19.08.2011 – 21.08.2011 Sunny 30 °C
Bit of a random decision this, Lanta seemed to be a bit hit and miss with other backpackers we had spoken to and reviews on the net but we thought for an hours boat ride south we’d have a nose. As we got on the boat to leave Phi Phi we were nabbed by a Thai guy who was recruiting people to stay at his Lanta resort. We were sceptical as he showed us a leaflet that had 2 pools with the huts looking pretty good. He also said he would take us from the ferry port to the resort for free which would normally cost 100bt. All this for 500bt a night (about a tenner). We reluctantly gave the guy a 500 and went along for the ride.
Gobsmackingly, the resort actually looked like the leaflet. The sea was a stones throw from the resort’s pools, the rooms were spacious and clean and the bar/restaurant looked good so we signed up for 3 nights. Seemed a bargain at £30. Two days in we decided to hire a moped to have a look round the island. I have never ridden a motorbike/moped before so was a bit apprehensive to say the least. (Note, I’m going to refer to our moped as a bike from now on as moped makes me think of little shits burning around cutting people up wearing hoodies). The Thai bloke gave me the key and said ‘You OK?’ I nodded nervously as I didn’t want to look like a plank, it’s only an automatic. You just twist and go, right? Bloody right. I twisted and burned into a fucking bush doing a small wheelie. The hardest concept to get your head around is that because you’re a bit scared you’re holding onto the handlebars with an iron grip but that’s what’s making you accelerate. After 20 minutes or so I got the hang of it though, probably got off lightly with just a scraped elbow and a bruised ego.
We toured around for a few hours seeing the local sights including a bat cave, some market that people were raving about – which was crap by the way, I’ve seen bigger garage sales, and a posse of twenty monkeys crossing the road, when the bike started slowing down and speeding up, like it was losing power. I didn’t think anything of it, more of a priority was realising we were tearing around with no suntan lotion on in the burning sun, this had been a concious decision as it looked cloudy before we left, but I’d regret this later on.
Completing our trip around the island we came across a small town in the south with nothing much of note except a barbers. My hair was getting a bit long and so I thought I’d go in for a haircut. The Thai barber didn’t speak any English and there was no one in there but he was smiley and welcoming. Just what you want when you walk into a barbers eh? Because we were travelling I didn’t care if I ended up having to lop it all off so, using the universal sign language motion of a pair of scissors with my index and forefingers and showing how much I wanted off, we muddled through it. I pointed to the till too to ask how much it was and he made a flash of his ten fingers, five times. I took this to be 50bt but wasn’t sure. An hour later I was still sitting in the guys barber chair, it was hot and I couldn’t really see what he was doing. B later told me he was cutting one hair at a time from each side to level it up, and she was serious. I could see him cutting for the last twenty minutes but couldn’t see anything coming off, now I know why. The result however was one of the best haircuts I’ve had from the most detailed barber around for £1. Smashing. I gave him £1 tip to show my appreciation, I thought he was going to kiss me.
We started driving back towards our place and the bike was getting worse. About five kilometres from the resort the fucking thing cut out and wouldn’t start up again despite filling up a few K’s back. It was a bit of a challenge at first pushing this half ton bike about, until we reached a hill, with a 30% incline, then it became impossible. Up a hill, round a bend, in the blistering heat was a nightmare. Two hours later, which I think was pretty good going, we got back to the resort. I calmly told the Thai guy what happened, which he then relayed to five Thais that were sitting around and do you know what they did? Started laughing. If I could have picked the bike up and threw it at the Thai arsehole I would have. I was fuming. I started shouting at him that I wanted a refund. He flatly refused so I didn’t really know what to do at this point. Me being stubborn I thought fuck it, it’s the principal and stuck with it. The Thai chimp was as intimidating as Gareth Gates so I got right in his face and told him to give me my money back. Surprisingly he stood there and shouted back at me ‘No’. My fist was twitching and I thought it was just a matter of time before it kicked off as I was getting more and more wound up, when suddenly he changed his mind and offered me back half. I thought if he’s caved in already he’ll give me the rest so I continued to argue. I had the choice of getting into a row with Gareth and his mates or taking 50% and not risking getting Kung Fu’d up, with me on my own, I accepted half. I went back to our beach hut and sat down on the bed, sweating, irate and knackered when I suddenly realised, it cost us £4 to hire the bike and I’d been arguing with Gareth for £2. Not funny.
On the whole Lanta was nice. Good food, nice scenery but a bit boring. The beach was crap and was years behind other Thai islands in the tourism departments. Verdict: Nice, but there are better places in Thailand to spend your time.