There was lots we enjoyed about Ko Lanta beyond the lovely accommodation.
The old town was small but charming. The one main street was lined with a nice mix of new and beautiful old wood buildings housing shops with bamboo cages of twittering birds out front, homes and plenty of ocean-facing restaurants. Away from the main strip, palms and gorgeous flowering trees shaded the streets. There was a long pier out over the water which seemed to be a local hang out and was a great place to catch the sunset.
The people living in that part of the island seemed chilled out and friendly. I got a kick out of the young girl (probably around 9 or 10) who was driving a tuk tuk around one evening while her kid brother swung from a small hammock suspended from the ceiling of the cab. Also fun was getting thumbs up and smiles from some of the local women about my fashion choice when I went for walks while wearing the lovely orange sarong I picked up at a market in Ban Krud.
We spent a lot of time enjoying, eating and relaxing in Ban Lanta on the west coast, but we rented a scooter for part of our stay and had a blast zooming around the twisty roads and exploring. The center of the island is hilly and more rural than the coasts; sometimes we’d find ourselves winding along roads that curved through lush corridors of towering jungle, which I just loved. There were tons of mango trees on the island and I guess it was just coming into their prime season; was neat to see all the perfect green fruit hanging down from the branches on long, thin stems.
One of our exploratory drives ended up being an unexpected car (scooter) wash. We were on the island for Songkran, the New Year/water festival (learn more here). We knew that anyone on the streets was fair game, but things had seemed pretty tame on the island – until we took a road that led us down a hill where about five groups of kids were waiting in succession, each armed with big buckets. Needless to say, we came out the other end sopping wet and cracking up with laughter – especially when we realized we had come to a dead-end and would have to return through the line of fire. 🙂
Songkran drive by. This photo is taken from the safety of our breakfast table – a truck full of people dousing folks on the street with buckets and water guns and the pedestrians fighting water with water. 🙂
We did spend some time on the east coast beaches and one afternoon we hung out for a while along the water’s edge, admiring incredible miniature sand sculptures made by equally minuscule artists.
Amazingly beautiful crab creations! The whole beach was covered in these intricate designs.
One other wonderful experience was stopping at a restaurant for a coffee. It was on the west coast, up a hill about a 15 minute drive from the old town, with a spectacular view of the coast, ocean and islands below. (In case you ever want to look for it, it’s a relatively new restaurant and I think it was called the Sea Gypsy and it was beyond the Viewpoint restaurant) We were about halfway through our drinks when we noticed storm clouds starting to move in over the water. The ocean started to change colors as the sunlight faded behind the clouds, and we could see fishermen returning to shore in their long tail boats. By the time our coffee was gone, the storm had arrived in earnest. The restaurant had a peaked thatch roof but no walls, so we had to grab our stuff and retreat to the central most point. Even then, we still were getting lightly sprayed as the wild winds whipped the heavy downpour through the air. The sheer volume of water coming down was just amazing, as were the powerful claps of lightning that hit nearby.
Eventually the storm began to lose steam and eased into a still heavy but less violent downpour, and we decided that we’d wait out the rain by eating dinner at the place. After we’d finished eating, the proud owners gave us a private tour – apparently they’d build the place, including the incredible wooden furniture pretty much on their own and they were really and rightly proud of it. By then, the rain had stopped completely, and we hopped onto our scooter and headed „home“ through dark roads swathed in fog and illuminated only by fireflies and our little headlight, trying our best to avoid the tons of frogs that were celebrating the rain by hopping through puddles all over the road. Really a magic evening. 🙂
Retreating to the center of the restaurant during the storm. It’s hard to tell from the photo how heavily it was raining; suffice to say the ocean was aquamarine and the view went all the way to the coast before the rain arrived. Also, check out the nifty, handmade chairs. 🙂
Some other Ko Lanta pics
I really loved the dark woods used in so many of the buildings in town. Here are the houses on the alley leading to our hotel room.
Hotel detail; our front door
Blue glass over a wooden door
Ko Lanta was one of the islands hit by the 2004 tsunami; today there are evacuation signs everywhere
The ocean changes color as a storm moves in (view from our balcony)
Song bird in a store front in Ban Lanta
Sunset view from our balcony