Published: January 23rd 2012December 25th 2011
So, after crazy travel agent lady shouting at us and sitting waiting until 10:15am for our minibus to turn up, it finally did. The problem was it was pretty full when it collected the three of us and the idiot driver tried to cram us onto the back two seats which had absolutely no leg room. After we climbed over to the seats in front of us and the driver consulted his list several more times, we proceeded to drive around Krabi Town (3 times), picking more people up and ending up back at the hotel next door to ours…it was really weird!
So when the driver had stopped giving us a random tour of Krabi Town, we were finally on our way the only problem there were 13 of us and bags (and bloody big bags they were too – why do people need so much stuff?!) crammed into a minibus that usually fits 11 people and their bags. Oh dear, it was a good job we only had small bags as we would never have fit in otherwise.
We made pretty good time and arrived into Ko Lanta around 1pm, unfortunately the van driver couldn’t be arsed
to drop us actually at the place we were planning to stay, instead just offloading us at the end of the road; maybe if he hadn’t spent an hour driving us randomly around Krabi Town he would have had more time to actually drop people off properly! After a short walk and a long spell of haggling (well done Neil), we finally checked in to our rooms and…yes, we headed straight out for food. As usual, we were looking forward to the food and we went to one of our favourite restaurants for lunch and were really surprised that the husband and wife team remembered us from the previous year and gave us extra big banana shakes and fried rice portions to celebrate our return.
We wasted no time in getting into a nice beach routine and people watching – it really is one of our favourite things to do on a beach (not in a pervy way or anything). There were, again, a strange mix of people on the island, the first observation is that we really could have been in Sweden (well apart from the warm weather and being on the beach, obviously!). For the time of
Dave doing a lion impression
,,,maybe to scare the other tourists?
year, it really was rather quiet, perhaps a sign of the economic downturn in the majority of Europe that the only voices we really heard were Swedish and German? The other observation we made was that there were a lot of groups of girls on the beach and although the beach did seem busy during parts of the day, at night the bars were deserted. See the pictures of Christmas Eve on the beach – it wasn’t really early in the morning, we were shocked at how empty it was! The only downside to the beach was that there were lots (and we mean lots) of tiny stinging jellyfish in the water for the majority of our time there…take a look at the picture of Donna’s arm, for some reason she reacted badly to these stings and it really made it unbearable to be in the water at times…mostly during the afternoon. At first we thought they were the little sea lice things that sting, but on closer inspection of the water it was tiny, proper jellyfish.
Another observation we made was how little people actually communicate with each other. We lost count of the number of times we
Donna and Dave
we managed to get Dave addicted to banana shakes too!
would see a couple or two friends in a restaurant or a bar, sitting side by side and one would be playing on their smarter-than-us phone, the other on a laptop. They would sometimes just sit for hours and hours, just staring at the screens in front of them not saying a word and not even looking up at their surroundings or taking an interest in anything that wasn’t on their screen. We would see the same people night after night, obsessively glued to their technology! Now things like this really puzzle us – perhaps we are just gossips and constantly have far too much to say, but we can’t imagine sitting in a restaurant or a bar on a tranquil paradise beach and completely ignoring each other to play on the internet or a game on a phone. We actually joked that as these people were sitting next to each other, they were probably communicating via Twitter (or Twatter as we affectionately call it!) or Facebook chat with each other. We are completely astounded that human face-to-face interactions have kind of dropped by the wayside and this has been demonstrated to us on several occasions over the last year,
where we have sometimes tried to start conversations with other travellers only to be ignored. We have gradually arrived at the conclusion that some people just don’t seem to be able to hold a decent conversation anymore and much prefer an electronic conversation. Is this the future, no speaking just texting or internet chatting?
The undoubted highlight of our time on Koh Lanta was the 4 islands day trip we decided to do (800 baht per person). After not having time to squeeze it in last year, we decided to definitely do it this Christmas with Dave. We were collected right on time which we were really surprised at and taken to a little pier in Saladan. We also picked up another British couple, Steve and Caroline – the first we had seen/heard in the 4 days we had been on Lanta! Our first stop was to drop people off at Koh Ngai, confusingly also known as Koh Hai and we still haven’t figured out why (hehe..that rhymes well!) and then we headed off to another part of the island to snorkel. The snorkelling equipment wasn’t great and after a few false starts with several snorkelling tubes which leaked
every time we took a breath, a mask which leaked (Dave luckily had a prescription mask, so he only had to contend with a leaky tube) we were finally in the water snorkelling. The coral was ok, parts of it were really damaged and again, we saw so many people standing on the coral…arggghhh, we wanted to shout - please people don’t stand on the coral – it may seem hard but it is easy to damage it by standing on it! We have read a lot recently though about coral bleaching on the Andaman side of Thailand due to rising sea temperatures, so maybe this contributed to the damaged coral. There were a few fishies, not many big ones but it was interesting none the less.
