Wednesday 

I froze all night in the air/con car. Sometime around the time we stopped in Chumphon I remembered there was an extra blanket we had stolen wedged under my pillow. The next hour or two of sleep was much more comfortable and then we were woken up by our extremely flamboyant train steward who started waving his hands around at us, wanting to make our bunks back into benches.

The train dropped us off in Surat Thani and we were herded away based on the color stickers we were wearing. We were loaded onto a shuttle bus that took us to the bus station, and then loaded onto a bigger bus which brought us to a travel agent across the street from a pier. It wasn't the Krabi pier we had visited previously, but we were still under the assumption that a ferry was going to be taking us to Koh Lanta. As we were dropped off at the travel agent someone told us to meet back at this spot at 1:00, so having some time to kill, we set off for a walk around Krabi Town.

We walked into some shops and bought some walking beers and found the Krabi Town crabs.


When we returned at one we were a little puzzled when we were loaded onto a minivan when there was a pier right across the street. Maybe this shuttle was taking us to the ferry station we had been to before. We drove for about half an hour and then stopped to pick up some of the driver's friends. By that point the minivan was becoming incredibly cramped with four people to each row. I pulled up Google maps on my phone and watched as our little blue dot slowly moved south. We weren't taking a ferry to Koh Lanta from Krabi, we were driving all the way south to the crossing point. Lesson #1 I've learned about traveling over the years: Be flexible because nothing ever goes as planned.

Far too many hours later we drove onto a car barge and crossed over from the mainland to Koh Lanta Noi. Shortly after we drove onto a second car barge and made the crossing from Koh Lanta Noi over to Koh Lanta Yai. The good news was that the shuttle actually dropped us off at our resort, Crown Lanta, which was the first down the line. Checking in turned out to be a bit of a hassle. As had happened multiple times before when traveling with three people, for some reason the reservation was only showing up for two because there had never been an option on the website to make the reservation for three. So we went through the process of paying the extra fee to have an extra person in our room and finally were escorted in a little vehicle up a hilly path to our room.

We wasted no time in stripping down to our bathing suits and beelining it for the pool bar. They had an impressive cocktail menu and a two for one happy hour to sweeten the deal, so we sat and visited and drank some sort of coconut concoction out of the actual fruit followed by Mai Thais until the sun was setting and the pool was too masked in shade to stay warm any longer. Some new British friends we had made let us know that as the pool's happy hour was ending, happy hour was starting down at the hotel's reggae bar. Happy with that information we went back to the room to change into dry clothes and made our way down to the beach where the reggae bar was situated.

The reggae bar was not what I was expecting, but ended up being a great place to sit and chill as the hours crept away. Each table was situated in it's own private bamboo room, the tables were low to the ground, and the bamboo floor was splattered with cushions to sit on. The vegetarian options on the menu ended up being limited and nothing to brag about, but the cocktails were fantastic. Something called Cliff and Rock was concocted out of gin, banana liquor, and mango and lemon juice, which sounds a little odd but I couldn't get enough of them. The British couple we had met at the pool joined us after a little while and we spent an enjoyable evening visiting and sharing travel adventures.  The evening slowly faded away until Fletch, remembering it was Wednesday left to do his weekly work from his computer. Our new friends eventually said goodnight as well, having to be up early the next morning to leave the island.

Macala and I decided to go find the beach, so walked around the resort, which was located on a rocky point of the island, until we found the little stretch of isolated beach. The sand was riddled with hermit crabs scurrying about and so we picked up a couple and placed them in the center of a circle to race them. Macala's crab hurried away before mine could even entertain thoughts of coming out of his shell. We talked about going out drinking, knowing now where the bars were situated on the island, but once we made it back to the room, exhaustion seemed to overcome us and we ended up staying in for the night.

Thursday 

Fletch and I slept in until about 9, then woke up to find a note from Macala saying she was off exploring and would meet us back for breakfast around 9:30. That was perfect, so we made our way over to the restaurant and helped ourselves to some fresh made omelettes and some awesome roasted potatoes with carrots that I drizzled chili oil over. Delicious. Macala joined us and after we had finished eating we made our way to the lobby to get a tuk tuk into town. The driver asked where we were going and we told him we wanted to rent motorbikes, so he brought us to his friend who tried to charge us about twice as much as the bikes should have cost. We walked to another place next door and managed to haggle two bikes down to a more reasonable offer. The guys who rented us the bikes were very helpful as well, a British guy and his Thai wife, and pointed out a couple spots we should visit.

We spotted a waterfall on the map on the south end of the island and decided to go check that out. Koh Lanta Yai is a banana shaped island with one main road running along the east coast from north to south, abut 20 miles long. We started driving down this road, not realizing how long it would be at first, and started looking for landmarks pointed out on the map. Before we made it too far, I spotted OK Divers from the back of Fletch's bike, the dive shop our friends from Koh Tao had told us we should dive with. We were glad they had recommended a shop for us because like Koh Tao, Koh Lanta seemed to have more dive shops than hotels. We stopped and booked a day of diving for the following day, then continued on our quest to find the waterfall.

