Saturday 8 December 2018

Koh Lanta - Trip Report

I decided to spend Xmas 2017 with my girlfriend in Koh Lanta; one of the few beautiful Thai islands that has yet to be overrun by loud, elephant-pants-wearing trashpackers drinking out of buckets or massive groups of manner-less Chinese tourists.

Getting there from Sri Lanka (trip report) involved being transported in every form of vehicle, but in Koh Lanta I had one of my own; a wee Honda Click scooter for zipping around the island.

This is where I made a rare travel blunder, embarrassingly in the country that I know best.

It’s fairly common knowledge that when you rent a scooter in Thailand you should never leave your passport as a deposit, otherwise you’re just asking to be scammed. There’s countless tales of people having their passports held hostage until they pay for some dents or scratches that were likely there years before they even touched the scooter. You should instead give them a cash deposit of no more than 3,000 baht with a photocopy of your passport. If they won’t accept that then use another company.

How I messed up was when I was checking into the hotel I saw that they rented scooters at a reasonable rate of 250 Baht / day and they had them parked right outside, so I asked for one. The next day I realised that they hadn’t given me my passport back after check in, so I went down to ask for it only to be told that they had to keep my passport as a deposit for the scooter, and that it wasn’t them that rented it to me, they are an agent for the rental company.

“I guess I better not crash it then.” I shrugged.

As much of a nightmare as my crazy girlfriend was in Sri Lanka, she was even worse in Koh Lanta. Who ever thought it was a great idea to go travelling for 3 weeks with a crazy Kiwi girl you’ve only been dating for 6 weeks? This guy!

I don’t drink alcohol so previously when we were out together she didn’t drink either, but apparently to her an island vacation and getting completely wasted go hand in hand. From the first night she started drinking and didn’t stop for the whole week. She disappeared without me and a few hours later I started receiving messages about how much of a bad person I am.

The next morning I went to visit Koh Lanta national park on my own while she went to a bar. At least the 30-minute scooter ride there was easier without 60Kg of dead weight on the back.

The national park is lovely with an old lighthouse, well maintained beaches and a short hiking trail though some forest. The monkeys are little dickheads though, one leapt at me trying to snatch a coconut straight out of my hands and another stole my can of Fanta while I was taking a photo.

When I got back to the hotel the drunk messages continued.

I waited for her to come back to the room so that I could talk to her, but she never came. I drove off on my own, feeling depressed, to find some nice food to cheer myself up. Of course the weather decided to match my miserable mood and it started raining. There’s very few paved roads in Koh Lanta so when it rains everything turns to mud.

“Better drive carefully.” I thought.

And I was doing just that, but when some stray dog ran out in front of my scooter my instinct was to swerve to avoid it. The tyres slipped and I crashed the scooter straight into a tree. Fortunately I flew off to the side into some shrubs and was just scratched and bruised, but the front panel and headlight cover of the bike were smashed up..

Two girls, an American and a German, who were staying at the hostel beside where I crashed helped me and my scooter up. They could see was that I was all shaken up so they invited me to sit with them at the outside bar.

I showed them all the WhatsApp messages from my girlfriend and they advised me to dump her immediately.

“Ok, I’ll move to another hotel tomorrow.” I told them.

“NO! She should be the one to leave! Pack her bag and leave it with reception!” The American insisted.

I was getting to like these girls, when two butch German women, who these girls had met the previous night, joined us at the table. They spent an hour talking about American and German politics while knocking back beers. I thought about leaving because I felt completely left out of the conversation, and even more so as it switched to full-on feminism topics, with the American, who was now drunk, explaining to the Germans what “Mansplaining” was.

As I listened, I remembered that she had patronised me earlier.

”There are OTHER Thai foods, you DO know that, right?” She condescendingly asked me after I told her how much I loved to eat Phad Thai.

Yes, after spending 6 years of my life living in Thailand I do know that Thai cuisine goes deeper than just Phad Thai.

I’d had just about enough of drunk girls for one trip and so it was time for me to leave.

As I was getting onto my scooter a pretty young English girl who’d been drinking at another table in the bar all night came up to me and asked me what happened with my scooter, then started hugging me and kissing me.

Ok, I guess drunk girls aren’t that bad after all.

The next day, Xmas Eve, I went to hand my scooter back. I’d looked up the price of the parts that needed replaced and found the website of an official Honda parts dealer in Bangkok. 2,000 baht worth of parts then, although it was an old scooter with high mileage so they would probably just replace it with used parts at some local garage and charge me for the price of brand new parts. As for the labour cost of fixing it, that’s practically nothing in Thailand.

The woman from the rental company came, looked at the bike and scribbled out this invoice in Thai:

A laundry list of items written in Thai with prices that she pulled out of her big arse.

Basically she was saying “I've got you by the balls, so pay me 7,900 baht if you want your passport back.”

My friend in Bangkok had bought an old Honda Click of around the same age, mileage and condition for 11,000 baht, for the whole bike! And I was being asked for 7,900 for fixing the front end plastics.

So I got scammed and there was nothing I could do but visit the ATM.

The next day, Xmas day, my girlfriend arrived back to the room drunk at 8am singing Xmas songs before disappearing again while I was in the shower. So I paid another visit to the ATM, this time to withdraw enough money to refund her for her share of our upcoming hotel nights. I left it for her with a note telling her that she’s on her own now, checked out of the hotel and went to enjoy a lovely Phad Thai Xmas dinner on my own.

Then jumped on a ferry to Ao Nang, Krabi. The journey felt like freedom. Bye bye Koh Lanta. Bye bye crazy ex-girlfriend.

A few hours later, relaxing my hotel, my phone started going crazy with notifications.

“Ok, she finally got the bad news.”

So I broke up with a girl, leaving her alone on an island in a foreign country, on Xmas day. Just call me the Grinch!


  1. Great story, haven't read this blog for years! Happy you're still writing and living the dream man

  2. Dale you are completely wrong about the cost of fixing the bike. If the LED headlights are smashed, as well as the rest of the front end, Id say about 4-5,000b was the least to expect to pay. Yeah you got scammed, but not nearly as much as you thought. Plus that bike isnt an old banger. 3 years old max, so value approx 25-30,000b