On September 26, 2014 Angela and I embarked on what I believe was one of the best vacations ever had by any human being ever. We spent the day filling young children’s’ minds with useful facts about music and life, and once the clock struck quitting time we immediately changed into our beach outfits and sprinted from the confines of our place of work. We cleverly had a driver waiting for us outside in a mini-van, ready to take us to the Pudong International Airport. Angela and I were to travel to Koh Lanta, an island off of the west coast of Thailand.
We were traveling with the lower school dance instructor, a Spanish woman named Laura. She was traveling to Bangkok to meet her boyfriend, and we had to travel through Bangkok to get to Krabi, which was the nearest airport to Koh Lanta. Our flight path stopped first in Hong Kong, and then in Bangkok. We were delayed terribly in Shanghai, and we fairly certain that we would miss our connecting flight. Luckily, there were so many of us on that flight that Hong Kong delayed the flight to Bangkok. We were personally escorted through the airport and a slightly faster than comfortable speed, and immediately boarded our next flight at approximately 10:00 PM. The rest of the passengers who were already onboard and waiting seemed really glad that the plane was held for us. We arrived in Bangkok around midnight. Angela had booked a hotel at the Amari Aiport Hotel (which is a fantastic place to stay) which is near the other airport, about an hours drive from our port of entry. We had planned to take the free shuttle, but we had arrived too late. Angela loves the unrestricted internet of Thailand so much that I had to wait for her to purchase a sim card and data plan for her phone in the Bangkok airport, before I was allowed to go to bed. We took a cab to our hotel.
Early the next morning, we woke up and walked across the skybridge to the Don Mueang International Airport. We had a great flight to the Krabi airport, where a van was waiting to transport us to our hotel on Koh Lanta. The route to Koh Lanta takes about three hours by van, and includes two ferry rides. We had to wait a long time for the second ferry. I slept most of the way, because I was still tired by our late arrival and early departure.
Finally we arrived at our bungalow on the southwestern part of Koh Lanta. The beach that we stayed on was called Ba Kan Tieng beach, and it was beautiful, and fairly empty. Our bungalow had a view of the ocean, and it was very nice.
These photos were taken from our little bungalow porch!
We decided to go to a nearby beach bar called “Why Not?”. That seemed to be their motto. We had a late lunch there, and enjoyed the view of the ocean. We went to bed earlier than geriatrics.
On our first day, we did a lot of awesome things. The first thing that we did was to stop at a nearby restaurant called ‘The Drunken Sailor‘. This quickly became my favorite place. They were very nice, and they served something called the ‘Sailors Stack’. This was a stack of three pancakes that were delicious, and had bacon baked into then. In between each pancake were a couple slices of bacon as well. My favorite part was that after the description on the menu, they warned you that the dish may contain bacon.
After eating a delicious breakfast at The Drunken Sailor (we ate here every morning but one, and even one evening) we rented a gasoline scooter. This was my number one priority for our vacation. The nice woman at the scooter rental offered to let me rent a brand new scooter. It was blue! She put in less than one liter of gas for free, and let me test drive it. She told me that I could easily go 3 kilometers on the tank, which read completely empty. I asked her if the gas gauge was broken, and she continued that a new scooter should be able to go 3 kilometers with no problem. Finally, I realized that she thought we would be able to make it 3 kilometers before actually filling the tank up. I asked if I could just pay her to fill the tank up, but she said that we would get a better deal elsewhere. I thought that was very honest, and we hit the road.
Angela took some nice road photos. I was busy driving safely.
Our first mission was to drive up the only road on the west side of the island that spanned from the northern pier all the way to the southern tip. We scootered all of the way up north along the coast to ‘Long Beach’, which was a stretch of beach with a lot of shops and restaurants. We scooted all the way up to the northern most area on the island, and walked around the markets. We had traveled to Koh Lanta during the low season, also known as the rainy season. Not many tourists go at that time, so a lot of things are closed, and many of the restaurants and markets won’t open until the late morning. We ate at a place called ‘The Fat Pig’ that was right on the ocean (most of the restaurants were).
After our lunch, we decided to scoot back to our part of the island (stopping for a very painful Thai massage along the way). We relaxed on the beach and in the ocean for a few hours before heading to a nearby bar called the ‘Sunset Bar’. The Sunset Bar is located up on a bluff overlooking to ocean to the west. We had a few Singha beers and watched the sun set before heading to bed.
