The quiet island of Koh Lanta is a perfect place to be a beach bum. I stayed on Ao Phra Ae (Long Beach), as a nod to my home town. And it turned out to be a great choice – in the spots between the rocky stretches the sand is quite nice and the water is refreshing, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from too. There are a lot of rocks on the beaches of Koh Lanta, so you have to find the sandy spots between the rocks to have a good dip.
After bumming around locally on my first day, I decided to explore the island by scooter the second day. I went all over the long island. Compared to Koh Tao, scooting on Koh Lanta is a walk in the park. The roads are smooth, wide, and relatively flat, there are few cars, and you can easily go at your own pace. I realized that my experience on Koh Tao was trial by fire – bad roads, hills, debris on the road, lots of locals screaming about – but, hey, I gained some good scooter skills! I also learned that getting gas from a pump is always a better value than buying it roadside. Somehow they say they are selling you liters of the stuff, but they certainly are not. Two “liters” roadside might barely get the fuel gauge above empty, while two liters from a pump gets you half a tank. I guess you’re paying for convenience!
After exploring the island I decide to stop for a swim. I happen upon two little places – a bar and a restaurant right on the sand on their own little beach at a break in the rocks. I settle in under an umbrella for a fresh coconut and a beer, a few dips in the ocean, and a nap between book chapters. They even had a crude outdoor fresh water shower set up, so you can rinse off the salt water after an ocean dip. I stayed much longer than “planned,” settling into the realization that I really had nothing else to do. It was in this realization that I knew I’d transformed into a proper beach bum. See, I usually vacation in cities, spending my days walking from one site to the next, taking it all in. This is the first extended time I’ve spent in places where the only culture to soak-in is the relaxed local vibe. I now see the value in learning to totally relax. And it certainly helps when traveling in a place where transportation is never exactly on schedule and obtaining even a simple meal may take a big chunk of your day. You’ll get there when you get there and you’ll never be hungry for long. I’ve learned a new patience in my time here. Not the patience that feels like you’re being patient (willing yourself not to get too annoyed), but the patience that comes from knowing that things will happen in their own time and you don’t always know when that time is.
I also did go on a snorkel tour, a bit of a waste of time really, but a way to pass a day.