Lanta and Lanterns

Trip Start Apr 23, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Thursday, March 10, 2011

We set the alarm and got up to get ready to move on. We had noticed some black marks like mold stains that had multiplied on the sheets from day to day. As we checked the bed for anything we had forgotten I found the cause....Bed Bugs!!! In all our travels we'd never seen them before but it couldn’t have been anything else. I squashed one and it turned bright red as one or both of our blood squished out!!!! We suddenly understood why there was a warning that tattoo ink, hair dye, coffee, red wine and blood stains on linen would extract a 300 baht fine for extra washing. Let them try and get that.....!

It was a short ferry ride to Koh Lanta. We walked through the multitude of touts to find a cab to our guesthouse – Lanta Thip. It was a good 20 minute ride but we were well pleased with the room when we got there. A 10 minute walk from the beach and 15 minutes from shops and restaurants but good value...900 baht (~$30) for a large white tiled room, AC, cable TV, hot water, spotlessly clean, wifi in the room and a lovely, lovely owner.

After settling in we headed for the beach. The closest beach was near the squid fishing community but 5 minutes wither way and you could find a space to call your own. Further down the beach (north) were bars, restaurants and after the other for further than we wanted to walk in the blaring sun.

We dropped into one near the sunshine resort for a refreshing beverage and got chatting to an English guy who had been there for a while. He had been there for a while and told us a bit about sites around the island and about Koh Lipe further south. Koh Lanta was a vast improvement in our opinion on Phi Phi and Phuket...but Koh Lipe sounded like exactly what we were looking for. Over the course of our stay we had a couple of big nights with him and a British couple we met. It was the kind of thing where you only intend to stay for a couple and before you know it you’re all about to turn into pumpkins and the bar staff are hovering waiting to go to bed.

We hired a scooter and toured the island. The old Town on the other side of the island was quite interesting. There was no beach but it was an easy matter to get a boat out to one of the outer islands. There was a Lantern festival on which unfortunately didn’t begin till sunset. I was still a bit gun shy on driving the bike with Tim on the back and wasn’t too keen to be driving at night so we didn’t end up staying. We did however get to light a lantern, make a wish and watch it float out to see and over the horizon a few nights later. The sea gypsy restaurant further down the coast made for a nice stop over. Built into a large tree and the furniture made from various tree parts or maybe driftwood, it had a character all of its own. The rest of the island was quite picturesque and the views from a number of high points made for excellent photos.

The beaches were quite nice all around the island. It had been protected by other islands in the Tsunami and there were still lots of fully grown palm trees for shade. We were pretty relaxed and both had good books so we ended up staying 6 nights instead of the original 3. After discussing options we had decided to continue south to Koh Lipe and then onto Langkawi. It was just as easy to get a Myanmar visa and plane tickets in KL as in Bangkok and we had somehow managed to miss Langkawi in our past visits to Malaysia. After our experience in Phi Phi we were happy to keep the idyllic images of Raleigh Beach and Ao Nang from our last visit in 97. No need to trash all our memories at once!

We were also there at the time the earthquake hit Japan. Our first thoughts were for all our girls we had only just visited. One by one over the course of a few days they reported in that they were OK, as were their families and friends. They were, however, very shaken as we would have expected. We watched in horror and sadness as the extent of the tragedy unfolded over the course of the week.

All in all, Koh Lanta was more in line with our memories of Thailand from years ago. Much more laid back than where we had been and just as picturesque. You could certainly go upmarket if you wanted to but you could just as easily bum about in a barely standing, bamboo bungalow. We had thought about moving closer to the beach but after looking at what was on offer we worked out we had a very good deal where we were. Anyway, the scooter made everything accessible and the walk back after too many refreshing beverages at night probably good for us.
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