Thailand Fling -17... To Infinity and Beyond!

Ko Lanta and Chumphon, Thailand  March 2023

So far, our favourite place on the trip had been the laid-back island of Ko Lanta, so we decided to spend one more relaxing week there before slowly making our way back up to Bangkok. We took the slow ferry over from Ao Nang, which was an hour longer, but way more comfortable than the speed boat.  We felt like “locals” as we picked up a motorcycle tuk tuk to “our” hotel, The Lanta Infinity Resort, on “our” beach at Klong Nin!

Recipe for a perfect life!

We were recognised and welcomed by Raiza, the lovely Chinese manager, who had even allocated us our old room!  We must be getting old, craving all this familiarity, but it was nice to be back!  Sitting by the pool that afternoon, we were pleased to see the young German couple who we’d recommended the hotel to when we met in Krabi. Does that qualify us as “influencers” I wonder??

Old town pier

The following days were spent at the pool, watching some glorious sunsets on the beach, and generally lounging around since the temperatures were now reaching the mid-thirties! We hired a scooter for a day to revisit the Old Town and the brilliant Mexican restaurant on the other side of the island (although sad to say, burritos were off the menu, due to lack of staff…or beans??).

Last sunset at our favourite bar

Our stay here is beginning to fly by, as we near the end of this year’s adventure, and before we knew it, it was time to bid a fond farewell to Ko Lanta, for now.

The day long journey to our next stop was made worse by being crammed for hours, like sardines, into a mini-van.  These van transfers are incredibly cheap, but they don’t seem to take into account that their passengers might have some luggage!  We were completely wedged in, unable to move a muscle, surrounded by rucksacks, cases and boxes, which although uncomfortable, was probably just as well considering the speed at which our driver was taking the bends. Relieved to finally reach Surat Thani on the East Coast, where the van disgorged onto the pavement, we gratefully fell into a café for a cold drink.

All aboard…

Our Grab taxi felt like the lap of luxury as we were whisked to the railway station for the next leg of our journey. We had a three hour wait for our train, but after the van ride, it was nice to be able to walk around and stretch our legs. The Bangkok express trains usually run as sleepers through the night, but as we had the time, we’d decided to break the journey up, and our first stop along the Eastern Gulf coast was the transit town of Chumphon, also known as the “gateway” to the south. Taking our seats, it was a delight watching the sun set over fields of grazing cattle backed by the distant hills (some adorned with amazing gold temples) with the breeze from the wide-open windows cooling us down.

Our enlighteners…

Seated opposite were a couple of Buddhist monks in their bright orange robes, who insisted on engaging in lengthy conversation with us (obviously they hadn’t taken a vow of silence!).  I struggled to hear or understand over the sound of the train, but Ian resorted to Google Translate, and had a very in-depth discussion with the younger monk on everything from i-phones to religion to the current political situation.  At least it made the journey go quickly!

Sea Fest

We’d opted to stay at the beach resort of Hat Thung Wua Laen (Fast Running Cow Beach!) rather than in the town, and the lovely ladies who ran our accommodation kindly collected us from the station. On our way to the hotel, they excitedly told us that there was a massive Marine Festival taking place on the beach right where we were staying.  We exchanged worried glances, but the good news was that it was only on for two more nights. After dropping off our stuff, we wandered into the hubbub, trying unsuccessfully to find somewhere quiet to eat, before we finally fell exhausted into bed, the thumping bass of the PA system in our ears (at least it drowned out the chickens)! For once my rigorous research had let me down…

Paradise Found

The temperatures were now making exploring in the daytime quite challenging, but I forced myself out for a morning constitutional along the promenade the next day.   Walking away from the Festival site, the beach was virtually empty and stunningly beautiful. That was until I reached the very end which was again strewn with tons of plastic and debris.

Paradise lost?…

I was shocked to learn that Thailand is the world’s sixth biggest contributor to ocean refuse, caused partly by waste mismanagement and also being one of the largest importers of plastic waste from Western nations! They do aim to ban all plastic waste imports by 2025 and reduce marine debris by 50% by 2027 however.  There have been some initiatives to clear the beaches here (Trash Hero etc.) but I think it’s going to take some time to cure this nation (and the rest of the world come to that) of its plastic addiction. Very sad…

No damp squids tonight

The Marine Festival was still in full swing that afternoon, with an impressive number of food stalls, “fishy” displays and even some huge sand sculptures.  We returned for the evening fireworks – witnessed by the enthralled local crowds plus several squid boats which had lined up along the shore. 

I was intrigued by a “European Supermarket” on Google maps and set out the next day to find it.  I wasn’t disappointed and after buying some cheddar cheese and mayonnaise for our sandwiches, settled down to a lovely breakfast.  Another tick in the box for Chumphon which was fast becoming a favourite on our list of possible retirement locations.

Buddy Thai

That evening we stumbled across a lovely little art gallery come bar/restaurant right on the beach, which also offered live blues music. The band were pretty good and we spent a couple of very enjoyable hours foot tapping and eating pizza. 

Near the end of the road

In our quest for a place to stay for the winter, with a small ex-pat community but that wasn’t too touristy and this coast seems to provide the perfect combination of this along with beautiful beaches, great diving/snorkelling and good transport links, with a few Western home comforts.

Next Stop: Back on the rails… 

More photos…

Wise words...
Last supper in Lanta
Sunset dip
Nothing like a nice cold "dirnk" before getting on the train
Beats the views from the Elizabeth Line
Sand art
The Main Stage
The Headline Act!
This is actually a large coracle - although it looks like a close up bowl!

6 thoughts on “Thailand Fling Part 16 – To Infinity and Beyond”

  1. The stat on plastics and Thailand’s role in the pollution…so demoralizing. I no longer even put certain plastics in my recycle bin BECAUSE I know it’s being shipped to other countries. It’s just not being recycled. The lies told by the plastic’s industry are criminal. 🤬 That one beach picture…perfection!

  2. …“influencers” ha haa!! Maybe you are! Good to hear you have a list of possible retirement locations, we can start planning our trip to visit you out there, once you are settled! All your blogs have been wonderfully descriptive xx

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