We had googled images of Koh Lanta beaches and they looked excellent. However, when we turned up and saw it for ourselves, we realised all the photos were taken at high tide and at low tide huge rocks scattered the tidal area. The next day however, we managed to get to the beach at high tide and there were no rocks in sight. Once in the water, these rocks proved to be brilliant habitats for fish spotting.
The following day we went to Koh Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley, which is where the film "The Beach" was filmed. We started off by some snorkelling. This was meant to last for forty minutes, but it only lasted for twenty! It was still excellent though, so many colourful fish - I only knew one that we saw, the angel fish, and the water was so crystal clear. Once back on the boat we headed to Phi Phi Ley - The Beach. The beach was the most stunning, tropical beach either of us have ever been on. Perfect soft white sand, crystal clear water and... about 500 other people - not so stunning!! Our boat trip was one of many visiting and we were told we'd have about half an hour there including time to eat lunch (which was actually really good curry). We ate, took some rushed photos and then got back in our crowded boat and headed back to Koh Phi Phi. We were given a couple of hours to explore the island before heading back to Koh Lanta, but after an hour of walking around the haphazardly built town (rushed after the 2004 tsunami) in the intense heat and witnessing the hedonistic crowds and bars, we left and went back to quieter Lanta. We were just disappointed not to spend more time snorkelling.
The next couple of days we spent dodging the rain - and we thought it was dry season! Then, on New Year's Eve, we left Arena Bungalows and headed 50yds down the beach to another resort where we were due to meet Hannah (one of Kate's friends from home). She arrived after about 24hrs travelling so we chilled on the beach in the afternoon (the sun had come out again). Hannah had also bought some goodies from the UK including: Kate's Mum's Christmas cake and Percy Pigs as well as some presents from the family - thanks!!
The evening celebrations were also spent on the beach watching fireworks and Chinese lanterns go up in the air, having drinks of the alcoholic variety and soaking up the chilled out atmosphere. Slightly different to our rainy New Year's last year in Totnes where we met. Who would've thought we'd be travelling round the World together a year ago...
We were going to hire a side car tuk-tuk on our last day with Hannah, but it was pouring with rain so we played Jenga and cards in a bar. It was time to go our separate ways the next day, but it had been great catching up. We left early the next day to catch a minibus and ferry to Langkawi, Malaysia.
We got picked up by a taxi from our hotel and taken to the minivan office. The guy behind the counter asked where we were staying, and we said we didn't know. He gave us two leaflets for some guesthouses, we said yes to the first one because it looked the nicer of the two - it was full, so we took the second one offered to us -Arena Bungalows which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We arrived on the island expecting it to be a bit like Koh Chang, but it was a lot less developed, a lot more chilled out and also much of the population on the island are Muslim which we hadn't really seen elsewhere in SE Asia. Our first room was ok but a bit old, basic and not somewhere we would want to stay for four nights. Luckily, when we saw the owner, she said she would do us a deal on one of the newer bungalows. We took her offer of a new bungalow with hot water and a fan all for £2 more than our old crappy one.