A week in Ko Lanta
My old LAMP hosting is about to expire and I'm using this account only to host the breaksian blog, so I decided to migrate all the contents to the modern node.js platform I have been using for all my tools including my personal blog.
While I was in the process of migrating the data, I realised there were some old dusty posts that have been hanging around in my drafts folders for a long time!. One of them was about the week I spent in Ko Lanta, Thailand. I just clean it up, finish it and publish it with this new migration. So years late but I hope you will enjoy it nevertheless... so let's go back in time ...
In my last entry I described the day spent in Krabi town, walking along the river and visiting the market. As I described there the people from my hotel helped me to arrange the ferry transport to Ko Lanta. It was very convenient because a minibus would pick me up at the hotel to bring me directly to the Ferry terminal.
After I woke up, I went to a restaurant nearby to grab a quick breakfast and afterward I went to a 7-11 to buy enough water for the boat trip. Then I came back to the hotel and waited patiently. There is only one ferry per day that leaves the Krabi Town pier at 11:00 am. The minibus was late and it swirled around the town picking up more travelers but fortunately we made it just in time for the ferry.
We queued for a little while and then we started to board. I noticed the vessel was getting very crowded so I secured a "seating" place in the outside deck and it turned out to be a good decision because the boat was completely packed when we left the port:
The boat trip from the pier in Krabi Town to the one in Ko Lanta (Baan Saladan) took around 2 hours. The ferry stopped a couple of times and small boats approached it to pick up or leave passengers from some of the resorts off the coast, but most of the people traveling went to the final destination.
Lanta Noi and Lanta Yai
An interesting fact learned once I started to browse the Island map is that Ko Lanta includes several islands, being the two largest Ko Lanta Noi and Ko Lanta Yai. Most of the people who visit "Ko Lanta" normally head to Ko Lanta Yai where most of the tourist infrastructure is located.
I found a very nice budget hotel located in around 100 meters from the Baan Saladan ferry pier and it was perfect because there were quite a few restaurants and markets around it and the place was a nice starting point to explore the island and do some tours. This was the nice view from the hotel pier where I used to get my breakfast every morning:
I used this pier to board the boat that took me to the four islands tour.
Exploring the island by Bike.
One of the activities I enjoyed the most during my career break was to bike and I wanted to investigate if it was possible to explore the island in a bicycle. I left the hotel and started to walk around the Saladan and in a small street I found small shop renting a couple of bikes. I found a clunky but decent one and I made a deal to rent it for the rest of the week:
Old lanta town.
The day after one of owners of the guesthouse asked me if I had plans for the day. I told her I was interested in making a bike ride and she recommended me to go to the Old Town in the south part of the Island. She told me the whole ride should be relatively straightforward with only a couple of small hills.
This is small village is located in the south-east coast of the island and it has very interesting history. It used to be an important commercial port and provided a stop over for Arabic and Chinese merchants traveling to the bigger ports in the region. They mingled with the local Thai fishing families and Sea Gypsy communities creating a very interesting place.
The distance between the Saladan Pier and the Old town is around 17 km. It took me around 45 minutes to get there stopping by a few times to take pictures and to drink some water. I was glad I brought a few bottles because even if the ride was not particularly hard, it was quite hot.
Once I arrived to the old town, I parked my bike at the entrance and I started to explore it by foot. I did a nice walk all the way to the end of the pier and from there I was able to get a nice view of the old town.
Then I came back and I walked through the main street of the Old Town. Even if it's relatively small I was able to spot the Buddhist and the Chinese temples, plus some nice jetty houses. I also enjoyed some amazing coffee and a refreshing mango smoothie.
When I was about to leave the town I noticed there was a nice 2 floor wooden house and when I got closer this turned out to be the Old Lanta Community Museum. This place is dedicated to the history and legacy of the main 3 communities of the island: Chinese merchants, Thai fishermen and Sea Gipsies. The place had some cool objects and pictures:
Four Islands Tour
A couple of days after I booked a tour to visit four islands around the main Lanta Island. One of the advantages of the guesthouse where I was staying was that they had a small pier in the back of the house, so they could pick me up directly there. The boat arrived around 8am and I thought "wow I have this nice speedboat only for my own!", but very soon I realised that I was just the first passenger in series pickups around Ko Lanta that took another 45 minutes.
