Friday-Monday, November 23-26 Ko Lanta, Thailand
We got an early taxi back to the port on P. Langkawi to get a ferry to Thailand. We arrived at about 8 for the 9:30 ferry and planned to make some phone calls home to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Ted sought out phone options and determined the only possibility was to use the coin phone and proceeded to go to all the shops and try to get change for the phone. They were all pretty protective of their change, so it took some cajoling and several stops at the few shops that were open at that time. We were only able to get through to Reese and Kristin. We’re not sure what the problem with other numbers might have been, but we think it could be that the phone companies were either compatible or not. The ferry was loaded!!! All seats were full and luggage piled high for the 1 hour crossing to Thailand. The boat swayed out of the harbor and labored for a while, but once into open seas it did fine. We arrived in Thailand, cleared customs and caught a Thai version of local transport, a small pickup truck with benches in the back and a luggage rack on top. This one held 15 people in the back and 4 in the cab. Fortunately the trip to the bus station in Satun was only 9km. We arrived at the station safely and waited for our next bus to take us to Trang, a larger city about 2 hours north. There we met a Swedish couple who had been in Thailand for a month and went to P. Langkawi in Malaysia to get new 30 visas for Thailand issued. They had been staying on one of the islands for the last month and hadn’t quite had enough. Both were in law school in Lund, Sweden and were taking an extended holiday. Our nice air conditioned bus headed out of town for about 5 minutes and then we pull into a service station where another bus, older and as we found out, sort of air conditioned, was parked. The driver informed us that we are switching buses, so everyone piled out and moved the luggage to the bordello on wheels. The inside was decorated with brightly colored, swaggy style curtains and had ornated circa 1950 lamps on the ceiling. In Trang, we were picked up in a motorcyle with a small pickup truck body called a tuk tuk. We sat in the back again and luggage went on the top. Our driver took us to the location where we waited for our next transport, a minivan with good AC… Luxury. We only had 15 minutes before we were to leave and so Ted decided to book something just in case we had a hard time finding something if we came in late. We left on time with another couple from Switzerland but only for a few miles before we then stopped at a school and picked up 8 elementary kids, 3 girls and 5 boys. They were being transported back to Ko Lanta for the weekend. They were a bit loud but fun all the same. They must do this trip every weekend because they seem to know when to fall asleep and when the long stops to wait for ferries were. They would get out and go for snacks leaving us unknowing types to sit thinking we would go at any minute. Well this part of the trip was more comfortable but looong. We left Trang at 3:15 and did not get to our guest house until 9:00! Along the way we had to take 2 car ferries that were only about 10 or 15 minutes long but we had to wait about an hour for the first one and probably 20 minutes for the next one. Then we had to drop off 8 kids to their families. Then this driver was a courier of some sort because we made no less than 10 deliveries before we were dropped off at the Clean Beach Bungalows. We were tired and hungry as we had not had much of a chance to find food in the quick stops we made. The Clean Beach seemed nice and our room was $700 bt and for another $100 bt a buffet breakfast could be had. Our little bungalow was made of rattan walls, a fan, and a corragated tin roof, a rickety wardrobe and desk that shook when you walked across the floor because the floor was pretty rickety too. The room was about 20ft by 20ft with a bathroom added on the back that was pretty basic. It had a sit down toilet with no tank so to flush you had to scoop water from a pan into the toilet until it cleared the contents. The shower was a simple irrigation type valve sticking out of the wall which would turn off and on the cold water when you were ready for a shower. The place also had a few million residence but they didn’t bother us one bit. We had in the two upper corners of the bathroom wall large colonies of ants. We left them alone and they did the same for us. This report may sound like we were in a real hole but truly it was quaint and very tropical feeling. We went for a nice dinner in the restaurant across the street on the beach also a Clean beach establishment. We couldn’t see much of the beach but the surf was crashing right up to the restaurant edge. We were tired and hit the hay tired but happy to be there. In the morning we discovered that we truly had found a beautiful place. The grouds were gorgeous and they had a great pool. The beach was just steps through the restaurant and was not too crowded. We gathered some laundry to have done and then relaxed and read and swam in the ocean or pool. We walked around the corner and had a lady cook us some Pad Thai that was awesome, did some internet business to get trip plans to Bangkok planned and down loaded full memory cards of pictures so that we can start again fresh. One cool thing that we witnessed while there was a Thai paper lantern set afloat. It was really quite large and took a while to get the hot air to get it to take off. Four people held the corners of the paper for about 10 minutes and then it took off and flew so high that it looked like a speck in the sky and we could still see it about a half hour later. We have since tried to buy one to take home but they are too big to put in our suitcase and we have been told that smaller ones just jiggle too much and set themselves on fire. We had a relaxing few days here recharging our batteries and getting cught up on things that needed our attention.
We did take a day trip to the islands of Ko Phi Phi (pronounced pee pee). It was a wonderful day! For about $30 US we were picked up at our guesthouse, driven to the port 1/2 hour away, loaded on to a ferry for the 1 1/2 hour trip. We were then transfered into a small wooden boat called a longtail which are very narrow and very Thai. We were taken out in the ocean to the island of Ko Phi Phi Ley. Wow was it beautiful!!! We got to snorkle 3 times in the crystal clear water (only a small problem that we discovered on the last dip was that there were small jelly fish in the water and that is why we felt prickly!) and had a delicious lunch of curry and rice, Thai vegetable salad and fresh pineapple and watermelon and drinks prepare for us in a small beautiful lagoon. More exploring around the island in our boat and then back across the open waters to the main island of Ko Phi Phi Don for a few hours of sight seeing and then back on the ferry to Ko Lanta and home by pick up truck taxi. It was the best money spent thus far!. Ko Phi Phi Don was hit during the Tsaumai of 2004 and all low lying areas were wiped out. There is evidence of the distruction but alot of building is going on at a fast pace. It has no cars and only carts and bicycles were used for transportation. It was charming but very very touristy. We were told this by some other travelers but they said that if you stay on the island over night all the day trippers like us are gone and it is just desserted. We chose not to stay here as the prices were too high for our budget but next time…
posted Sunday November 2007