I woke up at 7:30 at Adrian & co’s Airbnb in Old Town Koh Lanta. I had gotten locked out of my hostel the night before and crashed on their living room mattress for the night.
Adrian drove me back to my hostel, which I felt really bad about. But the public transportation in Koh Lanta is pretty much nonexistent, so it was really my only option.
I had breakfast— pad see ew with pineapple— and then left with Amanda around 9:30 to start our 20 km bike ride to the National Park.
We drove about 5 miles on the main road, which involved some rolling hills but nothing too crazy.
After we rode through a construction area, that’s when we hit some real hills. I had to stop to walk the bike up at some points.
We started going more inland and the hills got worse. At this point, we had to stop to walk up every single one of them because they were so steep.
We reached a big descent and decided to check our map to make sure we were on the right track. That’s when we realized we had been going on the wrong road for a few miles. We would have to turn back around and go back to the main road. I was devastated— I couldn’t imagine tackling those hills again. We decided to get smoothies somewhere and reevaluate how we wanted to proceed once we had some energy back in our system.
Once we were back on the main road, we realized where we had missed the turn— we should have turned right toward the beach, but we instead went straight.
We were sweating so much at this point. It was a hot, sunny day and we barely had any cover.
I spotted a restaurant with fruit displayed outside, so we pulled in and sat down. There was just one shirtless guy hanging around, so we asked if the restaurant was open. He called over his wife, who took our orders. We both got coconut and banana smoothies. They took a while— first she had to hack open the coconut and then chop down a big block of ice before she could blend. However, it was definitely worth the wait. It turned out to be one of the best smoothies of my life… probably in the top 5.
Feeling a bit more refreshed, we got back on our bikes. We were immediately hit with more massive rolling hills. We were back to the cycle of attempting to tackle the hills before soon getting off and walking as our legs just couldn’t defeat the steepness.
The hills just kept coming. Some of them were completely ridiculous; so steep, even the motorcyclists were struggling to get up.
After a few miles of this, we just had to laugh. We looked completely ridiculous— drenched in sweat, stopping every few meters to trudge up the hills with our bikes, groaning from the pain and heat. I felt so dumb as the people on motorbikes kept passing us. One guy even yelled to us, “You should have gotten a motorbike!” as he passed us.
We had grossly underestimated the intensity of the hike. The day before, when we had asked the receptionist if the ride was doable, she told us, “Yes, people do it all the time. It’s not completely flat, but it’s fine.”
Who the hell does this??! This ride was really testing me. I consider myself relatively fit since I run 3-4 times a week, but I felt extremely unfit on the bike. I couldn’t imagine this would be easy for anyone.
When we thought we had to be close to the park, we saw a sign that said we still had 3 kilometers to go. Ugh!
We kept riding a bit before we saw another massive, seemingly endless hill ahead of us. We were exhausted at this point. We didn’t even want to go to the park anymore because there were beaches all around us that we figured were probably just as nice as any park. Plus, by the time we’d get to the park it’d be 1 pm, we’d explore the park for a few hours, and we’d be starving for lunch. And food is always top priority.
Given all that, we decided to turn around and just go to a beach nearby called Bamboo Beach. We swam around, rode the decently big waves for a bit, and then sat and relaxed.
We saw some dark clouds rolling in so we got back on our bikes. We did not want to get stuck in a storm.
I turned on Strava to track our ride back home.
I was bracing myself. It was so hard getting there that I knew it would be a painful few hours back.
It turned out to be much better, though. I was tired and sweating a lot, but the hills weren’t as bad and my biking technique had improved from just the few hours of practice that morning. I wasn’t struggling up the hills as much; I felt more comfortable on the bike.
We saw parents riding bikes with their kids. The dad was paired up with the daughter, the mom was paired up with the son. The kids had their own pedals, but were pedaling so slowly that they were not helping their parents at all. The parents looked like they were dying, and I could feel their pain. I couldn’t complain anymore— at least I only had myself to carry.
Back on the big road, we stopped at M Thai Food for lunch. We got fried morning glory (no oyster sauce), papaya salad (vegetarian, no peanuts), and ginger tofu. We were so hungry and everything was so satisfying. And they got our order 100% right, even with all the modifications, which is a rarity.
The total for the ride back was 11.4 miles. We looked on the map and realized our little detour had added about 4 miles to our route. Which meant the total was about 27 miles (11.4 + 11.4 + 4 miles). Crazy!
Although the ride was painful to the point of comedy, we did see a lot of wildlife, which was cool:
- many monkeys (probably macaques)
- 2 snakes: one was bright green, the other one was white with rainbow tips
- Monitor lizards
- An eagle
We showered, booked our ferry to Koh Phi Phi for the next day, and set off to find our favorite popsicles (Ete). With no 7 Elevens nearby, we checked the various minimarts around our hostel. None of them had the right brand, however, so we decided to see if the restaurant attached to our hostel had any yummy desserts.
We ordered bua loi, which is a Thai dessert made with coconut milk, glutinous rice flour (mochi), and sugar. It’s essentially a sweet soup with mochi balls. Instead of coconut milk, ours came with a sweet ginger soup. Inside the mochi balls was black sesame paste. It was really good! I’m glad we decided to try it.
I blogged for the next few hours. Around 6:30, we left for dinner. We were too tired to go anywhere far, so we went across the street to N&N Restaurant. We both got green curry with rice. I wonder if I will ever get sick of curry? Probably not.
Back at the hostel, I set up my next podcast episode and watched some Terrace House on Netflix.
Adrian came over on his motorbike around 9:30 to say hi/bye since I wouldn’t be seeing him for the next few days while Amanda & I go to Koh Phi Phi. We chatted outside for half an hour and then I went to bed. I was so excited to sleep after that grueling day.