Ko Si Chang
After several days in the city we decided we still had time to spare before catching our flight to Phnom Penh. After shopping destinations we decided on Si Racha, a town located about 100 kilometers southeast of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand. Si Racha is billed as a more low-key alternative to the seedier beach scene at Pattaya. Its other claim to fame is its seafood, and famed “sriracha” brand chili sauce.
We took a bus from Bangkok, thinking it would simply take us from point A to point B. As it turned out Si Racha wasn’t on the end of the line, so unknowingly we wandered about in the boonies somewhere south of the city (“strange town, don’t ya think?”). Hysterically, thinking we were about to come upon a pristine beach at any turn we dazedly found ourselves walking down a long dusty road near some kind of shipping yard.
Unless you are in danger, being lost is usually a positive and interesting experience and this was no exception. The coast off of Si Racha is a major shipping route for products heading to Bangkok, and so it was interesting to see some of
Ko Si Chang
the shipping offices-which seemed to indicate the ocean was out there somewhere.
Finally, confused and sunburned we made it back to the main highway and flagged down a ride in the back of a pickup truck for a seemingly exorbitant rate. We decided to take a ferry to Ko Si Chang, an island about 12 km off the coast at Si Racha.
I was used to Thailand catering heavily to tourists, and thus was surprised to find that the ferry was an old wooden boat, with some folding chairs in the cabin. (On the way home our captain actually stopped the boat and leaped off fully clothed to go for a swim). We climbed down a wobbly ladder onto the deck and precariously inched our way into the cabin. It was a short but fun ride; the other passengers were all locals, as Ko Si Chang is especially popular with domestic tourists, and silvery flying fish skimmed across the surface of the water. We also passed a herd of barges doing some sort of dredging project, evidence of the significance of shipping in the area.
Once in town, we took a tuk-tuk to Tham
Phang beach and promptly decided to spend the night so we would have time to swim. Ko Si Chang has a rocky, dry, volcanic terrain rather than the lush vegetation of a tropical island paradise, which made it all the more interesting.
The only accommodation near the beach was a basic bungalow with stone walls, two mattresses, and many six and eight-legged residents. The proprietor unconcernedly crushed a dying cockroach under her toe while showing us the room, not noticing my grimace. I’m just being dramatic, it wasn’t that bad, and we were there to swim after all.
In town we bought a couple of cheap snorkels on sale, only to find that the bands were made for children (or people with extremely small heads). We eventually made it work, even though Craig’s band snapped while we were fiddling with it, I simply retied it with the elastic band from my underwear (pretty ingenious, right?). It paid off as we spent the majority of the next morning snorkeling and encountered several large puffer fish who were surprised to find us intruding upon their home.
Ko Si Chang was a great stop, and had a very
Ko Si Chang
laid-back atmosphere. I hope that someday I get a chance to explore many more of Thailand’s fascinating islands. Next time….
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