Of singular purpose in Koh Lanta and with a very short stay, we found more than we were looking for.
For all the rain we’d already endured in Thailand, it rained some more on Koh Lanta. Fortunately it didn’t matter all that much — we were on Koh Lanta for just two days with one specific goal: get the next few weeks of travel planned and booked; beat the rush on ferries and accommodation in the lead-up to Christmas. The beauty of it was, when the skies finally cleared, a freshness all over everything, and rainbowed puddles of mud on cracked roads.
If anything, the rain was a force that kept us indoors where we really needed to be most of the time, pinned to the Internet. The only thing is…
The best-laid schemes
We had checked into an apartment complex for two days, thinking the Internet would be (as advertised) super-fast (it mostly isn’t on Thailand’s islands) and that we could book the next few days of our trip (ferries, hotels) with ease. Instead, the wifi signal at our lodgings sputtered and then failed on our first night and never came back. We were hunkered down in restaurants much of the time, smiling sweetly at waitresses pouring us iced lychee shakes while we leeched their wifi, poring over sites like Agoda and Tripadvisor. As luck would have it, the food on this stretch of Koh Lanta’s Long Beach is uniformly excellent. Another source of acceptably fast Internet service was in travel agents. Meg would distract them with questions about alternate ferries, alternate timetables, even alternate universes if she had to, while I slipped into the back and furiously tapped credit card numbers into booking forms on hotel websites.
Little Sweden, or New Malmo
Besides, peace and quiet were hard to come by in our apartment complex which was, it seemed, owned and occupied wholly by Swedes. Wonderfully personable, immensely friendly, downright magnanimous Swedes, all with a rather strange addiction. It so happens that our first night in Little Sweden / New Malmo / New Stockholm / Whatever coincided with the finals (it must have been the finals — or are they always like that?) of Swedish Idol. The town was abuzz; the restaurant in our complex stayed open well beyond its normal 7PM curfew and there were shouts and cheers, cries of anguish and clinked glasses every few seconds as our Scandinavian neighbours got well and truly into the experience.
Who needs petrol stations?
They take up so much space. They’re so ugly. And after heavy rains, when roads are muddy and fraught with all manner of danger, it pays to stay on course, not go out of one’s way to gas up. Simply stop at… well, stop just about anywhere and buy a liter of gasoline in a recycled glass bottle from the top of a steel drum.
At last the sun
When finally it did come out, with plenty of time for us to enjoy it on our last afternoon on Koh Lanta, with all our arrangements taken care of and the next few weeks of island living solidly planned, it cast Thailand’s magical signature hues over the Andaman Sea, and we swam for hours.