Trip To Koh Lanta
We jumped back into the long boat, but we had to get 2 boats this time. We gained quite a following with us while in Tonsai. Instead of there being 16 of us traveling to Koh Lanta together, there were now 8 more people added to this adventure ahead. It was a party! A big party.
I don't think I stopped laughing throughout my time with the group, and I was getting mini stomach cramps because of it! To me it's one of the best feelings in the world. My face hurt from grinning so much and I felt in a state of exuberant bliss.
We were leaving Tonsai, and as we did, two in the group got sick, and my heart hurt for them. We were going to be on this long boat for an hour, and then hop onto the ferry for another 2 hours. Puking ensued on them for the next 48 hours...
We all had got off the ferry, most of us slept most of the way. It was chaos from the moment our feet hit the pavement. From dozens and dozens of people asking all of us if we needed a tuk-tuk. We found a guy named Usmam, and he had a group of 3 tuk-tuk driver's take our group to the new bungalow location. We had about a 20 minute drive down the road, and that was the first time I had seen a bit of what Thailand really looks like. Motorbikes, shops, and many 7/11's. It was also my official first time in a tuk-tuk,.
I realized another thing, dogs were everywhere. From the street dogs to the resort roamers, they each had an area where they felt comfortable in. Some places had a pack of dogs that took care of one another, others were trotting solo in hopes for scraps and a minute of companionship.
We arrived with more people than Pang had planned. The Sanctuary didn't have any extra rooms from the ones that were already reserved, so we as a group decided to bunk up. Some rooms having 2-3 people, and another with 4. The season was coming to an end, so having such a big group there for the last weeks of their summer was going to have an impact.
The property held as many as 15 bungalows, each equipt with a hammock on the front porch, a restaurant and a bar around the corner, overlooking the beach. The Sanctuary already had a number of bungalows booked up with others travelers when we arrived. We met a group of people from Norway, who were a hoot and a holler and sure knew how to drink and hold a conversation with laughter and honesty.
The sunsets were..... you guessed it, insane and unimaginable. The food was terrific, and the people who ran the place were quiet, calm and understanding of how big our group was, and how loud we could be at times. Bless their hearts. Seriously, we were a loud bunch here.
Motorbike Adventure – Our Scooter Gang
It was all of us, the huge group. Most of us got our own motorbike, and a few jumped on the back of some others. 20 + ride or dies and we decided we had to have a motorcycle gang name, there were a few that got thrown around, but nothing completely stuck. A few that had come up were the Cocaine Motorcycle Gang, to the Chongs For Life Crew.
We had a few people biff it off of their motorbikes in the crew. Every time someone went down, it was scary, it looked like it hurt, and I didn't want to be next. Nobody did because IT DID hurt.
At the end of the trip, id say a quarter of us had motorbike injuries. Nothing that put anyone in the hospital, but scrapes, blood , and bruises were definitely a topic of conversation.
When renting a motorbike, one must know how to fuel up. There are two ways you do so. Either find a very small gas pump, put in some baht in it, and pump about 60 baht into the tank. Or, if you see a few bottle of Hong Thong (Thailand's brutal whiskey) filled with gas in them, don't drink it, put it in the gas tank. Most shops sell these at 40 baht a bottle.
The only elephant I ever saw in Thailand was of a mother and a baby chained up. We had gotten off our bikes and said hello to the giant beautiful creatures that were on the side of the road. The Penn was too small for them and tears were running down mamas face. She was reaching our to her baby with her trunk, I imagine somehow giving it some love. We were there for less than 5 minutes. It was too sad. We all left that place feeling a little shitty about that situation, for the mama elephant and her baby.
WHY NOT BAR
After riding around as a group for awhile, we stumbled upon a bar, hidden between buildings on a side road. The Why Not bar was at the bottom corner of a beach, and it was a perfect fit for us.
“WHY NOT” had become quite a popular saying in our group. We have Toffee to thank for that. Why not became more than just a saying, it became an action. Someone would say “ Why not?”, and then that was all it took for the other person to just do whatever it was they were questioning in the first place.
So when we were all riding and happened to see a sign for the “Why Not Bar”, it was unanimous, we were in.
