My alarm clock went off at 4:40. I was extremely tired— I wasn’t really able to sleep at all.
We got our bags together and went downstairs to the lobby to wait for our van to take us to our next destination: Koh Lanta, Thailand.
Amanda and I both were struggling; I was bloated, she was having digestive issues. I wonder what we ate that messed up both of our stomachs.
The bus, which was supposed to arrive at 5 am, rolled up at 5:45.
We climbed into the minivan. There were maybe 5 others already there, and we continued to pick more people up before leaving Penang.
I was really hungry, so I ate my red bean bao that I had bought the day before at Ee Beng.
The driver kept making random detours: we stopped at a restroom after just 1 hour on the road, he drove into parking lots and immediately backed out, and drove into gas stations without getting gas. It was so bizarre.
I managed to sleep on & off before we got to a big cafeteria just outside the Thailand/Malaysia border. The driver collected our passports, which I knew was a sign that he’d be charging us for something immigration-related.
We sat down at one of the cafeteria tables. 10 minutes later, he gave us our passports back with the immigration forms partially completed. Just my name, birthday, and nationality were filled in.
The driver asked us for 20 baht each for it. It’s less than a dollar, but I found it so annoying that he was charging us for something that we easily could have done ourselves. I tried to argue with him about it, but his English wasn’t good enough so it didn’t go anywhere. I begrudgingly handed him the 20 and got back in the van.
We got to the border a few minutes later, and it was the most legit border I’ve seen in Southeast Asia thus far.
There was a real process to the system, with actual officers who showed you where to go, and no corruption.
The immigration officer flipped through my passport for a while.
Then he asked,
“Where are you staying?”
“Koh Lanta,” I told him.
“For how long?”
“I think one week.”
“Where are you going after?”
“I think Koh Lipe.”
“Ooohhhh Koh Lipe!!”
He immediately perked up.
“Very nice!!” He enthusiastically told me.
“Oh ok, great!”
He proceeded to check something on his phone and played around on it for a bit. I stood there, waiting of him to be done with his phone so he could, you know, do his job.
He eventually got back to my passport. He happily stamped it, nodding and saying,
“Koh Lipe, yes, very nice.”
He smiled while giving me back my passport. It was so cute! I guess I definitely have to go to Koh Lipe now.
We got back in the van once everyone got through immigration. I was shocked that we didn’t have to change buses at the border. Thank god.
About an hour later, we stopped in Hat Yai and were told to change vans. Luckily, the new van was already there so we didn’t have to wait at all. There were a bunch of people already in it, including a couple backpackers.
While we were speeding down a winding highway, the driver started looking through various receipts. Then he started counting money. I kept looking at his eyes in the rearview mirror, making note of when he was actually looking at the road. He would look at the road for a few seconds, then look down at his money/receipts, and look back up. I actually started to get angry because it made me so nervous. I eventually had to just close my eyes. The anxiety was too much.
It felt a bit weird to be back in Thailand. A good weird. It’s funny how different Thailand is from Malaysia, even though they’re right next to each other. Malaysia is definitely more developed and modern. Thailand has so few muslims in comparison. And the Thai language! It’s weird to not be able to read anything again.
Until now, the most southern point in Thailand that I’d been to was Bangkok, so it was cool to drive through much of the south. There were a lot of farms and villages. We also drove past a few plantations of completely dead, drooping palm trees. It was seriously depressing.
At a random point the driver got out, clutching his bag, and ran across the road. It looked like he was just completely ditching us. However, a few minutes later, another driver got in and we continued on. It was just strange how there was no communication with us whatsoever.
The boy to the right of me and the boy in front of me starting eating peanuts at the same exact time. Usually I’m fine with the smell of peanuts, but this was a bit too much. I had to plug my nose because it was bothering me so much. Surrounded by nuts! My personal dream come true.
We got off the van at Krabi and switched to a van across the street. Again, we didn’t have to wait because the new van was already there waiting.
We did a bit of backtracking— we had to go south about an hour to the ferry pier. Once we were at the pier, we waited 10 minutes to get onto the ferry. We all just stayed in the van for the ferry ride, which was only about 15 minutes. Koh Lanta is super close to the mainland.
