After Koh Phi Phi we decided to head down to another island south of the Krabi Provence, Koh Lanta. We heard it was a bit less touristy, quieter and cheaper than its northern cousins. We had intended to spend 4 days. 13 days later…. We were still there.
We arrived at Saladan, the biggest town on Koh Lanata. Saladan is a bit of an oddball town but Ryan and I loved the sleepy vibe of the place. During the day, it’s too hot to do anything and the beach isn’t really swim-worthy. Shops are open but their owners lie dozing on the floor or fanning themselves out the back somewhere. At night though, the town comes alive. The night market kicks off at sun down and tourists come out of the cracks to shop, eat and drink- much nicer without the sun busting in a making everyone sweaty and cranky. We found a great bar called Bar Acuda perched above the market that caught the (slight) breeze and served cold brewskis and spring rolls- so I was pretty much set.
We also sniffed out some pretty awesome street food. One vendor in particular made the best “NO SPICY” papaya salad. You may think that we’re a bit weak for not taking on the cultural essence and enjoying the salad as it should be. But last time I ordered a papaya salad in Patong and didn’t specify “NO SPICY” it was so hot I lost the use of my lips and taste buds and spent the next 20 minutes dribbling and hallucinating. From Saladan we ventured south to Phra Ae or “Long Beach”. This was indeed a long beach. The water was crystal clear and the sand so soft it was more like a powder. We spent most of our time reading, working on our sweet tans, swimming and napping. As the day cooled down, my favourite part was taking some beers down to the beach and watching the sun disappear over the ocean- a sunset to rival all sunsets.
The thing that surprised us the most was that there were hardly any Australians, especially compared to the bogan paradise of Patong. Instead, tourists were mainly older Germans and Scandinavians- most of who flopped about the beach sunbaking topless day in and day out. (Excuse me for being a prude, but personally I think a bit of respect, especially in a such a modest culture, is slightly more important than getting my nipples sufficiently bronzed. Plus no one wants to see your old saggy bits…). Some of the tans we witnessed were incredible. Far more than a holiday glow, for some people a tan is clearly a full time commitment. Think less sun-kissed but more crispy roast chicken skin or perhaps the leather of a worn old deep maroon leather lounge.
We stayed in a couple of places on Long Beach because it was pretty busy so we just slotted in where there was space. Our favourite place was a sweet bungalow at Papillon. Papillon is run by a Swedish family who make fresh bread each morning, have real coffee and free wifi. There’s only about 10 bungalows, all hidden underneath shady trees and if you’d had enough floating around in crystal clear water of the Adaman Sea they have sweet a pool you can use instead.
After the sun goes down, restaurants and bars along the beach set up tables and cushions out on the sand, lit lanterns, candles and twisted fairy lights up into the trees. Most places had fire twirlers later on during the night too. The whole beach seemed like a completely different place compared to the hot glary scene during the day. Our favourite place was called “Funky Fish”. It was funky and they served fish. Actually, like all of the resturants around the tourist spots their menu included EVERYTHING. Massive cooked breakfasts, burgers, schnitzel, traditional thai meals, Indian curries, naan, cesar salad, ice cream, pizza, . If you couldn’t find something you wanted on this menu you’re probably just being difficult.
After Long Beach we decided to move down further south to Klong Nin beach. This was a much quieter beach with less nightlife than Long Beach. Still a beautiful beach but a bit more rocky (and by I bit more I mean when the tide is out it is ..well…rocks.) We stayed at a super cheap place at the very south of the beach that was run by a gang of drunken sea gypsies who spent their time napping or swigging rum from the bottle. Good fun until you actually needed them to do something constructive.
Our room was big and blue and looked like it was suited more to a dodgy Eastern European casino. The bathroom was a stinky windowless cell that resembled the type of place you’d be kept whilst kidnapped, praying not to be killed, or in our case, to catch an aggressive fungal infection. But all in all it was cheap, close to the beach and well… cheap.