Monday, 4 January 2010

Asian Adventure 13 :: 31 Dec '09-3 Jan '10 :: Ko Lanta

New Year's Eve began in Singapore and ended in Thailand this year. After a short hop to Phuket, we embarked on a four hour long journey by road and boat to Kantiang Bay at the southernmost end of Ko Lanta Yai. We arrived in time for a late lunch which would be the beginning of a string of excellent meals, Thai style.

Our companions had arrived a day earlier, so had scoped out Lanta Miami as a good place for a seafood BBQ on Klong Nin beach, a short cab ride from our hotel, Anda Lanta Resort.


Cocktails whilst watching our first sunset preceded our journey up and down the dusty track leading away from our hotel towards the (arguably) posher paved parts of the southern beach roads. As we rocked out in our cab to Michael Jackson, little did we know that we would be taking bus number 11 (a.k.a. w.a.l.k.i.n.g) all the way back to base in the wee hours of New Year's Day.

Following our seafood session, we were ideally positioned to take up a pew at the delightfully named Mong Bar, complete with a menu advertising tickets to the moon. Perfect. Four, please! Klong Nin turned out to be an excellent spot for bars with a range of tunes to suit many tastes including reggae, Thai cultural and house music to make your ears bleed. Included in the experience were fire dances performed by the bar staff; wild rocket launchers masquerading as fireworks; snake tequila shots and, of course, the ubiquitous (but you have to do it or you feel left out) paper lanterns.


It just tasted like "mouldy tequila"

After grabbing two motorcycle taxis complete with sidecars to take us back to our hotel, we were treated to a most hair-raising ride to the edge of the paved road whereupon the drivers decided that their vehicles wouldn't survive the dusty track. Despite willing them to go on, inside all of us were the immediate memories of having to shift weight by re-positioning intermittently to ensure we didn't keel over into the Thai jungle, so we didn't protest too much. Thankfully, due to the brilliance of the moon that evening, our journey on foot was well-lit and passed without incidence of being attacked by monkeys, monitor lizards or just plain old falling over on the uneven road.

Thank you, Moon Shine

To congratulate ourselves on having made it back to our hotel alive, we skipped across the inlet to the neighbouring beach bar, complete with hammocks, good cocktails and a man called Sea who would become our favourite barman on the trip.

Bed at 4 a.m. on New Year's Day and breakfast at 9 a.m. was no mean feat, but well worth it. When else is it not sinful to have chicken stir-fry, fried rice, spaghetti bolognese and crinkle cut fries as your first meal of the day?

All food groups covered!

Some poolside lazying was essential before picking up our scooters for a day of exploring the island. With little traffic, we managed to cross to Lanta Old Town in half an hour, an experience marred only by the fact that the last stretch of road was more dusty than the back of a radiator, leaving us all caked in a fine layer of mud. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable road trip and we passed many family shacks that gave us an idea of what it was like pre-resorts.

We visited the Drunken Sailors for an excellent lunch of green chicken curry and burgers with a side of "French fried" before heading back for more sunset action and cocktails. Spot a pattern emerging? We were thoroughly exhausted and opted for dinner at our hotel, which was superbly tasty (even if, like many places in Ko Lanta, the service was a little slow at times) followed by drinks in our favourite hammocks next door.

The second day of 2010 had been set aside for diving and massages. So, in that order, we were picked up early doors by Scubafish for a well-organised trip out to Ko Haa. Over our two dives, we saw plenty of fish but missed out on any turtles, which had always been a feature of previous dives. On arrival back at basecamp, we decided to enter virgin territory and indulge in a sixty minute Thai massage. I can't say that I will be rushing to be pushed, pummeled and body-slammed during any future massages so may stick with something Swedish next time. Our evening was rounded off by a delicious meal at Same Same But Different, where we toasted a superb start to the year.

All in all, we thought Ko Lanta was an excellent place for a relaxing New Year, different from the raucous psy-trance raves that you might find on other islands with the same prefix. We were surprised and heartened (given the length of the journey from Krabi alone - 2 hours by road and speedboat) by the number of holidaying families complete with very miniature people and we all agreed it would be a lovely place to return with children. Our over-arching piece of advice: order the bill when you order your last drink. You won't live to regret it.

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