“DON’T PANIC!” the white and blue sign in the Krabi bus station exclaims. Passing by this sign on our numerous trips to and from Krabi, I remember these words and repeat them over and over again on our way to and from Koh Lanta. There are two routes to Koh Lanta. One is via a high-speed passenger ferry, costing around 450 baht and taking 2.5 hours; the other is via a passenger van, costing 200 baht and taking 1.5-3 hours. We opted for the latter simply because it was cheaper. It is not until we are locked in like sardines that I begin to doubt whether the cheaper option is in fact the best option. My fears heighten as we drive onto the first of two car ferries. Now, most people might conjure up images of the sleek Washington State or Canadian ferries. Oh no, no, no that is not how it works here. We drive onto what looks like a rusty, ready-to-sink barge. Sitting in the back row with no aisle our van is sandwiched between the railing and other cars with no means of escape. Looking around, I realize no one imagines the peril we might face if the barge capsizes. Chris is staring blankly out the window. Listening to his book on tape, he is oblivious to what might lie ahead. After 30 tense minutes, we finally arrived to the other side only to take another barge across a small bay.

Arriving in Koh Lanta, it is bigger than we thought. Unlike Hat Rai Leh, we cannot easily walk from beach to beach. Most folks rent motorbikes to hop around the island. We heard Kantiang Bay was relatively secluded with the best snorkeling on the island, so we headed there. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite make it to our destination. It seems nothing is ever easy for us. Dropping us off at a 7-11 on the side of the road, our driver says something about calling our resort to pick us up and heads off. A tuk-tuk driver immediately senses our confusion and pounces, offering us a ride to the resort for 300 baht. It only cost us 400 baht total to get to Koh Lanta, so we scoff at the idea of paying 300 for a 10-minute ride. Eventually, the tuk-tuk driver helps us contact the resort for a free pickup from the 7-11. We think some sort of commission was paid for his help, but it is all so confusing we don’t know what really transpired except someone picked us up for free. Arriving at Lanta Marine View Park, panoramic views of the bay greeted us. An attendant showed us several bungalows, finally offering us a “don’t tell the manager” special on one of their bayview bungalows. The bungalow is a little pricier than we wanted to spend, but it has an amazing view so we bite. For just 900 baht, we enjoy incredible views from its balcony for the next four days.

Lazy days consume our time in Koh Lanta. We played card games, namely golf. Chris’ grandma taught us how to play a few years ago. As I recall, I use to destroy Chris at golf. But this time, I don’t think I won a single hand. Anyone that has ever played a game with me knows that I am a very sore loser. Chris’ strategy is to cause the most damage even if it hurts his own hand. Losing the battle to win the war becomes his motto, and I howl each time he does it. The nearby bungalows must have thought I was losing my mind.

When not playing card games, we relaxed on the beach. Compared to Hat Rai Leh, the beach of Kantiang Bay is basically deserted. We spent hours soaking up the sun on sandy, white beaches and cooling off in tepid, emerald waters.

Filling the time in between card games and beach outings, we enjoyed the hospitality of our favorite restaurant–the Drunken Sailor. We went here our first night and returned for every meal. It is run by a Thai-American couple  and offers a great mix of Thai and American comfort food. Every meal we ate was impressively good.
In four short days, it was time to leave the island. We searched for the cheapest route back, but island collusion forced us to spend nearly double for a passenger van. On our return trip, it is our drivers’ aggressive, dangerous maneuvers that consume my thoughts. The return ferries become a welcomed break from his driving!

One Response to “Easy, breezy Koh Lanta”

  1. Jeannie says:

    not to freak you out, but you might want to watch those ferries and boats – one just capsized in Vietnam and killed about 40 people. It was a 20 passenger boat, loaded with 80 people…