Koh Chang: Jan and Joe and Chinese Tourists
February 27, 2015
Greetings from the beach!
My Bronx high school classmate and friend Joe F. is visiting from Los Angeles. We decided to fly down to the southern island of Koh Chang and spend a few days at the Koh Chang Kacha Resort and Spa. *
Before we left Bangkok, I phoned my friend Tu who works at an optical shop at White Sand Beach. On her day off, we three took a ride through the mountains to Bang Bao on the southern tip of the island. We wandered down the shop-filled pier and had a delicious seafood lunch at the Buddha View Restaurant. I chose a dish of fresh fish in a hearty ginger sauce along with a watermelon shake. **
It seems that China has “discovered” Koh Chang. Many Chinese families were staying at our hotel and many more were shopping and patronizing the restaurants. One early morning, on my stroll down the beach, I met several young Chinese women who were quite happy to pose for my camera.
This is Joe’s fourth trip to Thailand. Joe discovered one of the delights of independent international travel - “You meet so many interesting people from so many different countries with such diverse life styles.”
At dinner one evening we met a couple from Durban, South Africa. They were so happy to tell us about the lovely beaches at home. We met a British couple. They live in Cyprus. They own a home here in Koh Chang, just a few steps from the beach and a few more from a golf course. They come here for two months at a time.
At breakfast one morning, I noticed a young Chinese girl, maybe seven or eight years old. She had unusually long and delicate fingers. Her father spoke some English so I mentioned that the girl could have a good advantage if she played the piano. He was delighted to tell me that his daughter was already involved with music. She plays traditional Chinese instruments.
On the ferry, we sat opposite a young couple. They were quite affectionate with each other and barely spoke above a whisper. The girl had a slightly tan natural complexion. Her young husband was not very tall and had thick, short black hair. In a situation like this I try to guess where they come from. I guessed they had to be from a Mediterranean country, and possibly Israel.
Finally I heard them speak – Hebrew! So, I just said to them, “I correctly guessed where you are from!” To make a long story short, we continued with our conversation on the ferry, and at the waiting area before our flight back to Bangkok. (They were on their honeymoon.)
The young couple had already completed their required military service. She was studying special education and he was studying political science. He also works at the Tel Aviv Airport as a shift manager in the security department. He thinks he knows my cousin’s wife who also works at the airport. (Israel is a small country.)
Naturally, we exchanged information about our family background. The girl’s family was originally from Yemen. (That explains her complexion.) The boy’s grandmother was from Egypt and his grandfather was from Greece. (That explains his aquiline nose.) His other grandparents were from Czechoslovakia. (Are we cousins?)
On his own, Joe met a lovely couple from Denmark. He seemed so pleased that he had made some new friends.
But Joe’s best experience was on the beach where he met a Chinese family. Apparently they had a long conversation. The Chinese people were probably also excited that they had met an American. And when Joe showed them a picture of his Chinese girlfriend in Los Angeles, they were positively ecstatic!
So “Come on Over!” For the beach. For the seafood. For the folks you meet along the way. For the Thai smile.
*Bangkok Airways announces itself as “Asia’s Boutique Airline.” The name is quite correct.
At the Bangkok airport, I noticed that the check-in line was very long. I spotted an agent, “limped” over to her, and mentioned that my friend and I are a bit “old.” Without a moment’s hesitation, she diverted us to a Courtesy Counter where we were welcomed and presented with our boarding passes in an instant.
Bangkok Airways also provides a separate lounge near the boarding gates: free food and beverages for all passengers!
The flight from Bangkok actually lands on the mainland at Trat. There, for a reasonable fee, the airline provides a van to the ferry pier. The van drives on to the ferry. After we cross to Koh Chang, the van takes us to our hotel entrance. AND, the van was precisely on time for the pick-up for our return trip.
Did I mention that even on this short one-hour flight, a hot meal is served by the sublimely attractive Thai Flight Attendants? As a frequent traveler on a variety of American airlines, Joe was shocked!
Bangkok Airways flies the ATR-72. Made in France.