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Watch for Falling Cashews!

Posted by exacto on 18/2/2020 at 02:59

I just spent four nights on Little Koh Chang in Ranong Province, Thailand. The island is a throw back to what I think of as the golden age of backpacking in the 1990's, when the norm was a bamboo hut right on the sand with cold water only showers and electricity from a generator for only a few hours each night. The sand isn't the best here, and the water isn't the clearest, but for aging boomers like me, this is a fun reminder of the good old days and a serious chance to relax. The four nights stretched out and felt like more than a week.

Of the dozen or so places I visited, there were two that really captured my imagination. The first was Rattana, a small place up along the north end of the island. It is run by Ped and Sunny, two amazingly sincere and guest-centric hosts. It is not on the beach, but instead is built on stilt platforms on a hillside overlooking the water, blending perfectly into the natural surrounding. Decent beaches are a short walk in either direction.

The other was Sawasdee, at the south end of long beach. It is run by Nui and Fon, two similarly wonderful folks. Their resort is much more curated and manicured, but rather than making it seem sterile, it created a zen garden like atmosphere, with lovely breezes and awesome views. Both places have excellent and reasonably priced food, but Sawasdee is definitely a bit more upscale.

If you go this time of year (February), it is cashew season, with cashew fruit falling to the ground like rain, and locals out collecting them throughout the day. Cashews require processing before you can eat them, unfortunately.

For the ferry boat trip to Koh Chang Ranong, the best choice is the slow boat, leaving daily at 0930 ish and 1300 ish, as it will drop you off along the beach right in front of (or very near) whichever bungalow you choose. Cost was 200 baht each way as of February 2020. The trip takes about two hours.

If you are looking for a relaxing beach massage, check out the nice lady named Nah near Golden Bee, in the middle of long beach. She charges a bit more than other beach front locations, but the 60 minute massage I booked lasted well longer, and it was seriously one of the best massages I've had in Thailand, and I've had hundreds.

Finally, I thought Ranong town was charming unto itself, and definitely worth a look before or after a trip to the island, or both. There is a surprisingly good restaurant scene there, along with a chance to visit the hot springs and to interact with an interesting mix of southern Thai, central Thai, Chinese, and Burmese (mostly Mon) peoples, in addition to the eclectic mix of travelers. Cheers.

#1 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,808

Posted by Tennouji on 8/3/2020 at 03:53

Hi Exacto. I was just wondering how the wild dog and sandfly situation was there?

I had a December stay on Ko Phayam ruined a few years ago by legs covered in sandfly bites that got infected and I needed a visit to the clinic and to get several types of medication. I got bitten the first evening and then had to spend the rest of the time covering myself in coconut oil which is a pain - but that allowed me to see exactly how many of the critters there were, judging by the number of dead ones constantly on my legs!


There were packs of aggressive, wild and pet dogs that teamed up at night growling and barking at anyone who tried to walk past. You would a few of them lying down alone in front of restaurants during the day, but they were gang members at night! As my bungalow was in the middle of the island, I had to get back home before 8pm every night in order to avoid "my" pack. I have read several stories of people being bitten on Phayam...



I really liked the island and the old-skool vibe, but the above would put me off a return. Is Chang similar or different in those respects?

#2 Tennouji has been a member since 22/9/2007. Location: Japan. Posts: 139

Posted by exacto on 9/3/2020 at 04:25

Hi Tennouji,

I know what you mean about sand flies being a problem, as I had a similar situation on Ko Mak ten years ago. Fortunately, I didn't notice a sand fly problem on Ko Chang (Ranong) during this visit. I didn't hang out on the beach for hours, but I did visit three of the smaller beaches, and make several long walks along the main beach too, without issue. I didn't hear anyone else complain either.

Ko Chang (Ranong) had its fair share of beach dogs. For the most part they completely ignored me, except for one dog that got a bit aggressive and followed me for about 100 meters before being chased off by some locals gathering cashews. I recall seeing very few dogs while walking along the inland paths.

That's really more of a snapshot than a comprehensive report, but these were not issues during my brief visit in February 2020. I hope that helps. Cheers.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,808

Posted by Tennouji on 9/3/2020 at 05:35

Thanks, Exacto.
I wonder if I am becoming more sensitised to sandflies as, in the last three or so trips to Thailand, I've had bites that turn into large blisters that weep, burst (ouch!), scab and then leave scars. In the past I might get one blister every few trips, but on Kut last March I ended up with about 8 of them. Horrible! A pharmacist said that sandflies like beaches where fresh water meets salty water, exactly like the beach on Kut I'd been staying at and the beach on Phayam where I was bitten.

Perhaps there are just more sandflies around in March or May. I always used to go in December - and had no problem on Kut in December. I also had a problem on Mak in December many years ago, but aside from that, December seemed OK - until Ko Phayam.

Anyway, sandfly stream of consciousness over, thank you for the Chang info. The guesthouses you recommended look very nice. Maybe next time...

#4 Tennouji has been a member since 22/9/2007. Location: Japan. Posts: 139

Posted by wanderer143 on 30/3/2020 at 03:07

Thanks for the heads up. Such an inconvenience, I know. The growling is another thing indeed!

#5 wanderer143 has been a member since 2/11/2014. Posts: 136


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