The past 24 hours have been insane. They’ve also proven that I should have faith in the human race again.
To be clear, I don’t plan out any of my doings (obviously). I go wherever the wind blows as do whatever my heart pleases, but I never expected the following events to occur (all within the span of one day).
In short, today I:
- Toppled (not crashed) over on a motorbike and sustained minor bruises
- Drove the entire 30 km long/6 km wide island (Koh Lanta Yai) unintentionally on a motorbike
- Lunched with a fellow expat teacher who I had whizzed past earlier (and felt guilty since I didn’t offer a ride thanks to my prior toppling incident)
- Managed to arrive at Mu Koh Lanta National Park in one piece
- Took on an extreme caving trek that intensified the pain in my sprained wrist and bruised knees
- Wound up driving in the wrong direction (story of my life), thus putting me on the opposite side of the island for my desired destination
- Clearly showed signs of weakness on my motorbike, as one gentleman came up to me to pray for me and a local drove me back home (as his friend followed so he could drive him back afterward)
I’m rather sad to be so sore and injured, especially since I haven’t even started teaching yet. However, Koh Lanta is absolutely phenomenal. It’s everything I expected it to be, and more – my personal slice of heaven, away from all the nonsensical drunks and complete with towering, rolling green hills (much nicer than Chiang Mai) and nine beautiful white-sand beaches.
The 2015 Southeast Asian Haze is the reason for my dreadfully gloomy photos, but I’m sure it won’t be the last time I visit Koh Lanta. Even in the haze, I see the evident beauty of this island. Everything reminds me of Maui and Wellington rolled into one, and that makes me OH SO HAPPY.
I wish I had a drone that could capture all my moments and combine them into a timelapse for this blog. I simply wasn’t able to take as many photos and videos as I desired since: A) I was in pain the whole day, and; B) it’s such a hassle to keep taking out and putting away my phone/GoPro while on the go.
Mu Koh Lanta National Park could have passed for Hawaii and the Cliffs of Moher combined. You can’t tell because of the haze, but the views were stunning. Still doesn’t top my all-time-favorite view in the world (Point Dorset, Wellington), but it was worth 200 baht to enjoy.
I’ve put some side-by-side photos to compare what it looks like with ideal weather.
Sidenote: The Great Ocean Road, Mount Aso, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Abel Tasman National Park, Milford Sound, and now this – I have really bad luck with getting perfect weather for large-scale landmark places.
The Mai Kaew Cave trekking tour ($8USD) was also absolutely amazing. There was a bit of hike (more like steep rock climbing, scaling waterfalls, and rope pulling) to get to the cave, and then we each had to lower ourselves into the smallest opening (suitable only for a Hobbit). I’m pretty sure this trek blew my J-tree scrambling experience out of the top spot for “Instances I Thought I Could Die.” The steep ladders we climbed down were made of flimsy branches (some broke upon being stepped on), and there was definitely one spot where we had to walk on the skinniest lone branch in order to get to the other side – and all we could see was the black abyss below. Jumping into a clear pool of water toward the end of the cave was so refreshing, although the rusty nails sticking out from both sides of the rope we had to use to lower ourselves were rather unnerving.
The best part of my day was getting lost an hour before dark. Why? Because it gave me faith in humanity again.
Already in pain from my morning toppling incident, I was faced with starting my ride downhill as time ticked away. My body and mind were not having it. An Aussie (bless his heart) could sense my panic, and ran up to me, asking, “Are you okay? I’m a Christian pastor, may I pray for you?” He put his hand on my shoulder and wished me all the safety and courage to get moving again (and even offered to follow me to ensure I made the 30-40 min. ride back okay).
I was still frozen dead in my tracks, my face livid, heart pounding, and the engine revving for a solid 15 min. without me budging. The local Thai gentleman who owned a restaurant (I believe it was Sunset Hill Restaurant/Viewpoint with a killer view of some other islands) had been watching me the entire time and insisted on driving me. back. All this, and my hostel was literally on the opposite end of the island (think North Pole vs. South Pole). He generously even drove me across the Old Town pier and through Lanta Old Town. Part of me wondered if I would have gotten the same treatment if I was a guy (rather than a girl), but I think Asian cultures in general are very helpful and kindhearted.
I’m lucky to still have my limbs, but more importantly, I’m lucky enough to have met such helpful people today who left such beautiful impressions on my heart. Life is really beautiful.