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Sun, Sand and Swedes

Klong Dao Beach, originally uploaded by Mister Wind-Up Bird.

Last night this time we were sitting on a starlit tropical beach, drinking coke and Thai liquor and watching Swedish children practice poi routines to crackling beach-speaker Bryan Adams.  It was a good way to spend our last night on Ko Lanta.  

We spent the day snorkling around the smaller limestone islands and caves around the island, followed by an unscheduled dousing in a tropical thunderstorm.  When we got  back to our bungalow, Annie, the extremely charming Thai woman who runs Banana Garden Home, told us she was making us some fresh shrimp because she liked Janelle’s style (Janelle picked up a couple of interesting print dresses at some point).  We ate huge plates of home-made curried prawns.

We really couldn’t have asked for a better tropical honeymoon vacation than Ko Lanta.  And I’m really not a beach-holiday person. Fortunately, Ko Lanta also caters to the keeping-your-shirt-on, reading-at-the-bar-sipping-beer crowd (population: moi).

It’s a popular vacation spot–particularly with Swedes, for some reason I was never able to divine, but if you want to eat Swedish candy and meatballs in Thailand, this is clearly the place for you–but there is nowhere near the gross overdevelopment of Phuket.  Bungalows, beachside bars and restaurants line the uncrowded beaches of the west coast, while the rest of the island is more traditional rural Thai.  There is a large Muslim population on the island, most conspicuous in the regular calls to prayer from the island’s many mosques, and the smiling muslim girls in headscarves deftly weaving through traffic on mopeds.  Buddhism is clearly important, too, though.  The little Buddhist shrine next to our bungalow got served fruit and coffee before we did.  I wonder if it’s better to serve a shrine instant, plunger or espresso?

While our little wooden bungalow was basic, it met our needs: a bed, a shower, a shady veranda and a fridge for beer and mangos.  We were brought breakfast on the veranda in the mornings, and fruit from the garden in the afternoon.  Annie and her whole staff were exceedingly helpful and accommodating.  It would have been hard to find a better place on Ko Lanta, and we would know because we tried. When our initial stay was up, we thought about moving to a slightly more remote, backpackery beach further from the town, but after an hour of being shown a series of suspect, decrepit and charmless bungalows (mostly out of our price range) decided we would do a lot better staying on at Banana Garden Home.  And then, when *that* time ran out, we decided staying a few further days was in order.  

When we finally left this morning we felt ready to move on.  Not tired of it, but ready to move on.  Next stop on the increasingly long and meandering road to Bangkok: Khao Sok national park, a rainforest nature reserve I didn’t even know existed three days ago.

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