At first glance, Koh Chang’s Long Beach is nothing more than a rarely visited strand located at the end of an awful, rainy season ravaged road in the south east corner of the island. But if we look more closely, does it actually capture something more than this, something that we, as travellers, are always seeking – that sense of adventure?
Here on Koh Chang, our very own early pioneers still talk whimsically of walking through the surf, bags held high above their heads, as they arrived on White Sand Beach by longtail boat or of how they trekked over the mountain at Lonely Beach long before the road was carved out, the tapping of a hammer in the far distance the only sound of life ahead. Then, tourism was just a twinkle in the development eye and there was indeed a great joy in discovering new things and places unseen.
Nowadays, with us all so connected across cultures and nations, we grasp at much smaller instances to satisfy our needs for new experience; the hopelessly overcrowded taxi from the ferry, for example, is world away from our everyday lives and so we accept it, hanging off the back like teenagers. Remote beaches, wherever they might be, for the same reason give us back a bit of that untamed, untapped energy we derive from discovery and Long Beach ticks all the right boxes, with its relative inaccessibility and lack of development.
The road to Long Beach
The journey there is either fun or purgatory probably depending on how you view the world, but rest assured, half full or half empty, it is a long way. Directions are simple, head for the ferries from the west coast and then keep going for 20km all the way down the east coast. There will be a sense of child in a back of car syndrome as it is a long haul on a motorbike, but eventually, take a left at the ugly signs all telling you to take a left and you are off towards the south east coast.
The village, Salak Khok, with its mangroves, canny locals and impossibly long named temple is immediately also on the left and then, after another long straight section which passes under a weird double-battleship sign made from tin, a blue sign indicates where in the past, you would turn off for Long Beach.
Unfortunately, due to a collapsed bridge, which was replaced by an earth mound construct, which itself has now collapsed, this way is now impassable, so access to Long Beach is currently as follows:- Stay on the main road through Chek Bae, ignore the signs to turn to Long Beach and continue along past Judo Resort and Rommai Chailay, all the way to the entrance to Karang Bay View. Once here, take the track branching to the left rather than heading towards the bungalows and sea. Follow this track until you hit the Long Beach road, emerging about 200 metres the other side of the broken bridge.
Now we are back on the Long Beach road, rest assured, erosion, lack of concrete and tarmac all contribute to a horrible stretch of about 3 kms, where you will need your wits about you so as not to come a cropper – maybe leave the photos till you come back. Eventually, you reach a sign for Treehouse Bungalows and you can turn in and relax.
The accommodation and Long Beach itself
Steep steps lead to the recently renovated bungalows and restaurant, with lots of thatch, bamboo and old style Thai beach charm. The beach is undeveloped beyond here, though there is an incongruous motel building and another couple of bungalows on the hillside above. All the accommodation is operated by the same people and bar the name, there is absolutely no connection to the Treehouse of yore, who are no more, whatever you may hear on the bush telegraph.
Prices are in the 250bt to 300bt range for the bungalows, with the motel having no electricity as yet.
The road (even more horrible) continues on behind the beach to a sometimes open resort, Tantawan, the naval memorial at Hat Yuttanavy (naturally enough) and at its very end, via a boat, Koh Ngam.
If you are interested in staying on Long Beach, then remember there are no shops, only cable internet (patchy), poor mobile signal and electricity to the bungalows comes from a generator, 6 hours per evening only.
As for the beach, it is a hard-hearted soul who cannot appreciate its raw beauty, with coconut trees and tall grasses growing up to the sand’s edge and the splendid view out to the offshore islands. A realist would say most of the west coast beaches are of a much higher quality and bang on your resort doorstep, so why bother but, sometimes maybe, it’s not such a bad thing to think where’s the sense of adventure in that?
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