It feels like being in Thailand was forever ago. Not just a few months past, but years. The hustle of the everyday has snuck back into my life, and don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying every second, but the memories of a place on the other side of the world feel just beyond the tips of my fingers. Most days the smells, sights and sounds of Bangkok have faded and the colors have lost their brilliance. Then there are moments when I feel the breeze on my skin and I remember the open windows of bus no 1.
From Chiang Mai we traveled down south, to the Andaman Sea. We flew first to Krabi Town where we had arranged a bus transfer to the island of Koh Lanta. Ask anyone in Thailand about Lanta and the first thing they will say is, “Oh, you want to chill. Lanta is chill”. They were all surprised we didn’t want to go to Koh Pi Pi [a popular tourist destination], but we intentionally chose Lanta; seeking a relaxing island to counterbalance the buzz of Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
The Andaman Sea is known for it’s towering limestone cliffs and turquoise green waters. Indeed, one of the first sights we spotted outside the plane windows were these monster cliffs, towering straight up out of the ground. A climber’s paradise.
At the airport we were picked up by a local and driven to the bus depot. Usually there are boats that travel between the islands, however, during the rainy season the boat schedule becomes quite limited and some routes are shut down altogether. Lanta is not a very popular island so it’s a little more difficult to access. That being said, we had no problem booking a bus and ~2 hours later we were dropped off outside of our hostel, Blanco. Cute hammocks swung between the trees in the common area, nice tidy rooms and the beach was only a short walk away.
First things first. We changed into our swimsuits and headed for Long Beach. Talk about shocking though. Repeatedly we were told about the beauty of Koh Lanta, yet upon reaching the beach we discovered that it was covered in trash. Plastic bottles and wrappers littered the coast line. Here we were, in paradise, and filth was washing up on shore as people discarded their waste. It was especially convicting as we had been drinking from those same plastic water bottles for the duration of our trip. We brought with us reusable bottles, but neglected to bring a proper filtration system. I felt that I was part of the problem. I was angry and sad, but I also didn’t want to get sick from drinking unfiltered water. I wasn’t doing my part to protect this piece of the world.
After wrestling with this idea of pollution and talking about how we could do our part to help reduce it we were able to also see Long Beach for what it is – beautiful. Breathtakingly beautiful. We walked and found some beanbags at a local resort that weren’t being used and commandeered them for the rest of the afternoon. Slipping in and out of sleep, reading our books and occasionally cooling off in the ocean. Lingering long enough to watch the sunset over Koh Pi Pi, a blue and purple hue cast across the horizon. We fell asleep on our first night to the rain splattering on the roof over our heads.
Day 2, on Lanta and we decided to splurge and go stay in a resort. We upgraded to the Lanta Sand Resort and Spa just a little further down Long Beach.
We stayed in a villa with an outdoor bathroom, seconds from a clean beach and swimming pool. Back to the beach for more lounging, swimming and another epic sunset.
Day 3, we rented motorbikes. Perhaps this was my favorite day of the entire trip. I’ve talked a lot about how I enjoyed the moments where I felt self-sufficient and independent; renting the motorbikes was the epitome of this feeling. Honestly, I was a little nervous at first having never ridden a moped before, but after a few practice laps on the hotel driveway we motored off down the road with a grin plastered from ear-to-ear.
My right hand turned the throttle and the wind blew through my hair. Riding along I remember feeling my face break into a smile and a laugh erupt from my stomach. It was exhilarating. With this new-found freedom we were able to travel to the opposite side of the island. Koh Lanta is quite large and there was no way we could have walked to the other side, but with the help of the mopeds we motored around and discovered the east coastline.
From Koh Lanta, we bused to the city of Ao Nang to catch a long-tail boat to Railay Beach [only accessible by boat]. We waited 30 minutes for 10 people to purchase boat tickets and then were pointed in the direction of the water, “Your boat is out there”.
Oh okay….so we walked to the boat. Through the waves.
The captain jumped out and started walking towards us while beckoning us into the ocean. He also kept motioning to his upper thigh saying, “It only goes up to here”. HA! I mistakenly chose to wear white linen shorts and laughed thinking that they would stay dry. With no other choice but to walk to the boat we hoisted our bags over our heads and plunged through the waves. After arriving at Railay Beach we repeated the process, but backwards toward land.
At Railay Beach we rented a 3-person kayak and paddled out into the ocean, among the cliffs. There was one cluster that we floated in between, two rocks reached down as the waves crashed into their bases, bird song and bug chirps drifted through the air from the plants growing from the rock. A perfect end to an adventure.
I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world. To explore another culture, to spend time with my sister’s and to challenge my comfort zone. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Now, back to the drawing boards.