Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Southern Thailand Island Hopping - Part 2

Ko Lanta
Woah, this place is laid back. Once you've got through the swarms of taxi and hotel touts that attempt to drive the tourists back into the sea as they try to climb of the boat, this island slows down massively. The coastline is one huge palm-tree fringed beach with just the occasional rocky headland to add interest. Development is very low key, with nothing to be seen from the sea front at all. There's quite a lot of big resorts here, but they're buried in the trees as are the bungalow type guesthouses that we stayed in. There's a scattering of small bars and food shacks every four hundred metres or so and the food, as with the rest of Thailand, is really good. Bit more expensive here, but still very good value compared to Europe. There's no light pollution here so at night it is absolutely pitch black. Just in case you happen to come here, remember to bring a torch if you've gone for some sunset beers on the beach....

Phuket ( unfortunately, it's pronounced Poo-get )
Phuket is a large island ( somewhere between Isle of Wight and Mann sized ). It's ringed with beaches and we didn't really know which one would be best to stay at, so we decided to stay in the old town of Phuket instead and use the local buses to ferry us around the island. I say buses, but they're really just old flatbed trucks that somebody has stapped a wooden bus-like rear end on to.. We started with Patong beach as Athena was on the hunt for knock-off designer handbags. Patong is pretty much Costa del Thailand. Not really our kind of thing, but to be fair the beach itself was great and the market did come up trumps with a selection of dodgy items, though we were both thoroughly fed up with the circus act required to actually buy anything here ( haggling, posturing, mock walking away, hand waving etc etc ). Kata beach, which is just a little further south, was much more like it. It was still way busier than Ko Lanta, but had a much more relaxed vibe than Patong. Not one person tried to sell me a tailor made suit. The water was warm and crystal clear, the beers were ice cold and the papaya salads were lip stingingly spicy. Perfect.

As I finish typing this, we're about to get a tuk-tuk to Phuket airport where we'll leave salty damp patches and sandy stains on the plane back to Bangkok. A brief overnight at an airport hotel later and we'll be back in the air heading for Abu Dhabi and then London. Must remember to dig an extra t-shirt out. I suspect waiting for the bus back to Oxford might be a bit chilly.