Cockney-walking monitor lizards, thousands of sweet little hermit crabs bringing the ground to life, little red squirrels, rats and mosquitoes galore. Tales of panthers, tigers and pythons and only one little cat roaming in a little dream world round the island, as cats do. Bless her, there were many before her – I’m not sure she knows of her fate.
I’m so pleased to say there is no picture of a python!
Crystal clear waters, so pristine it doesn’t seem real. Even post cards don’t look this good and they certainly don’t paint the full picture of the feeling when swimming in these bath temperatures, snorkelling in this giant tropical fish tank and feeling the fine, floury sand between your toes and friendly Sea Gypsies quietly hiding from the midday sun. If there is a Heaven – this is it.
We booked a one night camping trip through Freedom Adventures and it is safe to say this is definitely a huge highlight of our trip. I’d done a lot of research before we left the UK and paid a deposit as I’d read they get booked up quickly. They only do small group trips or private charters and have excellent reviews online so didn’t want to miss out. Although I am kicking myself for some of the over-planning I did for Thailand, this is one thing I will certainly never regret; once in a lifetime experience and never to be forgotten!
We got collected from our accommodation on Koh Lanta about 8am and taken straight to the pier in Old Town where we caught the boat. There was a nice mixed group of 9 of us plus the host and his crew. It was a comfortable size with shade and everyone was lovely, we all got on really well. I always think that makes a huge difference; it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, the company can either make or break an experience.
The boat broke down 30 mins later. Another boat stopped to help which was sweet but luckily our guys knew exactly what to do to fix it and we were shortly ‘back on the road’ 🙂
We made a stop for some out-of-this-world snorkelling. I think I’ve touched on this before, but I had my first experience of diving and serious snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. If you’ve done it there, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. That was almost 10 years ago and since then, I have never seen anything on that level. The Barrier Reef is still special to me and still the best I’ve seen, BUT, this did come close. Stupidly, we didn’t take even a disposable underwater camera and I’m still really kicking myself for not investing in a GoPro for this trip. Next time
And then we arrived. Wow. Magnificent. As we waded through the sea to reach our home for the night, the day trippers started leaving. You could almost see the bitterness and disappointment in their eyes; they’d seen heaven but it obviously wasn’t for long enough and they knew we were there to stay. I’m sure we looked pretty smug too 😉
We had a lovely home (boat!) cooked lunch made by Ned our host and his crew and then spent the day wandering around and exploring. We did a bit of snorkelling from the beach but I think we all agreed it wasn’t quite as good as the spots a little further out.
For sunset, we all made the 20/30 minute uphill trek to the viewpoint. We climbed hundreds of uneven stairs of various sizes and condition, chewed to pieces by the mosquitoes every time we stopped for a few seconds – even with industrial bottles of deet and when we finally arrived to the top dripping with sweat, we enjoyed the sunset. Without sounding like a cranky old cow; it was stunning, it was a bloody good sunset. But it was just a sunset. The same sun I’ve seen set so many times, bear in mind it’s one of my favourite things in life. But was it worth that trek and 20 bites? For me, not really. I have seen some absolutely amazing sunsets in my life from beautiful viewpoints. I’ve been spoilt. There is nothing negative about this one in at all, it was stunning and I’ll never forget it. But would I do it again? No.
After dinner we chatted about life, Kristian got his hands on a guitar for the first time this holiday (his first true love!) and we sat around enjoying the vibe. We also watched in awe as the hermit crabs wandered round aimlessly. These guys deserve their own little post one day soon! Ned kindly lit a fire on the beach and one of our group was a budding photographer. He enjoyed teaching us the ropes of lighting and exposure, settings and tricks we’d never used. There were things he was just trying for the first time that night and we all mucked in to make some stunning wall-worthy shots. I will post some of these and give him the credit once he’s emailed them onto us all. He’s certainly got some skills, a hell of a lot of enthusiasm and so much love and passion for his new hobby and what he hopes will become a career.
It’s safe to say I didn’t sleep well that night. Not at all. I am not a princess when it comes to creepies and wildlife, but with just thin canvas between me and the list of beasts I opened this post with, I slept with one eye open! Good job I had such a stunning view through the tent door straight out to the beach and sea. The soft sound of the waves and wind blowing through the trees was like a self-help recording to aid a good night’s sleep; shame the fear took over! Add in the niggling tsunami thought at the back of my mind and hey presto 🙂
We survived and made it to the morning unharmed, yippee! Had a delicious breakfast, our new friends taught us ‘Vietnamese Poker’ and then got taken over to Koh Rok Nai to relax and do some more snorkelling and swimming. Another delicious lunch on the beach and then we were taken to another snorkelling site before making our way back to Lanta. To say this was a breath taking, once in a lifetime experience in an understatement.
If you’re ever in this part of the world, you MUST go.