Thailand 10: Koh Lanta

The journey by ferry from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lanta took about an hour and a half, with June sleeping and a woman with her son deciding to sit on my fit rather than occupy one of the numerous available seats. Koh Lanta felt different even as we were approaching, it appearing almost like a jungle plopped in the middle of the ocean, and once we were off the pier it felt much more secluded than the other islands – peaceful, but perhaps lacking the charm and energy of Phi Phi.

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We had already reserved accommodation at Paulee’s house, which was about a 15 minute Tuk Tuk ride (far different from any other Tuk Tuk theses ate more like side cars and, with 2 of us including luggage, we practically filled it) from the pier that cost us 140 baht in total. We were in a decent 6 bed dorm with air con and en suite for about 280 baht per night, and the bar and seating area downstairs was really chilled and sociable, with free coffee and water available for guests. Paulee was really accommodating throughout our stay, ensuring we had a proper Lanta experience, and Noy (his key member of staff) was so friendly and went out her way to help you.

June and I soon got chatting to the other people in our dorm room – Arno from Holland, Liz from France and Aaron from the UK (a friend of Paulee’s) and we all decided to head to the beach – about a 10 minute walk away – to watch the sunset. A wide and “sturdy” beach (not a huge amount of super soft sand to sink into) with barely any infrastructure blocking the view, it was a simple yet beautiful sunset. We then went for some food at Papaya Salad (really cheap and so so tasty) just across the road from Paulee’s.

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Having bonded over sunsets and food, Paulee suggested we hire mopeds the next day to head to Khlong Chak Waterfall. For 200 baht for the day both Arno and I hired our own (I like to be in control and I like the freedom of riding solo) whilst Aaron shared with Liz and Paulee shared with June. We then rode the 40 minutes to the waterfall entrance, every now and then getting the coastline as our view on the way, where we had to pay 20 baht to park our bikes.

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To get to the waterfall you have to walk/clamber through the jungle, crossing streams on scattered rocks and gracefully launching yourself over fallen tree trunks. It was ridiculously humid but rejuvenating and a lot of fun, feeling like a little bit of an explorer.

And then we reached the waterfall – not the most magnificent nor the clearest I have come across, but raw and beautiful nonetheless. Plus, after literally sweating through my clothes, it was so refreshing to stand under the water lashing down and then spend some time just sitting in the water below. On our way back through the jungle we stopped via a bat cave, where we spied some of the tiniest bats taking a nap together.

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On our way back to the hostel we stopped at a bar on the cliff edge overlooking the sea to have a bite to eat and gaze at the view – I cannot get enough of the sky at the moment, it’s so mesmerising. We then rode back to the beach near our hostel to sit with some beers on the sand as we watched the sun go down.

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After showering back at the hostel we spent a few hours in the bar drinking mojitos (90 baht) before squeezing 6 of us into the miniature Tuk Tuk and driving out to Funky Monkey; a popular karaoke bar. Now, I’m not actually a huge fan of karaoke; it’s not just that I can’t sing (it doesn’t stop me otherwise) but how seriously other people seem to take it that I just don’t find it that fun. Plus it can suddenly feel like a popularity contest or a huge pressure to entertain. But anyway, after a few drinks and bumping into two girls – Olivia and Johanna – from Canada whom I had met 5 weeks before in my hostel in Phnom Penh, the 3 of us decided (or maybe I forced them – I forget) to sing No Scrubs by TLC. It was insanely out of tune, and the chorus is annoyingly repetitive, but I feel our saving grace was our stunning dance moves.

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My fears were actualised when a few girls there were treating each song like an X Factor audition, sat on a stool singing slow, power ballads. When one of them was belting out an Emilie Sande heartbreaker, her boyfriend (I hope!) went on stage to join her, sitting in front of her on the stool for her to then sing it to him. I had a moment of being unsure if this was really happening and whether they were being deadly serious or mocking themselves, but when they literally gatecrashed a guy singing Whitney by marching on stage and performing ballet moves in sync behind him, I knew they were there for one reason only – to perform. I took this opportunity to buy another drink.

When there was a power cut at around 1:30am (right in the middle of a girl singing her heart out to Alanis Morissette) everyone decided to make their own music with a group rendition of Don’t Look Back by Oasis – another moment that was borderline cringe for me, but I of course got over myself and joined in, even having to correct these supposed fans when they fell into the classic trap of missing the 2nd verse before the chorus by wailing “Back beat, the word is on the street” right through the middle of their premature chorus. At least I was there, ey?!

We still had the use of our mopeds the following morning so we all rode the 30 minutes to Old Town, heading out along the pier for views of the ocean and then to Shine Talay Restaurant with the swing overlooking the water for some fruit shakes. I then took myself off for a wander round the little shops, purchasing a necklace with a real (genuine fake??) butterfly wing as the pendant. On our ride back to the hostel we picked up some bananas and then stopped to feed the elephants at the side of the road – I swear one of them was laughing at me.

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The rest of the afternoon was a wash out so I took this as an opportunity to update my blog and book accommodation for the following night in Penang, Malaysia. Although ready to leave the islands after a good few weeks on them, and a total of EIGHT ferry journeys, I was also sad to be leaving Thailand – somewhere I had grown to love and feel at home in. But it was time to move on, so I departed Koh Lanta at 8am the next day to embark on my 9 hour journey into a different country…

LS

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