Tag Archives: quiet beach

Koh Lanta, Day 2: captain Auste steering a longtail boat

On our second full-day on the island (read about Day 1 here) we didn’t want to waste a minute and went to see some surrounding islands. Whilst waiting for the guide to pick us up, we had another nice chat with our host and this time he was sharing a story how the Long Beach got its name. It used to be long in the direction towards the sea. We thought that it was called so, because it is quite a long stretch of sand along the shore. Visibly, in recent years a lot of it has been swallowed by the sea. He also went on about the weird and annoying administration and rules of owning the property on the island, and then how many Thai people are afraid of geckos (salamandra blanca) – they’re so cute!

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So we got picked up and took a ferry to the north island. The ride to a small pier at the south of the island was amazing. The owner – a funny, hip, and stylish 30-something Thai man had an old rusty songthaew truck made out of wood! Racing through the hills of Lanta, ALL the locals had their eyes on the car. We then got onto a longtail boat, just me, Auste, the guide, and the boat operator. They were so cool and chilled out that they offered Auste to steer the boat! It was so funny, and she did steer it for quite a while, maneuvering through the blue waves of the Andaman.

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The Skull island

That day was exceptional as the guy was awesome, because he really enjoys what he does. Since he saw that we enjoyed climbing and exploring and taking photos, he went the extra mile to show us more places than he usually does when he has more people on the tour – he was as excited as we were. The cave on the Skull island was brilliant – with not even a single boat in sight, easy to climb, full of bats and birds and interesting rock formations. Not to mention the views you get through the “eyes” of the skull.

caves 1caves 3

To be honest, visiting all of the caves was amazing – something we didn’t expect to be as good. As we paddled the kayaks (part of the luckily private tour) around steep cliffs we had a gentle breeze from the sea, cute little splashes of waves, and an actual chance to climb up those cliffs and get inside. We were amazed by the size of the caves, we climbed around, took photos, and just listened to the waves crashing into the cliffs from the outside – indescribable feeling. Although there’s something I CAN describe – the smell inside some of those caves. If you’ve ever had blue cheese or brie, especially the expensive smelly ones – you’d know what I’m talking about, especially once you keep them unwrapped in the fridge for a while. In some caves you could hardly smell it, in others it felt like a Stilton party.

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Towards the end of our exploration we kayaked to a very, very isolated beach surrounded by limestone cliffs and had lunch. This was the time we chatted to our guides, relaxed, and fed monkeys. People, dogs, cats, birds, even monkeys eat rice in Thailand!

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Koh Talabeng – lunch time!

For the tour we paid around 1,300 per person, which was really good. (Compared to our trip to Ang Thong Marine Park from Koh Phangan, where it wasn’t bad, but the views weren’t as spectacular, we spent loads of time on a boat with roughly 50 other people, way too many tourists in all locations and zero time to explore them – and for the same price!) It’s cheaper renting a longtail boat for a day – around 1,500, but then you’d have to know where to go!

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Koh Talabeng

The trip was amazing and extremely cheap for such a quality time. It wasn’t rushed, the people were awesome, we saw amazing places, AND Auste got to steer a longtail boat! When we got back we rented bicycles (90 baht for a full day – score!), ready for some Lanta cycling action the next morning.

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22 hour journey to Koh Lanta, Krabi

It felt so good putting on a backpack again! In search of tranquil islands, this time we had our eyes on Koh Lanta. It took us a year to get round to sorting the photos from this trip because we had such a great time we took thousands of pictures as if the finger was stuck to the shutter button.

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To generally categorize, there are two types of travellers: rowdy and quiet. Auste and I consider ourselves the quiet ones, and it’s very difficult for us to plan our travels mainly due to lack of straightforward reviews, or at least difficulty of finding those. Most of reviews online come either from the rowdy backpackers sharing their amazing drunken stories, painting the picture of Southeast Asia as a big cheap party, or from travel writers targeting beginner travellers, who mostly give just very generic info about the place. When exploring new places we try to get closer to nature and serenity, yet not distance ourselves too far from comfort, such as Wi-Fi and coffee.

In relation to our trip to the Krabi province, we later found out that there’s no point planning anything. Even though the internet has everything, it doesn’t really have EVERY thing. We didn’t know whether the ferries or buses were going as per timetable in the low season (April to October), how to locate the correct transfer companies, boats, how to get good prices, etc. There were more ‘official looking’ companies than we imagined, and there were no herds of tourists to ask questions (or follow!)

We took a night train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, but before we departed I couldn’t help but notice that at the train station, all the trains were painted purple. My guess was that it was for the Royal Family member’s birthday.

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Once on the train, I couldn’t fall asleep even though it was a quiet train and pitch black outside, so I had my headphones in and I was lip-syncing until 1 AM. Eventually I slept for a few hours, and we arrived at Surat train station, which is about 14km outside of Surat town. We were herded to the correct coach and given colour-coded ‘Krabi’ stickers (that’s why it’s good to buy a joint train and bus ticket). Half an hour into the journey we had to change coaches, and had a cup of instant coffee (funny how that happens without proper coffee for a while) during the 15-minute wait.