Back on the boat we headed off for the Emerald Cave, this is located just west of Koh Mook. This part of the trip was absolutely amazing, something different to what we have previously experienced on any other trip. We all put on our sexy life jackets and jumped into the water. To get to the centre of the limestone karst (island) we had to swim through a hole/cave. Now the guide
told us it was a 50m swim…we laughed and said yeah right. Well, it must have been at least that and it went really, really dark in the middle. It was at this point we suddenly realised we could have been swimming through anything, including bat poo (yes, poo is back on the agenda) which we were sure there was a lot of. We had a little bit of fun, grabbing each other’s legs as we were swimming through and Neil hit Dave on the head…except, it wasn’t Dave (as we found out later) so some poor bugger probably got the fright of his life! We emerged from the dark cave into a little hollow with a beach, you can see from the pictures it was amazing. It was so quiet and peaceful in the middle apart from the grumpy tourists (more on this in a second) stomping around. We took a few pictures and then it was time to leave, swimming back out the way we came. The guide went first, except part way through we managed to lose him, so the only light we could see by was the flash of Dave’s underwater camera…cue being half blinded by
the flash, swimming in the dark trying not to think about bat poo falling on our head and silly photos of us with big wide eyes.
It was then time for lunch, we headed a very short distance across the water to Koh Kraden (this was sneakily included as one of the 4 islands!), this is the panorama at the top of this blog. Now at this point, we would like to take a little time out to talk about our fellow trip mates…they were grumpy bastards and rather rude too. So, apart from us and Steve and Caroline, the rest of the people on this day trip were acting like someone had come up to them that morning and put a gun to their head to do this trip. Not one of them smiled at any point on the trip and spent most of the time moodily pouting and staring into the distance. Now we have said this before, but really…why bother paying money to go on a trip which you don’t particularly want to be on and are only doing (as it seemed to us) to tick a box on a list of things to do? It’s
one thing we learnt pretty quickly when we started travelling, if you aren’t interested in something then don’t do it! Ok, so now onto the rude part. These same grumpy people seemingly had no manners whatsoever when it came to lunch time. The boat guys set up the lunch buffet which was a tasty green curry, rice, sweet and sour squid and fried chicken with a small bottle of coke each. We happened to be at the back of the queue and we were shocked that the people at the front of the queue had piled their plates up with mountains of food, they had at least 4 pieces of fried chicken each (Donna is repressing the urge to be rude at this point!), so when we got to the front of the queue there was hardly any food left. There is no problem if people want a lot of food, but surely etiquette would dictate that you first take a reasonable amount of food and then go back for seconds if you are still hungry? These people not only piled their plates high but they went back for seconds and thirds too. Ok, NOW we understand why people are
so fat (that’s the politest thing Donna can manage!).
After a great trip out, we made arrangements with the people we met off the trip to meet in a bar later that night…it was party night! The bar we were in was actually busy – this was the first time we had seen a bar this busy in the time we had been in Lanta. Every other night (including the Christmas Eve party) was completely dead and one night we went to the Funky Fish restaurant for a drink and the staff started clearing tables and switching off lights around us…it was only 9:30pm! On Christmas Eve, we had a nice run on the beach and managed to cover ¾ of the length of it which we were impressed with. In the afternoon, we headed into Saladan town to have a look around, the tuk-tuk mafia was in full force wanting 150 baht to take us there. All we did was walk onto the main road and a tuk-tuk stopped who was more than happy to accept our offer of a reasonable 100 baht for the ride. Saladan was quiet too, no-one was buying anything so it seems like
Our Christmas meal...yummy!
no turkey for us...just curry
the market stalls and shops were charging too much. On our way back we saw the strangest sight of an elephant being ridden by a little kid who was whacking the poor creature with a big stick on the top of the head. We all did a complete double take with that one, even the tuk-tuk driver who gave the elephant a really wide berth.
We had a nice relaxing Christmas Day, lots of lovely food (curry!!) and banana shakes. We also treated ourselves to massages on the beach, Dave wasn’t really up for going with the flow and all we heard was little ow’s and ouch’s from his direction as the tiny Thai lady inflicted pain on him! After our massages, we headed to the Funky Fish to watch the sunset with a drink (they did a great hot coffee – it was huge and it was proper brewed coffee too!). However, the staff in there were particularly grumpy but on the plus side, it was good entertainment as they had every customer in there laughing as they slammed drinks and food down with lots of stomping and frowning.
Only a month or so before our visit,
there were some pretty bad floods in Thailand and although these didn’t extend as far south as Koh Lanta, there were still some problems with supplies. A lot of the factories around Bangkok and on the Central plains had been flooded so we had the unexpected situation of Koh Lanta running out of our favourite soft drink, Manao soda and the supply of cornettos and ice lollies were also dwindling, luckily we found a new supply half way through our stay. We even heard that parts of Phuket had temporarily ran out of beer just before Christmas, oh no!
A couple of last things to mention, as it’s beginning to get long now. The first is, what is it with reggae music at every single island destination in SE Asia…seriously, reggae music? How many people actually hand on heart love it? Not many we would guess, but everywhere you go all there is in the way of music in bars is reggae. We aren’t in the Caribbean, so how the hell has reggae made it as the beach resort music of choice in SE Asia? We can categorically state we hate reggae and will not go into a bar
At first glance we thought these two were naked...
...on closer inspection they did have swimwear on with their santa hats!
if it’s being played! The second thing is the food….the food…the food. Wow, wow and wow, we think that’s all we need to say…whether it’s curries or stir fries or fried rice and banana shakes, it’s AMAZING!
The next stage of our trip had arrived and it involved quite a lot of drama, with an almost-missed flight and some running around like mad, crazy people.
There are more photos below