Koh Chang literally means “Elephant Island.” It’s a token to the shape of the island, and not to the many elephant camps that have sprung up along with the surge in tourists. The elephants haven’t been there long, but the durian trees have. I rented a motorbike from my hotel on Kai Bae beach and spent the day overcoming my fear of things that go fast. I was rewarded with a truly
amazing tasting durian and the chance to share with an elephant.
Koh Chang is the second largest island in Thailand, a large landmass hovering just off the coast of southeastern Thailand right on the border with Cambodia. Half of the island is dotted with stretches of idyllic white sand. The other juts rockily into steep mountains littered with crystalline waterfalls, gorgeous vistas, and durian farms.
I’d heard that Koh Chang’s durian is really, remarkably excellent thanks to the soil, but every region claims that their soil is special. As I put-putted along humming to myself to help my nerves, I realized that Koh Chang has some stark similarities to Penang, a Malaysian island renown for it’s high quality durian. I like Penang durian so much, that I will be celebrating my birthday there later this month. (Last year’s big bash)
Like Penang, Koh Chang has steep mountains rising sharply out of the ocean and a delicious sea breeze. It also yielded this. Holy mother of durian.
|Do you see that black spot? NOM.|
Unlike Penang, Koh Chang has plenty of elephants to share with. Elephants really love durian and will happily decimate an entire tree to get at the nearly ripe fruits. Last year Rob and I brought some to the elephants at the Kuala Kangsar rehabilitation center so we could watch how they eat it. When I saw these guys shackled to some trees in the elephant camp, I knew I had to share my prize durian.
|This is not the elephant camp. I have no idea what it is.|
I was nervous making this video because a) I don’t make videos much and b) I’m really camera shy and c) I also didn’t know if I was really supposed to be standing there. When I showed up, a young man lazily waved me up through several large “DO NOT ENTER” signs. There was nobody around, but I didn’t know how they would react to me tossing an entire hand of bananas and half a durian to their elephant.
Apologies in advance for the really, really poor video quality. I promise I will learn to use the video function of my camera.
At 1:37 you can see the elephant put the whole shell in his mouth.