I have stated in my introduction to Trat that there really is not very much to do. In fact, that is being kind, there is nothing to do but it is a lovely place to do nothing in. One thing you might amuse yourself for a few minutes, and that is all it will take, is to have a wander along the newish walkway beside the Trat River. From the regularly spaced fire hoses covering the wooden housing adjacent to the river I suspect the finction of the walkway is prosaic ather than as a tourist attraction which might explain the frankly ugly concrete construction but it offers an interestig glimpse into the back of the premises and a slice of life you would not see from the road. Worth a wander.
This is yet another one of the multi-functional places so common in Southeast Asia and I could legitimately enter tips in the nightlife, accomodation and restaurant sections. I didn't actually stay here myself although the building housing the rooms looks delightful from the outside, I believe it is a converted house in the Thai style and sits beside a pleasant garden with several shaded areas which lend themselves beautifully to the afternoon drinking of beer. It is, however, as a restaurant that I predominantly used this place and that is the tip I shall submit.
Should you choose to eat al fresco in the garden, a quick press on the bell provided will bring either the delightful lady owner or her equally charming daughter to take your order. You will have plenty of choice, with a good selection of Thai and Western food. I used to take breakfast here quite often and very good it was, and of the Thai selection the fried noodles with vegetables and pork was delicious. Should yopu be missing your home comforts, there are a few unusual items like Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes or Goulash soup. I had the Wiener Schnitzel (pictured) one night, and a very filling plate it was too.
I suppose the competition keeps the restaurants honest in terms of price and this place is by no means expensive.
If you are eating (apart from the Western breakfast) he fried noodles with vegetables and pork is hughly recommended.
It is true that books are a currency amongst travellers, eagerly hoarded, swapped and sold, and there are numerous places catering to the market all over the backpacker haunts of the world. One of the best I have seen is the delightfully named Tratosphere bookshop which effectively takes up the entire living area of a man's home in a small soi. He himself is often to be found swinging in a hammock testing his own wares by reading a good book. It seems like an idyllic lifestyle to me.
The stock is predominantly English, although there is a sizeable German section as well and various Scandinavian languages as well as French and Italian are also represented. Definitely recommended if you need to replenish your supplies for those long days on the beach in Koh Chang.
Oh, by the way, the owner is really friendly. Well, he is really friendly if you can wake him from his hammock in the middle of the shop!
A few of the more enterprising (and pricey) guesthouses are now offering wi-fi connection in the hope of gaining an edge in a fairly competitive market for the backpacker $. If, however, your particular place does not have this facility, do not despair, there are numerous places around town, and a couple in the "old town" area which represents Backpacker Central. I found one I liked with good connections and stuck to it.
The place tends to fill up on weekday afternoons with youngsters after school honing their skills on what appear to be particularly graphic shoot-em-up games. Even when it was apparently full, the friendly owner always found a space to squeeze me and my notebook in, he appears to have several spare connections. Another plus in the oppressive heat of March is the sub-Arctic air conditioning, which is most welcome.
At time of writing (March 2010) internet connection is 30B per hour which seems to be standard for the area.
Yet another tip that could equally fit in nightlife, restaurant or things to do, so I'll put it here.
There appears to be quite a sizeable Scandinavian expat community, and Cafe Oscar is where they seem to congregate along with numerous travellers, it is a popular place. I suppose the Scandinavian attraction is explained by the fact that the place is run by Sao, a delightful Thai lady and her Scandinavian husband, ably assisted by the delightful children including Oscar, a four year old for whom the place is named. One of the Swedes has nicknamed him the Thai Viking. Cafe Oscar is not a large place and ten people constitutes a crowd ehre, although I have seen more squueze themselves in.
The music ricochets between Thai pop, classical and just about everything in between and they show the almost obligatory European football. If the Thai pop isn't to your liking there is a decent acoustic guitar on the premises which I was prevailed upon to play a couple of times. It's OK, by the time you read this tip I won't be there and there might be a real musician in residence!
The food, prepared by the lovely Sao, is very good with the Tom Yam particularly recommended (she will make it volcanically hot if you ask nicely) and you can even get your laundry done here. In fact, you could spend about a week and never go anywhere else!
Grab an early breakfast at the market opposite the bus station before heading to the pier for Koh Chang.