Sleepy Ko Lanta – The Island During Off-Season

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After spending a rough few days in Koh Phi Phi, my friend Sam and I decided to head to a different island to see more of the South.  Not really knowing much about any of the islands, we picked Ko Lanta upon recommendation from one of Sam’s roommates.  She said that Ko Lanta was absolutely gorgeous, and in fact her favorite island.  So we packed our bags and hopped on yet another 400 baht ferry to Ko Lanta.

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Sam & our hostel friend Steve during sunset our first night at the beach near our hostel.

Our initial plan was to book a hostel after arriving in Ko Lanta.  It’s currently low season in Thailand due to the rainy weather, so it’s not necessary to book hostels and hotels ahead of time.  Plus we weren’t really sure what our specific island hopping plans were, so this was ideal.

Within 5 minutes of getting off the ferry a motorbike taxi pulled over, and an American passenger told us that he was headed to the number 1 rated hostel on the island.  So we hopped aboard and split the fare.

Thank god we did.  Our hostel was called Sabai Dee, and with a total of about 20 inhabitants it ended up being the most populated building we saw on Ko Lanta.  Don’t get me wrong, Ko Lanta was beautiful, but during off season it’s a ghost town.  Luckily our hostel provided us with fellow backpackers to hang out with so that we didn’t die of loneliness.

The Types of People You Meet While Traveling

Up until this point in Thailand, I’ve only met friendly, hilarious, bubbly, and interesting people.  Unfortunately, in Ko Lanta, the American who pointed us in the direction of the hostel(so he could save baht on a cab ride) ended up being my first experience with the elusive know-it-all-traveler.

Said traveler who shall not be named, mostly because I don’t know his name after referring to him as Irritating Taiwan boy, was a Flordian who had just come from Koh Phi Phi also.  At first he seemed normal enough, a standard backpacker type; complete with some artsy a-symmetrical haircut that dropped over his eyes, a generic tribal printed t-shirt, and jorts that were either from Urban Outfitters or Goodwill(you never really can tell these days).  He also had some weird semi-fake-British accent going, which should’ve been the first sign that he was annoying.

Mr. Taiwan was teaching in, you guessed it, Taiwan, which is totally fine.  He said some random city that I didn’t know the name of, and followed it up with calling me out for not knowing it because most people don’t know it.  So not mainstream, much hipster, very dramatic.  His irritating personality leaked out through his one-upping conversation tactics.

Me(being polite): So are there a ton of 7/11s in Taiwan as well?

Taiwan(fake British accent): Oh there are MORE 7/11s.

Me: I’m a little bit sick of unhealthy Thai food, it’s good but I basically sweat rice on a daily basis.

Taiwan: Oh Taiwanese food is WAY less healthy than Taiwanese food.

Me: Are there a lot of motorbikes in Taiwan as well?

Taiwan: Oh there are MORE motorbikes(cue him whipping out his iPhone to verify the statistic via Google)

(1 hour later)

Taiwan: AHHHBVIOUSLY the bugs they sell on Khao San road are just for tourists, Thai people don’t actually eat them of course.

Me: You’re totally right.  That’s why in my tiny farming town, in a province so small that it’s not even in Lonely Planet, they sell a plethora of fried bugs at the open market.  Our Thai population is 15,000.  Our American population is 3.  But yes, you’re right, they only sell them for tourists.

Taiwan: (dramatically flips floppy part of hair, sniffs, goes back to his healthy pad thai)

Last but not least, my personal favorite:

Sam: What time is it?

Me: It’s like 7:45

Taiwan: It’s like 7:47 (pulls out phone to check, then waves it in the air like a freaking 7 year old that just won capture the flag) SEE IT IS 7:47! Ha I was right!

Everyone else: ……………………..

Fortunately I’ve met way more cool people that counteract the single Taiwan I’ve had to deal with.  Also fortunately I never have to see him again.

Sabai Dee Hostel

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The layout of the hostel itself is super cool.  It’s basically 2 giant metal train-car-like bunkers that are divided up into rooms.  The middle of the hostel is outdoors, complete with hammocks and low tables on a porch to hang out at.  It was cool, and the two women who owned the place were really nice.  Plus they provided free coffee, tea, and toast; and being at the end of our reduced salary for the month we really needed that.  They also discounted a motorbike we rented from them.

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The downside of the hostel is that it was right next to a mosque, so whenever it was time for Muslims to go to prayer we got to hear an entire symphony of horns.  But it wasn’t horrible.  While Thailand is 95% Buddhist, there is a large Muslim population, especially in the South.  I didn’t really see this until Ko Lanta, where we saw a myriad of local women riding around on motorbikes in full-blown burquas.

Ko Lanta really was quite desserted, but it really was breathtaking.  There was a beach just a short walk from our hostel, and both nights we were there I saw the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen and probably will ever see in my entire life.  The lack of humans on the island probably helped, there were barely any other people when we went to see the sun go down.

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Mu Ko Lanta National Park

On the only full day we spent in Ko Lanta, we decided to just hop on our motorbikes and see the island.  Our new hostel friend Steven had never ridden a motorbike before, so we took it upon ourselves to teach him and drive around the island with him all day.  This a couple hours before I experienced my first motorbike wipe out, so clearly we weren’t really in any position to show someone else how to ride, but he did well.   There are 5 major parts of Ko Lanta, so we spent half the day getting lost between all of them and eventually stumbling onto the National Park.

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Riding up the hills to the National Park was a freaking trip.  The hills were super steep, and my weak little cheap motorbike rental could barely make it up.  I had Sam on the back, and there were a few times that I had to ask her to hop off simply so that I could make it up the hill without rolling backwards.

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There wasn’t much going on at the National Park itself.  Like I said, the island was basically desserted, so it was very peaceful.  Thankfully it was low tide, so we were able to walk up a small hill to see an old lighthouse and take some pictures.  The National Park also offered a beach, but it was gross and rainy so we didn’t use it.  Other than that there was really only a nature trail for people who actually wanted to hike and monkeys, but it was pretty.

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Beautiful Restaurant

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As recommended in our guide book, we headed to a place literally called Beautiful Restaurant for food.  It really was beautiful, the entire place was on stilts and platforms over the ocean.  The food was surprising reasonable for the South as well and really good, shout out to my Pad See Ew with seafood in the picture below.

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Then we headed back to the hostel to chill out again for the evening, after going to watch another sunset.  The whole island was pretty mellow, and very empty for being such a well-known island.  If I go back I’ll definitely make sure that it’s during high season.

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