We came to a fork in the road at one of the island's many 7-Elevens and took the left option, which seemed to veer a little more straight than then right turn. We kept our eyes open for landmarks listed on the map but none presented themselves. Finally we came upon a restaurant called the Viewpoint and stopped to take a closer look at the map. It turned out that at the fork in the road, the left side we had followed had led us to a road that gradually turned to cut across to the east side of the island. We needed to backtrack and take the right turn to stay on the main road.

Several miles later, finally on the right track, we passed through a massive cloud of what smelled like a very choice herb that is now legal in Colorado. We all thought we were imagining it, but upon bringing it up, realized we had all smelled it. We passed by a very sad and tired looking elephant on the side of the road. I'd learned recently the elephants have very weak backs relative to their weight and really can't support the weight of humans. Also they are wild animals so in order to train them to allow humans to ride on their backs the babies are ripped away from their mothers at a very early age and tortured to break their spirit. Please don't support this cruel practice by going on elephant treks in Thailand.

We finally found the turn for the waterfall and parked our bikes for a whopping 20 baht. There was a path leading us on a kilometer long hike along a river and through the jungle. Towards the end, the path led us across the river and forked off, one path leading back the way we had come only on the opposite side of the river, and one continuing onwards. Something led us to choose the path that backtracked, and several meters later we found ourselves at the mouth of a cave. There were stalactites hanging from the ceiling, as well as roots coming through the ceiling from whatever was growing above. These made a straight shoot for the ground and continued growing into the earth. We cautiously made our way into the cave until it was pitch black and we had to turn on our cell phones to make sure we weren't about to walk into any walls. It went back quite a ways and was riddled here and there with bats and snake droppings.

After we finished exploring we continued on the path going in the onward direction, a couple hundred meters until we found what we had come for: water cascading down the rock and pooling into the river below. A rainbow stretched across the bottom of the fall.


We stayed and played in the chilly water, we stood under the fall, and Macala even managed to boulder up some of the rocks. We became aware of a high pitched whining sound, almost some sort of electrical white noise, only it was loud and insistent and didn't let up. The annoyance of it finally drove us away, and we never did discover what the sound was, although we expected insects of some sort.

We hiked our way back, then hopped on our bikes and continued southward along the main road. The road gained some elevation, and below us we spotted a gorgeous beach, though the road leading down to it was much to steep to imagine getting back up it with two people to a bike, so we continued south, and found the road leading to the other end of the beach . We took note of it so that we could stop along the way back. The south end of Koh Lanta is all national park, and when we arrived at the entrance gate an attendant was demanding a fee. Rather then pay, we turned around to go explore the pristine beach we had seen.

The beach was perfection, a spot yet undiscovered for the most part by the mass throngs of tourists who crowd places like Phuket and Koh Phi Phi now. Koh Lanta was proving to be off the beaten Banana Pancake Trail. We found a little bar called Don't Worry Be Happy where we ordered some food, ate a sub sandwich (if you catch my drift) and chilled and relaxed in the serene peace for the remainder of the afternoon.

Around the time the sun started to set we decided to drive back up to the main road to the overlook where we had originally seen the beach from, to take some pictures of the sunset. We pulled over and watched in awe as the sun completed its daily ritual. As we were watching, an old beat up car came speeding around the corer and stopped on this same stretch of road that we had claimed. Two incredibly drunk and rugged looking men stepped out and stubbled over to the edge of the road, exclaiming "F**k Thailand!" as they did so. They tried to introduce themselves and we kept our distance, not trusting any of their movements. They finally got the idea and stubbled back to the car and sped off. We continued watching the sunset, wary that they would be turning around as soon as they reached the national park and would soon be speeding back the other direction.


We began the drive north, back to our hotel, but were soon distracted by the sun still doing its sunset thing and had to pull over to another beach to watch some more.


Never forget to appreciate the little things, even if it's something that happens every day.

We stopped at the hotel, let them know that we would be spending one more night then we had originally planned for, and then went back out for massages. There is a thing called a Thai massage, and believe it or not I had gone the entire nine months of living in Thailand without ever once trying it. Oil massages were just so hard to go wrong with, and Thai massages just sounded intimidating. But I figured I had to try one at least once before leaving the country, and so decided this night was as good as any.

It wasn't a bad massage, but it was far from relaxing. Instead of just massaging your muscles they bend you into a pretzel and stretch you every which way. I got entirely too caught up imagining how absurd it would be to watch whatever was going on right then and the thought left me with a bad case of the giggles. At least now I can say though that I've tried a Thai massage.

After massages we walked next door to a little outdoor restaurant with cats and dogs running around. I ordered a tom yum soup which proved to be incredibly filling. We then went back to the hotel and called it an early night in preparation for our day of diving the following morning.