Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series
12. Kho Lanta
First of all, don’t get hung up on the spelling. You can find it as Kho Lanta, Ko Lanta and Koh Lanta. It’s the same place. Remember, Thai does not use the Roman alphabet, so translations get a little iffy sometimes.
Kho Lanta is an island not too far down the coast from Ao Nang, but it’s a little more difficult to drive there. Normally, we would not have even considered it, but this isn’t a normal trip, is it?
Catherine had a pair of Canadian divers who wanted to take a dive someplace off Kho Lanta, something her company does at times. The procedure, when they do, is to hire a driver and a van to cart everyone down there. The driver then cools his heels for a few hours awaiting their return because there isn’t enough time to do anything else.
She had the bright idea to contact the transportation company and strike a deal for the driver to act as our guide and chauffeur while the divers were out. She even managed to get the driver she wanted.
Nho (a total approximation of spelling on my part), picked up the five of us and the diving gear and we were pulling out of town while late-night partiers were still straggling back to their hotels.
The payoff for the early start was catching sunrise while riding the ferry to Kho Lanta.
Once we dropped the divers at the dock, first order of business was breakfast. Nho confessed he didn’t know where to find a western breakfast and we assured him we had more interest in where the locals ate.
We ended up at a food stand where several people were selling different items. I was about to order something when Nho called us over and insisted he pay for it.
“You they would charge too much,” he said.
Back on the road, our primary destination was Mu Kho Lanta National Park, on the southern tip of the island.
Its postcard images include a white lighthouse atop a hill jutting out into the sea and lots and lots of monkeys.
Once we got our fill of those two, Leah and I set out on a trail through the jungle, climbing from sea level to a respectable elevation, but I don’t know how high.
The trail itself was incredibly well done. Much of it had sidewalk or bricks, mulched or rocked. That’s important considering the aggressive nature of the jungle. Plants flourished everywhere.
Wildlife was less prominent, but we were captivated – thankfully, not captured – by impressive columns of ants busy about their work. The butterfly in the top photo was found there.
Next stop was Old Town, originally a sea gypsy village that became a permanent fishing town. Tourism has recently acquired a role in the local economy.
It’s really just the same types of shops, but they move at a slower pace.
Back at the docks, waiting for the divers to return, Nho suggested we walk down a wooden walkway over shallow water. There we found the current sea gypsy village, people in run-down little houses on stilts over the water with fishing boats tied to trees.