Ooh La Lanta!
Koh Lanta Travel Blog› entry 4 of 6 › view all entries
Even though I was just on the beaches in Bali, I have been awaiting my return to the islands in Thailand since my first visit a few years ago, which was hardly enough as I only got to Bangkok and the east side islands: Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.
My Danish friend, Nanna, whom I met in Bali was also going to be in Krabi as well, so we planned to meet up in Ao Nang beach, about a 45-minute bus ride from the airport. I walked around Ao Nang trying to find the guesthouse she had already booked called Skyhouse with no luck leaving me a little annoyed since I was trudging around with my pack on in the lingering heat of the day. I finally got a hold of her after stopping by an internet café and it turned out that I wasn’t far.
Ao Nang is a nice beach near Krabi, the nearest town located further south on the west side of Thailand. There really isn’t anything special in Krabi, which is why most people head straight for the beach. Ao Nang was great to relax, have a few drinks, and grub on some good Thai food, but it wasn’t the most appealing for young lonely travelers, so I’m glad I had a friend to do things with.
Nanna and I spent the second day renting a “motorbike”, as they call them in Southeast Asia, and drove around trying to find a waterfall or whatever else crossed our paths. We rode around for hours taking pictures, being the amateur photojournalists we make out to be with my Nikon D40 and her Cannon EOS 450d, of anything from rubber tree farms to bananas hearts to local Thai life. It was really nice to get out and see more things than just the area around our guesthouse, but it did get tiring, especially after almost running out of gas a couple of times. Dun, dun, daaah, the sound rang as horror films flashed through my head, but quickly subsided as I felt completely safe and comforted by how nice and friendly the locals were.
Getting gas in Southeast Asia is not the same as in other developed places where there are usually plenty of gas stations. Here people try to make a little money, go to gas stations and fill up bottles (a lot of times I saw old Absolute vodka bottles filled, a strange sight to see) or small tanks to sell along the side of the road. The problem is that they charge much more than gas stations, obviously because they are trying to make money, so the best advice is to always to and fill up at a proper gas station. For example, I bought a liter at a side of the road stop for 40 baht ($1.30), which filled about a third of the tank (maybe), but when I went to the gas station I paid 70 baht for the whole tank. Though desperate times call for desperate measures and we had no choice. We made it back to Ao Nang beach just in time for an amazing sunset that was lined with beautiful island mountains and wooden Thai boats decorated with colorful ribbons, always an amazing sight to see.
I had intentions of checking out Railey and Tonsai beaches too, which I’ve heard are really cool, but since Nanna had already been there for a few days and didn’t have much time left we decided to head over to Koh Lanta. Instead of the fast boat over we opted for the bus, which was cheaper and supposed to only take about three hours.
While we were waiting in Krabi, we booked a room for the night through a travel agent at Lanta New Beach Bungalows for 600 baht ($18US) a night on Khong Klong beach. Not really a “deal” per say (now I’m talking about southeast Asia mind you), but it was high season along with the fact that Thailand is increasingly becoming more expensive. It’s no longer the “diamond in the rough” unfortunately. The bungalow sounded like a good deal with a nice swimming pool and an air-conditioned room as well as a T.V. and that’s why we agreed to it, for the first night at least. We enjoyed the swimming pool and quickly realized why they had to have it seeing as the beach out front wasn’t the most beautiful spot on the island with rocks covering the whole area.
We probably would’ve stayed there for at least the few days, but midway through the second day Nanna tipped a glass on the ground and it broke. Her mistake, fine, but how many restaurants would make you pay for it? Well, they certainly expected her to pay. I would’ve reasoned nicely and then if they still didn’t back down, I would’ve paid for the stupid 50 baht ($1.70US), which is more than one glass would cost back home, but whatever. Nanna didn’t feel the same way and argued with the guy saying that it was an accident, which it was, and started to walk away. Then the guy, fuming, turned to me and said, “fuck you!” right to my face and it wasn’t really my problem, so of course I was shocked that he would even have the nerve to say that to me or any customer of his.
We woke up early the next morning and rented a motorbike (200 baht or $6 for a day) to cruise down the island and check out the other places to stay. Lanta is a fairly long island about 35 kilometers long with many beaches and we were looking for a nice beach we could swim and relax on without the hassle of dealing with rude people because it really isn’t where you go that makes your experience a good one, it’s the people!
We stopped by a place called Horizons on Klong Nin beach and met the Thai owner named Pat and his Swedish love named Helana both of whom were so nice and seemed like really good people. They had a nice place set right in front of a beautiful beach with a restaurant that had many places to sit including hammocks, which is always a selling point for me. We kept on, but really didn’t need to because both of us were set on their place. The rooms were basic with a shared bathroom, but in all honesty it gave the place a real homey feeling. We weren’t going to be spending a lot of time in the room anyway, so we didn’t we care. While talking to Pat and Helana, they told us they also had problems with Lanta New Beach as well. Pat said he had a deal with them to build a bar on their property with the understanding that it was his place, but when he went on vacation and came back he found that they had completely taken it over. He even went over to the bartender and asked whose bar it was and the bartender said it was his. So Pat said, “Oh really, because I thought it was mine!” He lost some money in that whole ordeal. I guess they don’t care if you’re a foreigner or Thai, they will hustle just about anyone.
The next day Pat arranged for someone to come pick us up and bring us to his place. From then on we spent a lot of time lounging around, reading in hammocks, taking naps in the shade under the umbrellas on the beach, swimming, playing Frisbee and volleyball, or riding around the island on motorbikes.
Lanta was definitely worth checking out. It's a great place to find a bit of relaxation and get away from all the noise. It isn't a party island like Koh Phi Phi or Koh Phangan, but you can definitely find a few places to chill out and have some fun. Mong bar and Rasta Baby Reggae Bar are just a couple of besides Horizon to hit up if you're there. Renting a motorbike around the island is also a must!