Koh Chang has been one of the places we wanted to explore. We’ve heard so much about the beauty of the island from our friends and everything they said were all true. We packed all our things in our trusty pick- up truck and started our road trip to Koh Chang. From Saraburi, we had to pass by Aranyaphratet for Bernie and Andreia’s visa run. It took us almost 3 hours from Saraburi to Aranyaphratet. After they got their visas stamped, we left for Koh Chang passing by Khlong Hat, Soi Dao, Chantaburi and from Laem Ngop we boarded a ferry for 25 minutes and finally we reached the island at about 7pm after a 6 hour drive from Aranyaphratet to Laem Ngop. The tourist district of the island was bustling with activities and teeming with a lot of tourist, a day before the New Year 2012 countdown. After having diner, we looked for a place to stay for the night. We had a hard time finding a hotel or guest house as most of the places were already fully booked. Luckily, we got one but it was only good for one night. The following day, we drove from Had Sai Khao to Ao Bang Bao. Ao Bang Bao is a fishing village/tourist area. The place gives a wide selection of seafood restaurants, art and novelty shops. In one of the restaurants we had our lunch of fresh yellow fined tuna. On the way back to Ao Klong Son, we stopped by a viewing area on top of Ao Bang Bao and feasted our eyes on the beauty in front us. Looking at the waters of the gulf of Thailand jotted with beautiful small islands, plus an added treat of a magnificent sunset. Fishing has been one of the activities we had on our list and on our way to the other side of the island; we saw a small pier with some locals fishing. We decided to stop and join in the fun. The friendly locals gave us some shrimps for bait and we were able to catch some fish all of which we decided to give to them. It was already dusk when we went on our way to look for another place to stay for the night. We drove from the Ao Sapparos not knowing where to really go, stopping at some resorts along the way asking for any vacant rooms. At about 9pm when we read a sign to “Long Beach”. Bernie decided to explore further and check out the resort. The place was really secluded and there were no lights going to that area. We didn’t know what was ahead of us and had no idea of the terrain. Then… an old almost unrecognizable orange emergency cone came into sight. Bernie drove way pass the cone and after a few meters we saw a sign in the middle of the winding path. A week before we arrived, a storm passed by the island and caused a lot of damage to the road going to the resort. That part of the road was washed away by heavy rain. The people from the resort built a temporary bridge made out of wood. I must admit I was dead scared of what may happen if we cross the bridge. Judging from how it looked it didn’t look so strong. But we cannot make a u turn either. The street’s so narrow and making a turn is next to impossible. The only way we could get out of there is to move forward. While we were assessing the situation, we saw a jeep coming towards us. The man like us looked at the situation and he told us to follow him. Around us, it was pitch black. The only lights are the ones coming from our headlights. Ahead of us, we can barely see the very steep and rugged road. I could say driving in that kind of terrain is not for the faint hearted. Upon reaching the resort I was able to breathe again. The first question of the man who became our friend (his name is Khun Josh) was, “is your car a 4 wheel drive?” When Bernie told him that it’s not, he almost can’t believe it. Khun Josh is an international off road champion. He can’t help but laugh that our 2 wheel drive Toyota Vigo made it there. Again, there were no rooms available so, we ended sleeping in our car. The following day, we took our fishing rods, hammock and some food and looked for a place where we could tie our hammock and leave our belongings. The water was crystal clear, the sand was white and the place is idyllic. The cool water was refreshing. Bernie with his fishing rods moved further at about waist deep near the corals. In just awhile, fish started to get interested with his bait and took it all bait hook and sinker. His priced catch for the day was a barracuda. Few more fish and finally Bernie decided to call it a day and Andreia and I ended up building a fire from drift woods and grilling his fresh catch. The fish proved to be very tasty. Eating fresh grilled fish in a beautiful secluded beach was just beyond amazing. That night, we were lucky that some of the guests already left and we managed to get an accommodation. It’s a one room stilt hut, with a soft and clean mattress and a mosquito net. After having dinner we called it a night. We hit the bed and were not able to get up until 8 o’clock the following day. The plan was for us to get out of Long Beach before lunch. Before doing that, we hiked up to another part of the beach were Bernie tried to fish again. He wasn’t that lucky, so he ended up painting instead. On the way out of Long Beach, we devised a strategy for us to be able to help Bernie navigate the car. That’s when we saw the real situation of the road and understood why Khun Josh couldn’t believe that our truck is not a 4-wheel drive. Carefully we inched our way up and down the terrain and at the same time tried to enjoy the beauty around us. In the next two days, we camped in a family owned mini resort. The following day, Bernie decided that it would be fun to go fishing at night. He made arrangements with Khun Rat, the owner of a local fishing gear shop. We rented a small fishing boat. The sky looked ominous, but the captain of the boat and his wife assured us that it’s safe to go fishing in the open sea. It started drizzling and it was getting so cold, but the water looked calm. Bernie and Andreia were lucky to catch some groupers and few other kinds of fish. Andreia got the biggest catch that night. After three hours, we headed back to the docks and went back to our campground. In the morning I cooked the fish they caught and had it for our brunch. After our yummy meal we packed our things and started heading back home. On our way to Bangkok, we passed by Chanataburi and spent some time looking at the beautiful gems in Chantaburi’s famous Gem Street. It’s a great experience to see and touch different precious/gem stones. Such as rubies, sapphire, amethyst, lapis lazuli, agate, opal, citrine, topaz, etc., in their simple state and set as rings, earrings, pendants. We bought some polished and rough gem stones. The gems market at Chanthaburi is full of unique, elegant, exotic, colorful and everlasting sapphires and rubies. In the weekend market, besides native gems, you will find a kaleidoscope of gems from all over the world, which have been polished to the finest degree by the highly skilled local artisans. Nearly 80% of the world’s supply of rubies and sapphires passes through Chanthaburi, this small city is the major processing and trading center for all types of colored gemstones in South East Asia. After almost three hours in Chantaburi, we headed to Pattaya. We thought of staying there for the night but then we decided that we don’t really like the place that much. Despite all that it could offer. In terms of night life, amusement, shopping malls – it didn’t appeal much to us. So we decided to go straight to Bangkok and stay there before heading back to Saraburi. We had a great New Year’s holiday, filled with so much fun and adventure. The best thing about a road trip is, you can stop at any place you want, to relax, take pictures and just enjoy the beauty of each of the places you pass by. Our next Road trip adventure would be to Hatyai, the southernmost province of Thailand which borders Malaysia. If we’re lucky we might even go straight to Malaysia and then Singapore. Depending on how well we will be able to save for that trip.