Koh Lanta is made up of many islands, but the two most known are Koh Lanta Yai (the island which has the most going on), and Koh Lanta Noi, the lesser known of the two.
When booking to go to Koh Lanta we weren’t actually aware that there was more than one island, and to be fair, the water that divides the two is minuscule, however even though the volume of water between the two is narrow, the contrast between Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai couldn’t be more different.
Forgotten by tourists Koh Lanta Noi is an island with palm trees, rubber plantations, deserted beaches and local Muslim fishing villages—and I couldn’t wait to explore it.
After getting the ferry across to Koh Lanta Noi (which cost just 23B ((£0.45 great British pennies)) to get myself, a friend and the scooter over) we realised we had absolutely no idea where we were going or what was even on this island. So, armed with a sense of adventure and no sense of direction, we decided to pick a random direction each time we reached a junction.
Our first stop on Koh Lanta Noi, was to the coast overlooking Koh Lanta Yai (the island we had just left).
It was the first time I had been on a beach completely undisturbed.
Without hawkers, tourists or a drop of rubbish in sight, it was strange yet beautiful to be somewhere so untouched. I was about to strip off and go for a swim but after spotting a few washed up jellyfish on the beach, I thought better of it!
The roads on Koh Lanta Noi were strange.
High-quality roads that have been laid across the island, yet the lack of traffic has meant that nature has slowly begun to reclaim them. Grass grows across, almost reaching the centre, and soi dogs lay sleepily in the shade cast by the trees from the roadside rubber plantations.
After winding in and out of the shade of the trees, I needed to stretch my legs, so we stopped off at a boat port, where cars queued ready for Krabi with fruits piled up in the back
(Side note: Can anybody tell me what fruit that is? 6 months later and I still don’t know!)
After a quick stretch of the legs, we set back off the road again, but just as we were going around a corner I all but squealed with excitement.
On the side of the road.
The most delightfully charming and rustic creation that my eyes have ever seen.
Built out of random sticks, cut up tyres, a few rustic nails and the odd slip of string, you wouldn’t think it’d stand on its own, let alone hold your weight, but as you walk across and catch a glimpse of the view it overlooks, you couldn’t care less.
Still, clear water stretches beneath you, the wind rustles nearby leaves and you can’t help but get totally enraptured by nature. I’ve never felt as zen and at peace as I did sitting upon that rickety little charmer, but I still had lots of Koh Lanta Noi to see, and so on our way we went!
The roads wound throughout the island, climbing high and dipping low without a roadside shop in sight. Instead, the roads passed by the occasional house, a school or two and locals tending to allotment style plots with a whole load of free-range chickens, happily crossing the road without a joke to be heard.
A few minutes later I stopped so that I could take a picture of a nearby structure.
This structure to be precise.
I loved that somebody was building a mini house that was there, just floating off the shore. Something you could swim over to just to be alone—and it seemed that there were a few people with the same idea of bliss, because just past a row of boats, there was a strip of floating jetty leading to two floating houses.
As I sat on the side of the road pondering about what it would be like to build your own little floaty hide-away, a man and his child pulled up on their scooters. They jumped off and ran to the shore before their “Sawadee Krub!” had finished leaving their mouths, laughing and smiling as they went. They splashed into the water and as quick as they could they swam to a boat. The child laughed, shouted something in Thai and then fist pumped, before ducking beneath the boats and reappearing metres away, before his dad joined him and they swam over to the floating jetty together.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to take a trip back in time. To see life before society became dependant on technology, and as I stood there watching the father and son race over to their handmade hide-away, I found myself wondering if this is the closest I would come.
Disturbed by a growling stomach and the sudden realisation that we had travelled almost all of Koh Lanta Noi, yet hadn’t passed a single restaurant on our journey, we hopped onto the scooters and made our way to the end to see what we could find.
What we found was a quaint little restaurant with the sound of laughter filling the air. Intrigued, and with a numb bum from the long scooter ride, I waddled over to see what was happening. Which is where I found a bunch of children diving into the great blue.
Careless and fearless, simply enjoying being in the water.
As the children resurfaced and climbed the stairs out of the deep blue, one of them turned to look at me before shouting “Suay… Tit… Teeeeees!”
Laughing (I mean what else do you do in that situation!) I turned to take some photos
And when I turned back around they were off.
Three of them.
No older than ten years old.
RIDING A SCOOTER!
By the time I had walked back over, our table was ready and I realised that the owners spoke zero English. My Thai is terrible, but luckily I knew a few basic phrases, and after naming a few of my favourite Thai dishes to be turned down with a “mai ao” I finally struck it lucky with a thumbs up from the chef when we mentioned Tom Yum Koong, and Pad Ga Pow!
All too soon we were back on the ferry heading away from Koh Lanta Noi, back across to the main island.
And I found myself sad to go.
It was euphoric to be on the island and see people living such a simple life, not caring about the latest gadget, fashion trend or latest app to distract themselves from life by hiding behind a screen, and I found myself longing to join them. Unfortunately Thailand is a pain in the butt for visa regulations, so my dreams of a floating hideaway are on hold for a while.
Until next time Koh Lanta xo