In fact, I left Chiang Rai at 1:45 p.m. and arrived at the island at 11:00 am the following day, after catching a bus, 2 airplanes and 1 minivan.
I had not booked any hostel and my plan was to find a cheap place, for one or two nights, and then decide where to stay.
Everyone recommended me to go further to the south of the island but there is a larger concentration of hostels in the north.
Under a strong heat, I got out of the minivan that left me on the main road - dusty, full of advertisements to hostels and restaurants. Due to their density it was challenging to read.
I went to the tourist information point, talked to the girl who was there, and I asked her to leave my backpack while I was looking for lodging. She acceded very sympathetically.
I do not know what had happened to me, whether it was through exhaustion or just out of natural stupidity, I did exactly the opposite of what I had planned.
Nevertheless, I am fascinated how, although obviously blocked in my ability to think, I was able to arrange a very clean room and a motorcycle, for a very satisfactory price, in the space of 2h!
In this period of time I got the perception that:
- 80% of the population on this island is Muslim,
- Who manages and decides the business are women,
- Although poorer, prices of goods and services are 30 to 50 percent higher than in the North,
- Southern Thais have a relative patience for tourists and interact as little as they can, even though they speak more English than the North.
- Volunteering is a difficult task to achieve and does not seem to be a highly valued activity.
After leaving my belongings at my place, I went straight to the beach.
Being on an island, the whole west coast offers a set of beaches with clear and warm water, or cut by rocks, forming small bays, or extensive beaches, bordered by coconut trees and other tropical species.
Through out the next two days I tried to familiarize myself with the island, to figure out how the island works, where to eat taking into account my budget and organizing myself. Essentially to feel me and to observe me again.
I assume they were not very comfortable days, they were not easy, but they were undoubtedly very interesting days. It was very clear to me that if I could I would have stayed longer in Chiang Rai and that I had felt at home there. I am one of those people who, although I love to travel, I create bonds easily and then it is not easy for me the separations with people and places that I meet. And those separations are, necessarily, underlying.
But there was clearly another issue. I did not feel comfortable with the place I had chosen. At least with the prospect of staying a month there.
On the third day, and after talking with some people, like Luke (a very communicative Englishman staying in the south), I woke up very early, did some yoga exercises and decided to find a solution. Or I'd find a place where I felt better or I'd leave the island.
I started driving south and I realized that the panorama becomes much more beautiful, greener and cooler. The buildings become more sparse and also appear to be better integrated into the landscape, characterized mainly by rainforest.
It is not uncommon to see monkeys and the road has very little movement (although it is not in the best of conditions).
On this tour, I passed Klong Toab, Klong Nin, Nui Beach, Klong Hin and went to Kantiang Bay, a very small and friendly village, bordered by a beautiful bay and dense forest.
I found Luke in his hostel, I greeted him and I went to see another hostel, at the top of the hill – Hidden Cliff.
I fell in love immediately! Despite not having the financial conditions to stay in a bungalow, the dormitory, had air conditioning and an incredible view of the bay.
I negotiated bed and motorcycle (with values corresponding to what I was paying per day in the other place), I returned to Klong Kong, paid my bills, and moved.
Yea! Now it would started my stay in Koh Lanta! 😊(reviwed by William Flower)