After Phuket, I headed to Koh Lanta to relax, unwind, and save some much needed money for a while. Koh Lanta was a perfect spot for all of the above.
After asking for recommendations on where to stay on Facebook, I joined my travel friends Toni and Harriet at the Lanta Clayzy House on Long Beach. The Clayzy House is a cheap as chips (160 baht/night) bamboo hostel run by volunteers/artists. The surrounding mini-mart and Thai restaurants provided really good, cheap food. And best of all the hostel was a stone hurl away from the beach.
Exploring the best beaches
Once I arrived I had a lazy day editing the final videos of the dive trip. The next day though I was rested and ready to explore. I rented a scooter and spent a few minutes studying the map. All along the most Westerly coast of Koh Lanta were a number of bays full of sandy or sandy-rocky beaches. My favourite by far were Relax Beach, Klong Nin, Nui Bay and if you’re willing to venture that far south, Bamboo Bay (Mai Pai Bay). See map.
If you’re on Bamboo Bay, look out for these delightful little critters just lazing around.
I spent half a day just chilling on Mai Pai Bay and a day between the rest of the aforementioned beaches. Between Nui Bay and Klong Nin there’s a few Sunset Bars from where the views are stunning.
If you find the right place you’ll also find this tree covered in butterflies. As the sun starts to set (but before it fully does) these butterflies lift off and start flying around the tree.
The delightful people at Clazy House kept me entertained with the artwork. For example somebody sometime ago had made this coffee table. They created it to look like a (kids) colourful xylophone with some awesome quotes on it. I’m a big fan of the penultimate three by J.R.R. Tolkien, Ricky Gervais, and the Dalai Lama.
One of the volunteers, Nikita, had been painting a new piece of artwork for the hostel. At the end of the day she had a jar of water – that she had been using to wash her brush – dyed green. She asked if I could take some pictures of her throwing the paint. I said we’d could try it but the green paint and our green surroundings would have too little contrast. I asked her to paint again the following day using orange and red. The next day she mixed up and used bright and vibrant red and orange paints. After a day of more exploration I grabbed my camera and we went outside.
The end result of art is often beautiful, but the process can be fun and beautiful too.
Whilst sitting in one of the bars on relax beach we got talking to one of the owners/bar tenders. I can’t remember the topic of conversation, but somehow the conversation culminated in her saying, “Wait here a sec, I’ll show you something”. When she returned she had two chicks in her arm which had been dyed yellow and pink.
She explained, after the eggs were fertilised the farmers/scientists would inject dyes into the egg yolk. When the eggs hatch and the chicks are born, they have these brightly coloured furs. The furs would stay that colour for about a year after which they feed and they begin to regain the natural colours of their feathers. The eggs can be bought for 30 baht (60p) in the local market.
Watching Zeus descend on the sky
One evening, Clazy organised an open mic night. By about 10 o’clock proceedings were well underway and we were beginning to attract a cloud. The area which I had usually used as a place to complete my circuit of morning press-ups before my morning swim, and others had often used for yoga and massages had turned into a stage.
The standard was fairly good. A young European looking man had taken the stage. Just as he strumming different strings to check the guitar was in tune for his style of music, one the volunteers, an Italian man, ran into the hostel. He said to me an a few others, “Hey guys, we’re heading to the beach. The sky looks amazing. I can’t remember the English word for it. But it is like when light in the sky comes through the cloud”. Most of us looked confused. We asked if he meant stars. He said “No, it is like when Zeus is in the clouds. You know Zeus? I don’t know how to say it in English.” I said I knew who Zeus was – the king of the Greek gods – but wasn’t sure what he was trying to say.
By this time he had roused the attention of a number of other people. He asked me to explain because he wasn’t able to. I explained to everyone that we’re going to the beach to watch Zeus descend from the sky, and it’ll look like lights shining through clouds. As more people asked where we’re going, I asked somebody else to explain what I had just said. They explained to the others “We’re going to watch Zeus arrive in the sky”.
So 20 of us marched towards the beach intrigued to see what Zeus’s arrival will look like. On the beach we looked up at the sky beyond the sea. It looked spectacular. I turned to the Italian man and said “We call it lightning in English”.
It was spectacular. Clouds had built upon out at sea. They were thick massive clouds and highly charged. Every 5-7 seconds lightning would pass through the massive cloud lighting it up, and lighting up the beach. It wasn’t raining though. It was just lightning. Sometimes we couldn’t hear the thunder, other times we could.
[It seems Tumblr is struggling to embed the video so check out Zeus here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBb6F6nALN8]
We rented some scooters and drove over to the very chilled and quaint East Side of the Island. East Lanta was absolutely beautiful with clear turquoise waters. All of the restaurants and buildings along the sea front had balcony’s extending over the water blurring the boundary between the land and the water. If you’re in Koh Lanta I recommend you check out the east side of the Island; it’s very different to the west but well worth the ride over.