Koh Lanta in Stories and Photographs
In late February I was on a beach in Thailand, drinking watermelon shakes, feeling the soft sand between my toes, playing with a frisbee in the water and watching the sun disappear into the ocean. Now I’m practicing social distancing, with no plans of going out, cancelled trips, going through the Netflix library and worrying about the rest of the travel plans I have throughout the year.
So instead of going down the anxiety spiral, I decided to go back to my happy place and thing about all the wonderful moments I spent in Koh Lanta.
Discovering Koh Lanta
Researching for the trip, I’ve read a lot of good reviews from people who swore Koh Lanta is one of the best places they’ve visited. Googling the island, I realized it doesn’t look like the more famous islands that first show up when you search for Thailand. We were looking for a place to relax away from all the crowds, so Koh Lanta seemed like the perfect fit.
Arriving in Koh Lanta
After a relaxing first day in Phuket Old Town, which reminded me why I fell in love with Thailand in the first place, I’m ready to hit the beach. After my three hour cruise on the ocean in the Azores, when I’ve spent most of the time crouched in a corner, trying not to throw up, I realized that I need motion sickness medicine next time I venture out on the ocean. So before my first speedboat ride, I take one, confident that I’ll be able to enjoy the ride, maybe listen to some music or read for a bit.
Now, if you’ve ever been on a speedboat, I’m sure you’re already laughing at my naivety. After a chaotically organized way of boarding the boat, we can’t find seats together so we are scattered everywhere, most of us in front. They recommend us put on a life vest so I do. The engine starts and I set back, excited about arriving on the island. Literally 10 seconds after the boat left, it hit the first wave. It feels like being thrown into the air, then hitting a brick wall. This happens the whole hour and half ride to the island, I keep feeling the boat will break in half. 😨 I lean back, one hand clutching the life vest for dear life, the other on the chair in front of me, occupied by my friend who turns to say it’s the worst experience of her life. I spend the whole time with my eyes closed, almost counting the minutes left until we arrive.
In the end, I didn’t feel seasick at all (that would have been the last straw), but at the time of writing this, I would gladly take a ride like this every day of my life instead of this nerve racking, anxiety inducing, times we’re living. 😕
The most famous beach in Koh Lanta is called Phra Ae, most commonly known as Long Beach because….well, it’s over 4 km long. We get to our accommodation, quickly change into our swimshorts and to the beach we go! I am very excited to feel the soft sand between my toes and dip my feet into the water. The beach is long enough so that you can find your own peaceful spot, but with the drop in tourism at the beginning of the year, there are very few people around. Which works for us, it is the perfect way to relax which is exactly what we were looking for, away from all the day to day stress and worries.
Escape Cafe & Lym’s Restaurant
While planning my trip, I knew one thing for sure. I will sip my iced coffee on the beach, watching the waves. I found Escape Cafe online and it looked so lovely I knew I had to go there. So after dropping our bags at the hotel and hitting the beach, this is the first place we visit. From the moment I take off my flip flops to walk inside, I just know I found my new favorite place. The quaint music, the perfect iced coffee (strong, just as I like it), the delicious pain au chocolate (which I only find on the first day). Since there aren’t too many hotel guests, we are able to stay in their canopies, enjoying the sound of the waves and the smell of freshly brewed coffee.
I’m all for diversity when I travel, but in Koh Lanta I would find out that we will have dinner every night at Lym’s Restaurant, right next to Escape Cafe. We definitely don’t feel the need to look for a different place, as everything we try from the menu is absolutely delicious and the staff is super friendly and helpful. To be honest, we came for the fire show on the first night, but we kept going back for the tasty food.
Snorkeling and the four islands
One of the days on the island we take the famous “Four Islands Tour”, which shows up anywhere you look for day trips from Koh Lanta. The tour, unsurprisingly, turns out to be a relaxed half day on the ocean. This time on a “long boat”, the traditional wooden boats. Slower, but just as wobbly and even wetter. I have a motion sickness pill every day for breakfast and I’m able to actually enjoy the day. The first and last stops are for snorkeling and although I’m not a strong swimmer, it doesn’t really matter, the life vest helps me jump from the boat and marvel at the many colourful fish swimming carelessly. It’s an amazing feeling and an activity that will definitely make it onto my future travel plans.
The highlight of the tour is definitely the Emerald Cave, where we have to swim in a mostly pitch dark cave for over 80 meters. The water at the entrance and exit of the cave is a beautiful emerald colour (hence the name, you wouldn’t have expected), but as you swim in, it gets darker and darker. The life vest keeps me floating, but it gets more and more difficult to move, my arms getting so tired that at the end, I just want to lay on the beach and not move. Wait, what beach? Turns out that at the end of the cave, there is a secret lagoon (well, not so secret anymore), surrounded by towering cliffs and tropical vegetation. It’s so beautiful that I wish I could take it back with me. I do end up taking something with me: some insect bites. 😒 They would heal in a few days and they don’t itch or anything. They’re just ugly. 😂
We have lunch on the beach on Koh Ngai, an island with a very lovely beach….with incredibly hot sand, which I realize too late, after I get off the boat without my shoes. After another round of snorkeling, we get back to Koh Lanta and I immediately rush to Escape Cafe for my daily evening iced latte, before closing.