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Right at home on Koh Lanta

sunny 33 °C
View Get Out The Map on The Rymans's travel map.

I can see that the Laos updates got a little bit out of control, length-wise anyway, so I will try to be a bit more brief this time.

I last wrote about our stay in Vang Vieng, Laos. We wrapped up our tour of Laos in Vientiane, a three-hour bus ride from Vang Vieng. Vientiane might have impressed us had we seen it first, but it was something of a disappointment after Luang Prabang. We made the most of the fresh baguettes, French pastries, good coffee and red wine, but otherwise struggled to understand the appeal. Vientiane seemed somewhat indefinable, not quite a city but more than a town, quaint enough in its architecture and French heritage yet suffering from the same depressing traffic and air pollution problems as most Asian cities. There were no doubt some interesting temples worth visiting, but we were feeling “all templed out,” so to speak, and couldn’t muster the interest (to say nothing of the kids and their level of interest). We had planned ahead of time to pay a few dollars to use the pool at a more expensive hotel, but when we dropped by to case it out a day ahead of time, we were greeted by something more closely resembling a swamp – green, murky and foul. Moving along, we dropped by another posh place to try our luck and found a beautiful pool that we could use if we were willing to part with $50 for the experience. (We weren’t.)

Abandoning the swimming plan, we decided on something a little out of the ordinary: bowling. Yes, we actually stumbled upon bowling lanes as we were strolling around the city, and further investigation revealed that the place was open, empty except for one rowdy group of Lao teenagers, and could lend us shoes and sell us socks. The catch was that it was 10-pin bowling with those giant balls, which the kids found a bit difficult to manage at first. As they lurched towards the starting line with three fingers embedded in the massive ball, I could hear the twinkle-toes sound effects from The Flintstones playing in my head, and kept picturing Fred Flintstone’s cartoon toes dancing down the lane. It was a strange but entertaining experience all round, and kept us busy for the better part of an hour.

Later that same afternoon we decided there was no point sticking around Vientiane for an additional day, as originally planned, so we cancelled our third night at the Vayakorn Guesthouse in favour of heading across the Thai border a day early. We had been staying right next to a branch of Monument Books, so the last order of business in Vientiane was to buy Chloe and Ciaran each a few new French books (none to be found here in Thailand), then sell the stack they’d finished at a second-hand bookshop. With that accomplished, we packed up and left.

Getting back across the border to Thailand was a breeze compared to entering Laos. We grabbed a tuk-tuk to the immigration post at the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge, completed the necessary paperwork, hopped on a shuttle across the bridge, got stamped back into Thailand on the other side, and hired another tuk-tuk to our guesthouse, Mut Mee, in Nong Khai, a friendly, laid-back border town.

It happened to be Halloween that day, and as luck would have it, the Western owner of the guesthouse, Julian, has two sons (with his Thai wife) who looked to be about 12 and 14 years old. They were spending the afternoon cutting Halloween decorations out of orange and black poster board for a party the guesthouse would be hosting that night out on a floating bar nearby (Nong Khai is right next to the Mekong River). The kids spent hours making decorations, then turned to creating their costumes. Chloe decided to go as a vampire, wearing several of Charlotte’s black items and creating long, pointy black fingernails for herself out of black poster board. Ciaran was a bat, with two huge wings fashioned out of massive banana leaves that we tied to his back and arms. The party started too late for Ciaran to make it, but Chloe and I headed down to the floating bar around 9 p.m. to see what was going on. It was decidedly not for children – she was the only one there under the age of 18 until Julian’s kids showed up a bit later – but she had a blast anyway, chatting up the bartender and snacking on a bowl of gummy worms.

We spent two days in Nong Khai before flying south to Thailand’s northern Andaman coast, landing in Krabi. The next day we were on a ferry to the island of Koh Lanta, where we’re now staying in a bungalow on Khlong Dao Beach (known as Long Beach because it’s two kilometres long). So far nothing terribly eventful has happened, but that’s just fine for now. The beach is beautiful, the people are friendly and the bungalow is both perfect and reasonably priced: $40 for a large, air-conditioned room with a big fridge, hot shower, plenty of storage for everyone’s stuff and a verandah overlooking the pool—breakfast included. On a trip to the nearest town today, we stocked up on beer, yogourt, Pringles and Oreos to keep the food costs reasonable. We’re contemplating staying right where we are for a couple of weeks.

Posted by The Rymans 07:48 Archived in Thailand Tagged family_travel

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That place sounds great. Continue having fun so I can enjoy livign through you all!

by Celia

Hey Koh Lanters,
Pat and I had set out to stay in Lanta for a few days and stayed over a week, so I am not surprised that you are enjoying! We rented scooters and went to the Tham Mai Kaew caves as well as Lanta Old Town. Pat did some good diving there if memory serves... We also had the best raw shrimp I have ever eaten as some semi fancy restaurant-resort, but I can't find it in the guide. Enjoy!

by Christele

We've been reading through your posts and we're super impressed with this whole trip! Can't wait to be part of it in Hanoi! Maybe Mark, Ciaran and I can rent motos and brave Hanoi traffic, eh?
Ken and Jo

by Ken

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