It wasn’t so long ago that Lonely Beach on Koh Chang in Thailand, was still the thing of whispers and true loneliness. Where only those in the know would dare to tread – and tread they would – for it took a hike over a mountain to reach before the connecting roads were built in the late ’90’s. I visited last 8 years ago, and the ramshackle huts that the beach was known for were still in place, tilting over the sands in the direction of the deep blue sea.
A group of us, who had met on the way out of Bangkok, originally went there on the advice of a chap called Stephen who had once lived (stayed and forgotten to leave) on the beach for a while – and when we arrived we found an empty relatively messy beach – much like in the photo above, but the girl in this photo arrived later. It was just getting into the rainy season but the weather was perfect – blue skies, warm waters and heat – lots of heat. I intended to stay for a day or two but somehow managed to stay for almost a week before heading back to the mainland to watch Bodyslam (a Thai Rock band) play somewhere close to Chiang Rai.
I read recently that this part of the island is now synonymous with parties and the usual stuff that goes along with a beach getting more and more popular – more resorts and more bars etc., though there was surprisingly little (to be sure it was there) of that just 8 years ago. The road section of the beach was half closed down (for sale signs and broken coconut shells everywhere) and the few restaurants that were there served only a small collection of dishes. Of course, just 5 minutes away there were a couple of bigger restaurants and resorts beginning to take shape…hinting at a certain future.
I really loved the atmosphere on Lonely Beach – it was mostly quiet – even the Treehouse Bar that overlooked the water and served a good shisha was relatively empty each night. I have fond, though slightly hazy memories of getting a little overexcited when The Cure came on over the speakers, slightly inebriated, with some random Dutch backpackers and new French friends who needed schooling in the joys of Robert Smith and co. The rest of my memories from Lonely Beach play out in my mind as a beautiful collage of dreamy waters, lush jungles, deep blue seas, and long nights lost to a haze of smoke and vodka – imbibed under a glittering canvas of stars, that for those few nights – was perfectly serene.