After two nights at Lanta Riveria on Koh Lanta, Colin and I had had enough of the broken promises, apathetic staff and broken showers. The resort was nice and we probably completely over reacted. We had just had a bad week so we were already grumpy but all but one staff member was either apathetic or downright surly. The pool was constantly filled with scum, oil and hairy caterpillars from the nearby trees … yes it’s a small thing but it all added up.
And of course the most difficult sight of all – the fit, tanned, carefree backpacker flaunting their careless child-free status in our faces as they slept in and lazed around the pool all day! How dare they 🙂
Do you think perhaps we’re missing daycare and babysitters?
We decided to stick it out for two nights but eventually we decided we just weren’t happy there. Between the rude staff, a crappy shower and either ninja mosquitos that could get through any screen or bed bugs (we never did work it out) that resulted in Noah getting 30 bites on him one night we headed down to reception to hire a motorbike to head off in search of some where else to move to the next day.
Of course this is where things went rapidly down hill. The staff wanted to keep Colin’s passport as security for the safe return of the bike because they didn’t have insurance on their bikes. Colin objected of course. Leaving passports is something we don’t like doing and they already had his passport number from check in. We weren’t really the likely candidates to do a runner with a two kids. All our gear was in our room and we’d paid for two more nights. We’d just witnessed the staff completely bully two young girls and scam them out of a lot of money that we knew they shouldn’t have paid so Colin was already feeling quite unhappy towards the staff so when they continued to insist he leave his passport and that no other guests ever complained it all went downhill. He was polite but loud. I tried suggesting that loud seems like angry and anger wasn’t really the way to get results in Thailand but…
The dialogue from here went:
Colin: I just don’t care about anyone else
Reception: I just don’t care either
After that things went down hill and Colin ended up arguing with them for 10 minutes trying to get our money back so we could leave while the staff complained to each other in Thai refusing to talk to him. Eventually we got all but one night’s money back, packed our bags and walked down the dusty side road with our things in search of a taxi.
Like I said, we over reacted completely. Lanta Riveria wasn’t bad, we’d just been having a bad week adjusting to Thailand and flipped out. Too late to change our minds now! Looking back things weren’t that bad. We got to the end of the road and all felt pretty childish.
Thankfully we met a wonderfully helpful tour guide outside who showed us brochures, offered us really good advice on nicer, kid friendly places and was happy to chat while the kids played with her son’s toys. She organised for her brother to drive us around the island looking at a couple of other places. So off we set with our faith restored in the fact that there are a lot of lovely Thai people.
Heading south we visited Lanta Palace, our original destination before we were side tracked by the smooth talking tour operator at the Krabi bus stop. Lanta Palace was nice, although a little old and the staff weren’t that friendly either. Still if your after a nice place in low season its in the right price range, a good location and nice facilities.
Our next destination was further south – Amantra Resort and Spa on Klong Nin Beach. Just opened last year, the rooms were lovely, the showers perfect and the staff amazingly friendly. Their low season rates were excellent and we would have said yes right there and then as we could pick up the WIFI in our room and if it wasn’t for the extremely shadeless pool and beach. Like I said, it’s been a bad week so we’re being difficult!
So off we set in search of a better place.
On the way there we passed Tsunami and earthquake warnings signs everywhere telling people to seek higher ground in the event of an tsunami or lay down if an earthquake occurs. Hopefully both never occur at the same time as there will be some very confused people! The highlight of the drive was stopping to visit a two-month-old elephant and fed bananas to his mother for 100TBH. Unfortunately the baby was a little too young to eat the banana’s himself but that didn’t stop the kids from trying to feed him.
Our next stop was Ba Kan Tieng, a picturesque bay near the southern end of Koh Lanta. Our friendly tour guide had promised us that this was the best beach for children on Koh Lanta because of its shallow waters, gradual slope and small waves. Our initial thoughts was she was spot on. Only one kilometre long, the bay was shady and tropical, with a small town nearby and cabin dotted mountains. A lot more developed than Long Beach but not too busy. So far so good!
Our first stop, Kan Tieng Bay View Bungalows was in the right price range (under 1500THB per night inc breakfast) but unfortunately didn’t have WIFI. Since Colin has a lot of work on this is a must for us at the moment.
By this point we were feeling pretty discouraged and ready to head back to Krabi when our driver took us next door to Phra Nang Lanta. Mental note to ourselves – if the place looks amazing ask the price before you look at the room!
We made that mistake. Colin fell in love with the huge bedroom, gigantic bath tube and Mediterranean architecture before knowing the price – way above our total daily budget.
The kids fell in love with the bath.
Being low season they eventually offered us a fantastic rate (funnily enough exactly our total daily budget) if we wanted to stay 5 days. We ummed … we ahhhed … we debated … we waivered … and eventually we let our hearts over rule our new found budgeting ethics and handed over our credit card.
So here we are a Phra Nang Lanta for 5 nights. The place is amazing and even the high season prices would be worth spending for a family seeking a nice holiday destination. As with most beaches on Koh Lanta, the beach at low tide is all rocks but at high tide you can swim safely in the crystal clear water. Today was the first time in our holidays that I could have easily thrown my sun-safe sensibilities to the wind and swum in the bay for three hours straight. Sunburn be damned! Of course Colin would have killed me if I’d left him with the kids for so long when he needs to work to cover the cost of our extravagant accommodation. But I did debate the option for ten minutes!
The staff here are lovely and we’re starting to really see that in Thailand the more effort you put into making friends with Thais, the more and more generous and friendly they become. Maybe we would have had a better result at the previous places we stayed if we had of learned that earlier!
Apart from the amazing room and beach, we have access to canoes to explore the bay. Of course it helps to put the plug in as we discovered 500m from shore this morning when the canoe with all four of us on-board started to sink!
The gardens here are full of butterflies, breakfast is amazing and the pool has a small diving board/step for the kids to jump from. Noah loves the pool so much he even managed to fall in this afternoon in his pjs while no one was watching. Colin found him a few minutes later naked behind a tree wringing out his wet clothing and trying to hide. We’ve had some words with him about going near the pool when no one is around and a quick mental check to ourselves to keep a better eye on the kids when they’re playing outside. I went to bed rather scared at how close a call it could have been if Noah wasn’t a better swimmer.
Our other favourite part of Ba Kan Tieng is the nearby restaurant, Drunken Sailor. Resembling an open-air light house, a mixture of wooden tables, hammocks, bean bags and lazy cats great you as you enter. The best part isn’t the wonderful atmosphere though. It’s the food. We’re eating our way through the menu and everything so far has been the best we’ve ever tasted of that dish anywhere in the world. The first time we ordered the mussaman curry I considered stealing the kid’s straws and drinking the sauce, but instead opted for more rice to enjoy more of the sauce with. The Pad Thai is divine, as is the spaghetti carbonara. They even made an amazing array of pancakes – including chocolate chip and strawberry. The prices are quite reasonable by Koh Lanta standards and the portions generous.
Speaking of that its dinner time and I’m off to see if Drunken Sailor do take away as the kids have already gone to bed.