Tuesday we got up early to catch a taxi over to the train station to then get ourselves to Bangkok’s Eastern Bus Terminal. It was a good thing we set out early because morning traffic in Bangkok is a bit crazy. And by ‘a bit crazy’, I mean unbelievably insane. Cars and scooters just going everywhere, traffic signals hardly matter, it’s incredible. At the bus terminal we bought a ticket for the bus to Koh Chang, number 999, a very lucky number—we’ve been told Thais like the odd numbers, especially the number 9. It was a six hour bus ride to the ferry terminal near the town of Trat, and then a 45 minute crossing to the island of Koh Chang just off the coast in the Gulf of Thailand, where we stayed at the Blue Lagoon Resort for a few days.
Koh Chang is a typical tropical island, with steep, jungle covered mountains. We even saw a few monkeys and some elephants on the way to our hotel. Most of the island is designated as National Park, but the few villages around the island cater to tourists with plenty of restaurants, hotels and beaches. It’s a great place to be lazy.
On Wednesday, we paid a visit to the Ban Kwan Chang Elephant Camp. There is a long history of elephants as working animals in Thailand, but the camp we visited is dedicated to conservation. During our visit, we got to ride in a sedan chair on the back of an elephant named Blue Sky, while the mahout guided her on a walk through the forest. Elephant drivers, called mahouts, develop close relationships with the animals they work with. After a while, he hopped down on the ground and Alan and I each got to sit on her head. I have never experienced anything like it. Her head was huge! And covered in short, wiry hairs. It was really amazing! At the end, we got to feed her some bananas. I know elephant trunks are remarkable appendages, but to see her using it up close was really cool.
More photos from yesterday:
Today we were pretty lazy, managing only to swim at the beach and get our travel to Cambodia booked for tomorrow! I’m a little nervous about it, because I’ve read that the Cambodian border crossing can be slow and expensive, due to scams people try to pull on tourists. Hopefully we are ready for it and will get through to Siem Reap with minimal hassle!