Once we got the last tourist from a nice resort in the southern part of Ko Lanta, we actually started the visit to the 4 islands. The first stop and probably the most interesting one was the Emerald Cave in Ko Mook. The guide in the boat explained us that the only way to get there was to swim through a narrow dark cave using a headlamp but he promised the beach on the other side was lovely.
We put our swim vest and started to swim in line following the guide toward the black narrow hole in the rock. And indeed after 10 meters the light was gone and were going through a pitch black cave following the light of the guide and after some 50 meters we arrived to the other side where we were welcomed by a stunning lake / beach what made the scary trip completely worth it. We were lucky because there were not too many tourist at that time, but when we left a big boat carrying a lot a people arrived in the entrance of the cave, so it probably got quite busy afterwards.
We visited another Island with a nice stripe of white sand beach where we stopped to have lunch and enjoy a swim in a relaxed blue water environment and then we moved to another island where we did some snorkelling. I have never seen on the water so many different shapes and colours of sea life in the same spot. We spend around one hour there snorkeling around and it was quite an experience. The Island per se was quite picturesque itself since it was composed by the limestones common in this area of Thailand:
When we were about to finish the tour, the driver from the boat approached to one of the walls of the Ko Ma island and say please look up. We all did it and there in the wall were hundreds of bats staying there and making noise. We even spotted one of them flying from one place to the other:
This was the last stop of our tour and we were all very happy with the results. It was definitely a day well spent.
As I mentioned earlier by bike was decent but a bit clunky. It had in particular a problem with the quick-release lever at the base of the seat: Sometimes it was moving in and out and sometimes it used to get blocked pointing out. This fact it's important for the accident I will describe next.
The day after the 4 islands tour I decided to jump again on my bike and explore a different road on the island. Someone in town mentioned there was a nice place on top a hill with a pretty nice view of the rest of the island and the sea. I love panoramic views so I decided that's what I wanted to do.
Everything was going smoothly in my bike ride. I even found a nice spot to make a quick swim and then when I continued my trip and I was going down hill, I faced a big pothole in the road just in front of me. In a split second I decide to jump it since I couldn't dodge and did it! I flew over the pothole like a BMX rider, but when I landed in my rear tire, the loose lever I told you about before, hit me in the back of calf when of course the muscle was completely contracted. Ouuuchhhh. I hear a 'pop' sound and I experience a horrible pain.
I tried to get back on the bike but I realised I couldn't really push with this leg. I couldn't even stand. It was really painful. I was in the middle of nowhere with just vegetation around me and no-one was passing by ... fuck!. Fortunately I still have some batteries in my phone and I saw that my destination was not really far away. I started walking really slowing limping on each step until I thought maybe it was better to pedal just with one leg. It took me a really long time but I managed to get to the restaurant.
I ordered something to drink and ask them if they could give some ice. They were helpful and provide plenty of ice that I put around my leg that was getting really swollen. I stayed there a long time, ordered something to eat as well and then I started to think how to go back to the hotel. Biking like this was not option. I ask the owners that they offered to call a "tuk-tuk taxi". By the way the view on this place was nice:
A couple of hours passed and nothing arrived. One of the sons of the owner offered me to carry me and my bike in his motorbike. He told me something along the lines of "You can extend your arms and carry the bike and hold to the bike with your legs" . I declined politely. A calf injury was bad enough, I didn't want to add a brain injury to the mix.
Finally the tuk-tuk taxi arrived. We managed to tuck the bike into the passenger seat and we headed back to the hotel in Saladan. Once I got to the hotel I explained what happened to the owners and the pointed me in the map, the closest medical clinic.
I went there by tuk-tuk and the doctor on guard told me it was just some "sore muscle", put a bandage around my leg and prescribed me tons of pain killers:
When I came back to the hotel I checked on the web what he had prescribed me. Discarded half of it and spent a long night checking for signs of Compartment syndrome.
Fortunately that didn't happen, but later on I found out I had a huge blood collection inside the muscle. In a way I was very lucky!
The after I could barely walk so I spend the day at the hotel just relaxing, taking care of my leg, reading and start writing this post that as I described earlier, it stayed on my drafts folder for a really long time.
Now I would definitely would go back to Ko Lanta!. It's in my opinion one of the nicest places in the country.