Having decided on Koh Lanta as our next destination we set off in a mini bus, the cheapest and longest route to the island. With no plan for Christmas yet we booked in until the 24th at Chill Out House, a hostel which was for all purposes a tree house with a mat on the floor to sleep. When we eventually arrived after changing buses and catching a car ferry, we were shocked with our accommodation. However we embraced the tree house life style and found that the beach was a few steps from our door.
Our first night exploring Koh Lanta led us to being offered snorkelling trips which ranged from 600 baht to 3000. This was something Jess was very keen to do. After much browsing and haggling, we managed to both get booked on a full day tour for 3 days later at the unbelievably cheap price of £15 each! Eventually, we headed back to our hostel and found out the local restaurant was known for its Penang Curry… for very good reason! Our first night’s sleep was awful with many bites and sleepless hours as winds shook the corrugated metal against
Our second day was somewhat uneventful with most of it spent lounging on the beach and ending up in the hostel bar where we met many fellow backpackers who were planning on staying in the area for Christmas. This made our mind up for us as we may not have been comfortable but definitely had the best atmosphere of any hostel we’d been in so far.
Koh Lanta may be a small island but the roads on it are incredibly steep as we found out when we rented a bike and rode to the secret beach which despite its name was busier than the main beach on the island. We then drove down a dirt road after missing the turning multiple times to the waterfall. This turned out to be a bad idea as the route we took then involved an hour hike down the side of a river which ended up with us scrambling up a muddy hill and then trying to avoid getting stuck when going down the other side. This one section took us well over 20 minutes, so from there we walked in the river instead. After what felt like hours we reached the waterfall which was more of a dribble in hill. Still it was refreshing to stand under before we had to walk back to the bike, this time sticking to the river. Thankfully this was a much smoother route and we made it back in good time so could head out to get a drink on a beach on the way back to watch the sunset.
Finally, the day before Christmas Eve and our 4 Island Tour had arrived! We were still yet to extend our stay in the hostel as we had found a bungalow next door offering a real bed and toilet for the same price, which we booked on the spot. Once we had been driven to the port where we were to board our longtail boat where we were greeted with freshly made coffee and some biscuits. Our first snorkelling spot was around an hours sail away so we sat back and enjoyed the scenery eventually arriving in a bay which was full of limestone rocks. This spot was a perfect place to see some fish and test out Sam’s GoPro he bought with him. The second place we went snorkelling was very similar to the first with slightly less rocks but more fish to see. The highlight of the day trip came next when we swam through a cave into a stunning lagoon which was historically used to hide pirate treasure (if you believe our guide). The day concluded with a curry lunch on a beach and an hour swimming in the stunning shallow waters before heading back to Koh Lanta.
For Christmas Eve we rented a scooter and went to visit a dog and cat rescue centre, it was hard to pull Jess away but after hearing each individual animals story we left to go to a local market for lunch. The food was cheap, especially for the islands so we indulged in a few fried dishes of chicken, prawns and spring rolls before heading towards the next town along the coastline. Here we saw a much more touristy part of the island as well as a night market we returned to for kebabs that evening.
Unbeknownst to us our friends at the hostel had arranged to go to a beach that evening around 10km up the road to see a band and fire dancers. With everyone piling on to motorbikes and tuk-tuks, we set off for our most unique Christmas Eve to date. Sat around on a beach drinking beers and listening to music from the band truly is a night we won’t be forgetting. Especially after watching a drunk guy try and play with the fire dancers stick and almost set his wife’s hair on fire!
Waking up to glorious sunshine on Christmas Day was a very bizarre feeling but some things never change and we headed to the hostel to start helping prep the vegetables for our Christmas curry that we were all helping to make. After a few hours of prep, we went back to our bungalow to call home and do the rounds. This was quickly followed by joining everyone for a vegan curry, some polish flower dumplings and a range of vegan snacks and beer. Our Koh Lanta Christmas Dinner.
This, unfortunately, was where Sam started to feel the effects of a mosquito bite and took himself off to bed waking late the next morning on death’s door. Jess meanwhile continued to join the festivities whilst regally checking on Sam.
Thankfully the staff at the hostel were able to help diagnose Dengue Fever and the treatment just involved drinking water and staying cool, which is what he did for our last remaining days on Koh Lanta…