A two hour ride on a ferry got us to our next destination - Ko Lanta. We chose this island for New Year because it's seems to have the right balance between being developed enough to guarantee some great celebrations and yet it's not too over developed and busy.
We chose a beach called Klong Nin having read that it's relatively quiet and beautiful. We were not disappointed. Once again we had miles of white sand and crystal clear water to enjoy. We also managed to get a couple of bungalows on the beach for a relatively cheap price. Most places on this beach are upmarket so we were happy to have found something reasonable, although we did get resort envy when we saw some of the other places around.
On our first night we were in for a surprise when we were joined by some more guests in our rooms. We had just got in when I noticed a horrible brown cockroach scurrying behind the furniture. I ran out screaming only to see a couple more of the vile creatures outside. Bleugh. After Joe and Eileen also found a few more in their room they went up to reception and got our rooms fumigated. For the next 4 nights we sprayed our rooms before we went in and each night we found more brown critters dead in some corner. It was awful! I'm only writing this so that if you ever happen to go to Ko Lanta avoid Nature Beach Resort if like me you have a real phobia of these horrifying disgusting beings. Ok point made, onto the good stuff.
A real highlight on this island was New Year's Eve. We all went to a bar down the road that seemed to have attracted loads of people. With a DJ playing great music, tables and chairs on the sand and a gorgeous wooden bar we could see why. Dancing in my flip flops on the sand felt fantastic. It was a great way to celebrate the wonderful year 2010 has been. We welcomed in 2011 by setting off a lantern that flies up into the sky when it's lit. Loads of people did this and the atmosphere these orange lights in the sky created was truly unforgettable. Bang on midnight loads of people set off fireworks. From the big glittering ones creating gorgeous patterns in the sky to the small spits of light fired by a hollow stick, all ensured that the atmosphere was magical. When the party was over Paul and I walked back to our resort along the beach. Watching crabs running along and hearing waves crashing while we walked barefoot on the sand was the perfect ending to a great night. I hope to welcome in more New Years in this way!
Eileen and I had a special afternoon planned one day. We went to a cooking school called Time for Lime that was set up by a Norwegian lady. The proceeds from the school all go to an Animal Welfare centre that she also set up so it was great to be contributing to this. The class itself was great. We created some fusion dishes along with some typical Thai stuff and found out how hard it is to make curry paste. It requires an hour of pounding in a pestle and mortar to get the paste to the right consistency!! We actually got to taste the home made stuff and compare it to the paste we buy from the shops. The taste is miles apart. Apparently ready made paste is beefed up with a lot of chillies as this is the cheapest way of producing green or red curry paste. If you do decide to make it at home a great short cut is to use a blender and blend it to the right consistency - although you do need to pound the ingredients for about 10 minutes before hand.
We really had a great afternoon drinking Mojitos, cooking up these great dishes and even having a go at presenting them in a unique way with all the different plates and garnishes that were supplied.
I second what Karen has said about spending New Years Eve on the beach. It was brilliant and it was lovely to spend it with my Parents and Big John. That's right, we got hold of the elusive bugger! He travelled to Ko Lanta from Krabi and spent 3 days with us in the end which was great of him.
(Big John actually bought us ingredients to make 'Hobz biz-zejt' - a Maltese version of a tuna sandwich which I had been craving for weeks! Big John you will always be a superstar in my eyes!!) So that's 4 of my mates we have met up with now on our travels with more on the way. Karen's lot are letting the side down! Come on you lazy lot get gits here!
(You tell em Paul!) On one of the days we took an excursion to the famous Ko Phi Phi. The island that inspired the book "The Beach" and where they filmed the film of the same name. You can see why the place inspired so many people. It is really otherworldly. By the way I am talking about Ko Phi Phi leh, which is the smaller island. The water is crystal clear and you are surrounded by high limestone cliffs that almost enclose the beach. Obviously, the place is now really busy since they did the film but compared to beaches in Europe it is still quite empty. We had another fun day snorkeling there too. It is quite incredible how many fish species there are in such shallow water. Some of the fish are the most beautiful I have ever seen. I can't wait until we dive!
In between the two Phi Phi islands is an island with wild monkeys. When I say wild, I really mean wild! When they don't like the look of someone, they just launch themselves at them. It was hilarious to watch. Well for me anyhow as they left me alone. You can see where the saying "cheeky like a monkey" comes from as these monkeys would steal peoples drinks and run off with them and then gulp them down in one go. Very funny to watch. So that's Ko Lanta. I really recommend the place if you are looking for an island that is in between a Robinson Crusoe idyll and a full moon party haven. It's a nice middle ground type of place. Our next stop could not be more different. We are off up North to Chiang Mai where we are going to meet some very very special locals.Until then, bye bye for now.
Love Karen & Paul xxx