We left Malaysia at five AM, with a full day of travelling ahead. The first part of the journey was on a mini bus that took us through the border and into Hat Yai. The crossing was quite straight forward, though I was delayed and taken through the immigration office so they could find the 90 days stamp. When we arrived in Hat Yai, the bus to Krabi, our next destination, was leaving within 15 minutes. Now I know this option was a mistake, as we could have followed a much more direct route straight from there to Ko Lanta, but I was not that smart as to figure that out at that stage :P. The bus ride to Krabi was an experience on its own. The vehicle was not very special from outside, but had wi-fi and tvs inside. For the whole ride they played Thai music videos. Tim and I watched intently and laughed our asses off. It would be hard to give a clear picture of what we learned, but they showed us a part of the culture that we (luckily) did not get to experience in real life. To give you an idea, things we were to assume of this new country if the videos were to be believed:
-They are incredibly violent
-Cheating is a very common thing
-Cellphones are as important (or more) as real relationships
-Loving a ladyboy is ok – that or he/she might end up beaten up for not coming clean from the start
-Only attractive people with ‘light’ skin are worth a damn thing
All in all, it was half disturbing and half hilarious. We also took our eyes off the wonders on the TV to look outside and admire the passing scenery. The crops were mostly rice or rubber trees, but beautiful limestone formations could be seen in the distance. Some rose all alone in an otherwise completely flat landscape, making them all the more special.
We arrived in Krabi and took a songthaew (Thai style pick-up trucks that take passengers) into town, where both the wiki travel and our upcoming CS host had told us we had to go to catch the next mini bus to Lanta Island. We went to Soi 6 as per our instructions, and walked up and down it multiple times without any luck. We asked a bunch of locals, and 80% told us to go back to the bus terminal to catch a ride. We explored for about two hours trying to find the transport we were after, but eventually gave up and returned to the bus terminal. It was late by the time we arrived in Lanta, after taking two ferries across water, and we had to catch a last tuk-tuk (motorbike taxi) to get to Jay’s place. The driver was on the phone the whole time, but he turned his party lights on and set the mirror ball to spin while the streets were dead quiet, so it was quite a unique drive.
For the next day, Jay (our CS host) was kind enough to let us use his motorbike to explore the Island. We set out on the west coast, where all the amazing white sand beaches lay. We were there during the low season, so most of them were completely deserted and welcoming. Unfortunately we were still far enough South for the bloody haze to still be present, but though it ruined our chance to get any decent pictures, it did not prevent us from enjoying ourselves – nor from getting sun burned at the end of the day.
All the beaches were absolutely stunning, surrounded by great cliffs and hiding some caves. The water temperature was warm and welcoming. I dove in at pretty much every beach to refresh myself. One of them featured a restaurant made entirely out of wood and decorated with all sorts of different recycled materials that possibly made their way from the ocean into the sandy shore.
The heat was quite intense, so after a few hours we decided to visit the other side of the island. First we found an empty long driveway where I experimented at driving the bike. Ko Lanta is a wonderful place to learn as it barely has any traffic at all and the roads are wide and well maintained. I quickly got the hang of it and loved it!
The east coast is very different. There are no sandy beaches, but swamps and mangroves instead. The old port is a very picturesque and interesting place to visit, and we went all the way to the end of the island before finding the long way back. To complete the circle, we rode all around the outside of the island, enjoying the beautiful scenery, before returning to Jay’s.
We decided to make dinner, so we visited the local market in the afternoon. We opted for a Shepard’s pie with soy protein instead of mince, which turned out quite delicious. We stayed up talking to our lovely host and then went up to the balcony to play some guitar and enjoy each other’s company. Jay helped us reshape our plans for Southern Thailand, recommending we visited Nakhon Si Thammarat, as a tourist free, beautiful city. We would later on thank him for his wisdom…