Exploring the abandoned Koh Chang's Ghost Ship
Koh Chang’s Ghost Ship is not Jack Sparrow’s final vessel, but rather an abandoned building located in the heart of the island. Only a few brave souls venture here to thrill themselves, hoping that its cursed history is merely a work of fiction.
Ghost Ship : A Strange Experience!
Koh Chang, known as the island of wild elephants, boasts turquoise waters and is a popular tourist destination, known for its relaxed ambiance. Visitors flock here to marvel at the island’s natural beauty. However, beyond the clownfish and romantic sunsets, Koh Chang is still a Thai island where mysticism, ghosts, and spirits form a part of the local folklore.
Abandoned sites are not uncommon in Thailand, each with its own story that renders a piece of land, building, or structure difficult to sell. The Ghost Tower in Bangkok is a prime example of such a site. A strange tower located in the heart of Sathorn, Bangkok’s business district, where millions of dollars are spent on every square meter. The tower has stood there for years, with no one willing to invest due to the fear of being cursed. Superstition runs deep in these parts
The History of a Shipwreck…
Ten years ago, “The Galaxy,” also known as the Ghost Ship, was the main attraction of a hotel complex situated in the southern part of Koh Chang. It was an idyllic place with the calming sounds of waves and winds rustling through the coconut leaves. “The Galaxy” was the brainchild of a man with a brilliant idea of building a concrete cruise ship just a few meters away from a deserted beach. The 7-storey boat had 70 luxuriously equipped rooms, including lifts, carpets, large chandeliers, highly trained staff, a lagoon view, and a swimming pool situated at the base of the boat. Despite having many attractions, nothing worked out for the complex! Overnight, the complex was shut down. The staff was laid off, and the doors were locked. The only entrance was through some closed windows, which soon became a hub for cats and urban exploration enthusiasts.
Even after several years of its closure, nothing seems to have changed about “The Galaxy.” The boat still stands outside in a clear and well-maintained space. Inside, the situation is no different. The beds in the rooms are still furnished with their mattresses and bolsters, only lacking sheets. The bedside tables are covered with a thin layer of dust. The carpets in the corridors are damp, giving off a heavy atmosphere charged with a pungent and allergenic smell. Seepage here and there discolors the walls, which are gradually rotting. The kitchens are still equipped, and nothing is visibly damaged, only time has taken its toll. Time has stopped in the Galaxy, and entering it gives one the feeling of stepping into another universe, a space worthy of the -7th dimension-.
…And Ghost Stories
To uncover the reasons behind this sudden closure, extensive research is required, along with a great deal of humility and patience when listening to people’s accounts. It’s essential to differentiate between fact and fiction, to distinguish between folklore for the curious and popular beliefs that are genuinely held. What is the actual reason for this closure? Two stories are recurrent, each with different versions but with a common structure
The sacred and violated place
Building in Thailand is a serious business, with the final say not resting with the owner, but with the astrologer who approves, modifies, or provides solutions to the plans. It’s surprising to many that a foreigner cannot be an architect in the Land of Smiles, but can only collaborate.
According to local history, the Galaxy was not sunk by bankruptcy, but rather by a lack of respect for the sacred site on which it was built. Two mistakes were made.
The first mistake was the uprooting of a sacred banyan tree, which had always been venerated as it was the place where many wild elephants congregated. Cutting down the tree was not just an act of violation against the spirits that lived there, but also against the elephants, who are sacred animals in Thailand. Although this grouping of gregarious animals may not seem extraordinary to a novice, it was a particularly symbolic event for the local population. Destroying this place was seen as an offense to these emblematic animals.
Transforming a sacred space without a purification ritual and without taking into account local beliefs creates disorder and desolation. Any accident that occurs in this place is no longer fortuitous, but considered revenge and destiny. There is nothing that can be done about such sacrilege.
Accidents… and Bad Luck
The other story that emerges is that of the accumulation of accidents. There were no fatal accidents, but a succession of small events that made the boat a cursed place - a place that was an Eden for the newcomer, but a real hell for the person who worked there. Tourists fell, got sick, and staff members got hurt, and the accidents were harmless but repeated day after day, creating real malaise for the staff and even for outsiders who brought tourists to this part of the island.
What was the real trigger? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back? Many say that a tourist’s fall was the trigger, but it is difficult to know. In any case, the accumulation of bad news must have been a major factor in the rapid closure.
More pragmatic explanations
While much attention is given to the spirits that are believed to be responsible for the Galaxy’s closure, other more pragmatic arguments are also presented by much more rational minds.
Some people point out that the ship was built in an area where dengue and malaria mosquitoes thrived. The paradise turned into a nightmare for guests returning from holiday. The hypothesis is interesting but seems somewhat limited when considering the various campaigns the island has undergone to curb this problem.
Finally, there is the more down-to-earth argument: the Galaxy never found its customers. While the idea of building a boat could have been interesting, putting it on land proved to be a bad idea.
Many customers complained about the constraints inherent in the building: lack of air or insufficient air circulation, constant humidity accentuating the claustrophobic side of the boat (lack of light), and other factors that could only serve to undermine an establishment that aimed to play in the league of luxury hotels.
Urbex, or the Tourism of Wastelands and Abandoned Sites
The closure of the Galaxy has made some people happy. Although not many, all urbex enthusiasts who visit the region can get thrills by illegally entering the building. Urbex stands for Urban Exploration, and the Ghost Ship is a unique site in the world of urbex, as it’s rare to find such buildings on islands.
While many urbex enthusiasts have enjoyed discovering the ship for several years, it’s now almost impossible to easily access the interior of the ship. The only open windows are located upstairs, so climbing the entire structure without being seen is dangerous, and the guards no longer tolerate inquisitive visitors.
It’s worth noting that all visitors to the liner have wisely refrained from transforming this unique space into a canvas for tagging or graffiti. There has been no appropriation of any wall. New visitors can discover this space in its original state without feeling like they’re arriving late to the party.
A beach and hotel beside the ghost ship
There is another surprise. Although the Galaxy has closed down completely, right next to it’s Boat Chalet Koh Chang, a hotel that offers bungalows or pavilions.
However, while visiting the Galaxy can be one objective, the beach “Klong Kloi Beach” which adjoins it’s another one. Deserted, you can fully enjoy it to relax, swim, or read in peace!
Please note that in order to enter the Galaxy area, you must pass through a gatekeeper. Depending on his mood, he may charge between 50 and 150 baht for entry. The reason given by the guard is that the beach is private and requires payment to access it.
Where ? : it’s here or just a few meters away!
Koh Chang : more info
Koh Chang is one of the largest islands in Thailand. It’s one of the favorite destinations of many travelers who set out to discover its rich natural heritage.