Getting to Ko Lanta was never going to be straight forward. The journey was to take us right across Thailand by way of the catamaran, two buses, two minibuses and two ferry journeys.
We arose at 6am and we were picked up by a coach at 7am and taken to the dock. Having swallowed sea sickness tablets we were mildy confident of not heaving up but the sea looked a little choppy. Despite this the journey was nothing like our first and we arrived at Surat Thani by 11am where we were soon shown to a reasonably decent coach. This coach took us to a random bit of pavement somehwhere or other where we waited to be picked up.
You really do have to just relax and let things happen here. Just typing this makes me realise how weird the system is. If you bought a bus ticket in the UK and after only 10 minutes you were ejected onto the pavement and told to wait for some other coach to collect you at some point in the next hour you would be far from pleased!
But anyway, after a short while a decrepit old coach arrived and we once again began loading suitcases into the hold which was as usual too small. So most of the cases went on the back seats and on the floor down the aisle. When we got on we realised that our relaxed approach hadn’t done us any favours as I ended up standing in the aisle….for the whole 2 hour journey.
During this hair raising 2 hours we stopped to collect a couple of locals. We also stopped to discard some huge packages into a road somewhere. As we drove away from these parcels people were appearing and poking and prodding them. Again, totally random.
Eventually the coach pulled into a muddy yard and we were once again ejected. Depending on what sticker we were wearing we were told we would have varying amounts of time to wait before being collected. We were told 1 hour. 10 minutes later we were being bundled into the back of a pick up truck and taken to a tour operators office in Krabi. Here we were again told we were to wait. We took the chance to grab a bite to eat before we got to know our small group. Three Brits from Essex, a Swede and two Aussies.
After an hour or so a mini van appeared. It had tinted windows. We bundled into it, again with cases on seats and the floor and set off to make the ferry crossings which would eventually get us to Ko Lanta.
This was where the journey became slightly terrifying. We guessed that we were behind schedule and may miss the ferry. This was the best explanation we could find for the absolutely insane driving. During the journey we chatted to our fellow passengers but it was very hard to concentrate due to the overtaking on corners, hard breaking and fast cornering being expertly performed by our non-communicating driver. Again random locals climbed in and out now an again and after 30 minutes or so we reached the first ferry in time for sunset.
The Swede had made the journey in 2009 and told us that when crossing the island between the first and second ferry drivers race as the second ferry is smaller. So again we had to hang on for dear life for a white knuckle journey and we made it to the second ferry just in time.
Eventually, some 13 hours after we departed we arrived at our resort at Hat Khlong Nin, Ko Lanta. The bungalow was huge and even had hot water, luxury! Again we were very close to the beach and this time the beach was perfect. Lot’s of soft white sand, a few relaxed bars and restaurants and not too busy.
On our first full day we decided to hire a motorbike. The cost for a nearly new bike for one day was about £5 and fuel was pennies and was often sold in a Coke bottle!? When you consider that a tuk tuk ride to the next beach would be £3 each way the bike makes perfect sense. And by this point I felt fairly confident riding one.
We set of towards the south of the island which has a national park and a few other natural attractions. What we hadn’t bargained for was the road being a very hilly dirt track with huge ruts. My minimal mountain biking talent came in useful. We stopped at an almost deserted beach though we hadn’t taken our swimming gear
(Claire regrets her decision to leave her swimming attire at home)
… so we pressed on to the start of a trail towards a waterfall and some caves. Being well dressed for a jungle hike (sandals!) we turned down the option of hiring a guide and set off on our own. The trail was fairly tough going but quite easy to follow and in 30 minutes or so we found ourselves alone at this waterfall.
We sat for a while and then returned via the caves. These were fairly non descript (especially as we didn’t have a torch) but we did see this lizard at close quarters.
And then we fed Mai the elephant.
(Note Claire’s cunning hand shape so that the Elephant could not bite her….with its nose)
The next day we were picked up from our beach by a speedboat to go snorkelling at the twin islands of Koh Rok. The journey was around 50 minutes and was rough. One Thai child was ill but if the journey had been any longer I suspect we both would have been hanging over the side.
The snorkelling was incredible though. The boat took us to 3 different sites. The water was completely clear and we saw some amazing fish. At one point we thought we had seen a turtle but it was just a massive fish. We both made a schoolboy error and didn’t apply enough sun cream so had burnt backs the next day! We had lunch on Koh Rok Nok, but nobody told us dragons would be roaming……
(This thing was over 6ft nose to tail ! )
The next day we undertook an epic motor bike ride around the island to visit the old town, although our secondary objective was to find the second instalment of the Millennium Trilogy books by Stieg Larsson. Mission was accomplished.
(Mountain bikers please note the 1 finger braking)
We were so taken by Hat Klock Nin that we decided to stay for 6 nights in total. The remainder of our days were fantastic but probably don’t make for great reading as we spent the days in the sun doing not a lot and the evenings eating and drinking on the beach watching the fire shows at “Rambo’s” and “The Mong Bar”.
(a poignant reminder)