The journey was supposed to take up to 3 hours. 4 hours later we were still on our way, the bus was maneuvering the winding narrow roads through villages with rocky hills on both sides. Very briefly we stopped for a toilet break, and that was only when one passenger fiercely insisted on the driver to stop. Many people went outside, but then the crazy driver was trying to drive off without all passengers back on board. Soon after, the bus reached SOME destination. It was a parking lot in the middle of nowhere with one “Tourist information” stand. But we thought we’d better get off since the driver was rushing everybody off the bus.

When the handful of tourists parted different ways, we ended up getting an all-Thai van from the “Tourist information” stand . Little did we know, the van was picking up parcels along the way, sometimes stopping for a loooong time. The tickets cost 350 baht each, direct to our hotel – it was a new van with air-con and comfy seats. We didn’t have a place to stay that night, purely because we didn’t know whether we’d make it to the ferry on time. Our host for the following night let us arrive one night early, which worked out perfectly as Krabi town wasn’t all that appealing. We were after a quiet stay, and Krabi is a rather big developed town. Many people have an idea that the huge limestone cliffs peaking through the sea are in Krabi, but actually the most impressive ones are everywhere else in surrounding areas, BUT there. Krabi is a big province with a capital town, and the cliffs and beaches are either on neighbouring beaches accessible by boat, or in surrounding islands accessible by ferry, or boat. We felt very tired, but full of excitement to visit one (or more) of our dream destinations – hello Koh Lanta!

Ko Lanta sunset

Koh Lanta consists of two main islands: Koh Lanta Noi (the North island) and Koh Lanta Yai (South). You can either take the ferry from Krabi/other islands to Saladan pier in the South island, or take an overland route (which we did, not by choice, as there was only a morning ferry operating during the low season). In the north you can hardly see any signs of urban development, as the island is inhabited only by locals.

It took ages on the van as it was dropping parcels along the way, and it took 2 ferries to cross to the south island. Taking the ferries was quick and painless, and the views were beautiful. Once we got to the Saladan pier I suddenly thought we made a mistake of booking a lengthy 6 nights on this island. That was only because there were loads of souvenir shops, cash machines, mini marts and other kind of shops, suggesting lots of noise and lame old touristy development. But then further down the road the shops disappeared, and you could see green hills in the distance on one side, and glimpses of the sea and the beach on the other. We drove past different hostels, small local shops and restaurants, but none of it made it seem tourist-like, which was a relief.

Once we stepped out of the van we could actually hear the tranquillity of the island, even though we were on the main road. We met our friendly host and went to the beach for an unexpected magical sunset. There were very few people on the beach (or anywhere in general), yet the cosy beachfront restaurants were still open.

Ko Lanta sunset

Then we ventured along the main road and found a French place (Le Colibri – we highly recommend it) that had the best cheese pizza… for 3 quid (150 baht)! There were only French speaking customers there, so we thought there must be a few living on the island.

Later on we had a brief chat with the lovely owners, and found out that there used to be a survivor-style show in France named Koh Lanta, which was filmed… [drumroll] in Koh Lanta. Since then many French people went there for holidays and eventually settled. We were also told that there are A LOT of Swedish people living there, and apparently there are like 3 Swedish schools on Koh Lanta. It’s a big island, but it didn’t feel all that busy. Perhaps many people just mind their own business, or maybe it felt quiet because it was low-tourist season (end of April 2015). Or maybe because there are lots of islands around Koh Lanta for people to spread out. I can keep guessing.

Anyway, we had a really good first impression of Koh Lanta – quiet, lots of green hills, friendly people, cheap tasty food and beautiful sunsets on the beach, and that’s just day one! Keep reading about our Krabi trip here.

Ko Lanta sunset

Koh Tao Part 4

Koh Tao – Day 4

Last day on the islands (best day ever!!)

Koh Tao, Moondance Magic View hotelKoh Tao, Moondance Magic View hotel

We had breakfast at Moondance, soaking in all that gorgeous view. Quick taxi ride to our next hotel, and guess what? We got a room with our balcony  overlooking the coastline below! What a perfect spot for enjoying a couple of drinks in the evening…

It was early, so we went down to the beach just to jump into the water. The beach right next to our hotel was lovely. It seemed that every beach we visited on Koh Tao was even more beautiful than the previous one. And we decided to go  for a walk as it was just so beautiful. We didn’t have a map as we didn’t take much with us (since we were only  going down to the beach for a quick jump into the water), so we just started walking in the direction where we thought we were supposed to go. We wandered through pretty narrow footpaths between  bungalows, passing one resort and then another, until we walked out to the most gorgeous beach we’ve seen on the islands.

