say more than one monkey in the trees noticed the striking resemblance between me and Tarzan.

Can you meet the honest Thai woman of your dreams on Ko Chang? No, probably not, there is little interaction other than with a few waitresses. The populace is tucked away in a fishing village at the remote end of the island. Better to subscribe to this internet dating service!

Jungle trekking tours are available. You could meet the king cobra of your dreams, or perhaps a reticulated python. Then again, these days you could meet them on any Florida golf course.

But the laid back joie de vie of Ko Chang is strictly a specialty of Thailand.

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