Saturday, April 26th 2014
I have been in Ko Lanta for a little over 24 hours, and it is definitely my kind of place.
If you don't like reading and just want to see photos, go here: Ko Lanta Part 1.
My arrival to this island (my third Thai island so far, without going to the mainland) was yesterday afternoon. The 11:30 am ferry took me from the Ko Phi Phi harbor to the small harbor in Ko Lanta. On the ferry ride over, a girl who was apparently super sick/ dehydrated/ hungover (who knows) passed out and needed some medical attention. The medical attention came from friends and the ferry workers, but she was not in good shape. A thought definitely popped into my head of “She is definitely patient zero, and we all have the plague now.” Time will tell if the Ko Phi Phi ferry plague takes me out.
As I like to do, I booked my Ko Lanta hotel while still in Ko Phi Phi. The magic of the internet is a very helpful thing. Haggling and dealing with all the people yelling at me to rent a room is never an enjoyable experience for me. It is much easier to tell them “nope, already have a room thanks.” As an added bonus, my hotel had sent a shuttle bus to pick up anyone staying at their place. This prevented me from needing to haggle with taxi drivers as well.
Within the first hour in Ko Lanta, I realized all of the things missing in Ko Phi Phi. First- I jumped in the pool. Next- my hotel room has MUCH better AC. Great air conditioning may not mean a lot most of the time, but in sweltering heat with insane humidity it is a life saver. Lastly- I rented a scooter from my hotels front desk, and I was already off exploring Ko Lanta.
While in Ko Phi Phi, I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why I didn’t REALLY like it. It is beautiful, and one of the most unique locations on earth. The shape of the island itself is crazy, and the area that is commercialized is tiiiiiiny. But after leaving, I realized there isn’t much to do except go on pricey scuba diving trips, eat food, and drink lots of booze. Within seconds of being on the scooter I was much happier.
One of my favorite things about this part of the world is the lack of paperwork/ hassles/ legal nonsense. You want a scooter? Sure- give me $13 and I will give you the keys and a helmet. Nothing to sign, no insurance- just gas it up and go. Love that. After filling up the gas tank (a tiny 2 liter tank- a little less than $3), I headed south. My hotel is on the northwest coast of Ko Lanta, so there is roughly 15 miles between me and the bottom. The island is sparsely populated (a little over 10,000 according to Mr. Wikipedia). There are still a decent amount of tourists, but NOTHING compared to Phuket or Ko Phi Phi.
A beach entry catches my eye, so I pull the scooter in and have a look. The beach isn’t the most stunning I have ever seen, but it is EMPTY. Compared to the recent stops in Thailand, this is a welcome change. It is refreshing being away from TOURIST TOWN.
After driving for a bit longer, I found a nice place to stop right on the water. Lunch and a tasty ice coffee was about $4. The pretty awesome view was complimentary with the meal.
The food and coffee are great, and I continue to enjoy the view for awhile. Once I pay the bill, I hope back on the scooter and continue south until the road ends at the Ko Lanta National Park. The entry fee is about $6, which isn’t bank breaking but it is already after 5 pm, so I will come back when I have more time.
Cruising around the island, it is quickly apparent that the majority of the local population here is Muslim. There are several mosques and many of the women wear either a head scarf or the full head and face covering veil. I have never been anywhere that has a predominantly Muslim population, so it is an interesting change. I expect the population to me mostly Muslim as I continue move south in this part of the world.
I scooter back to the hotel, enjoy some more pool time, and then get ready to watch the sun go down. The mountain areas of Ko Phi Phi blocked any view of the sun actually dropping into the ocean, so which is the best part. It is low tide here when I head out to the beach, and I notice a lot of tiny sand balls. Getting a closer look, they are all made by tiny crabs. There are trillions of tiny sand balls, created one by one by crabs that would fit on a pencil eraser.
I have no clue why they are doing this, but whatever they are doing creates stunning designs. They look like Crab Circles, or mini amphitheaters. It turns out they are called Sand Bubbler Crabs, and they go come out at low tide to comb through every piece of sand around them, getting the food out, and turning the left over sand into the tiny balls. I am completely obsessed with these tiny crabs and their works of art.
Eventually the sun sets on a great first day in Ko Lanta. I take the scooter for a wander down the road, find a delicious place to eat dinner for $2.25, and head home to sort through the day’s photos, enjoy a beer and get some sleep. This Ko Lanta place is pretty rad.