Thursday, 10 May 2018

Children of the Forest on Koh Lanta


One of the many reasons that I love Koh Lanta is that the island can demonstrate such a wonderful heart and sense of community. If you live on Lanta for any length of time you know that there are 2 charities that the community strongly and passionately support; Lanta Animal Welfare and Children of the Forest.

Children of the Forest is a charity that looks after Mon/Karen children from the Thai/Burmese border who have been abandoned, abused or orphaned. They provide health care, education and love to these kids. Every year they bring around 50 children to Koh Lanta, so the kids can experience their first ever holiday, on the beach.
It is a long journey
The journey is grueling and take 2 days and is 1,100km long. The kids take turns to sleep and watch their first journey into the south of Thailand. Once they arrive they are welcomed by Andaman Sunflower, who give them the whole resort for 10 days.
Andaman Sunflower their home for 10 days
Throughout their stay on Koh Lanta they want for nothing. Many, many businesses not only give their time and their location for free they also:

1. Time for Lime - Cookery classes & time on the beach with beach toys
2. Laguna Beach Club - Their wonderful pool for the kids to play in
3, Kandi Lounge - A BBQ and use of their table football and pool table
4. Global Local - Free dinner
5. Lanta Animal Welfare - Time with the animals and education on taking care of animals
6. Scubafish - Trip to Koh Haa for snorkelling
7. Svenska Skolan Thailand - Games with their Swedish students
8. Irie Bar - Disco
9. Sai Thai Cookery School & Sandy - Lunch at Andaman Sunflower
10. Greek Taverna - Lunch
11. 2 Scoops - Free gelato
12. Lanta Waterpark - Free play time in their park

But it did not just stop with these businesses, many other businesses contributed to these events, hotels provided unwanted beach toys and tourists who come every year, helped fund the holiday.

These children have had a difficult start to life and it is a real testament to the community of Koh Lanta as to how welcomed these children are. If you wish to discover more about this wonderful charity or donate please click here; Children of the Forest.



Wednesday, 25 April 2018

What is Green Season Really Like on Koh Lanta

 
Our reception in Green Season
Many people look at me in shock when I tell them I live on Koh Lanta the whole year, 'what about the Monsoon?' they say with absolute horror.

Monsoon is one of those words that conjurers up rain, more rain and lots of storms, but what is it really like?

Monsoon (/mɒnˈsn/) is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation,[1] but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea.[2][3] Usually, the term monsoon is used to refer to the rainy phase of a seasonally changing pattern, although technically there is also a dry phase. The term is sometimes incorrectly used for locally heavy but short-term rains,[4] although these rains meet the dictionary definition of monsoon.[5] 

Source: Wikipedia

For me, I use the phrase 'Green Season' because that is what happens. Unlike the High Season where the hot sun scorches the earth and my beautiful tropical gardens wither. Green season has a mix of rain and sun that makes things grow, and I mean really grow. The first rain sends all my plants into a fever of blossoming, the grass grows rapidly and the gardens look beautiful again.
 
Everything grows in Green Season
Green Season usually runs from May to October on Koh Lanta and is signaled by the winds coming from the West, not the East. With this change in wind direction we get more unpredictable weather. But usually we see storms at the beginning and end, with good weather in the middle.

So how does that affect tourists, well firstly nothing is guaranteed, you are not guaranteed sun, rain, wind or storms, you could get one or all of these.

Tours happen throughout the Green Season (except some to the National Marine Parks that are closed to recuperate) but they may be cancelled at short notice if the weather changes. Scuba Diving is available and can even be better than High Season.
As a Diving Instructor, I saw my first Whaleshark in Green Season
Accommodation is super cheap (more than 50% discounts on high season). Yes some places shut (10 years ago almost everything did) but most stay open, but may have 1 or 2 days off a week. There is always a party, just ask a local!

Locals are, in general, more friendly. Seeing a few tourists, rather that trying to beat back a crowd of tourists (and they also need the money) means people have a lot more time for you.

