Koh Chang in East Thailand is a potpourri of activities that mix adventure, food and fun to ensure you have a good time.
“Just turn back and step down from the steps to reach the last and then hold on to the rope,” instructed my guide as I anxiously wondered why I signed up for my first ever snorkeling trip at Koh Chang in Thailand. Added to my nervousness was the fact that I had the snorkeling gear fixed on my head, eyes and mouth and the alien feeling did not help the non-swimmer in me. But my guide was a local diver and an expert who egged me to overcome my fear and trusting him I got off the boat. Grabbing the rope and the tube I looked down into the crystal clear waters to see a stunning spectacle of colour courtesy yellow, blue, pink and white fish swimming amidst coral reefs and tiger clamps. For once I was happy that overcoming my fear helped and my guide told me that the shallow waters of the reefs at 5 to 25 metres support a variety of marine life like the Blue Tipped Rays, Grouper, Moray Eels, Trigger Fish and Batfish. It does help that Koh Chang is the largest island in the archipelago of 52 islands in this region and has a variety of activities for a memorable beach holiday.
For adventure junkies, this is a haven thanks to the Tree Top Adventure Park that has a whopping 40 zip lines and involves various kinds of climbing and zip lining activities that are certainly not for the faint hearted. You can take a break in between and gorge on some cut fruits before completing the second half of the trail. Else simply head to the beach here and chill at the beach side restaurant and you will still be able to soak in the beauty of nature here. The shallow waters near the shore are ideal for swimming as well. Another activity that I recommend you try is the elephant trek.
While there are many here I choose the Chang Chutiman Tour because this organization is associated with the Asian Elephant Foundation an institution that assists elephants to enjoy improved living conditions. These elephants were used to transport goods in the past but are now used to give tourists a trek in the midst of the jungle about 1 km from Klong Prao village through virgin rain-forests. We are given a bag of bananas for the elephant that dutifully stops midway and raises its trunk for this snack. The topsy-turvy track notwithstanding, this is a fun way to explore the local terrain of this area. If you are however looking for something quieter a boat ride through the mangroves is highly recommended. This will bring you up close with not just the complex tree system but also the villagers who live on the banks. Our boatman even stopped and plucked a shoot to explain how the root grows and even fished out a crab with a man made net that looked like a box.
If you have had enough of adventure, Koh Chang is the place to learn all about Thai food and you can enroll for a cooking class too. I went to Napalai Thai Cuisine and its affable owner and chef Bunny taught me four dishes. In fact she was kind enough to ensure she taught me the vegetarian versions of the dishes being a staunch vegetarian. Starting with a soup, Thai green curry vegetable, noodles and a dessert, the four course meal is good fun, well you eat what you cook. Bunny also retails a lot of the products and accessories she uses so you can simply buy them from here. The interactive session is good fun and yes, I even earned a certificate at the end of it so it was a certainly well spent three hour culinary session for me. Interestingly Bunny does propagate the concept of traditional cooking methods and also organic vegetables and the food tastes quite awesome because of these factors. As night sets, Koh Chang transforms to a sea of activity and road side food stalls that sell everything from pancakes, satay, salads, all kinds of skewered and roasted meats, fruits and more spring up. If you like to party, Koh Chang is the place for you as it allows you enough choice to pub hop and sample local drinks too. On my last day here, I headed to the beach in the evening and was amazed to see how people were enjoying the water. There was water skiing, paragliding, swimming and even water scooters. Soon enough it was evening and to my delight I was treated to a pink, blue and purple visual treat in the sky and a pink sunset – one that I had never seen before. As the sun set, I turned back with only one thought, Koh Chang had been an eye opener and showed me Thailand in a light I never knew existed.
This story first appeared in The Hans India dated Dec 8, 2019 here: