We booked a bus/ferry trip from Bangkok to Koh Chang for B500 at the travel agent in the lobby of our hotel the New Siam 3. We were told we would be picked up from the hotel at 8:00am. We were a bit surprized but basically ready when someone arrived at the hotel looking for us at 7:45 am. We were expecting to be picked up in a van but the guy who met us was on a motorcycle. He took our receipt put a sticker on each of us (actually it was coloured electrical tape with writing on it) and told us to follow him so we did. We did not realize it at the time but anytime you go on any kind of trip they put a sticker on you. We walked down the street behind the motorcycle to the corner where he told us to wait.
A few minutes later he returned with a few more people and we all followed him down the street on foot with all of our bags. He took us down a few side streets until we arrived in front of a couple of buses on a main street. The buses, like all long distance buses we saw in Thailand, were painted bright colours and decorated with various things including Michelin tire men. There was a big group already there and there was some confusion about who was getting on which bus. A few people who were there but did not have tape on them actually got left behind. (Lesson learned pre-book even if it is only the night before).
The bus like almost everywhere else in Thailand had Wi-Fi! We started out making some interesting moves around the crowded streets of Bangkok and eventually made it to the toll elevated freeway which is modern, has no tuk-tuks and is an efficient way to get out of the city. The roads in general were modern and in good shape although there was a fair bit of construction going on.
The bus made one stop between Bangkok and the ferry to Koh Chang at a roadside restaurant. The Thai version of a highway road stop. We bought a bowl of soup and noodles for B60 which was excellent and used the facilities. The men’s was an open air urinal and the women’s had stalls but like most public bathrooms in Thailand there was no toilet paper.
An aside here about Thai toilets. They are a mix of Western and Asian style toilets, some flush some don’t. The ones that don’t flush have a tub of water and a bowl beside them. You pour water into the toilet with the bowl rather than flushing. It has the same effect. Oddly enough almost all Thai toilets have a sprayer on a hose which is attached to running water. You use it to clean the parts you would have used the toilet paper for. Toilet paper is still used but you don’t put it in the toilet. It goes in a wastebasket beside the toilet. In some places you take your shoes off before you enter the bathrooms but if this is required they supply sandals for you to wear while you are in the bathroom.
Back to the story…We arrived at the ferry office at 3:00pm. The bus driver took our bags off and left. We did not really get an explanation but Harold got in a line and came back with two ferry tickets and instructions to wait for the shuttle (the ferry dock was only about 500m away).
We bought a B5 banana and waited. There was a small restaurant and a place selling beer with signs in Thai and English saying “no beer on boat, buy beer here” a number of our fellow travelers did. Koh Chang is known more as a vacation island for Thai’s than for foreigners and that was reflected in the group waiting for the boat they were probably 75% Thai and 25% foreigners. They included a large group wearing matching t-shirts who appeared to be off to a wedding. They had a pick-up truck full of gifts.
The shuttle was an open trailer which we piled onto with our bags. The road was a bit rough and I expected the bags to fall off but they did not. We arrived at the dock and moved onto the ferry, where surprise, surprise…they did sell beer (we did not buy any.) Lesson learned – don’t believe anyone who is trying to sell you stuff.
The ferry ride was smooth but the motor was very loud. There was a man on the phone through the trip having a very loud conversation in Russian and one of the two people working at the snack counter was definitely a man dressed as a woman who was very friendly and was obviously having a very good time. There were a lot of Russians and Germans on Koh Chang.
When we arrived on Koh Chang we took a share taxi which is a pick-up truck with a cage over the back and a row of seats along each side. You hold on for dear life. Seat belts are not a thing! Our hotel was at the other end of the island and the price for a ride started at B250 each which is only $10 but it seems like a lot when we had only paid $20 each to get there from Bangkok. Harold got the price down to B200 and off we went. Koh Chang basically has one road. It’s steep and includes all kinds of hairpin turns I was very glad I was not driving. Most of the road was paved but the last couple of km in to our hotel were dirt track.
It was almost dark when we arrived at the hotel The Tropical Beach Koh Chang. A relatively isolated spot with a private beach. Our room was a hut which was completely round with walls and floors of concrete and a thatched roof. We road with our luggage in a motorcycle side car to the hut. We caught the end of an amazing sunset.
We ate on the beach at the hotel restaurant which was literally on the beach (they set it up each evening and put it away by morning). Beer was B100. They were doing a BBQ which they were very keen for us to try so we did. It was good but we would have been just as happy with something more Thai.