Posts Tagged With: Oasis

Elephant Trekking & Time Travel In Thailand

 

Koh Chang is an island for all people. If you want to lose yourself in weeks of lying on the sand, book in hand, soaking up the beauty of pure relaxation, you’ve come to the right island. If you want to clamber up waterfalls, explore the rugged mountainsides, or, even, trek with elephants, you’ve DEFINITELY come to the right island.

There is so much to do on Koh Chang! After the snorkling, the waterfall, and the plentiful beaches, we decided it was time to get up close and personal with the “other” locals of Koh Chang: The elephants.

IMG_2043There are many elephant trekking groups on Koh Chang. You see elephant “pastures” all over the island. You can book a variety of trips; we spent a half-day with these spectacular mammals.

 

IMG_2010We set out from the paradise of our hotel early in the morning. We had an ocean to swim in and Thai food to eat before we visited the elephants.

 

IMG_0164I tried the Thai version of my favorite Cambodian dishes, bok lahong. Believe it or not, everything in the above picture goes into this salad dish. In Khmer, bok lahong means “pounded papaya”, as it is a salad of unripe papaya sliced with the veggies above, and tossed with the most delectable, savory peanut-lime dressing. In Thai it is som tam, which literally translates to “sour pounded”. Whatever you call it, it is DELICIOUS!  (Check out that woman’s upper-body strength; you can tell she is a “pounded papaya” professional!)

After lunch, we stumbled upon something I’d never seen through all my travels…

IMG_0166…a business for time travel information. (Now you should be asking yourself, “Where is Kim writing this from?” But that’s a story for another blog…)

 

And then it was time to visit the elephants.
IMG_0172Sean was on one, my sister and I on another, and my dad walked halfway and rode the way back.

 

IMG_0187He had fun being at leg-level with the elephants as much as he did riding them. Together we headed into the forest of Koh Chang.

 

IMG_0215Then they told us, “You can give the elephants a bath.” We didn’t know that meant actually swimming with the elephants.

 

IMG_0229But it did. Lots and lots of swimming and snout-spraying.

 

IMG_0245As I make a complete fool of myself in the above picture, my sister has the shot of the lifetime. We were just floundering around in the water with these things; sometimes the elephants would completely submerge themselves underwater. You just had to guess where they would come up.


IMG_2049The view of an elephant from the driver’s seat.

Then we headed out of the forest, the sun drying our swimsuits as we plodded to and fro on the giant beasts.

And what does one do after a full day of riding and swimming with elephants?

IMG_2015Why, get a back massage, of course.

IMG_0170We polished off our final day in Koh Chang with a final dip in the ocean. What a day it was.

 

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Toto, We’re Not In Cambodia Anymore

 

When my Dad and sister said they were coming to visit, Sean and I faced a dilemma. Where do we take them? It was our winter break, and we wanted to go far enough away given all the time we had, but we also wanted to show my family the parts of Southeast Asia we know and love.

So we decided on Koh Chang, Thailand. An island on the Cambodian border; close enough to home, but still exotically different.

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We drove through the beautiful forests of Southwestern Cambodia, and then crossed the border into Thailand.

Unfortunately, we had to leave our car at the border. The border guards would not accept one of our registration papers, which we feared would happen. It is a temporary document, the official one is still in processing. After a few minutes of frustration, we accepted the fact, and hopped in the back of a songthaew.

 

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My Dad and sister were gracefully flexible – they loved the adventure! We took the songthaew from the border to the ferry dock, which only took about an hour.  We had been lazy leaving Koh Kong (remember, it’s paradise!), so it was getting late by the time we took the ferry to Koh Chang.

 

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Which meant we got to enjoy an incredibly sunset as the island loomed in the foreground. As we got closer, I couldn’t believe how mountainous it seemed!

 

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The next morning we sat in awe of the incredible view from our hotel, Oasis. Can you spot the islands?

 

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The view of Oasis as you approach from the main road. It was set on a hill, which gave you incredible views and a sense of being in an incredible rainforest.
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Our bungalow. Their basic rooms are something like $9 a night. This place was heaven.
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Once we got our bearings and filled our bellies with pad thai and coffee, we headed to the beach. Lonely Beach, to be exact. When we got there, we were greeted with white sand, gin-clear waters, and beach front massages. Bliss.
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We spent the better part of our days savoring this view.

As much as Koh Chang is famous for its beaches, it also has a variety of adventure opportunities. The whole interior of the island is a national park. The only development exists around the island’s perimeter. Once you head inland, all you’ll see is monkeys, waterfalls, and vines.
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We visited Klong Plu waterfall, and swam in its emerald pools.

IMG_1993To get to Klong Plu, you hike through the jungle for twenty minutes or so, and pop out at the base of the falls. It was a popular spot. December is the start of the dry season, so when we saw the falls in January, they weren’t as full as they would be in October. I can only imagine how wild it must be in the rainy season! Looks like we’ll have to go back.

IMG_0030On our third day we booked a snorkeling cruise. The owners of our hotel recommended BB Divers, which is Belgian run. We had a few choices: the cheapest snorkel trip was with a different company, and you’d be on a boat with about 50 people. For a bit more money you’d be on a boat with thirty, and for something like $3 more, you’re on a boat with ten. We chose the boat with 10, which was run by BB Divers.
IMG_0040It was, hands down, the best snorkel trip of my life. Absolutely stunning water, excellent equipment, and fantastic staff. The reefs were beautiful, but all of the iridescent fish were what sticks in my memory the strongest. You swam through entire schools of fish!
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We docked near Koh Rang and snorkeled for a few hours, then had lunch on the boat. (Do I even need to add that the food was excellent, too? Or will you stop believing me at some point…)
IMG_0108My sister decided to jump from the roof of the boat. No one rushed to stop her… or jump themselves. Not even me.

 

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The afternoon swam by in a series of laughs, splashes, and smiles. Before we knew it, Koh Chang grew larger on the horizon, and it was time to head back to the hotel.
IMG_0130As we sat there drinking our bottles of Chang  and watching the sun set, we shared a moment that could have lasted forever.

But we knew that tomorrow was another day to have fun.

See you next time for more on Koh Chang!

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