Our first full day on Koh Lanta was one of the best days we’ve had in ages; our second full day was an absolute disaster in every sense. It’s amazing how quickly the times can change from sublime to scary…
Waking up that first morning we resolved that finding new accommodation on the island was the main goal of the day. We’d booked a place on the southern beach of Ao Kantiang, partly on recommendation from Lonely Planet and partly from our own research. We wanted somewhere quiet, beautiful and cheap, and on all counts Kantiang was supposed to hit the mark. But we could not help comparing it to Koh Kradan when we arrived, and Kantiang did not stand up well to the immediate comparison. Plus our beach bungalow smelled rather unpleasant – not bad enough that we turned it down on arrival the night before, but bad enough to want to move somewhere better soon.
Mollified a little by an excellent breakfast at the beachside restaurant, we decided that we would rent scooters to do our hunt for new digs. This was not a decision taken lightly, as neither of us had ever really ridden scooters on our own before. Plus Kristen had an unfortunate history with motorbikes in Thailand: 11 years ago she broke her shoulder while riding (as a passenger) on Koh Samui, an injury that required days in hospital, a couple of operations to fix and months of recovery. However we reasoned that the roads here were all sealed, traffic was very light, and the locals generally did not share the Thai tendency to speed as fast as possible wherever they go.
We hired one scooter each as neither of us felt confident being on the one bike, and cost was not an issue as full day rental for both was just $15! Our first hour was very cautious, and we travelled in short bursts of several hundred metres only for a while. But eventually our collective confidence was high enough to ride properly, and we got into it so well we had perma-grins plastered on our faces after a couple of hours 😀
After hunting around we found the perfect beachside area and a super-cheap guesthouse right on the beach for just $8 a night. The sea was literally at the back door, there were several restaurants nearby, and it had the lazy traveller vibe we were looking for (and which wasn’t at Kantiang, or so we thought). Signing up for the two nights starting the next day, we then had a great lunch at the spectacular cliff-top restaurant on Diamond Cliff. Our plan was to go to the beach below the cliff after lunch, and we raced back to our bungalow to get suitably attired for an afternoon in the sun. But the weather closed in as soon as we arrived, so we turned around and raced back to the hotel to try and beat the rain.
We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around reading while the rain fell softly, then had tandem thai massages for the gloriously low price of $10 an hour. Suitably softened, it was off to the new Alama restaurant in Kantiang village for a superb dinner and some drinks. Feeling somewhat cheerful afterwards, we dropped in to the beachfront bar at our hotel and discovered a local cover band playing excellent and rather original versions of classic rock songs. This was right up our alley, so we grabbed a table and spent the next few hours enjoying the music. Afterwards we hung out with some locals, and eventually went to bed knowing we’d had one of the best days in ages.