By day 104 we are ready to hop on to one of the ubiquitous island scooters and go for a look around Lanta. Our chariot is a baby-pink “Scoopy” ride with a hello kitty floor mat and some pretty sick skull and crossbones stickers. Obviously Marc looks like a total stud driving it. Obviously.
We’ve got this beauty for four days, which is plenty of time to criss-cross the island from North to South and East to West. We leave from our beach bungalow on Long Beach and head south along the west coast highway, Moo 2, stopping for a fresh coconut drink on the way (30 baht).
Marc is still a little dehydrated and gross feeling from the flu that went around our last hostel (we have since checked ourselves into a little slice of heaven on the south side of Long Beach for some privacy and romance).
Soon we are out of town, zooming along the west coast along the flat part of Lanta. Soft sandy beaches and turquoise waters are glimpsed through the cleared land that will surely be a resort in two years time. Longtail boats pulled up on dry land. Black rock poking up a low tide. Fruit stands. Gasoline stands. Scooter rental places, travel agents, restaurants, massage parlours.
Farther south, the west coast is dotted with picturesque beaches, and therefore has been snapped up by swanky hotels and resorts. Our scooter has trouble on the steeper hills, decreasing to a snail’s pace even in highest gear and causing Marc and I to lean over the handlebars and call encouragement to our little engine.
We stop for gas the way Lantans do: order up a liquor bottle filled with the good stuff to be poured into our tank via funnel at the side of the road (40 baht). Our scooter takes a 2-bottle fill up for one trip around the island.
One day we stop at Lanta Animal Welfare, a local non-profit that focuses on treating injured animals on the island, and rounding up strays and pets for spaying and neutering (the most humane way to get the stray population under control on the island). Any cats or dogs that were brought in too young or have spent too much time convalescing can’t be set back into the wild so they are up for adoption here.
Just look at that face!!!
Take me home!!!
The tour guide tells us that the kittens are kept in a little enclosure because other wise the monkeys will steal them and take them away into the forest?!?! WTF Koh Lanta! I worry about my kittens over on Tonsai…
You can spend as much time with the kittens and puppies as you like, every day from 9-5. And from 3-5 you can take the full grown doggies for a walk along the beach. Yay, volunteering!
We also visit Old Lanta Town a couple of times. This is a tiny town with a 1km stretch of shops and restaurants along the east coast, near the pier. We do our Christmas shopping in the little boutiques and eat spring rolls on the deck over the water.
On another day we go way south, almost into the National Park (but that costs 200 baht per person so we stop short) and land at Bamboo Bay. It’s a crescent shaped beach down a rocky slope (go Scoopy go!) with only a couple of restaurants and a lot of grazing cows. It’s a perfect sunny day and we alternate laying in the sun with floating along in the surf until we are almost too sun-tired to drag our butts back onto the bike.
On the way back, we see a sad state of deforestation on the west coast… sometime big is coming…
This island is one of the safest to scoot around on, the roads are decent and there are so few of them that you can’t really get lost. Just in the two weeks we have been here the number of tourists has noticably increased, so I’m not sure what it would be like in peak season, but so far for us it’s been very chill and non-scary. A motorbike rental will set you back about 200 baht per day (we negotiated a better rate for a multiple-day rental) and we didn’t encounter any funny-business, scams, or anyone making us leave our passports. A note for those with ginormous noggins: the helmets come in one size only!