16 Jun Hello Thailand! Holidaying on Koh Chang
While we were living in Vietnam, my mind often wandered to Thailand. When we were having rough times I dreamed of fleeing back to the Land of Smiles, the country that became our haven while travelling in South-East Asia. So, despite the unexpected sadness I felt at leaving Hanoi I was also bouncing-off-the-walls excited to be finally heading back to one of our favourite countries.
When we first arrived back in Thailand all I could see were the glaring differences between Bangkok and Hanoi. My eyes boggled at the wide, well-paved roads, the calm traffic and neat lanes of cars queuing patiently on the highway. Where were the swarms of weaving, aggressive, horn-beeping motorbikes I was so used to in Hanoi? Why wasn’t our taxi driver beeping his horn? In fact, after living in Hanoi where horn-tooting is an unwritten law, the absence of beeps here is almost deafening.
Walking around Bangkok was pleasantly strange; we could cross the roads without almost being run over and cars even stopped for us at pedestrian crossings rather than beeping us angrily out of the way. The pavements were wide, clean and largely free from parked motorbikes so we could actually walk safely through the city. We basked in the familiar comforts we’d missed in Vietnam; 7-11s on every corner and malls where I could stock up on the good-quality contact lenses I could never find in Hanoi.
It’s just so easy to be in Thailand. We blend effortlessly into the crowds of tourists and the country is familiar to us after so many visits. We feel simultaneously at home and on holiday here and that’s just what we need right now; a relaxing, stress-free place to recover from the teaching year in Vietnam before we head back to the UK.
Holidaying on Koh Chang
Although we spent almost a third of our initial trip in Thailand, we visited only a hand-full of places, sticking to our favourite areas rather than exploring new ones. However, for this three and a half week trip we decided to split our time between our favourite place, Chiang Mai, and a brand new destination. After ten months of living in smoggy Hanoi we were craving clean air and sea views but we didn’t want to make the overnight trek to the southern Thai islands, so instead we settled on visiting Koh Chang, which is just a six hour journey by bus and boat from Bangkok.
Koh Chang turned out to be an excellent choice. One of Thailand’s largest islands, Koh Chang is also less crowded with tourists than the more popular places down south. Over the last week we’ve well and truly settled into holiday mode and have been relaxing in a beautiful resort. It’s low season in Thailand right now and the island feels empty; although there have been a few rainy hours and some cloudy skies there has still been plenty of sunshine. In our opinion the more unpredictable weather is a great trade-off for the peace, quiet and low prices you can get in low season.
We booked a standard room at TOP Resort and due to lack of guests we’ve been upgraded to a stunning split-level sea-view villa for just £17 per night. For a few days we were the only guests and had the entire resort to ourselves, enjoying a private pool. We’re also just a ten minute walk away from White Sand Beach, a wide, silky stretch of sand which is sparsely covered with a few other tourists.
After working so hard in Hanoi it’s been difficult to adjust to having no commitments; it took us a while to learn how to cope with our new-found freedom but we’ve settled into a routine of sorts. We spend a few hours a day tackling online projects and the rest of the time we relax by the pool, swim, walk along the beach, read and catch up on TV programmes in the evening. We talk lazily about future plans and watch as we transform from exhausted, chalky-white shells to lightly tanned, well fed and rested humans again.
In fact, we’ve become almost lazy, content to rarely venture out of our resort. One day the guilt caught up with us and we rented a bike to explore. We drove along the west-side of the island, stopping briefly at view points and different beaches including the popular backpacker hang-out, Lonely Beach, which we weren’t overly impressed by, preferring our White Sand Beach. We attempted to visit a waterfall but were put off by the steep entrance fee and instead found ourselves retreating to the comfort of our bungalow and the cool depths of the hotel pool.
The days have blurred into a soft, relaxing haze of sunshine and pool time, beautiful sun sets, delicious meals and long periods of lying down. This is exactly what we needed. Now, with just a couple of days left of our Koh Chang holiday I feel the familiar itch of excitement creeping up on me – soon we will return to our favourite Thai city: Chiang Mai.
KatiePosted at 19:29h, 16 June
Sounds like a perfect way to decompress after the busy few weeks you must have had, and I totally agree about off season – the weather isn’t that bad compared to how quiet the islands are!
We didn’t make it to Koh Chang when we were in Thailand, but it’s definitely on our list for when we return – it looks lovely!
AmyPosted at 16:16h, 18 June
Koh Chang is lovely Katie, it was definitely the right choice for us, I almost wish we’d stayed longer!
