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Published: December 22nd 2006
It's Long and sandy
Ko Lanta Kris
Ko Lanta is a lot bigger than Ko JUm with lots of pricey resorts and family holidays. This also means it has electricity at night. Bonus. On our journey into port on the ferry we were immediately approached by someone asking if we'd like to stay at her seaside bungalows. We accepted and as soon as we left the boat we were crowded onto a pick-up truck for free transfer to Lanta Sunny House bungalows by Long Beach - so called becuase it's..well...long. And a beach.
We installed ourselves in a bamboo hut at one end of the complex of variously priced bungalows. We chose the cheapest. The price seemed to depend on the size of the rooms and what your walls were made out of. Ours being titchy and largely wade of woven bamboo it may as well have been made out of straw, but given we'd heard of no big bad wolves in the area we figured it would do.
Ko Lanta was sheltered from the worst of the 2004 tsunami and as such now advertises itself as "The Safest Place in the Andaman Sea". Still, it doesn't stop tourist shops selling tasteless
...see? It's even longer than you thought.
"DEATH WAVE TSUNAMI" t-shirts. Thankfully, we haven't seen anyone wearing one yet.
As I said, it's pretty well developed for tourist trade with lots of bars, restaurants, clubs and resorts as well as a load of tour operators selling snorkeling trips to coral reefs. But despite all this you can still feel like you're on a private patch of beach when you visit the sea - the sandy areas being so vast compared to the number of tourists.
On the first night in Ko Lanta we blundered into the first restaurant we came to to get some tea. Little did we realise that this was a reggae bar. There seems to be a lot of these about in Thailand. Bob Marley's very popular and the barman in these places seem to try and emulate him. But they don't do it very well. For some reason, alternative Thai blokes with long dreads and little goatee beards look a lot less like Bob marley and a lot more like Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of th Caribbean films. It's weird. We've seen loads of Thai Captain Jacks since we first arrived. I guess that film was set
The ferry port town
in the Caribbean...but was filmed in Thailand...and Bob Marley came from the Caribbean....but I'd still never linked pirates and reggae.
Anyway, nevermind. Point is, this guy who served us that night was a raucous Thai Jack Sparrow. When he met us he told us in broken English that he was there for our whole holiday (or something like that) - took our order - drank some more beer behind the bar while singing - then served us something that showed no resemblanced of the food we had requested. We ordered chicken and Thai salad and got a strange mixture of squid tentacles and shrimp with legs still attached in a thick coconutty soup. Given we'd waited ages, it was cheap and Captain Sparrow seemed less sober than he was when he originally got the order wrong, we couldn't be cothered to complain. We ate, paid and left him singing "No Woman, No Cry" bare-chested at the bar....
Chickens and Pumping Bass Beats
So there we were in our tranquil, idylic bamboo hut retreat on a tropical island. Following our odd meal with the Captain, we headed back for an early night under the mozzy net. But the
tranquility was shattered by the low, repetitive rumbling of a thudding bass beat, Oh look, our bamboo hut backs straight onto the popular night clubs of Opium and The Earth with their super cool open air dance floors. What fun. That meant we could enjoy the music into the early hours from the confort of our bed. I guess this was also a reason our hut was the cheapest.
So eventually the clubs quietened down and we go off to sleep, but then I was woken at 4:30 by my old enemy since I got to Thailand (and Laos actually) - the familir cock-a-doodle-doo of of the local rooster. This one was particularly impressive and took great pleasure in shouting as loud as he could outside our door. Aw well, a small price to pay given all the eggs I've eaten since I got here. Seriously though, the chickens here are so cool. I think they're more closely related to jungle fowl than the ones we get back home. The big male wandering around the gardens of Sunny House was huge - about the size of Ronnie Corbett I'd guess. Big for a chicken. I went out that first
An annoying cock
This rude Ronnie Corbett-sized chicken woke me up every morning
morning to stare threatening at the offending bird but frlt quite intimidated by him when our eyes met. He looked very stern and had big feet with claws, much like those of a velociraptor I thought. I'd probably have preferred to stare coldly at Ronnie Corbett to be honest. I don't think he has claws, although I've never seen his feet.
The Monster in the Bathroom
The bamboo hut we called home may also have been cheap because it was already occupied. At least the toilet was anyway. Kate was first to meet our housemate in a spooky encounter where she was in the bathroom and I was talking to her through the closed door. Mid conversation she boke off and said, to something in the room, "Hello!" and "Bloody hell, you're massive!". All the time she wouldn't tell me what it was she was talking to and I had to wait till she unlocked the door. Apparently it was a very large lizard. By the time I got into the room it had legged it through a holie into the wall cavity. Yeah, I thought, probably a reasonable sized gecko.
I met the beastie that night
Just hanging out in the toilet.
at about 2:30am when I fought my way out of the mosquito net to visit the toilet. There, standing casually on the bamboo wall directly above the toilet was a massive, scaly, purple thing with red spots, staring down at me with big yellow eyes. Being a professional zoologist of course, I immediately identifed the creature as very much a "large lizard" (about the size of a large rat, I'd say) and we stared at each other for a bit before he disappeared into the wall again. Which was lucky because I didn't think I could "go" with him watching.
So we decided to call the lizard Eddie, as in Eddie Lizard (yeah, a bit like Eddie Izzard, hilarious, we know) and we waved to him every time we went to the toilet. We figured he must be doing a good job eating pesky insects, and besides, he was there before us.
Thai Rock and a Bar Called Nirvana
While we were at Capt. Sparrow's restaurant we came across a flyer for a gig at a nearby rock bar called Nirvana. It was for a Thai band called Black Roses, that were highly recommended by the Bangkok
Post apparently. Given we figured early nights were out of the question (a particularly BIG PARTY was advertised at Opium) we decided to take a trip to the next bay and see the band. It was cool. They played covers of everything on my MP3 player...except with a Thai accent and they had 2 very small, very tattooed lead singers who took turns at the mic.I clapped enthusiastically at the end of each howling guitar solo. Pity they didn't play some of their won stuff.
After an enjoyable night of rock we returned home to to Eddie. He tends to wait up, pacing the walls.
Back to Krabi
Four nights on Ko Lanta and we headed back to Krabi on the mainland for a decent nights sleep in preparation for our flight to Singapore and "Christmas In The Tropics" (Registered Trademark).
Note to Ko Lanta guesthouse owners....
When advertising the features of your lodgings on signs, please note that the loss of even a few letters can totally change the message. For example - under the name of a holiday resort - "BUNGALOWS BY THE SEA, SWIMMING POOL" sounds lovely....but remove a few letters and
end up with "BUNGALOWS BY THE SEA, SWIM IN POO". The Latter is somehow less attractive than the former. Having seen this very sign on Ko Lanta I had assumed letters had fallen off....but on second thoughts maybe someone was just being too honest..? We didn't stay at the guesthouse that advertised this feature anyway....
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