My plan for Christmas was to forget it was Christmas. Let’s face it: It’s simply not Christmas without family and snow, or at least cold weather and hot chocolate. So I escaped to an island in search of white sand and blue ocean, and found exactly what I was looking for.
Prior to last weekend, the only Thai beach I had seen was Pattaya, and I wish to never go back. Unless you’re a 60-something, perverted white man, you’ll have no business in Pattaya, and you’ll find it as disgusting as I did. The men are dirty as the dark brown sand, and the Thai girls on their shoulders are younger than my 18-year-old brother.
I was beginning to doubt the splendor of the Thai oceanside, but spending the weekend on Koh Chang offered the postcard beauty I’d dreamt of seeing. And it was worth the 14 hours it took to get there.
I arrived at noon on Friday on relatively no sleep and immediately walked to the beach. I found a fairly quiet stretch of sand with a cozy chair and a perfect position for sunbathing. When my tan lines began to show, I decided it was time for an iced coffee. The last time I ordered coffee, it didn’t include two shots of rum, but what do I know after working at Starbucks for three years? It was exactly what I needed.
And that night, as I lie in a bed enclosed by a mosquito net in the middle of a screen-less wooden hut, I was thankful for those extra shots. Not only would a tent have proven more secure, it would have mentally prepared me to sleep with nature. A barking lizard (as they’re called here) lived inside the wall of my hut and sounded off every hour. I thought I would never sleep, but ironically, the bed was much more comfortable than the one I have in Suwannaphum. So, I stayed two more nights and made friends with the lizard.
On Saturday, I rented a motorbike ($6 for 24 hours) and rode around the island, stopping for photographs and beers at the most picturesque places while searching for the island’s four waterfalls that Lonely Planet boasts about. Turns out, only two months after the rainy season, all the waterfalls on Koh Chang are dried up. Disappointed, I headed back to my hut for an afternoon snooze in the hammock.
It was Christmas Eve, and the tourist restaurants were serving highly overpriced dinners to willing families on vacation. Watching them made me miss my family, so I opted for a burger and a beer instead. It was a memorable Christmas Eve, spent with my feet in the sand, fireworks and carolers on either side, and the sound of waves crashing against the shore. After the festivities, my waiter invited me out for drinks with his friends. I didn’t even hear the barking lizard that night.
When it was time to leave (and face the long trip home), I wasn’t ready to go. Koh Chang was just what I needed. I was well rested with a nice tan and I had succeeded at forgetting Christmas. For me, it was already summer…at least for a few days.
A White (Sand) Christmas in Koh Chang, Thailand