New Years weekend on Koh Lanta
We ducked out early on Friday to make our way down to Koh Lanta for the New Years weekend. The journey would consist of a two hour bike ride (give or take, depending on the weather and traffic) on our trusted scooters and then two quick ferries and that was that. The getting there would be the most difficult part though, as the scooter doesn’t have much luggage room, so everything would be on our backs, between our legs, or hanging over any available body part. The first part of the journey is very flat, which was easy enough for us and the dream (the make of the bike) to push through in good time, but the second part is a little more hilly so everyone struggled. It’s a longer stretch with many steep mountains to climb and with all the baggage it sometimes felt like we weren’t even moving. Our scooter maxes out at about 80km/h on a flat if we are lucky, sometimes with momentum and a few downhills it can reach 90km/h (again if we are lucky) and if we are climbing something this drops to about 60km/h. In saying that, the bike had a great workout, the ride went smoothly and we arrived at the first pier in excellent time.
By the time we had got to the second ferry, which is a short 10 min drive once you get onto Koh Lanta lek, we were greeted with another beautiful sunset. It was the perfect way to start off the weekend.
We were picked up by Jess and Finn (the dive instructor friends of Eugene, freelancing on Lanta), at the exit and made our way to a restaurant on the water for some celebratory beers (much deserved I might add, two hours on a scooter aint easy). We were also saying goodbye to Finn (even though we had just met the guy) who was leaving to do some diving on a liveaboard over the New Years period (some people really like diving). We were also planning to dive and after to speaking to Jess, everything had already been booked for an early morning dive to Koh Haa. There was nothing left to do but take in the scenery, drink our beers and just chill out.
Day two was all about diving. We got an early start (6am, too early I tell you, as maybe some of us were feeling a little rough) and headed out to get some breakfast at the German Bakery. Once again some coffee and an egg baguette was everything my body needed to boost into action mode. An energy transfusion was pumped through my veins and everything seemed to be working again. As I had said earlier, Jess (freelancing for Lanta fun divers) had organized everything for us, so all we had to do was show up, get our equipment ready and get on the boat. The dive site chosen for the day was Ko Haa. Koh Haa (5 islands in Thai) is a group of five small islands just 25km west of Koh Lanta. The main attraction of these Islands is the Cathedral. The Cathedral is a large underwater chamber with two entrances and lots of natural light inside making it safe to dive in. Inside the chamber you can surface to look up at the amazing stalactite formations hanging down from the ceiling above. We were lucky enough to swim into the chamber behind our trusted Instructor friend (Eugene) but didn’t surface. It was still a fascinating experience. Just being in the chamber and looking back out was exhilarating. Its was as if time stood still for that moment and nothing else mattered except all the beauty around me. Swimming out the chamber into schools of colorful fish and crazy coral formations made it even more spectacular. We also ended up doing a deep dive with Eugene which could be signed off as one of the dives towards our advanced certifications. This dive was also something I really enjoyed. Just dropping gradually off into the unknown was a little scary at first and got my nerves going. We had to do a few skills at 30m, one being, having to count from 1 to 10 on a counting board using your finger. We had been timed on the surface (4.2s) and then again at 30m (7.9s) just to show how the deep water can affect your functionality.
The dive was really something special. It just seems to get better and better every time you go under. I suppose the more confident you get under water, the more willing you are to explore and therefore more and more beautiful things begin showing themselves. The fish are really funny and inquisitive sometimes, always trying to figure out what the hell this big thing is, floating in the water. It’s really something just seeing them in their world, with no worries, playing happily with their friends and families. It such a peaceful environment. Everything seems to just come together under there and work in harmony. It’s really beautiful. Some of the fish we saw on the dive: Titan triggerfish, angelfish, barracuda, pufferfish, and clown fish.
We got back exhausted from the two dives, but knew we had to rally for the big night. We had some post dive beers as we normally do and then made our way back to Jess’ place to get ready for the New Years festivities. We ended up finding a nice bar on the beach, where we started things off and then I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
The next two days where full of rain, which left us stranded at Jess’ place watching movies and basically lazying around. I mean, there is not much else you can do. A few trips for food and supplies were made, but getting back soaked every time was never a fun thing. We made the best of it and hoped for better, clearer days. Eugene even did his rain dance and it still just carried on raining.
After all the rain we had planned to leave a day early. It had cleared up enough for us to get home. There was no sun shining but there was no rain either. All our bags were packed and ready to go, but before we left we needed to make a few pit stops. The first stop was the Geko bar right on the beach. Eugene had a friend he wanted to say hello and goodbye to, so we willingly went with. Well, this is where everything changed. The sun finally came out, and after a few beers, we weren’t going anywhere. We ended up staying there for over 5 hours (obviously we didn’t ride back to Thung Song), swimming, eating, drinking, but mostly enjoying the sun.
We toped off the sunset with a delicious Greek meal. We had pasted the restaurant a few times before actually trying it out. It turned out to be a good decision. Souvlaki, tzatzaki and grilled feta, with a glass of red wine. “What more could you ask for?”.