Ko Lanta Day 2- A surprise visit to the local dump

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Another day, another adventure. Today’s highlights included a scooter ride through the forest to go around the local dump that is overflowing with trash during the day and nearly crashing said scooter to avoid running over a frog at night.

If you don't enjoy reading words and just want to see the pics, here you go: Ko Lanta Part 1. 

Before getting to the details of the day, I just want to reflect on traveling alone. Overall I really enjoy it (otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this trip), but it also definitely is not for everyone. The freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want is nice. Not having to worry about when to eat or what to eat or what to do or when to do it is much easier for me most of the time. I just wake up and do whatever the fudge I feel like. People told me before I left that they wouldn’t be able to do a trip like this solo, which is unfortunate if they are really limiting themselves to adventures that only work on other people’s schedule.

Being solo is not without its’ challenges, however. The majority of my conversations are with people who barely speak English, meaning they hardly qualify as “conversations” at all. I have begun saying “Come on, bro!” or “Really, bro?” to inanimate objects that aren’t cooperating. For example, if my phone isn’t charging for some reason it gets a “Come on, bro!” Or maybe my bag won't zip easily and gets a "Really, bro?" There are definitely times I miss having a friend around to chat with, and even more to enjoy these moments with someone else.

That is why I like spending so much time documenting my journey with both photos and writing. I have already gone back and looked at some earlier days in Thailand (DAYS ago) to relive the fun. Sharing the travels is great, but I also want to capture all of this for myself. The goal is to be entertaining enough that you are enjoying everything and want to come back to visit the site. Without discussing the days events with someone else, my photos and notes I take during the day are how I make sure the moments- good and bad- don’t get lost along the way.

Ok enough nonsense- you want to know about scootering through a dump, right? Once I finished the hotel’s breakfast (included free with the room), and trying for WAY too long to get photos to upload (do NOT take good internet for granted), I decide to head to Old Town. Ko Lanta doesn’t have many roads (the main ones head north/south), so I take a quick look at a map and it looks like I just need to get from the west side to the east side of the island on one of the few roads that go travel east/ west. Simple!

At one of the first paved roads that looks like it will take me the several miles across the island west-to-east, I make a turn. It feels like I am heading in the right direction- so far so good. Before too long, the paved road turns into dirt. Ok, no problem. I don’t want to turn back now. That would be, like, 8 minutes back! The dirt road really isn’t too bad- it just means Mr Scooter can’t go too fast.

It turns out the dirt road was the least of my problems. The road I chose to go down leads straight to the Ko Lanta dump. I am not sure if this is THE dump for the island, but it had a LOT of trash and it smelled like it could be the throwaways from an island of 10,000. Needless to say, it was disgusting. Birds were flying around enjoying the leftovers from us idiot humans and there were more flies per capita then I have ever witnessed. Look at all this extra food!

A very quick tour of the local dump

I turn into a driveway that seemed to lead to whatever processing they do there. To be honest I was REALLY distracted by wanting to get the FUCK out of there as fast as possible. I wasn’t really paying attention to the details besides getting my scooter and me out of there before being consumed by the smell. an airborne disease, or a rogue trash monster.

When I was about to turn around and head out the way I came in, a woman came walking over pointing in the direction I was originally heading- into the dump. My concern was getting stuck in the horrifically smelling Thailand pile of trash several stories high. She seemed nice and understood I was just trying to get through without dying. The woman stopped whatever trash work she was going to get me going in the right direction. Apparently because there is too much trash, it has closed off the original dirt road that apparently used to connect through this part. Now there is a small path, WAY too small for a car, that leads past a bamboo hut and onto the other side of trash town. I really hope that is not where this nice trash lady lives.

Sweet! I don’t need to back track and I wont die a horrible death in a Thai dump. The path runs back out to a normal dirt road. I stop the scooter to take some pictures of this cool trail, which was not a good idea. Almost instantly I get swarmed by mosquitoes.  I snap a few quick pics and run back to the scooter, fire up my ride and scamper out of there before too many mossies feast on my skin. Somehow I only got a few bites from those damn skeeters. Goddamn do I hate mosquitoes.

Dump detour behind me, I am reunited with a paved road after a few hundred meters. Another 10 minutes and I hit the east coast of Ko Lanta and the only road running north/ south on this part of the island. It is pretty hard to get lost here- unless a pile of rancid trash tries to block your path.

The road takes me down the coast, and before too long I am in Old Town. It is more like “Old Street” than Old Town, as the entire “town” consists of a single street that is no more than several hundred meters. There are a few small shops and several restaurants on Old Street. I pick one of them, enjoy a nice lunch overlooking the water, and my tour of Old Town is complete.

The one street in Old Town

There is also a really long cement pier that I can drive down, so I go to the end and check it out. Apparently there are small ferries that leave from here to take people to other islands in the area. A group of people are waiting, but it is unclear how often, or when, the next ferry arrives.

After my epic tour of Old Street and The Pier, I scooter back to my hotel to enjoy another sunset. The Sand Bubbler Crabs are again out in force, turning the entire beach into tiny balls of sand sculptures. I am obsessed with these little dudes, and watch them work for awhile. It is hard to get too close, as they move FAST and scurry back to their holes with any movement toward them.

The sky treats me to a nice sunset, so I go to the local 7-11 for pre-dinner snacks. About $3 gets me a bag of lime/ prawn flavored potato chips, a bag of candy, some cashew bars, strawberry wafer cookies, and a tiramisu flavored ice cream cone. When I get back to the hotel and beach, the sky is lit up in amazing reds and oranges- apparently the sunset wasn’t even close to over. I enjoy the tiramisu ice cream and sunset sky show, thankful I can spend another great day on this island paradise.

Nightly show. 

On my way to dinner I VERY nearly laid down the scooter. At night there are street frogs hopping all over, and on the main road there was one just chilling right in the middle. Frogs clearly don’t know that scooters and/ or cars will squash and kill them, so I hit the brakes (too hard) to avoid this dude. The front brake locked up for a second, and I had to put my foot down to avoid doing a swan dive onto the street. Thankfully neither the scooter or me went down, and I make it to a local restaurant, with a nice adrenaline rush, and without crashing the scooter and/ or killing any frogs.

After dinner I head back for a pre-bedtime beer at my hotel and call it a night. Another successful day in Ko Lanta, complete with a tour of the local dump, avoided killing a street frog, and eating a face full of pavement. Also, if you are in Ko Lanta and want to visit the dump, I know the way.