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Day 26 – …Ko Lanta (No, I Do Not Want A Ladyboy)

March 29, 2010

Dateline: Khao Lak, Ko Lanta, and roads and waters in between, Thailand, Monday, March 29, 2010

Another travel day. Ozzie and Robin, the Scandinavian couple from the liveaboard, decided to go to Phuket after diving last night. They wanted to go to Ko Lanta and thought it might be cheaper to travel from Phuket since it’s closer. There was no room on the bus to Phuket, so Christoffer (pronounced: Chris-STOFF-er) and I crashed in Khao Lak with Michel, a Dutch guy who roomed with us on the boat. Michel decided he was going to trek the local national forest. Christoffer and I planned on meeting Ozzie and Robin in Ko Lanta.

That meant securing transport. That went relatively easily. We booked a bus to Krabitown and a ferry from there to Ko Lanta. This journey involved a stop at the bus station (really just a restaurant) I’d been to before when I made my way from Railay to Khao Lak for the liveaboard (see pic above). Same drill with the barely sentient luggage. We were tagged, asked “Where you go?” about a hundred times, and retagged. I even ended up waiting until 11:30 to catch a ride to the ferry, just like before.

Instead of leaving the station on a bus, Christoffer and I ended up in the back of a pickup truck. The guy driving had a kid with him. They sat in the cab. Christoffer and I sat in the bed of the truck. We were the only two people there. We had no idea why this guy was driving us to the ferry. He just waived at us and said, “Ko Lanta.” That was enough to get us into the truck. I know 3-year-olds who know better.

We barreled down the road in the mid-day sun and eventually arrived at the pier. We waited in an air conditioned lobby for 5 minutes, then were herded onto a boat with about 40 other passengers. Flimsy life jackets hung from the back of the seats of the boat.

No one seemed to pay them any mind. For 10 minutes we sat in the boat hot box. There was no breeze and the windows were set up in a way that no air passed through the cabin.

Christoffer and I wised up and headed upstairs to the roof. Nearly 1/3 of the boat ended up joining us choosing skin cancer over sweat.

We ended up on the boat for a couple of hours. Halfway through the journey, a group of longtails docked with the ferry. The longtails dropped off their passengers and took some off the ferry. I saw an old couple clamber from the third longtail out over two other bobbing longtails into the ferry, the whole time shepherding their luggage. Classic stuff.

At one point, a bunch of White people jumped onto a long tail from the ferry. After them came a Costco sized package of toilet paper and about 100 cans of beer. Apparently they’d cut their luggage down to the essentials.

We hit Ko Lanta by 1 p.m. Ozzie and Robin were nowhere to be found. They hadn’t e-mailed either of us or Facebooked us. We had no way of contacting them.

We wandered the island on foot then decided to take a tuk tuk. It was about to storm and, in our haste, we forgot to negotiate a rate with the driver. When we were already on board and the rain was pouring, he demanded 200 baht (~$7). This was an insane price. I demanded 50 baht. He said no, 150 baht. I laughed and said 50 baht again. The driver didn’t reply and we continued on in silence as we got soaked.

None of the places the driver took us to worked. It’d stopped raining by now, but we were getting tired of running around from place to place. Christoffer and I ended up just taking a room when we realized we weren’t going to get a price we wanted. Christoffer decided to go back into town to rent a motorbike, since he was planning to stay in Ko Lanta for a few days.

The same tuk tuk driver gave us a lift back. When he dropped us off, he demanded 250 baht for the entire trip. I was incredulous and laughed in his face. (This is what you do in Thailand, by the way. In the face of conflict, you must play it cool. Laugh, even. So it’s not just that I’m an ass, though there’s that, too.) I said I’d give him 150, since he gave us a ride back into town. I thought this was damn generous. He looked frustrated and said something about 150 being only for a ride out of town. I laughed again. We would have gone on like this for a while, but Christoffer offered 200 and the driver finally backed down.

Christoffer and I spent the rest of the day trying not to look like homosexuals. I say that because I look Thai and Christoffer looks like a Swedish guy who has darker skin and brown hair. So, I guess, technically he doesn’t look Swedish, but whatever. Point is he looks White. I look Thai. Since this country has a fucked up sexual reputation, it looks to some (many?) people like Christoffer may have bought himself a pretty little Thai boy for his vacation. This problem was compounded when we started sharing a motorbike.

People would look at us funny. Look at me. Look at him. Then smile. The guy that checked us into the hotel (we specified and received separate beds, mind you) even asked if I wanted a ladyboy. I have no idea if this had anything to do with him thinking I was a man prostitute, but in my paranoid state, I assumed that it was. I laughed it off (because that’s what you do in Thailand). The next time I sat on the motorbike with Christoffer, I scooted back a bit in the seat. I also started to make it a point to speak to people in English a bit more fluently.

We ate at a Thai place near the pier. I had something called “Fried Koh Lanta” which turned out to be seafood in a sweet sauce of some kind. I think it was sesame oil and chili in some kind of reduction. I think it would have been better a little less sweet. It tasted good though.

A last minute check for Ozzie and Robin turned up nothing. Radio silence. Christoffer surmised that they wanted some alone time after being trapped for 4 days on a boat with strangers. Not a bad theory. Ko Lanta ended up being just a waypoint for me. Nothing exciting. Just another island town with little to nothing to distinguish it. Tomorrow, I head for Penang, Malaysia for my visa run.

____________________

Stupid Travel Tip of the Day: If you’re going to travel with a White male in Thailand, do everything you can to not be a brown male. Alternatively, become a brown male prostitute first.

Not So Stupid Tip: I’ve heard this multiple times, but the northern part of Ko Lanta kind of sucks. My one day there did nothing to disprove this. Despite the tasty Fried Koh Lanta, I can’t recommend the north. I have also heard from multiple sources that the southern tip of the island is very nice. If you recall, I almost went to Ko Lanta but instead went to Railay. If I’d gone to Ko Lanta, I’d have rented a motorbike and driven as far south as possible, past the end of the paved road, and to a more remote resort. That said, I do not regret choosing Railay over Ko Lanta.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2010 7:56 am

    If you are running out of Baht, just say so. I’ll send a care package. There is no need to debase yourself with the swede-men.

Trackbacks

  1. Day 27 – See Food, Point, Eat (Welcome to Penang) « The Overpacker

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