Ko Lanta

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November 9th 2009
Published: November 29th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Ko Lanta

The journey from Railey took 3 hours on a boat. Whilst on the boat Dean, Sam & I enjoyed a Chang or 2, where we also booked our accommodation with a crazy, yet pleasant Thai woman for the Green Garden Beach resort, Klong Khong beach - which proved to be a sensible move as it saved us a lot of time, hassle & money. As at most piers, there is always an element of chaos & madness as new travellers disembark on the island. This was no exception. Something we hadn’t yet experienced however was docking beside 3 other boats & then literary jumping from each boat (all of varying sizes, making the whole exercise that ever more difficult) with our back packs on & then was hoisted up onto the pier. Once we had safely managed to get onto land without loss of personnel or luggage, we were greeted by our driver for the Green Garden Beach Resort. Rei was a crazy yet friendly & pleasant guy who had our back packs loaded in the back of his jeep in no time. We then jumped into the back of the open carriage jeep & just about managed to sit ourselves down on the edges of the sun-baked carriage. Burnt bums sat down, we then made our way to the resort in the hot afternoon sun.

One thing that we all immediately noticed was the apparent lack of commercial influence on the island. Just from the drive from the pier to the resort, it was evident that Ko Lanta was still a relatively unscathed southern island. The short journey took no longer than 15 minutes to get to the resort, and it wasn’t that much dissimilar to the Blue Lotus (Ko Pha-Ngan) in the sense that just off the main road, 150 meters down a dirt track, we were welcomed by a fantastic & beautiful view of the beach - total bliss. We quickly checked into our large & clean double & single room where we dumped our bags & went to check out the rest of the resort & beach. Shortly after eating lunch I treated myself to my first Thai massage of the trip. It wasn’t quite the relaxing massage I was expecting, & at times it seemed like I was in a wrestling ring as the old Thai lady had me in strategic leg locks, throwing her full body weight behind her to stretch out my tired muscles. An hour after & I was finished - literary. Sam & Dean had enjoyed an afternoon nap in one of the small beach huts, which were very comfortable & had great appeal to sit in & watch the sun-set. Something else that was apparent was the lack of people about, either way, left or right, there seemed to be only a few people walking up & down the beach - enjoying the quite & peacefulness. This too had great appeal. One more thing that had great appeal was the resort itself, & although most of the staff didn’t speak much English & the beers were often served warm, the place had a real family orientated feel about it, especially as there were a lot of happy & careless babies & toddlers running about - enjoying the sand between their toes, or unknowingly messing about with one of the many cats who also resided at the resort & were quite happy to piss all over the place, in particular the curtains in the internet room with their putrid stench, which at times made using the internet quite unpleasant, especially after it had just rained & the curtains had got a bit damp.

After watching our first sun-set on Ko Lanta, we decided to hire a motor bike as it was the best way to get around. A short walk up the road & we found ourselves a good deal on some knackered old bikes. Now we had our bikes sorted, we needed to get some food & we had all read in our Lonely Planet books a good place called the Sanctuary. This wasn’t the easiest place to find as after 08:00 pm, most of the shops on the road front close & the signs for places aren’t best lit up by dim motor bike head lights, nevertheless we found the Sanctuary with little complication. Like our place it was at the end of a dirt track, leading onto the beach. It was quiet there too; however it had a pleasant atmosphere & seemed adequate for what we required. The menu was complex with many dishes, a lot that weren’t entirely clear on what they were, so we chose an Indian: Chicken Masala, Boiled Rice & Garlic / Cheese Nann. What was brought out was very tasty but presented & tasted more like a Mexican dish - needles s to say, it was all gone within 5 minutes. After enjoying our meal & a Chang, we headed back to the Green Garden resort. The bar was quiet & had about 3 people in, Rei (our crazy, yet pleasant pick-up driver from the pier), the bar man & this weird guy from Redditch who spoke his words very pronounced as if we weren’t from England & might have trouble understanding him, or perhaps he felt it necessary because we are from Birmingham? We had 2 drinks with our newly acquired drinking companions before heading off to bed for a good night’s sleep.

The following morning we enjoyed some great breakfast, Sam tucked into a dish she had learnt to cook: Sweet Sticky Rice & Fresh sliced Mango, which according to Sam had been well made, with just the right amount of coconut milk. Breakfast now out of the way; we had a busy schedule of sightseeing ahead of us - our first stop was the Waterfall at Klong Jark. This was a 30 minute bike ride down the west side of the island, & after a scheduled stop off for ‘gasoline’, & a few nonscheduled stop off’s for push starting Dean’s bike (which I now have a nice scare on my left leg after burning it on a very hot exhaust!) we made our way to the waterfall, where we particularly enjoyed the last 5 minutes of the journey, especially as our knackered bikes weren’t anywhere near equipped for off road-ing up to the bottom of the falls. After parking up & paying for parking our bikes, we started our trek up to the waterfall which we had been told should take 30 minutes. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the actual trek ahead of us. For starters, Dean & I had entirely the wrong footwear on (‘flip-flops’ & espadrille’s) & we didn’t realise that for part of the way up to the falls, we would have to walk through the stream. It was a good walk through at times, dense jungle which was brought to life by weird & interesting noises as well as vibrant & colourful flowers. Three quarters up, we also enjoyed the ‘Bat Cave’, which was pretty much what was described on the sign post, a cave with Bat’s in. Once we had taken our pictures of the Bat’s in Bat Cave, we carried onto the top - alas we had made it to the waterfall. The falls weren’t that great, as the rain season had finished, however it certainly was worth the trek as it was a 20 meter high rockery over grown with moss & fern, & where the sun shone through the tree tops it created a rainbow as the water from the fall splashed off the rocks. There was also a small pool which was big enough to dip our feet in & it also played home to a number of fish, who were more than happy to bite them. Once we had taken in the view, taken some pictures & cooled off in the pool, we headed back down to our bikes to set off to our next destination… Leam Tanot, National Park.