MattPosted at 12:41h, 18 June
That resort looks awesome – got to love low season (I think those few bits of rain just give you a welcome break from the sun anyway and would gladly have that instead of paying twice as much and being surrounded by tourists). Hope you guys have a great break! (and enjoy being back in Chiang Mai)
AmyPosted at 16:19h, 18 June
We quite enjoy a break from the searing sun too, we burn quite easily. It’s very quiet here in Chiang Mai too right now, there’s a nice relaxed vibe.
RhondaPosted at 16:02h, 18 June
That looks just fantastic! Thailand draws us back again and again as well, for many reasons but not the least of which is exactly what you said.. it’s just EASY. Enjoy your time in Chiang Mai! Love it there.
AmyPosted at 16:19h, 18 June
Yep, we could spend months in Thailand, we love it!
Gilda BaxterPosted at 20:45h, 18 June
I loved Thailand so much and would love to go back there one day, Koh Chang looked beautiful and so nice to get a hotel upgrade. I am glad you were not put off getting back on the bike after your accident in Vietnam and managed to rent a bike to explore. That pool looked so inviting. It is definitely worth going there for the low season, can’t argue with cheaper prices and few tourists.
AmyPosted at 04:50h, 19 June
It was a little scary getting back on a bike again but we were very careful and the roads here in Thailand are very good. We loved that pool, we miss it already!
Louisa KlimentosPosted at 00:56h, 29 June
I am glad you were careful on the bikes Always wear protective gear.Remember what happened to my son.He is getting better and his fractured spine is healing .i love to see you visit Krabi Thialand i heard iot is beautiful over there and i think the warer is a lovely emarald green.Enjoy yourself and can’t waite to read more of your travel adventures
AmyPosted at 04:36h, 29 June
I’m glad your son is healing, bikes can be such dangerous things. We didn’t make it to,Krabi this time but we will return to Thailand one day so,I will put it on the list !
PattiPosted at 01:56h, 19 June
“…it took us a while to learn how to cope with our new-found freedom …”
I can SO relate to this, Amy. Nothing compared to teaching in Hanoi for a year, but coming home after 13 weeks on the road, it’s been hard to slip back in to “normal” life.
These photos of the sunsets are stunning and I love the photo of the two of you on the beach.
AmyPosted at 04:48h, 19 June
Thanks Patti 🙂 I bet it feels strange coming back after all you experienced in Europe, especially after the Camino.
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)Posted at 15:23h, 19 June
I know I said so on your FB page already, but I can’t get over that sunset shot! So beautiful!
And I definitely get what you mean about Thailand, because we found every single time we returned there during our time in Asia that passing back into Thailand felt like nothing so much as returning home. There is just something magical about that place, and we’ve both said that whenever we do make it back to Asia, we’d like our first stop to be back in Thailand.
I also understand how tricky adjusting to an open-ended schedule can be… we’re actually going through the reverse right now as I struggle with the frustration of having to work and make money while on the road and NOT having every day be completely free from expectation and responsibility, but I know it definitely took us a while when we first started traveling to not feel a bit unsettled that there was nothing we HAD to do. I came to love having all that time to ourselves to do whatever we wanted, but coming from a culture where one feels one must always be doing something, it was definitely an adjustment!
AmyPosted at 04:59h, 20 June
Thailand feels so homely for us too and I’m surprised by just how much more relaxed it feels in comparison to Vietnam (or Hanoi at least). We’re starting to enjoy our relaxed schedule in Thailand now; we should make the most of it before the pace picks up in the UK and U.S!
JeniaPosted at 13:59h, 23 June
You guys – well earned rest! ALSO I LOVE THAILAND SO MUCH. It’s my go to daydream destinations when I just want to escape reality of being back in DC, or traveling / living somewhere where at the moment it feels not so great. I remember when we were traveling in India — although it was fascinating, sometimes the environment got to be too much – too polluted, too loud, too conservative — and then I would just remind myself of how many more days until we were back in Thailand. And when we actually got back to Thailand, stopping off that plane, I was giddy with excitement – air conditioned sky train! fresh fruit! polite drivers! clear directions! nice guesthouse with hot water and new sheets! Ah!
AmyPosted at 11:50h, 24 June
It sounds like you totally get it Jenia! Thailand does seem like paradise, right? Our time has flown by since we arrived here and I will be sad to leave 🙁 We’re making the most of it while we can.
Victoria@ The British BerlinerPosted at 12:45h, 26 June
It sounds like you’re having a wonderful time relaxing. And you deserve to do so. Thailand is just so lovely. Having said that, I really like Vietnam too. Thankfully, they’re totally different countries and not in competition with each other. And like you, after my 30 days in Vietnam, as much as I loved it so, I booked 3 days in Bangkok “to recover.”
I know! It was bliss! Enjoy guys. 🙂
AmyPosted at 13:52h, 28 June
I know what you mean, they are completely different countries and while we lived Vietnam it is nice to have some peace and calm here in Thailand