The beaches will have more rubbish on them, but this is not, in the main, the locals fault. As the winds and sea directions change, it pushes rubbish onto the beaches. Koh Lanta should do more, but we have a wonderful volunteer group, Trash Hero, who organise regular beach cleans, but don't forget to do your bit too. 
Help us keep the beaches clean!
And rain, yes let's discuss the rain. If you come from England, like me, it can be torrential, and I don't mean English torrential! It is like someone poured a bucket over your head! But it is much warmer than rain you are used to and quite spectacular! The temperature rarely goes below 25 degrees on Koh Lanta, so often it is welcomed (see our guests reaction to it in the video below).

Finally, be flexible, if it rains and you are in a bar, it is 'Beer O'Clock.' If your tour is cancelled until tomorrow, get a book sit on your balcony and enjoy the spectacle! If the sun comes out, go to the beach! Finally if you really want to know how what Green Season is like, watch this film done at my resort a few years ago, by a 13 year old boy.



Sunday, 15 April 2018

Songkran on Koh Lanta

Just a short video showing how we spent most of our Songkran (Thai New Year), 13th April 2018.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Lanta Noi Waterpark


Well it took 5 months, but having 2 families with us, with 3 young kids each, gave us the excuse we needed and we took them all to Lanta Noi Waterpark.

Absolutely fantastic, 200 baht for an adult, 100 baht for a child.

Highly recommended (for young and old)

Scuba Diving at Koh Bida


I don't often get the chance to go diving, so it was lovely to be invited along with Andaman Dive Adventures on Friday.

Normally if I have a day to dive, I usually choose Koh Haa with the brilliant blue and clear waters and the caverns and caves. However this time Andaman Dive Adventures were going to the new wreck (scuttled for diving) at Koh Phi Phi and the Bida islands, where there is always plenty to see.

Half way to the first dive, the boat suddenly comes to an abrupt halt, which usually means there is an issue with the boat or there is something interesting in the waters. Luckily for us, it was the later, and we had 10 minutes watching a 4 metre Whaleshark from the surface.

This was my first time using a Go Pro and my first time editing, so excuse the obvious mistakes but you can see that whilst the water is much greener at the Bida Islands (just off of Koh Phi Phi) the plethora of food means there is loads of aquatic life. There were many large schools of fish, as well as a tiny Pipefish, Blue Spotted Rays, Puffer Fish and a lovely baby Leopard Shark.

Whilst is was my first dive for over a year, it was Rebecca's first dive ever! And as you can see she loved it.

Many thanks to all the crew at Andaman Dive Adventures that made it such a great day, probably should not leave it so long next time!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Countdown to Songkran


Only 9 more days until Songkran!

Possibly the most fun holiday of the year (in any country), Songkran is Thai New Year and is traditionally celebrated by blessing your loved ones with water. With time this has developed into a full blown waterfight on the streets!

Lanta only celebrates 1 day, which for most is more than enough (places like Chiang Mai celebrate for many days) and gives everyone the chance to celebrate this important and fun Thai holiday.

Most of the bars along the main road running from North to South in Koh Lanta, will order in more water (and some will add ice) and the party really starts around midday and last until the sunsets. Expect to get wet! Many cars will drive all the way up and down the island with people on the back with a large supply of water. If you cannot get on the back of a car, park yourself at a bar where there is a large supply of water.

 Make sure all your electronics are left at home or in a dry bag and make sure you have the best water gun on the street. Don't forget the sunscreen!

Sunday, 25 March 2018

And they are sticking around! Manta Rays, Whalesharks and More! (Video)

 Matt & Manta Ray
Being an ex dive instructor (and dive centre owner on the island), I have a lot of friends on the island who are dive centre owners, instructors and Divemasters, who are making me so jealous at the moment as they are filling my facebook with photos and videos of amazing dives at all 3 of our major diving areas:

1. Manta Rays at Hin Daeng/Muang (Red Rock/Purple Rock)
2. Whalesharks at Koh Haa and Palong Wall
3. Eagle Rays at Koh Haa

Manta Ray
So it appear it doesn't matter where you go diving from Koh Lanta, or how experienced you are, at the moment, you are almost guaranteed to see something special.

Leopard Sharks are regularly seen
Big Thanks to Andaman Dive Adventures for these great photos and the wonderful selfie, by instructor Matt Pearson, with a Manta.