Last Friday we arrived on the island of Koh Lanta. What was supposed to be a two hour mini-van + car ferry trip from Krabi, ending up taking closer to five hours due to the fact that we spent three hours sat at a bus depot in Krabi waiting for “two more people” to arrive and join our minivan load. Waiting for “two more people” actually involved waiting for ten more people or, “two more people” five times – the guy at the restaurant seemed to think this was cute; we did not. It was bloody frustrating and our tolerance for “Thai time” was stretched to breaking point. Even once we hit the road our driver was in no particular hurry. We got ten minutes out-of-town only for him to turn around and go back to town to pick up “two more people”. We then stopped multiple times en route so that he could stop to talk to his friends on the roadside, or buy himself a coffee and fruit.
Finally we arrived on Koh Lanta. The island itself was beautiful, but we arrived to torrential rain rather than the blazing hot sun we had in mind. We were already struggling to get into the festive mood, and things were further tested when we were shown our bungalow at the “eco resort” we were staying at. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support some of the resort’s “green” initiatives (there is no need to be washing sheets and towels every day – nobody does that stuff at home) but, in some senses, the whole eco resort concept seemed to equate to things at the resort just being a bit shit – miserly toilet paper rations, lightbulbs of such low wattage that candles would’ve been an improvement and an intrusive amount of nature (lizards, roaches, ants, resident cats and dogs etc) in the bedroom.
The nature side of things didn’t bother us too much, but the German guy next to us wasn’t having a bar of it. He stormed home one night with what looked like a can of industrial strength fly spray and took to his bungalow (inside and out) like a mad man. The fact he was hard at work wooing the German girl at the resort may have had something to do with his manic attempts to spruce up his bungalow. On the plus side, I will say that the eco resort served up by far and away the best breakfast we have had on the whole trip, and I happily smashed back one of their bacon and egg mcmuffins every morning.
Despite being in a bit of a funk, we were determined to make the most of our time on Koh Lanta – we hired a scooter and rode around the island, we visited Lanta Old Town and wandered around the speciality stores there, we sat in the drizzle and drank cocktails, we developed an unhealthy obsession with a local foot massage place, and we hit the beach every time the rain let up for more than fifteen minutes. When were weren’t doing that, we started planning our trip in Cambodia, all the while sporting what my Dad would describe as faces like twisted sandshoes.
After four days of rain we would have been sorely tempted to pack it in and move onto our next destination, but we still had five days to kill before our flight to Cambodia and really didn’t want to head back to Bangkok. The best we could do was a slight change of scenery, so we left the eco resort on Long Beach and headed south for Khlong Nin. And, as we arrived at our new hotel, a Christmas miracle occurred. The rain dried up and the storm that had been plaguing us finally passed. For the next four days we were treated to blue sky days worthy of a travel brochure. Finally we could get our bits out and work on the tan.
The arrival of the sun prompted celebrations all over the island – most people hit the beach and the pool, others engaged in enthusiastic (and lengthy) photo shoots to show how happy they were. Whatever the method of celebration, everyone felt like they’d kicked a goal when the sun came up, and our holiday certainly improved a whole lot! We quickly ditched our plan to explore other beaches and islands in the area and decided to just stay put in Koh Lanta, which was now ticking all of the boxes.
The remainder of our time in Koh Lanta resembled the “likes” section of a cheesy online dating profile – we took long walks on the beach, had cocktails at sunset, spent our days by the pool, frolicked in the sea, and read books, or listened to the Blackcaps getting a hiding on our phone. It was dreamy and exactly what we had in mind. We barely moved from the hotel (which was a major improvement on the eco resort) except if we were in search of food, or happy hour cocktails. We ventured as far as a beach bar with a fire show one evening. Things started out gently enough with the bar playing the same pan pipe acoustic CD that every place on the beach seemed to own, but rapidly switched a gear when the pan pipes were abruptly dumped and AC/DC started blasting. We originally thought this was a mistake, but it quickly became apparent that AC/DC was on request, because the fire performer (who looked like Thailand’s version of Russell Brand) went ape shit with his fire pois when Back in Black kicked off. It was quite the sight, especially when he got carried away and lobbed one of his pois down the beach (better that than into the crowd, I guess).
Tonight is our last night in Thailand. After almost six weeks here we are both sad to say goodbye, but also looking forward to getting to Cambodia – the last “new” country on our trip. We are trying not to think too much about how quickly our trip is coming to an end and will be making these last six weeks count!