Much like the last 5 minutes of the ride to the waterfall, we enjoyed the off road experience on our ill-equipped bikes to the National Park, where the majority of the way we dodged gigantic pot-holes, tackled steep hills & on one or two occasions popped a couple of(accidental) wheelie’s. Leam Tanot National Park boast’s one of the best beaches of Ko Lanta as well as fantastic views of the cliffs & surrounding coast lines, oh & not to mention monkey’s! Once we had paid our 100 bhat fee each, we were granted access to the park. A short ride down a smooth road, we reached a well maintained open area where 50 - 60 monkey’s freely roamed around the grounds, oblivious to the 3 ‘nature photographers’ trying to get close up shots of them. Monkey pictures out of the way we carried on round the Leam Tanot beach. This was a beautiful beach which stretched along the cost, with white sands & crystal blue waters with hardly a soul on. Another attraction of the National Park is a rundown light house. The light house itself isn’t up to much, however the views surrounding it are stunning, which we all took in & enjoyed. One more thing to do at the national park is a trek, however given our early trek of the day in inappropriate footwear, which was now falling apart, we decided not to do it, so got back on our bikes & headed home. On the way back to the Green Garden resort, Sam noticed being the ever observant back seat passenger, a restaurant called Khao Yai, this was another restaurant that had a glowing review in the Lonely Planet, one that we were happy to try out for dinner one night, so remembered where it was. Just before we got to the Green Garden, we stopped off at ‘Baby Rasta’, where we were greeted by yet more Thai Rasta’s who welcomed us with a cocktail list & some Bob Marley music. We sat down & had a drink, enjoyed the view from the beach shack & the music. We didn’t stay too long as we could see a rain cloud approaching, so decided to get back on the road, which we weren’t on for long, before pulling over to get some ‘street-meat’ & a plastic bag of green Fanta & ice. Just as we tucked into our last piece of chicken, the heaven’s opened, so we frantically finished our food, said our thanks & did one. Unlike Railey, the shower only lasted for 5 - 10 minutes & was quite welcomed as we were hot & it cleared the humidity for the evening. That night we stayed at our resort to sample the Thai dishes, which I’m happy to report were up to scratch & also the same as what it said on the menu.

The next morning, about 5 o’clock, we were woken up by one of the two Cockerels who sounded off every morning at the same time. We tried to go back to sleep. A couple of hours later, we woke up (naturally) & got up & had breakfast. On the agenda today was a visit Ko Lanta Old Town. The old town, like most places in Thailand had started a modernisation programme to revamp the town, but part way through it had been widely decided by the locals of the town that it wasn’t what they wanted, which then led to the decision that rather than modernisation, the town would be restored - keeping its previous form & traditional features. We appreciated the old wooden buildings & interesting shops & before leaving the Old Town, took some pictures from the end of the pier which had brilliant views of the other islands. After we had finished, we made our way back to the resort & then Dean & I went to pump some iron at the local Thai Boxing Gym. I was transfixed on the fighters who were training & fancied doing it myself, however you need to be able to dedicate time to train properly which means at least twice a day for 14 days, which I couldn’t do. Now back from the gym, which I managed to get away with not paying for, we got ready to go & eat at Khao Yai, the restaurant Sam had noticed the other day. We left at about 08:00 pm & headed off in the direction of the restaurant. An hour had passed & we had only seen 1 sign post for Khao Yai & we were running low on fuel. Very shortly we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere in the pitch black as there was no lighting what-so-ever & we were now running on very low on fuel, we hadn’t passed one open petrol station… we thought we were seriously screwed. Dean’s bike was now chugging along & kept cutting out & ours was making funny noises, both seemed to be running on the last dregs of ‘gasoline’ in the tank. How we made it back to the resort, we will never know, but we did. After the events of the night, we decided to eat at the Green Garden.

The next morning we put a litre in the bikes & drove along the way we had taken the previous night, we had passed the restaurant on the way, but unknow to us, it closed at 09:00 pm, so the lights & signs must have been turned off which meant we rode passed it & ended up miles out! Later on we checked out & were dropped off at the pier where we only had to walk across 2 boats this time which we did with relative ease as they were of similar size. We were waiting for about 20 minutes before we were on our way to Ko Phi Phi to meet the rest of the gang.


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