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Turquoise blue water, palm trees and the loveliest tiny beach surrounded by rocks. We didn’t want to get out of water. But when we finally did, we jumped onto the swing hanging on two palm trees. And a couple of hours later when we decided to head back, we found a slackline tensioned between two palm trees!

Koh Tao, slackline

It was hard to  leave the cute little beach, but we finally did get back and chilled out in our balcony for a bit. Tiny glass coca-cola bottles, they are just so cute, they will make me start drinking coke! (and they did – I’ve been drinking so much coke here in Thailand like I never had in my entire life. Not good!)

Koh Tao

And then we went out for the first time while we were on the islands. We walked out on the beach: colourful light lines along both sides  of the beach, warm water, gentle breeze… We walked along the beach choosing which bar we’d like to sit at and one of them was playing reaaally good music and it was loud enough to listen to from about 10 metres away. So we bought some beer and more tiny cola bottles and just chilled out on the beach next to the bar playing awesome music, taking some pictures.  It seemed like someone was playing my  youtube playlist!  There were two men swinging fire balls and one of them was teaching a girl how to maneuver the balls.

We sat down on the swing, listening to the music, watching them play with fire. Only a few people on the beach, awesome music, lovely view, and the two of us. We sat there taking all that atmosphere in… And we thought that if it wasn’t for me, Vidmantas wouldn’t be here and if it wasn’t for Vidmantas, I wouldn’t be here either. We would probably both be dreaming  about it, but wouldn’t have gone to live on the other side of the world on our own. And it’s great when you can dream together and then go and make those dreams come true.

Koh TaoKoh Tao, fire show

Koh Tao – Day 5

We had a posh European breakfast (with cappuccino! We missed  good coffee…) in one of the beach restaurants and then walked to the pretty beach. We were laying on the swing, listening to waves, eating mangoes and langan fruit and we simply did not want to leave. 

Koh Tao

When we were in the ferry sailing away  from the shore it felt sad. Not sure whether it was because we were leaving the islands or whether it was because Koh Tao was the most beautiful one, but it  just didn’t feel like we had enough time to enjoy it. I was looking at the beautiful shore getting further and further away, hoping I would come back there at some point with more time to just enjoy it. 

It’s strange that when we got back to Chumphon it felt a bit like coming back home after a nice holiday – as if we’d lived there for a while already and had just gone for a holiday to the islands.

For more stories from the same trip read: Koh Tao Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3Koh Phangan Part 1 and Part 2, Angthong Marine Park, and Koh Samui.

More photos on our Flickr page here.

Koh Tao Part 3

We’re continuing with the stories from my notebook about Koh Tao. And if you haven’t read these yet, here’s Part 1 and Part 2.

Koh Tao – Day 3

In the morning we spent a couple of hours in the shade overlooking the beach, chilling, eating, looking at the photos and  writing – the day started great. We then walked to the pier where a taxi picked us up to take us to Moondance Magic View hotel. Well, if I thought the songthaew ride in Phangan was fun, this was even better. Probably because there was no backrest whatsoever, just a plain bench at an equal height with the edge of the car boot, and a rail behind it to hold onto. And the roads where even worse than in Phangan – much steeper and full of ditches.  Well, not full of them, it seemed that the ditches were what made the road! My arms got tired from holding onto the rail and at some point I had to hold onto the bench with my feet!

We reached the hotel and the view from the restaurant was really, as the hotels’ name suggests – magic. Rocky shores, turquoise blue water, a couple of tiny islands quite close, just soo lovely. Our bungalow was really cosy too, with a wicker hammock in the porch and outdoor shower nicely decorated with pebbles.

Koh Tao, Moondance Magic View hotelKoh Tao, Moondance Magic View hotelKoh Tao, Moondance Magic View hotel

Although after a couple of nights with the cockroaches in Hacienda we were quite vary of sleeping in a bungalow where there were more holes than wall material, so we put the mosquito net down on the bed straight away, tied knots on any holes we found and tucked the ends neatly under the mattress. We also took anything we might need to the bed as we planned for the worst – that we’d be awake all night and wouldn’t go outside the mosquito net. (reading this now makes me laugh, but back then we were a bit paranoid!)

Now that the bed was protected from insects we could relax. We walked down to the rocks, took some pictures, chilled out in the hammock, had a nice dinner at the restaurant and stayed there until the lights went out around 9 pm.

Koh Tao, Moondance Magic View hotel

We walked back to our hut, lit some candles and stayed outside for a while. It was nice and calm as the mosquitoes and even the ants in the bathroom have gone to sleep. We took the candles inside and shortly fell asleep, feeling safe and calm under our mosquito net, with nice warm candle light surrounding us.

Keep reading about Koh Tao in Part 4.For more stories from the same trip read: Koh Phangan Part 1 and Part 2, Angthong Marine Park, and Koh Samui.

More photos on our Flickr page here.

Koh Tao, Moondance Magic View hotel