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We're still here...

More than two weeks and counting here in Koh Lanta, but we'll soon be off

semi-overcast 35 °C
View Get Out The Map on The Rymans's travel map.

It’s hard to believe so much time has elapsed since I last wrote anything about our trip. Mainly this is because after three months of nearly constant travel through five countries (if you count Singapore), we stumbled upon a place that had everything we wanted—so we settled in, and have been taking it easy. The days lately have been less about adventure and culture and more about swimming, reading and large Singha beers.

The place is Koh Lanta, an island in southern Thailand not too far from Krabi. I’ve described it in a previous entry, so I won’t ramble on too much about it except to say that before we got here, we had been starting to think it might be time to look around for place to call home for two weeks or so, with the idea of possibly renting a villa or finding some similar longer-term set-up. Our ideal place would be somewhere quiet enough for the kids to run around safely and maybe even wander off on their own to buy a fruit shake or ice cream cone. It would be somewhere they could play soccer and go swimming, yet not too far removed from a town where we could change money and buy any supplies we needed. Somewhere we were likely to meet other kids. A place with enough room for everyone to sleep comfortably, store all their stuff and do a little school work from time to time.

We had just hit upon this settling-in idea when we stumbled upon Summer Lanta House here on Khlong Dao beach. The room is 1200 baht (about $40) including breakfast, and there’s a refrigerator, air conditioning, and ample storage in the room along with one double and one twin bed (the kids are taking turns sleeping on a blow-up air mattress of the sort you would normally float around a pool on). There’s a deck out front that overlooks a pool, and the long, long beach runs right along the front of the hotel. We’ve been catching up on postcards, photos, reading and schoolwork, and the lazy days swim by (excuse the pun) in a bit of a blur.

We haven’t lost all track of time, however; although we usually don’t know what day of the week it is, we do still know how to read a calendar, and the calendar is telling us we have about one more week of lounging here before we need to get ourselves back to Bangkok and off to Cambodia. So yesterday we finally got off our butts and booked ourselves onto a full-day four-island snorkelling tour, and this morning we arranged for ferry tickets to Railay, another island nearby. We’ll stay in Railay four days, and then it’ll be time to say goodbye to island life.

Before I give myself too much credit for booking ourselves onto that four-island tour, I should introduce Dave, Audrey, Taro and Kiyoshi, another Canadian family we’ve been spending lots of time with here at Summer Lanta House. It was actually Audrey who did all the legwork involved in choosing the island tour and sealed the deal later that morning at a travel agency in Sala Dan, the nearby town. Like us, Dave and Audrey are on a six-month trip with two kids, and like us they began in Bali in September and eventually made their way over to Thailand. After Christmas, while we hit India, they’ll be in Central and South America. They’ve turned out to be hugely compatible happy-hour and dinner company for us, and the kids get along fabulously also. Ciaran plays very well with their four-year-old, Taro, while Chloe has taken a shine to their two-year-old, Kiyoshi, and loves carrying him around in his backpack down the beach.

Dave introduced Chloe to the art of poi. Because it's hard to describe without a photo, I'll be lazy and borrow a description from Wikipedia: Poi is a performance art employing a ball or balls suspended from a length of flexible material held in the hand and swung in circular patterns. Poi originates from the traditional performing arts of the Māori people of New Zealand, and has since developed many forms enjoyed worldwide as a hobby, exercise, or performance art alongside juggling and other forms of object manipulation. You can see a photo here (not of Chloe): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poi_(performance_art).

Anyway, after Chloe had spent a couple of days putting many miles on Dave’s pair, we went into the town, Sala Dan, and bought her a set of her own. Mr. Noi, the manager of a nearby restaurant called Picasso’s, has taken a liking to Chloe, and keeps encouraging her to drop by during the afternoons for lessons. His beach restaurant organizes shows on intermittent nights, often involving performers who do routines with fire pois. Chloe has been begging for several days now for permission to graduate to real fire. Mr. Noi took it upon himself yesterday to tell her that within three days, she might be ready to poi (can that be a verb??) with real fire (flaming pois!), and that he would like to put her in one of his shows. He said to me, as an afterthought, “She’s 12, right?” (Umm, no, nine actually…possibly a bit young to be literally playing with fire. We haven’t said yes or no outright yet. We’ll see how things develop—and we may be off to Railay before Chloe is truly fire-worthy.)

Another fabulous feature of the beach we’re on now is its suitability for running. It’s long and flat, and it was crying out for me to run on it the moment I set eyes on it. Sadly for me, I didn’t expect to do any running at all in Asia, so I have no running shoes or appropriate clothes. But I’m not letting that stop me. Every second morning, I go out looking ridiculous in my red-and-peach Keen sandals with the white ankle socks we got for free when we bowled in Vientiane (the socks save the bottoms of my feet from getting scrubbed too much by the sand). I wear a pair of board shorts that are nearly knee-length and not great for running in. These I pair with a purple sports bra that I hope looks either like a bikini top or a running top. I remind myself that I can’t possibly be the strangest sight on the beach as long as the 60-year-old woman who runs in a tight black string bikini is still out—and lucky me, usually she is. I seem to run into her nearly every time. Mark and I run on alternate mornings. I’m making the most of it, since while I’m prepared to look silly here, I’m certainly not going running in India—so this is probably the most exercise I’m going to get until the trip is over.

Ciaran has also become attached to something he discovered here on Koh Lanta: an old coconut. It’s a whole coconut, brown with age, that had fallen from a tree. Ciaran picked him up and used him to go beach bowling for a while, then brought him home. As the days went by, he developed an unusual attachment to this coconut, which had to be carried along when we changed hotels two weeks ago. Eventually, Ciaran drew a face on the coconut and named it George. It has sprouted a green stalk on one end, which Ciaran thinks of as George’s ear. Ciaran has taken to sleeping with George, and won’t go to bed without him. It is a bit of a strange attachment and I wonder what will happen when we have to leave George behind. He’s a little heavy and unwieldy to be packed.

It is hard to believe we’re still sitting here at the same resort we were in when Charlotte (Mark’s mom) left, since that seems so long ago now. Before I wrap this up, I wanted to include a list the kids came up with the morning she boarded a minibus bound for the Krabi airport. After we’d tucked her (and all her baggage) into the bus and waved goodbye, Ciaran was looking a bit dejected. We asked if this was because he missed Grandma, and he said it was. So we decided it would be fun to come up with a blog entry about the 10 things we appreciated and will miss about Grandma. Here it is:

1. Grandma
2. Shopping without men (Chloe added that one)
3. Enjoying those cocktails on the beach (not that it happened all that often, but it was fun when it did)
4. Four weeks of better hotels
5. Massages and pedicures
6. Playing cards in restaurants
7. French lessons from a native speaker
8. All those books she lugged here all the way from Canada
9. Having a fun, different roommate
10. Her sense of adventure (“I go with the flow!”)

Posted by The Rymans 23:28 Archived in Thailand Tagged family_travel

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Isn't Koh Lanta lovely? Stuck in a Thai time warp I think. Glad you're getting some down-time, sounds like Ciaran has found a Grandma substitute to hang out with! Sadie did a similar thing with a small sparkly elephant that she found at a market...
Enjoy the snorkelling - it's so fabulous around there
Love Rachel xxxx

by crfs

Hey guys, hope things are going great.

My buddy wanted me to pass this on to you:

Hi Guys.

This is the spider town in Cambodia, you may wish to pass on to the Rymans.:
I'm sure they've done a tonne of research.

by McNouye

can you tell the name of the company you used for the snorkeling tour in koh lanta? want to look into it.

by rb1980

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