Ko Lanta is one of those places that you never want to leave. Not because it is any more stunning than the other islands that make up the archipelago of Krabi Provence in southern Thailand, in fact it is considered one of the least beautiful (although I beg to differ). Whatever it may lack in shear beauty, Ko Lanta makes up in character. The locals survive on the well controlled tourism market, fishing, farming, and raw rubber tapped from the groves of rubber trees found throughout the island.
To get to Ko Lanta you have to take a ferry, there are no roads or bridges directly to the island. The ride across the Strait of Malacca takes just under 3 hours and sails through the most incredibly blue water and palm studded islands, most of which are uninhabited. At the half way point, the ferry was met by a few long tail boats to pick up and unload passengers staying on some of the small resorts on various islands. Ko Phi Phi is also situated around the half way point to Ko Lanta. Phi Phi is a bit of a party island and has in recent years become the spot for EDM (electronic dance music) festivals and full moon parties. The movie "The Beach" was filmed there. While it is a absolutely gorgeous place, it was much too developed for our taste. We were more interested in some down time after leaving Chang Mai.
Arriving in the small port town of Sala Dan on the northern tip of the island, we immediately knew this was our place. After a short ride out of town, we arrived at our hotel. Situated on Klong Dao Beach, The Lanta Sea House was our home for the next 10 days. In that span of time we wore shoes only twice, as there was little need to ever leave the beach. Bars, restaurants, and small grocery stores were accessible without having to venture out to the one main road that circles the island. We quickly found our favorite places to eat, have a drink, relax, and meet people. Our go to spot for sunset watching became The Indian Bar. Run by a local named Pas, The Indian is a ramshackle beach hut with no kitchen, food was ordered from next door. Pas is the main reason we frequented The Indian. He is full of life and wants nothing more to make others happy. He greets every patron and quickly knows your name- rarely ever forgetting it. Pas puts on a nightly fire show which draws people from all over the island. We met a lot of fascinating people while on Ko Lanta. Paul is a Welshman living in Holland who spends months on the island, and has been for 15 years. Paul was there when the tsunami struck the island. We also met a great group from California and a solo traveller from Montreal. It's these connections that makes traveling fulfilling and we will remember these all to brief friendships for years to come.