Life on Lanta
I'm planted again- this time on Koh Lanta - an island that just clicks with me.
My home for the last 4 weeks has been the Kantiang Beach area at the south end of Koh Lanta. I rented a house for a month - palatial by Thai standards - with not a stick of furniture or even a kitchen of any sort - just big empty spaces. It's been upgraded to appeal to long term renters - with 2 bedrooms kitted out with Western beds (not sleeping mats), a night table, dresser, small armoire, clothes drying rack and a fan! Its deluxe! And really- what more do you need? I could write an entire blog entry on Thai plumbing - but the house is what I call upgraded Thai style. The shower area and toilet are 2 separate rooms and the house is has one welcome western convenience (a toilet!) but that's it - its cold water from a bucket for showering and for flushing the toilet. It's great! At the moment I have 4 housemates - Caroline, a DiveMaster trainee with Scubafish, and 3 frogs that live in the so-called shower room and toilet room.
I'm in a small Muslim village - my wake-up calls are the 5 a.m Call to Prayer over the village loudspeaker (the first of 5 throughout the day) and the 3 roosters that try to outdo each other with their cock-a-doodle-doos each morning! There's no obvious sex tourism- which is SO nice and no vedors yelling at me to buy stuff as I walk by. Just village life - spurred by tourism, but it still feels real. There are Thai families everywhere, barefoot little kids playing in the streets, women in veils/head coverings zooming around on 125cc honda scooters with 2 or even 3 kidlets hanging on, no big hotels with pools or anything like that really - well there is a 5 star hotel that you could pay $9000 / nite for on our beach, but you tend to find a fancy hotel right beside the guesthouse that costs 500- 1500 Thai baht (or about $15-$45/nite) so it's all really nice. Monkeys and well cared for cats are everywhere!
My house is in a perfect location in the middle of the village. I have EVERYTHING I possibly need within 200 meters: the beach, Scubafish Dive Shop, a 7-11 for water, the Banana Pancake Lady (!), 3 ATMs, fresh food/bbq stalls and multiple restaurants (the streets smell amazing!), a cooking school, laundry services, motorbike rental and gasoline stalls, an ice cream stop, a mailbox, fresh fruit stalls, Internet cafes, a travel/tour shop, and shopping (art gallery, souvenirs, flip-flops, bathing suits). My excellent sunset yoga class is a short walk away on a cliffside overlooking an infinity pool and the sea. My favorite restaurants (Bar Kantiang and Drunken Sailors) are less than a 2 minute walk away. The picture accompanying this entry is of main intersection on the main street, taken from outside Scubafish.
In a word: PARADISE.
What's really made it wonderful though, are the people I've met. Scubafish folks are incredibly welcoming - there's always a group of people going to eat, for drinks or hanging out - and I'm always invited. Diving and traveling solo are great ways to meet great people!
However easy it would be to just stay planted, its a big world and there's more of it to see. I left Koh Lanta for Koh Lipe - a small speck of an island south of here (closer to Malaysia) for a few days of diving over Christmas and I'm heading north toward Bangkok in a few days. Then its off to India in early January!
The adventure continues...