One visit to Koh Chang is worth more than all the gold in the world. Elephant Island is also known as Koh Chang and is one of the largest Thai islands in the Gulf of Thailand. On the West-coast of the island is a fully developed community with major supermarket chains and their mini-marts. This side of the island has 5-star resorts to the young and vibrant party-goers. You'd see exploring backpackers on some of the greatest adventures of their lives and even families enjoying the comfort from the commercial development. The East-coast of the island, however, is a much more natural side of the island with beautiful dense jungle.
The East-coast of Koh Chang is the home of a few fishing villages and a lot of locals live on this quieter side. The natural dense jungle also has 2 waterfalls named Khlong Neung Waterfall & Khiri Phet Waterfall which aren't part of the island's Mu Ko Chang National Park. These 2 waterfalls are considered the more adventurous ones because of this. Many adventurers love to take motorbike rides to the East-coast of the island for priceless selfies at these waterfalls because of the seclusion.
Koh Chang means elephant island in Thai but the island didn't receive its name because of indigenous elephants. It got its name from its massive size in which the island's enormous mountains are used as a shelter for ships during monsoons and typhoons. The elephants on the island were brought in when the commercial development began as a tourist attraction because of the island's name.
Koh Chang has become one of the most visited islands in Thailand because of its easy access from Bangkok and comfort from the commercial development. Its allure is from one visit, you get to experience a Thai tropical island, a Thai waterfall and the best of Thai culture and cuisine in one place. Every adventure of Thailand's Elephant Island is an experience worth more than all the gold in the world.
Straight to Serenity
During my brother's visit, we managed to escape the inner city and took our families to Koh Chang for a week. The @gramurai had just visited by himself a few weeks earlier so we had been promising our kids the magical waters of Khlong Plu Waterfalls on the island's Mu Ko Chang National Park. After breakfast, we wasted no time getting to the waterfall.
This was my 6th visit to the waterfall and the trek through the dense jungle was easy due to familiarity. Even though I knew what to expect, the last turn around the rocky corner of the national park's trail that displays the first view of the double waterfall gets me every time. The sheer beauty of the waterfall's natural positioning is like something from out of a science fiction novel trilogy. I could hear the power of the water pressure thunderously hitting the first level pool.
The @gramurai and I quickly found a spot next to the national park rangers to base the family. After they were safely in the water, we took our bigger children and showed them our favorite part of the emerald pool to dive in. I looked up the side of the cliff to admire the natural beauty that I had missed before swan diving into the emerald pool of Khlong Plu Waterfalls. The brisk magical waters alerted my senses upon entry and I quickly emerged to give my grandson jumping directions. As I looked at the excitement on his face, I knew I had once again found serenity on Elephant Island.
Swimming to the Sunset
One of the best things about having kids and tropicals islands is that they get up and swim at sunrise. We stayed at Royal Siam View where each morning started with them swimming in the pool villa until we could move them to the beach. We swam for long moments in the ocean waters before moving to the property's Olympic size saltwater pool. One of the greatest joys in my life is spending time with family in nature, even if I have to trick them into putting down their smartphones and tablets.
As @gramurai and I took turns watching the smaller kids while swimming, I can't help but have a grateful feeling swimming with them. I felt like a kid again. I remembered what it felt like to not have a care in the world.
We switched to different beaches and back to the pool on the property throughout the day. During one trip back in the salt water pool, I noticed a family of 4 adults with 3 kids ranging from 6-8 years old (estimation). As their children played in the deep end with their armband floatation devices, all the adults were in their serious smartphone Netflix zones.
I thought to myself, "They should be watching the kids." That itself is dangerous on many levels. Having children who can't swim playing unattended, while using only blow up floatation devices, can be risky. As I saw how much fun their kids were having, I also felt a feeling of sadness for the adults.
They traveled halfway across the world to reach paradise, only to have it covered up by the images on their smartphones. They were so emersed in their devices they couldn't even hear the magical laughter from their kids' happiness, a few feet away. Their children eventually came and asked them to go swimming with them only to get the "go away" hand gesture. They ran down to the beach by themselves laughing as kids do. I became so grateful for these life images I witnessed that I made sure to enjoy each swim, each laugh, each hug, and each smile with our own kids the rest of the trip.
Sunsets to Serenity
The adults in our family managed to bamboozle the kids in thinking that the days swimming was for them and the evenings and night time was for us. Our kids had the upper hand though because, by evening, the @gramurai and I were also fatigued beyond relief.
On Koh Chang, the layout of the Westcoast allows for many locations to have priceless views of the island's daily sunset. We headed to one of our favorites called Rasta View with dreams of Bob Marley's music and hamburger a commitment to the kids. We knew the beauty of the sunset there always shine through the clouds of smoke from the restaurant's guests and we wanted to be there for both sunset and smoke, LOL.
As we took up the drone, our brother DJ Pacman started with some scratches that made me reminisce on the golden age of Hip Hop. As our drone stared into the eye of the island's sunset, I felt the feeling of serenity was a daily occurrence on Koh Chang.
Authored & Photographed by: