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Koh Lanta: Thai Paradise

Koh Lanta: Thai Paradise

Koh Lanta is the calmer version of the rowdier, popular neighboring island, Koh Phi-Phi. We were there for the beach, but Koh Lanta has plenty to offer.

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We flew into Krabi Airport, then took a shuttle, about two and a half hours, to the the island.

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The mere fact that it wasn't direct inherently made it feel more remote.

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The ride along side unstable trucks filled to the brim with coconuts or livestock, led to a trudging car ferry

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Once we reached the island, the single-lane road past low palm groves felt so disconnected from the bigger cities. While island hopping is fairly ubiquitous amount the backpacker community, we splurged and stayed put.

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We stayed at Lanta Sands along Long Beach for an entire week.

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Having stayed around the beach in Pemuteran, Bali, this time, we wanted to wake up and dive in.

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Although our stay was on the pricier side amounting to $50 USD per night, it felt like a private resort.

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We stayed in a bungalow, and the aircon felt like a luxury. However, the outdoor shower with small toads, geckos, and a returning huntsman spider (Will named Brutus) reminded us of our surroundings. 

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The pool was steps away front our front door.

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However, we never used it. I've always been partial to the ocean. The salty air, the crashing waves. I love it. 

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It was the beginning of the off season, which was a blessing and a curse. We essentially had the entire beach to ourselves, but majority of shops and eateries had closed for the season. At times we felt isolated, but per usual, a welcome change of pace.

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We were totally content with reading by the beach. While there are days trips and activities, the proximity to the water was a novelty and we took full advantage.

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We highly recommend staying on Long Beach. The beach is lined with pine trees, and the water was so warm, it almost didn't feel refreshing. We'd race into the water, and didn't realize that hours had passed until we felt our wrinkled finger tips. I was only aware of the time when the sun started to set around 6 p.m.

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The sky turned vibrant pinks and purples set with limestone mountain tops of nearby islands as the backdrop.

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Long Beach is about five miles long and we enjoyed walking along the coast as the sun set each evening. 

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A couple evenings we ran along the beach barefoot at dusk.

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Once we neared the resort we'd sprint to the water and only get out when it was too dark to see. 

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Whereas most restaurants were closed, the were a handful still open.

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We enjoyed a couple meals at the restaurant at the resort which were very good, but certainly more expensive. 

 Cashew Chicken (top), Sweet and Sour Shrimp (bottom)

Cashew Chicken (top), Sweet and Sour Shrimp (bottom)

Fortunately, we found a hidden gem next door, Jam Bar. We proceeded to visit for nearly every meal. 

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It was essentially a beach shack on the water, but with an extremely extensive menu. I don't believe I ever ordered the same thing twice. 

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On one of the few days we were feeling more adventurous, we rented a motorbike to explore the island. 

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Koh Lanta is less mountainous than surrounding islands, spanning 13 miles of relatively flat roads roughlynorth to south. Ideal to explore via motorbike.

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We stopped along the way for petrol, sold in alcohol along the road, similar to the rest of Southeast Asia. One liter was roughly 40 baht, or a little over 1 USD.

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Fragrant fried food and fresh fruit stalls lined the busier streets, while more traditional stilted villages started to emerge as we neared Old Town.

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The Old Town includes a few small villages comprised of bamboo huts and teak stilted houses along the coast.

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It was charming, as if we stepped back in time.

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It felt like a strange juxtaposition between an old Thai port and a Wild Wild West settlement.

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The historic town was originally a sea gypsy settlement, but evolved into a large trading port.

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Most shops and restaurants were boarded up for the season.

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Although the sun was blazing, we enjoyed walking to the end of the pier. 

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The views of the surrounding islands were stunning.

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As we explored the ancient alleyways to the water, it was a rich window into Thai culture.

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After, we continued south until the end of the road to Mu Ko Lanta National Park

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The park was established in 1990 to protect 16 islands within the Ko Lanta group.

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The marine park spans 80 miles over the Andaman Sea.

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We made it by late afternoon, and the clouds were threatening.

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But we decided to start the nature trail just behind the beach.

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Beware of the enterprising beach monkeys. They'll snatch anything they can grab.

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We started up the concrete trail, through the rainforest.

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And climbed over mounds of termites. 

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We were teased to beautiful viewpoints of the lighthouse.

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Other than ruffling leaves, the trail was silent. No one else was around.

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And we soon understood why.

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The sky went from ominous to nearly no visibility. 

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We turned around and once we reached the base and then it predictably down poured. We played cards in the visitors center until it lightened, and then proceeded to ride back in the heavy rain. 

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Other than our day in Old Town and at the National Park, we didn't venture out too much. We enjoyed our slow routine, without any expectations. Only to be by the ocean.

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Occasionally we'd order a pina colada, but spent majority of our time voraciously reading. 

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We made the most of the rainy days, and since we stayed a week, it didn't feel like we lost time.

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However, I wouldn't recommend going after May, since even our go-to beach shack was closing in June.

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Koh Lanta is a far slower pace than the other islands more known on the backpacker circuit.

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We enjoyed staying on the west coast of the island, as it was quiet but had enough amenities. For us, Koh Lanta was a wonderful lesson in slowing down. Although it was tempting to island hop, this year is about endurance. After Koh Lanta, we were ready to be thrown into a city again.

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