We had spoken to a few other travellers whilst in Ao Nang about Ko Lanta and all reports were excellent. We weren’t disappointed. Just a 2 hour (well, 4 hours if you include our bus driver taking an extra 2 hours to fulfill his part-time job commitments of package courier) drive south from Ao Nang and it’s a different world. Much slower pace, friendlier people, much cheaper and hasn’t yet succumbed to the perils of my last post.
Our home for the 4 days here was Papillion Bungalows. For around NZD50 (for the 4 of us) per night we got private bungalow with bathroom, swimming pool, a-la-carte breakfast and free Wi-Fi. A Swedish family (with 2 boys the same age as ours), upped-sticks from their homeland 2 years ago and bought the business without even seeing it. They had spent 3 months travelling around Thailand the year prior and fell in love with Ko Lanta.
There’s not a lot to do here. As it’s still low season, it’s quiet and the beaches are not at their nicest. It appears that the currents this time of the year bring all the rubbish from Phuket and Samui which may explain the issues we had encountered at Railay Beach. You also can’t swim in the ocean because of jellyfish (we did see a young girl get stung and was taken to hospital – boy, did she scream!). Saying that, we did pop in for a swim at one stage (before we saw the attack) and it was ok.
The only way to really see the island is to rent a car (or more popular was the scooter). Being a little more focused on kid safety than the locals who would travel on motorbikes with newborns just in their arms, we decided a jeep would be more appropriate. We did however let the boys ride on in the back which they thought was magic. We rented the jeep for a day and drove around the island, which is only 24 kms long and 6 kms wide. We came across some decent spots for a coffee and a drink. The first was morning tea at the Drunken Sailor, a chilled out café with lots of beanbags and seat hammocks and then late afternoon drinks at a French-owned bar called Caoutchouc. The location of this was stunning, built out over the water on stilts, watching the long tail fishing boats go about their business.
Other activities in Ko Lanta included a Thai massage for Trina, which she kind of enjoyed. She did have to ask the masseuse to ease up on the pressure somewhat. Trina also did a cooking class at a place called Time for Lime. This is Norwegian owned (there are plenty of Europeans living here) and the big selling point for Trina to go to this particular cooking school was that all proceeds go directly to the island’s only animal welfare shelter that the owner had established (this made Trina very happy!)
We also found plenty of excellent restaurants, with great food and in perfect settings. A few decent Mojitos too and priced at only 3 bucks a throw there were quite a few consumed!
Overall Ko Lanta was a great find, the highlight of Thailand by a long way. The boys really enjoyed this leg. They appreciated the slower pace and the perfect weather. Food is also getting easier, with plenty of fresh fruit to satisfy even the fussiest of palates. They were getting used to the Thai way of life and even picked me up a couple of times for wearing my jandals into places where footwear was to be left at the door.
Thailand was a difficult start for the boys but they managed it well (with only a couple of meltdowns). They are displaying real strength in character and starting to come to terms with what’s expected of them and what will be in store for them over the next few months. Dominic is even doing some schoolwork!!
Off to Istanbul now and what’s lined up to be the toughest travel day that we should have, with over 24 hours on the road (and sea, air and airport departure lounges).