After leaving mum and dad to go to the airport, I mini-cramp-vanned to Ko Lanta. The 1.5 hour journey ended up taking over three hours as the driver decided to circle Krabi Town for an hour, reason unknown! Ended up arriving well into the evening so stumbled in the dark through long grass to my beach bungalow on the backpacker beach of Phra Ae.
Owing to some dodgy reaction to my malaria tablets/suncream/general scorching heat, my entire body seemed to develop a crazy blotchy rash. Given how unsightly it was I chose to head South down the island where it was less populated and I had a better chance to avoid being seen. Ended up being driven by a local on his motorbike, with my 18kg backpack balancing between his legs, to a teeny little town called Kantiang (about 50 residents, 5 tourists, and the obligatory 7-11).
Stayed in a holey bamboo bungalow which I shared with a few massive spiders, about a hundred moths and, as I discovered at 5am, right above a cockrel's coop. It rained the first day so I also stayed 'cooped' up under my mossie net in a space about 2m square. Not the best start to my travels, but as my rash and the weather improved so did my spirits and I headed back to the more popular Phra Ae. I waited and waited in the hope that a taxi would pass, but in the end a nice local found out I was a teacher and drove me there in his truck. He took me to a resort where I stayed in a lovely bungalow; it was so cute I wanted to disassemble it and carry with me for the rest of my journey. Spent long lazy days on the beach reading books, watching the sun set over Ko Phi Phi and ate at beach-front restaurants at night; one night I had the most unforgettable duck hot-pot, my mouth's watering just reminiscing about it!
Half-way through Songkran (the three day Thai New Year celebration, aka big water fight) I decided to catch the boat to Ko Jum, another island an hour North. Fell asleep on the journey, having exerted myself so much the previous days, and was surprised to be woken so I could be transferred into a longboat a km or so from shore. Luckily didn't fall in whilst stepping into it.
Ko Jum is basically the last remaining near-deserted island left in Thailand I think. I would sit on the beach all day and not see another soul, except all the crabs scurrying around and the odd fisherman. In the evenings there were a few choices of little beachy eateries, each full of kamikaze cockroaches who flew into everything going, including me! The stars at night were incredible, seeing as there were next to no lights to cause any light pollution. I've never seen so many in my entire life. It was uber magical one night as I was sitting on a swing under the stars and an owl flew straight in front of me and landed in the tree branch above.
I made friends with a Thai guy my age who worked at my bungalows and one evening he said the next day he'd take me to pick coconuts. What I wasn't aware, once clad in bikini and summer dress on the back of his bike, was that they were growing in the garden at his house. So I spent the morning eating fresh coconut and mango on his wooden porch with him, his mum, dad, gran, aunt, uncle, cousin, and neighbours. After he took me off on a ride around the islands, although it was more like a rollercoaster going up and down the uneven dirt roads on the mountain. When he stopped to tell me to look at the view over Ko Phi Phi I was too scared to open my eyes and admire the scenery or take any photos!!
The day before I left we went back to his house, more approriately dressed this time, and ate fresh crab and coconut. I was most amused watching their chickens peck at an empty UHT carton the whole time we were sat there. When I went back to Krabi Town on the ferry the next day he insisted on accompanying me and gave me a beautiful shell bracelet he'd made, which is when I realised he'd misinterpreted being friends and his family probably thought we were getting married. I broke it to him as gently as possible that this wasn't quite the case and made a speedy departure from the ferry terminal.