Koh Lanta: Jungalows, Lost GoPros, and F@#$ You Geckos / by Anna Terry

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Not as popular as nearby islands Phi Phi and Phuket, Koh Lanta is the island to go to if you want to avoid the hard EDM partying crowds and instead just unwind and relax. The beaches aren’t quite as breathtaking as some of the other Thai islands (although still beautiful), but as a result, there aren’t as many tourists to crowd you. Besides getting sun poisoning for the first time (ever), one night in a roach-infested bungalow, and a run in with a five-foot snake while scootering around; it was a lovely, sun and adventure filled week.

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Jungalow Built For Two
We spent the week in the cutest little jungalow in the town of Khlong Nin. Away from the thumping bass of the party beaches on the northern part of the island, our stretch of beach was much more laid back and family friendly. Prior to booking, Shane asked if I was mentally prepared for a week of cold showers and possible critters in our cabin. I was hesitant at first, I imagined waking up to use the restroom only to find a massive python camped out in the toilet. (*shudder*), but after some consideration and some gold star reviews from previous guests, I agreed. The cabin was bare bones but very cute. Just some plywood boards, a thatch roof and viola! Taking ice cold showers every day took a little getting used to, but even for a cold water pansy like myself, it was a welcome relief after a hot sweaty day on the beach.

Our Neighbor, The F@#$ You Gecko
We also had a little pet during our stay! On our very first day, it became apparent that we shared our bathroom with a visitor. Little white cylindrical nests were stuck to the concrete walls. At first glance, you might think they were the start of a wasps nest, but in fact, they were geckos eggs and the mother gecko that laid them was the biggest one I had ever seen. It was HUGE, the length of my forearm, and bright pink with blue dots all over. It looked like a shriveled up alien. For the most part, it would stay in the bathroom which was fine by me as long as it didn’t come near me while I showered. But once in a while, especially when raining, it would make its way into our room and Shane would get up and try to shoo it away. That’s when the gecko would emit the LOUDEST bark and it honestly scared the crap out of us. Turns out these geckos are known for their size and their loud bark (during the Vietnam war, the American soldiers affectionately named them the “F@#$ you” geckos). As much of a nuisance as they were, I think their presence kept our hut relatively bug free, and I really came to miss them when we moved to the next, less-bug-free bungalow (see below).

Unwelcome Visitors
We loved our time on Koh Lanta so much we decided to stay an extra night. Unfortunately, our hotel was all booked up so we ended up staying just across the road at another jungalow hotel. Not as picturesque as our other place, but at $12 a night...who cares! We unpacked, went exploring for the day and came back to the room to relax. Picking up some clothes from a rack, a tiny thump hit the floor. I look down and there squirming around is a fat cockroach. I pick up my bag, another cockroach. I pick up my shoe, cockroach. Anywhere I had laid something down, cockroaches had taken shelter. Gross level 1000%. Luckily we were only staying there for one night and at the next hotel, I did a thorough scrub down of my body, BLEH!

Scooter Fiends
When you think of transportation in Southeast Asia, you think scooters. EVERYONE drives one and they get pretty creative as far as piling on things/people to drive around. I haven’t been on a scooter since the Tulum incident about four years ago. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, lemme just summarize: it was Shane’s first time driving a scooter and we went shooting off the road into a ditch. It was a pretty serious crash and luckily we were wearing helmets. With some serious bruises, cuts, and a banged up bike; we hopped back on and drove two hours to go swimming with some turtles. Fast forward to Thailand where we were again faced with the question: to scooter or not to scooter. The island of Koh Lanta is the ideal place to get back on the bike, it’s pretty much a straight shot and the roads are not as crowded, plus a rental was only $8 for the whole day, so we decided to go for it. After a slow start, Shane got his confidence back and we were cruising around the island. I even tried driving it! Don't ask me to turn but if we’re going straight for miles and miles in a never-ending line, I’ve got you covered! We discovered our favorite beach on the island where we could lounge about and drink fresh coconuts while watching monkeys harass picnickers. 

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Finding Nemo But Not Our GoPro
We didn’t get to check out the most popular islands of Koh Phi Phi and Phuket, but we did manage to make a day trip to Koh Rok for some snorkeling. We had heard that the snorkeling around Koh Rok did not disappoint and they were right. The coral is home to all sorts of fish, turtles, giant clams, etc. I even got to see my favorite, Nemo the clown fish! I would post some pictures of all the wonderful things we saw, but we had an unfortunate incident with our Go Pro (cough cough Shane). Decked out in our snorkeling gear, I gave Shane the Go-Pro to hold onto while we jumped off the boat. Unfortunately, when he hit the water his snorkeling mask started to fall off and instead of keeping a firm grip on the Go-Pro, he went to save his snorkeling mask. In his mind, it just fell to the sandy bottom where we could easily spot it and pick it up like at other snorkeling sites we went to. Nope, not the case. We dove under to see HUGE coral reefs with deep cracks and crannies. It was a goner. If you ever go snorkeling near Koh Rok and find a Go Pro with a blue cord CONGRATS! You are the lucky winner of the unintended Restless & Roving sweepstakes 😩