|We have spent almost a week on Koh Chang Island (in the north-east of the Gulf of Thailand near to Cambodia) relaxing and enjoying the lukewarm water.
Our little rustic hut was up 60 steps from the rocky beach with beautiful views and sunsets, and only the sounds of birds and geckos. Had a couple of spectacular thunder/lightening storms at night, but all was clear by the morning.
The town of Ban Bang Bao where we stayed is right at the end of the island and many of the shops, houses, and restaurants are built on either side of a concrete pier that extends into the fishing village bay.
There were sandy beaches to walk to and explore and we also jumped into a local taxi to go to other nearby beaches. Koh Chang is a popular seaside resort island for people from Bangkok. One day we went on a four island snorkeling trip, absolutely crowded because of the Thai long weekend. Many colourful fish to see, but the coral had been damaged quite recently by a storm.
We are intrigued by Thailand's so-called "third sex" - ladyboys. These are males who wish to be females. Many of them are employed in the cabaret/sex/bar industry but many also have normal everyday jobs. We have spoken to several who are tour guides or work in restaurants. Outwardly they are beautiful Thai women and it's not until they speak with their deep voice that you realise they are not! Most have had breast implants and look very feminine. We are getting better at spotting them - taller than usual, look for an Adam's apple (although many of them have this shaved off to make it smaller) larger than usual feet and hands. They seem to be accepted as part of Thailand culture.
It is nice to be relaxed and not pressed for time as we witnessed yesterday on our trip from Koh Chang back to Bangkok. We were up at 7am, walked 1/2 km to a taxi stop for a 45 minute drive to the ferry. After the ferry had loaded all the passengers and about 20 cars and tried to leave, it was stuck fast. With lots of maneuvering, the cars were backed off up the pier, a few at a time, with intermittent attempts by the captain to refloat the ferry. Even with all the cars removed, this was not possible. By this time, the next scheduled ferry had arrived and unloaded, and it proceeded to try and pull our ferry free - unsuccessfully. So now we all disembarked from our stuck ferry on to the other one for the hours journey to the mainland. Instead of feeling frustrated at the delay, we were amused by the goings on, and amazed at the calm and accepting attitude of the other Thai travellers.
We are back in Bangkok to pick up our passports from the Myanmar embassy today, hopefully with visas. We are backtracking somewhat, heading north to Chiang Rai, where we will spend a week in an Akha village (something we had pre-booked from NZ).
By the end of the month, we are off to Myanmar for a 2 week organised trip with Gecko Travel, then it will be goodbye to Southeast Asia and hello Morocco.