5 years ago – from what we hear, this island was like a time machine transporting its wandering guests back to the 1970’s. Laid back life styles and laid back people. No cars and no rushing crowds. People smoking weed all day long and people flipping their dreadlocks around without a care in the world. Today it’s pretty much the same, however with one difference, this being the sudden and recent increase of backpackers and tourists, thus bumping the prices up slightly whilst also introducing a few groups of loud drunkards looking for the next Ibiza or Cancun.
Luckily these groups are far and few between but they are slowly getting to islands such as Koh Lanta. As long as the popularity of locations such as Koh Phi Phi stays strong and the prominence of nights like Koh Phangan’s well known Full Moon Party continues to grow, the clock is ticking on Koh Lanta’s chill factor and affordability…. We’re lucky enough to have gotten here in time and have found a few slices of tranquility already. I’m sure there will be other islands which have a similar vibe, but with this being our first together, its a pretty cool intro to the Thailand Isles with a few more to come…
So what have we been doing with ourselves? Well since we have such an ambitious plan over the next few years, we can’t live the high life everyday, so to stretch our cash were doing a bit of volunteering here and there to earn or keep. On Koh Lanta we’re helping out at a little happy hippy guesthouse (simple wooden wonderland) called Clazy House, as I mentioned in our last post. It consists of huts and dorms and the usual necessities for backpackers, such as a bar.
A bit of cleaning on our morning shifts gives us the afternoon to chill on the beach. On our afternoon shifts we are on standby for guests checking in or out, which mainly means me playing on my laptop and Melissa reading some book she has found on the bookshelf under the hammock. Although we have found some handy jobs for ourselves to get stuck into, like; sweeping leaves and then burning them to steer away the mosquitoes, a little project which brings out the younger pyromaniac in me (just this time no mini plastic action men) and the sweeping superhero in Mel.
We have hung up a few signs and hopefully will paint a few little signs before we go to leave a little piece of us behind. Then when we are tasked with the night shift, usually on busy nights like open mic night, we run the bar. Luckily this provides some decent entertainment as we attempt to get stories out of the night’s random drunk, one of whom told us recently of his night “of too many drinks” which led him to spray DEET on his cut foot. For all those who don’t know DEET can practically burn your skin off if in a high enough concentration, needless to say this led to one seriously infected wound and handily supplies us with our new handy tip. This wasn’t the only story we got out of him and he was genuinely an interesting man, but this seems the most important one to mention.
All in all its an easy enough life and we can see how two of the “volunteers” have been here for over 6 months.
Clayzy House is a mixture of bamboo huts, hammocks and 3 dormitory style rooms where people can, if they wish, try and find themselves or loose themselves in a book or deep thought. The showers are cold, the toilets don’t flush and the loo bins stink. But when your sitting there or getting a shower in these multipurpose shacks the odd frog or gecko will rear it’s head before scurrying off through the gaps and on through the clay (something we believe hints towards the origin of this place’s name) probably to be seen very soon. Although not everything is petrified by the ponderous gaze it receives, such as the 3 foot snake which we found sitting on the squat basin / toilet last week. Two brave souls went in, to retrieve said snake only for it to rear it’s head in a much more vicious way to the frogs and geckos. Luckily the lad who ventured in had Bobby, our resident volunteer, to push off and propel himself away from the snake with. Seems pointless to add she was not very amused by his lack of chivalry. Oh and there are also some Chickens, their newly hatched chicks, some lizards (somewhere, as they are very shy), two dogs, one cat and a bunny 🙂
On our recent day off we rented a moped and explored the island, being only a 70km trip around the perimeter, we managed to see quite a lot. We spent around £1 on petrol throughout the day and probably a similar amount on lunch in The Old Town, where we also managed to find a great chill out spot. After a little stroll through the street of Old Town we headed south down the east coast of the island and stumbled across the Sea Gypsy Village which was essentially a small cove on the island, with some true fishing heritage. Stumbling through the 2 streets which stretched along this cove we found plenty of home made fishing nets (maybe not the right term as they were more like fishing boxes), a little shop attached to someones kitchen/living area and took a few snaps of their glorious views. We pondered swimming to the near island but considering we had two phones, a camera and some other non-waterproof items, we thought better of it, much to our regret later that night. Some things we couldn’t fit in that day however, were the cave trips, elephant trekking and national park, we thought we could do days out like this much cheaper in the northern territories of Thailand and further afield in South East Asia, so we’ll hopefully have some stories to tell further down the line of such days out.
For now though, it’s been a chilled out start to our adventure and I’m sure I’ve missed out plenty but, I’m on a boat now and staring at my screen is making me sea sick so, Laa-gàwn kráb!