There were days when it was hard to wrangle 20 of us to do a group outing, or a ride, or a shopping day. On another day a core group of 7 of us went on a motorbike ride to see what kind of stuff we could buy in the markets and what the other side of the island was like.
We each drove our own bikes, going through jungles and small villages and solo houses on stilts in the boonies. Eventually, we ended up in a Muslim part of town. From the looks of it, we were in an area not many people go to. We happened to stumble upon it, and after riding around for an hour we were ready to sit for a minute and find some food. We stopped on the banks of the shore, found a place where they served food, but no booze and no English were present. This was no a touristy area and we were delighted to be away from all the touristy stuff. On another occaion 3 of us went to the Gypsy Villiage, found Old Town and did some exploring near the beaches and shores of the island.
It was one of our last days in Thailand, very fabulous women named Shanti (from Amsterdam) who bought us a group dinner. Dinner was unbelievable. There were just so many dishes being brought out that we all had to keep piling food onto our plates to get rid of the ones sitting on our table. We met Shanti when we were on the very first boat ride into Tonsai. She asked who we were and why there was so many of us. She was invited to come along with us, and she took the chance. It was was of the best things that happened to me (and many others) on this trip. Shanti is good people to know, and I am glad I got to know her throughout my time here.
I didn't eat a single spring roll in Koh Lanta ( Like I did in Tonsai!), but I had many coconut shakes to curries to fresh fruit to shrimp and calamari. The beer of choice here was either a “Chongs” or a “Singha”, and it went down like water. Also, the best breakfast was at a place called "The Living Room". Best eggs in a crepe of my life. Not very Thai... but very delicious. I went there 2 mornings in a row!
Four more shows were played in Koh Lanta. Each night we have our driver Usmam come pick us up, 1 truck for all the instruments and gear, and 2 mtuk tuks for our crew. It was never a dull night.
From the Funky Monkey, where karaoke was being played between the sets, to watching the band play as the sunset was being blasted behind them as their backdrop... each night had its own vibe.
Last Night In Koh Lanta
With it being the last night in Koh Lanta, The High Council played their last and final show at The Sanctuary. It was a beautiful way to say goodbye to a place that had been so good to us. Where the owner himself had said at the end of the night, “I believe in magic again because of this group”
The man behind the bar on most occasions, from sunset to sunrise is named “On”, pronounced like an h sits in the middle of O and N. Originally from Krabi, he moved to Koh Lanta and started working at The Sanctuary 7 or 8 years prior. He says it didn't use to be so popular, with only a few bungalows up. Now, there are lots of tourists during the good season. He had taken care of me many times when I was around the bar. He was the best bartender I had ever had. He soon became a friend, one I miss dearly.
Now here is where the ending goes, and I am supposed to have a conclusion of to how this trip changed me. Right now I am still going through the emotions of what it meant for me to even go to Thailand, and more so what it meant to be connected with a big group of wonderful people. I guess I don't have and ending to this story because I hope to be a part of this tribe for a long time! I can say that I will be forever grateful for this experience.
"Most people see the world as it is and ask 'why?'
We see the world as if it isn't and ask 'WHY NOT'?
- A few things I learned while in Thailand -
THE KING IS EVERYWHERE. Posters, Internet passwords, and random billboards in the jungle.
NO TOILET PAPER IN TOILETS. Never.
DONT RIDE THE ELEPHANTS. If an animal is locked up for profit, it's never a good idea.
YOU WILL ALWAYS BE SWEATY. Cold showers are a must, many times a day.
BE CAREFUL AND CAUTIOUS ON ANY MOTORBIKE AT ALL TIMES. Always.
WHEN IT RAINS IN POURS. Either embrace it or get under cover, but definitely get off your motorbike. It's definitely muggy out afterward and not safe to drive in.
SMOKING IS EVERYWHERE. Just NEVER take marijuana outside of your sheltered spot. Cigarettes are less harsh than the weed, but cannabis is highly illegal and there are consequences.
GET YOUR BARTERING ON AT A TRADITIONAL MARKETS. Start off reasonably low, they will be persistent with wanting you to buy that item, so they start up at a higher bid.