Phra Ae Beach, Koh Lanta
Jan 15, 2008
|We had a great time in Ko Lanta - a pristine beach, a wonderful bungalow at the Red Snapper, lots of sun, lots of books, and spotty internet access...
All added up to a very relaxed time! We toured around the island on a moped, saw an evening of Thai boxing, and had a great time hanging out and partying with our new Canadian friends: Nils and Glen from Vancouver, and Ann from Montreal. We were introduced to bucket drinks, and bioluminescence (sp?) in the ocean at night (head in for a midnight swim, swing your arms and legs, and watch the microscopic plankton light up with a ghostly white light - very cool!).
We stayed at the Red Snapper, a great restaurant with spotlessly clean attached bungalows. The only hardship was rust coloured water coming out of the shower - safe water, but notheless red on some occasions. No worries, though - we just headed in to the ocean for another swim!
Centrifugal Force - or, Driving to Ko Lanta I (Nick writing)
Or centripedal force. I can't really remember from high-school physics, and am too lazy right now to look it up, sitting in this internet cafe sweating. Maybe someone with more time on their hands could look it up for me. Anyway, I'm thinking of the force that keeps water in the bucket when you twirl it around your head. The force that keeps you plastered to the side of the Whirl-A-Tron at a carnival (the forces that keeps Whirl-A-Trons from spinning apart in a haze of rusted bearings and metal are "hope", "fear of a lawsuit", and "a few disintegrating screws" - one more reason that I don't go on rides at the Exhibition.)
I've read that centrifugal force is actually made up - an easy convenience for us to think about. The forces involved are just simple acceleration; you keep accelerating out of the Whirl-A-Tron, but it keeps spinning, so you a continuously smeared against the side.
No matter. I'm sure 9th grade physics teachers are wringing their hands against their poly-blend sweater vests right now, reading this lazy attempt at an explanation. But at its heart, give something speed, and it wants to keep moving in that direction, unless something stops it: the water, which wants to shoot out of the bucket to the sky, but is stopped by the bucket; or your body, which wants to go arcing over the fairgrounds to land next to the Cotton Candy machine, but is stopped (for now at least) by the edge of the Whirl-A-Tron.
So what's with this lame physics lesson in the middle of a travel log? Well, I just wanted to highlight the types of thoughts that were coursing through my mind on the 3 hour minivan ride from Krabi, Thailand (where we landed from Bangkok) to Ko Lanta, where our beach bungalow awaited.
We were picked up by the van an hour late - we never did puzzle out whether the 11 o'clock van was full, empty (and not running), or lost off the side of a cliff somewhere. The 12:00 van however was cramped, and there was clearly no room for our two backpacks inside. No worries - the driver confidently threw our two packs on top of the van as we climbed inside. Kyla leaned over to me: "Did he secure our bags on top?"
I wasn't sure what to say. As I was getting in, I noticed the driver do something with our bags, but what, I wasn't sure. He may have looped 10 metres of steel cable around them; he may have used a frayed bungie cord to lash them down; or he may simply have patted them reassuringly, and said a silent prayer to Buddha to keep them on top of the van - I didn't see what he did.
But quickly I came to hope it was the steel cable method, because (and this is where my thoughts of centrifugal force came in), the van started accelerating, braking, swerving and turing in such a way that I kept expecting to see our bags go arching off the top of the van, landing with a thud in the other lane as we spun around another corner. Or else, having them pop straight up in the air, landing behind us, crushing a poor tuk-tuk driver, as we hit another huge pot-hole in the road at 80 km/h. The entire 3 hour drive was spent in fear for our bags - quantifying each turn, bump, and stop sign as to whether that one was enough to send our bags flying.
At one point Kyla asked about the loud clacking noise. "Is that one of our backpack straps hitting the side of the van? Do you think it might break the clasp?" I told her that I was actually reassured by the strap snapping against the side. "If we can hear it, we know the bag is still on top."
We arrived at our bungalow, the Red Snapper, with a few more adventures (no one on the van knew where it was, even though the driver had said "OK" when we told him where we were going when we boarded). When we got out, we were reunited with our bags, which were both still there.
As he swung them down for us, though, I couldn't help but notice there had been no cable, no bungie cord, no strap, nothing. Gulp.
Driving to Lanta II
On a related note, something I noticed while on the 3 hour van ride. The Thai government seems to have a cute notion that painting lines in the middle of the road might actually convince their drivers that the upcoming blind corner is not a good place to pass cars by using the oncoming lane. Nevertheless, Thai drivers steadfastly ignore any line on the road, whether it be single, double, or dotted. They pass all the time. Anyway. On the shoulder. Into the oncoming lane. Possibly on the sidewalk, but I didn't actually see that one.
However, and this is a good thing, the oncoming traffic and the drivers being passed all expect it. And barely even shrug when a truck carrying 10 wide-eyed farangs (foreign tourists) comes screaming around a corner right at them. A gentle finger on the wheel to turn a little bit out of the way, without even a blink.
There were a few times in Ko Lanta where we saw a motorscooter on both shoulders, a car in the each opposite lane, and two cars going different directions passing everyone through the middle. Six vehicles in a space that, in Canada, whould hold two. And not a single finger being thrust out in anger.
Final travel note: when going from Krabi to Ko Lanta, take the ferry.