The One Less Traveled By: a chronicle of my yearlong sabbatical

Railay to Ko Lanta
November 24, 2009, 12:52 am
Filed under: Thailand

I spent a few more days in Railay exploring, relaxing, and getting in another day of climbing. I also hiked to a “hidden” lagoon that was accessible only via a ridiculously dangerous hike, which involved four sections of straight vertical to overhanging rock walls about 20 to 30 feet high that had to be descended on the way there, and climbed on the way back out. The Thais had placed knotted ropes to assist with the climb, but they provided little help after the daily downpours. While the water itself was rank, the lagoon was stunning: it was surrounded on all sides by sheer rock walls hundreds of feet high and was eerily quiet. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring the camera. Nevertheless, here are some additional photos of Railay.

Railay West beach as a storm approaches

One of many food vendors plying the beaches - on the ends are charcoal grills to cook corn and meats

View of one of the innumerable limestone cliffs that separates Railay from the surrounding mainland

Ancient local wisdom - what globalisation threatens most

My next stop was Ko Lanta (Lanta Island), a two-hour ferry ride from Railay. Lanta is a decent size island (30km long or so and probably 10km wide) with an indigenous Thai population of about 20,000 (whereas Railay probably had like 50 Thais who lived there; the rest commuted in and out by longtail boat).

Homes and restaurants on stilts in Ko Lanta

I stayed at an excellent guesthouse called Sanctuary – one of the few recommendations that Lonely Planet got right. Sanctuary is right on the beach and all of the rooms are bamboo huts complete with a private outdoor bathroom/shower, front porch hammock, and mosquito netting. It has excellent food, daily morning yoga classes overlooking the ocean, and a chill outdoor bar area perfect for enjoying the sunset and several Singha. Every night it rained in spectacular fashion with incredibly heavy downpours, a fine reason to use my hammock or otherwise grab a beer or dinner with one of the other friendly travelers staying there.

Aside from daily swims, some body surfing, a few runs on the beach, and a little yoga, I rented a scooter for a day (for $8, not bad…) to explore the island. It was a peppy little sucker that could easily reach 90 km/hr. Driving is fairly tame compared to other places I’ve been (see: Sicily); however, you drive on the left here, and using the opposite lane to pass others on blind curves is ordinary. Also there are dogs everywhere here, and some find considerable apparent joy in sleeping in the middle of the road. In any event, I visited an interesting community of sea gypsies who settled down some years ago that is tucked into one cove of the island, and another “old village” area where the buildings are over 100 years old and quite weathered. The day I visited there was a bustling outdoor market with all sorts of foods and sea creatures for sale. I sampled a few things, most memorably a pancake-shaped concoction made out of some leafy greens dipped in an orange batter and then stuffed with large shrimp and deep-fried. As with most of the food here, its was excellent. Next stop: Chiang Mai.

My bamboo hut with hammock out front and mosquito netting inside

The bar area at Sanctuary Guest House where I stayed

My trusty scooter


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hey Andrew!! Glad you enjoyed the scooter, copycat. 🙂 Seriously, I love that picture of the sunset and the hidden lagoon sounds amazing. Hope you made it Vientam safely – can’t wait to see more pics!

Comment by Erin

Hey Andrew-

Its your cousin Riley. I saw your pictures and they look awesome! I am in Hawaii, and I’m jealous! Also, in casse you hadn’t heard, we just received a new member of the family. Becky had Micah Dale Covey yesterday, another big baby. Well, see you soon.

Your cousin, Riley

Comment by Riley

You have a photographer’s eye– keep taking those great pics. To get into the spirit of it all, I got a Thai massage today in your honor! It was $40, not $10, but without the $1,000 plane ticket.
Keep a visual diary of the hammocks and bars you frequent. A coffee table book?

Comment by dad

That first picture is GORGEOUS!

I think I may go back to Thailand now for a couple of weeks.

Glad to hear you’re enjoying my heritage. 🙂

Comment by mkenneth1

Drew -I love your travel log. Keep it up. By the way, happy Thanksgiving. I’m not sure if its Thursday yet where you are, but its 9:12 am here in Coppell, TX. The boys and I are on our own for Thanksgiving as Cass headed to Cali for the week. A little flag football, some games on TV then turkey with friends later is on our docket today. I suspect your day is not going to be anything like ours here.

Love you and see you in March for the ski trip.

Your uncle Kris

Comment by Kris

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