After much debate about which direction we should head next, we booked our ferry tickets for Koh Lanta (versus going north to the Similan Islands). The somewhat tumultuous ride took 3 hours with a crazy & chaotic boat change on the sea midway through. There were tourists scattered all over the boat as they pawed through two big piles of luggage and got into long tail boats and speed boats, with the rest of us either staying or getting onto a different ferry – all the while the boats bobbing up and down next to each other making the exchange precarious.
Above: catching a nap on the long ferry ride
Once in Koh Lanta, we immediately felt its laid back & slower pace vibe. Our tuk tuk driver was waiting for us just outside the throng of tourists who just arrived and those trying to depart.
Above: our tuk tuk ride to the hotel – very packed by the time we put ourselves & luggage in
Below: typical tuk tuk on Koh Lanta – some are customized with speakers and neon lights
A hot but short ride brought us to our hotel, complete with a cute and playful kitty waiting for us. We would have loved to take him home but Archie and Beeny would not forgive us!
One activity we had read about doing on the island was visiting the Lanta Animal Welfare facility (actually ranked #1 on Tripadvisor) where they rescue cats and dogs. So we took a break from the sea and sun and headed there. We were given a very informative tour throughout the compound where they have a well organized and regimented schedule for feeding, bathing, medicating, surgeries, etc. We watched as kitties came running out from every nook & cranny to be fed at their appointed 5:00pm time (they had 36 cats). We also volunteered to walk a dog, so we got “Rufus” (the dufus), a cute mix-bred of some kind who was very well behaved during our stroll. The goal of this facility is to adopt out all animals that come in and they will complete all needed paperwork and arrange transport, even for folks outside of Thailand who wish to adopt a cat or dog. Very tempting but the poor thing would have had to make it with us through SE Asia and Australia or be sent as a special package back home 🙂
Above: dinner time!
Below: kitties checking out our ride
Above and below: this guy was cute, but the trouble maker in the pack
Below: Sylvie walking Rufus next to a rubber tree plantation
We found the southern beaches of Koh Lanta to be the least crowded and more scenic than the northern end. Many were beautiful with fairly clear water, but at the same time were littered with trash back behind bushes and trees. The other nuisance about many of the beaches was the presence of microscopic “sea lice”, which are jelly fish larvae that deliver an irritating sting, so we couldn’t stay in the water very long.
We had amazing food and sunsets on Koh Lanta, including the best pad thai so far while in Thailand (a shout out to Kung Restaurant and its friendly owner).
Above: best pad thai in Thailand (so far)
Below: at Kung’s restaurant which became our hang out
The highlight of our stay on Koh Lanta was a day excursion to Koh Rok, a small island 45 minutes away by speed boat with stunning white sand beaches (reminded us of One Foot Island in the Cooks), untouched corals, and decent fish life. We snorkeled several times, swam, and then ate lunch on the island while the resident Komodo Dragons moved in closer for scraps. Luckily the vigilant staff kept them at bay.
Above: we didn’t want to leave
On the way back, a small pod of dolphins followed our boat for while giving us a perfect ending to our day.