Koh Chang is Thai for “elephant island”, a real treasure situated on the quieter, Eastern, side of the island and has its own beach frontage of about 200 meters. After our vacation in South Africa, we flew in to Bangkok’s impressive new airport from where we took a leisurely 40 minute flight to Trat in the southern mainland. From Trat we headed for the ferry terminal, and it is a half hour crossing from there.
Our hosts, Julian and Cheryl, gave us a tour of the pool area, stunning and well-tended gardens, beach and restaurant. There is something about the restaurant that is difficult to reduce to words; it is a quietness ruffled only by the lapping of the wavelets on the shoreline a few meters from the thatched building. We decided that the most descriptive word might be “mellow” but it is also romantic, tranquil, comfortable, and filled with the heady scents of incense and Thai cooking. Soft music was just discernible above the gentle sighs of the calm ocean. At most meals the restaurant was almost full, however, the quietness remained, it was not drowned out by raised voices; people spoke softly and would sit for hours at their tables – perhaps just over a pot of coffee which was the best we tasted anywhere in Thailand.
There is plenty of Western food available too – and if it is not on the menu, just ask, because the staff at Amber Sands want only to please. Three personal recommendations are the Healthy Start Breakfast, Yellow Curry and Chicken Burger; and if you need a break from rice, just ask for fries.
Our hosts had owned the resort since late 2008, buying it under the old name Funky Hut; we understand they had just recently completed major renovations prior to our arrival (improved gardens, renovated swimming pool deck, roofs, linen, new wooden flooring/ decking, restaurant toilets, etc.) Furthermore, they had actually reduced their tariffs!
The service was faultless, in the room, the restaurant, and at the beach and pool. Having been to Thailand before we expected certain teething problems – like faulty showers or air conditioning – however, the hot water was plentiful and the air conditioner so good we (Australian residents accustomed to living in aircon) needed to turn it down on the first night.
There is much to see on the island of Koh Chang; gardens, elephants, tree top walkways, snorkelling, diving, waterfalls, beautiful beaches and much, much more. We did a fair bit of shopping in the friendly markets, lunched at a few restaurants, took a road tour of most of the Eastern side of the island plus White Sands on the busier West side. Motor bikes (automatic) are available for hire on the island, your hosts might be able to arrange the booking – as they do for activities like elephant rides or diving.
The resort provides free wireless email access, or one can use the desktop PC in the restaurant. There is no television and we hope it stays that way, we’re sure it means that only those capable of enjoying life in the here and now will decide to stay at Amber Sands – and that seems to foster a like-mindedness amongst guests.
We shall certainly return soon, and next time for longer than 4 days. This resort – which might even be called a retreat - will suit anyone who wants a quiet time while on holiday, especially those capable of entertaining themselves and enjoying the present moment. Be warned, you will be spoiled by your hosts and struggle to depart knowing that this type of hospitality and tranquillity cannot be bought for any price….at least until next time!
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