It had been a few rough days, but we felt good about the fact that we were moving on. We wanted to get somewhere to relax and recoup. As we pulled up to the pier in Koh Lanta, our first impression was that this island would far exceed Koh Phi Phi. We had prepaid for a shuttle to our hotel while on the ferry (which we were hesitant about, but it worked out) and were escorted to a pickup truck with two benches along the truck bed. We were packed in with at least 8 other people and our bags were thrown on the roof, unattached. We got to know a really nice Irish girl in her mid 20s and her mom since we were all sitting shoulder to shoulder. Over the next few weeks of island hopping, we would run into them several more times. As we traveled to our hotel, we drove past local villages, restaurants, and shops. The road was parallel to the beach and we could even see the sun setting through the trees. It was such a nice change from the last few crazy days. We knew right away that we made the right choice in going there.
We pulled up to our new home, Patty’s Secret Garden. Our room was very simple, but clean, and it was situated behind an adorable restaurant, also operated by the hotel owners. The couple who ran the joint was an English dude and a Thai woman, who happened to be a phenomenal cook. They had a precious little girl named Patty, the inspiration for the restaurant name (and a much better alternative to the initial thought of naming it “Living the Dream”…)
John and I put our stuff in our room, ate some fantastic massaman curry at our hotel, and took the 5 minute walk/crutch hobble to the beach. We were greeted by several super cool, mellow beach bars. Although too tired to enjoy them by that point after such a crazy day, we knew we liked the Koh Lanta vibe. We went back to the hotel and chilled in the hammocks with some Chang beers while indulging in our first Thai pancake. Thai pancakes are essentially a fancy crepe. We ate one with bananas and coconut inside and chocolate drizzled on top. Costing anywhere from a $1 to $1.50, we decided we would eat Thai pancakes as often as we could while we were there.
Since Koh Lanta has pretty much just one main road and little traffic, it is very safe to rent a motorbike. In fact, most of the people we saw on motorbikes were tourists. Since walking wasn’t on the itinerary for me yet, we rented a motorbike and spent the next two days exploring beaches and eating yummy food. We particularly loved Bamboo Bay, a beautiful beach for relaxing and snorkeling. I was happy to be able to get around on the motorbike and swim without using my ankle. We both loved how free we felt motorbiking on the open beach road. Each night, we saw a crazy gorgeous sunset like none we had ever seen before. We also frequented a place called mama’s chicken where a hilarious, friendly Thai woman made grilled chicken and sticky rice. The food was awesome and she was our favorite Thai person so far! We also discovered several unique beachfront restaurants and bars that would never pass code back home. Many of them were so rickety that we weren’t sure if we would fall through the floor and we wondered how any of them could withstand a tropical storm or hurricane. Despite this, the ambiance at the sketchy little beach front establishments was great and we wished we had more places like that at the beaches back home.
We extended our stay in Koh Lanta to 4 days because we loved it that much. On our last night, we went to a cool little beachfront restaurant where we sat at a table on the sand and watched a fire show! I even did the 45 minute walk each way on the soft sand. I arrived in Koh Lanta on crutches and left with the ability to walk again! I still had a long way to go, but it was a great start. I’m not happy I sprained my ankle, but I am thrilled we ended up in Koh Lanta as a result, since it wasn’t part of our original plan. If we find ourselves back in Southern Thailand again one day, we will definitely return to Koh Lanta. When we came to terms with the fact that we had to leave this little gem, we boarded another ferry and set off for another – Railay Beach!