Our overnight ferry from Koh Tao was surprisingly comfortable – I’m no stranger to overnight ferries having to use them to get from Orkney, and this was a better sleep experience. It was a cargo ferry with no entertainment, no bar, and no couches like Orkney’s ferry – but we got beds! For free!
So I slept pretty well, though it was a late ferry and very early arrival. At 6am, we were sat in a travel agent’s waiting room with cups of tea to hand and no real information about our onward minivan.
People were called up for each destination: Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Ao Nang, Phuket. We were eventually the only ones left in the room along with some crazy (but awesome) guy wearing a t shirt covered in space cats.
“Sorry, your minivan is on its way but it’s been delayed.” A, err, promising update. Great. More waiting.
At 8am, we were finally headed off to Lanta, and two hours later we were dropped off somewhere presumably outside Krabi to make a transfer. Half the people from Surat Thani were already there, and again each destination was called up and we were last. We chatted to Space Cat guy and by the time we set off again we were already talking about staying in the same place.
We stopped to pick up a few people in Krabi too, including a really fun Canadian girl, and the last leg of the journey had finally begun.
I wasn’t sure when we arrived in Lanta. We were dropped off in the main town of Ban Saladan, which luckily is where I had booked our hostel, and everything seemed a little run down with not much order. And everything was so quiet.
Oh, and the first thing we saw was this sign. Having just missed a tsunami scare in Phi Phi by a couple of days, this was exactly what we wanted to see!
After eating lunch with Space Cats and Canada girl at a Pirates Of The Caribbean-themed restaurant (seriously!), we set off in search for the hostel. The family who owned it welcomed us like good friends and made sure we were okay with the 20-dorm room, which had about 3 other people in. They showed us the free tea and coffee machine, and we quickly learned that this was probably the best wifi we’d had in Asia (apart from in Chiang Mai because we stayed above a coffee shop! And also it’s Chiang Mai). Yup, we loved this place already.
We had a quick wander around the tiny town and although it was low season and a lot of places were shut, there was still a plethora of cute cafés and restaurants. Then Boris (Space Cats!) turned up at our hostel and decided to stay with us.
We all decided to hire scooters from our hostel and we got to Klong Dao beach just in time to catch one of the most incredible sunsets of our whole trip. (This seemed to be a running theme for Thai islands!)
The following day we were up bright and early to explore properly on our bike. Boris was nowhere to be seen, but it meant we could go where we wanted and stop where we liked – and there were a lot of places to stop!
One whole side of Koh Lanta is littered with beaches, each one with several hippie bars and seaside restaurants. Many people stay around Long Beach where there are plenty of roadside bars, but I wasn’t too taken by the actual beach. Kong Klong has a good feel to it, but there isn’t much around. And the furthest one we reached, Kantiang Bay, had some great pubs and bars, and we found a friendly reggae bar to stop for some drinks.
Overall, we were finding a great vibe on the island.
We got as far as the national park, which we didn’t want to pay the 300 baht to enter – because about 3 miles away from it, we had to stop to let a family of monkeys cross the road. And I think that’s one of those things that 300 baht won’t really pay for.
On the way back, Ash suddenly stopped by the side of the road (the OTHER side) so we could have a look at this guy.
The following morning, we had breakfast at a lovely German bakery café that we’d visited the day before, and saw a huge lizard outside there too.
I was in LOVE with this place! It’s the most laid back area we’ve been to on our entire trip, absolutely everyone was so friendly, and the wildlife is fantastic. The beaches are beautiful, the sunsets are second to none, and every evening we would have a gathering in the “common area” of our hostel and the Canadian girl would join us with her friend. It was one of the best times of our whole trip.
The next day, Boris was headed to Koh Phi Phi for a couple of nights, so we decided to take a day trip there – something I had been planning to do anyway as I wasn’t bothered about staying there to be surrounded by tourists for double the price.
In fact, we really enjoyed our day there and almost wished we’d had just one night there. It was more expensive (the most expensive place we went to in Thailand, to be honest) but it wasn’t too busy at all, the newly-rebuilt town already has character to it, and we were really impressed by how much it DIDN’T feel like it had been wrecked in the last decade.
After breakfast in a lovely not-too-pricey café and swinging by Boris’ hostel where Ash knocked a smoothie ALL OVER the foyer floor, we decided we’d better face the trek up to the viewpoint in the heat before the midday sun made it even more unbearable.
At first, it wasn’t too bad. We got up to the first viewpoint – passing some super cute kittens! – and admired the view, before looking up to the remainder of the trail.
“Oh God, I don’t know if I can be bothered,” we all said unanimously, sweat forming already. We looked at each other. “Ahh, we might as well do it.”
Famous last words. I genuinely thought I was going to pass out. I thought every step would be my last. I thought WE WERE ALMOST THERE BUT THEN WE WENT AROUND A GOD DAMN CORNER AND THE END STILL WASN’T IN SIGHT. What was this sorcery and WHERE HAD THE VIEW POINT GONE?!? I’m SURE the path is going in the wrong direction!
Honestly, guys – it’s really not a hard walk! It’s just… well, it was almost 40 degrees.
Still in disbelief at how unfit we all were, the end finally came into sight and I could have cried, partly because I realised we still had to come back down. This had better be worth it!
And coming back down was so easy we felt like we must have been really stupid on the way up.
We headed straight to the beach, which was still virtually deserted, and enjoyed the rest of our time having a rare lazy afternoon! And as we walked back to the ferry, past the smell of delicious looking street food and every bar advertising beer pong nights, and said our goodbyes to Boris, I couldn’t help but feel we should maybe have booked one night there.
But it was time to get back to Lanta for one more day of exploring and visiting more reggae beach bars, and I wasn’t going to complain about that. Apart from, you know, we could have happily done with more than one more day.