Once we were on the island, the driver took us right to our hostel, Best Stay. It was really nice that we literally got door-to-door service from our hostel way back in Penang, Malaysia to Koh Lanta, Thailand.
I wanted to go for a run, and Amanda joined me. We ran along the beach pretty much the whole time.
Once our 4 miles were done, we stripped into our sports bras and underwear and jumped into the ocean. It was SUPER humid and we were dripping sweat.
It was one of those, “I’ve always wanted to do this after my runs and I’m finally doing it” moments. There weren’t a lot of people on the beach, so I didn’t feel so bad about jumping in with just my bra and underwear.
We swam for a bit and then dried off on the beach. It felt so nice.
Just as we were getting up to leave, a huge wave came in and my clothes got completely soaked. I had to walk home in heavy, wet clothing covered in sand. Yay!
Once we were showered and clean again, we headed out for dinner. We were both super hungry. We had only been snacking all day on baos, some papaya, and crispy green peas.
We walked south toward Patty’s Secret Garden. The island seemed to be empty, which was very strange. There were no other pedestrians on the street and the restaurants were all empty. I guess maybe it’s low season?
Once we got to Patty’s, we looked at the menu and realized how pricey it was. We walked across the street to Sununtha instead, which was more reasonably priced.
We ordered a papaya salad and big beer to share. I got green curry for myself, and Amanda got masaman curry, I was so excited for Thai food again!
The restaurant was empty when we sat down, but by the time we had finished ordering, 3 more people walked in. Trendsetting once again!
The curry was good, but the papaya salad was awful. They put a few too many limes in and it was way too acidic. I couldn’t even finish it. I’d never had a papaya salad that bad before.
We walked farther south, with the end goal of getting to Freedom Bar, a place recommended by the hostel staff. The roads were really dark and empty, so we decided to get a tuk-tuk.
We were nervous that the bar would be just as empty as every other place we saw on the way.
We walked in, and at first it did look empty. But as we moved further in, we realized there was quite a few people there.
It was a really chill place with lots of cushions, reggae-themed decorations, and groups of people just laying around chilling.
We each ordered a beer and sat down.
I had been texting Adrian to see if he wanted to meet up— he had also just arrived in Koh Lanta that afternoon.
He told me he was coming to the bar with his 4 friends who he is traveling with.
They got to the bar about an hour later. I was pretty nervous to see Adrian. I hadn’t seen him in about 2 months, and although we talked every day in between, I wasn’t sure what it would be like seeing him again.
The first person to walk over was Falko, who I already knew from back in Laos. We hugged, and then the rest of the crew followed. I introduced myself to Tom and Keller, who are traveling for 2 weeks, and Isabeau, who is traveling for 3 weeks. Then I hugged Adrian and we all sat down. We got beers and started chatting.
I got to know Isabeau a bit, and she was really cool! She’s half French and half German and is working in Austria. It was really nice to see Falko again and catch up for a bit.
One of the guys, Keller, didn’t speak any English so that was a bit of a challenge.
Eventually, the dynamic turned into me and Adrian chatting together, Falko and Isabeau chatting together, and Tom and Keller chatting together. Amanda, understandably, got bored. We decided to go home around midnight since it wasn’t fair to Amanda to just sit there as everyone else talked in German around her.
We went out front to catch a tuk-tuk. There were a bunch of English guys who were also leaving. They had a driver already there waiting for them, so we asked the driver to call me and Amanda one.
Our tuk-tuk driver came a few minutes later. He asked for 200 baht ($6). I tried to negotiate it down to 100, but the lowest he would go was 140. We walked away, thinking he would call us back. But he just walked in to the bar. We headed toward our hostel, wondering if we should have just taken the tuk-tuk. Our hostel was about an hour walk away and it was completely dark out, so we decided to turn back around.
Tails between our legs, we approached the driver and told him we had changed our minds. We were home safe and sound 15 minutes later.
It was really nice to see Adrian again. Everything was the same with us. Even though we only saw each other briefly tonight, it made me really excited to hang out and travel with him again.