On our second day of scooting around the island, we decided to head east across the island to the Lanta Old Town. This is a town on the east coast of the island that remains similar to what it looked like 100 years ago. Most of the houses along the ocean are 100 years old, and the old pier used to be a safe trading harbor for ships from China and Singapore. Most of the shops were closed, but we did stop for smoothies on the ocean, and to purchase a few goods at the Lanta Leather Shop. We also perused the goods at the Hammock House, but decided that a hammock would prove useless in Shanghai.
We decided to splurge on dinner at nearby hotel (one of the few actual hotels on the island) called the Houben Hotel. The hotel was interesting. It was made completely out of stone, and did not have beach access. However, it did have a beautiful pool with a wonderful view of the sunset. We had very delicious seafood, and tried their signature cocktail (the red alert).
On Tuesday, we scheduled the Four Islands Tour around the surrounding islands of Koh Lanta. Both Angela and I were a little apprehensive about this tour, because we knew that it was a popular tour. We were also tipped off by some coworkers that you had to swim through a cave at one point, which we were both dreading. However, we had a blast on the tour. There were about 18 of use, and the first thing that we did was board this sketchy looking boat in Lanta Old Town.
This boat broke down approximately twice, and we had to sit patiently while the captain wrenched and hammered at it. He fixed it, though!
After boarding the boat, we headed to one of Koh Lanta’s famous snorkeling spots. Neither of us had ever been snorkeling, and it IS AWESOME! At the first place, Angela’s mask was leaking so she did not stay in very long. My mask was working well, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Our captain kept yelling at us, “Nemo is over there! Go see Nemo!” I kind of laughed, and eventually did go over to the spot. He was right! There was a little group of clownfish that inhabited an underwater plant just like in the movie. They looked animated.
After a while, we went to check out some bats on a cliff face, and then snorkeled at another spot. Angela and I switched masks, and then both of our masks worked well. She stayed in the whole time, and enjoyed it much more than the first spot. I thought there was less to look at.
After we snorkeled and looked at some huge bats, the time came for what we all were dreading: the cave. I had heard about this horrific experience from some coworkers – swimming through a cave. I don’t even like walking through caves. We had to swim through a tunnel for about 80 meters through a huge cliff, and in the very center of this little island was a hallowed out area with a beautiful pool of water and nice foliage. According to the sign, pirates used to stash their booty here. I could picture it as I swam through the cave with nothing but our guides flashlight, and then entered into a beautiful hidden little cove.
Pictured above is Angela in the cove right in front of the cave that we swam through. There was a nice UK couple with us on the tour, and the husband decided he was going to swim back through the cave early. His wife was somewhat upset about it, but was too polite to make a fuss. In fact, in the picture above you might be able to see him exiting through the cave! She floated nervously by the entrance until all of us were ready and our guide led the way. I suppose she assumed he would be on the other side. However, we got through the cave and back to the boat, and he was nowhere to be seen. Apparently he was exploring another part of the cave (totally in the dark) and followed us out. He was probably only about 30 seconds behind us, but those 30 seconds seemed to take a lifetime. I was trying to think about what I was going to say to a woman whose husband decided to swim alone through a dark underwater cave and became lost forever. Luckily, I didn’t have to say anything!
We went to bed pretty early after our adventures snorkeling and caving. The next day we took it pretty easy. We scootered back up to Long Beach, ate and drank at some new places, and even stopped at a place called LAW (Lanta Animal Welfare). LAW is a lovely organization that collects broken and abandoned animals from around Koh Lanta and takes care of them. You can come volunteer to walk a dog, play with cats, or even adopt. A lot of the dogs that we saw were already adopting, but they were waiting for someone to volunteer to take the animal to the appropriate city where their foster family lived. I played with all of the cats, and we visited a few dogs, too.
There was a neat bar called “Otto’s Bar”, or something like that. It was one of those places that had a bunch of crap all of the walls, but in a way that makes it kind of fun to sit in. Pictured below!
The next day, we traveled to the Koh Lanta National Marine Park. The drive there was extremely hilly and beautiful, and fun on the scooter. We did a 45 minute hike through the jungle, saw a lot of monkeys (much to my personal delight) and checked out a pretty cool old lighthouse. Below are a few pictures Angela took along the road to the park, and some of the park itself.
Pictured above and on the right is a shot of the lighthouse at the park!
We spent the rest of the afternoon taking it easy and enjoying some beautiful views. We also frequented the ‘Why Not?’ bar as they had live music every night. They played all of the hits such a Californication, Hotel California and other such beach hits.
All in all, we had a perfect trip. We are now plotting how we can relocate to Koh Lanta, but that is still in the works. All for now.