Leaving Koh Phayam ended up being a bigger feat than I anticipated. Firstly, since I ended up staying on Phayam longer than I expected, I hadn't brought enough cash with me. Of course my bungalow doesn't take card. And of course there aren't any ATMs on the island. One day towards the end of my stay I walked into "town". The cluster of buildings near the pier. It's about 5 miles each way, and it was 90+ degrees out (with god know how much humidity). After I got there I found a few different places that would change my card and give me cash (after extracting a hefty 5% commission). I went to three different ones and my card didn't work at any of them. Uh oh.
I walked back to my bungalow considering my options. I know my card works in ATMs so maybe I guess the next day (my last full day there) I'll have to take the ferry back, go to an ATM, and catch the last ferry back to Phayam. What a bummer to spend my last full day on an expensive and boring ATM run.
Then; right as I get back to my bungalow I remember! I brought another debit card with me! It's linked to my business account. I run back in my room, tear through the bag to find the card and check my watch. It's 4:40. The cash getting place closes at 5:00 and it's 5 miles away. I run down to reception and ask if I can rent a motorbike. Thank god Thailand is so relaxed; they say sure and hand over the keys. No copying my passport, no paperwork, nothing.
I haul ass on the motorbike through the jungle (probably unsafe in retrospect but I made it out alive). I make it with 5 minutes to spare. They run my card and it works, miraculously. I spend the last day making sure I'm relaxing extra hard.
Secondly, I planned on going to Ko Lanta next but I did a terrible job planning it. I read online that there was a bus from Ranong to Krabi, that's all I needed. After I arrived back on the mainland I hopped on a Songtheaw (literally translates to "two rows", it's a pickup truck with bench seats installed on either side) to the bus station. When I get there they inform me there is no direct bus to Krabi, I'll have to get on the bus towards Phuket and get off at Cock Cluoy (the best name for a town I've ever heard) and buy another ticket there. No problem I say.
I should mention that for no apparent reason on the ferry ride back to the mainland my kindle screen broke (editors note: Amazon agreed to send me another one in Thailand, I'll be picking it up in Chiang Mai SO DON'T WORRY) so it was a pretty boring bus ride.
When we stopped at Cock Cluoy I looked around and realized the bus "station" was nothing more than a row of benches and some closed looking buildings so I made a spur of the moment decision, if just take the bus the rest of the way to Phuket, then take the ferry from there to Ko Lanta.
Once I arrived in Phuket I realized this wasn't going to happen, firstly phuket was gross and if have to stay there overnight to get the ferry. Secondly the ferry trip from there is an all day ordeal, it would take me another full day I get to Ko Lanta. Thirdly it was almost 1000 baht (I realize objectively this is not that much money, especially considering it's an all day ferry ride but while in Thailand live as the Thais do). Instead I catch the very last minibus (aka big van) to Krabi.
The ride is long and uncomfortable but I finally make it around 9:30pm. I was expecting to be on the island of Ko Lanta around 4pm so things didn't exactly work out. I wander around for a bit and find a crappy little guesthouse to stay at for the night, the owner organizes a bus to the pier the next morning so I can get the ferry to Ko Lanta.
I do and it goes without a hitch. I've failed to book a place before I get there. I had a place in mind, but the name of it was stored on my kindle, and of course I had forgotten it. So I randomly pick a place about halfway down the island and have a taxi driver take me there.
Ko Lanta is much larger and much more developed than Koh Phayam. This is a good thing and a bad thing. It means there's more good food, convenience stores, actual ROADS but it means that there are seeds everywhere you turn and places to stay tend to be a lot more expensive. I stayed at that place for 2 nights then eventually moved to the place I originally planned on staying (it was called Blue Sky Resort) which was 1000x better. Half the price, bigger nicer bungalow and right on the beach.
My time on Ko Lanta was spent much like my time on Koh Phayam, lots of relaxing, lounging in the sun, coding, reading and eating (lots of delicious seafood as you might imagine, and tons of Swedish foods…the Swedes love Lanta for some reason). I also spent several days exploring the whole island on motorbike.
The island is about 10 by 30km, so it's definitely not feasible the explore it on all foot. The further south you go the less developed it is and the more beautiful. I had a huge grin on my face, riding up windy, cliffy-beachy paths with the road all to myself. At the southern tip there's a beautiful national park where I hiked through the rainforest. It took me about a full 2 days to see the whole island via motorbike.
My second to last day I took a day trip to Ko Phi Phi, a neighboring island. Phi Phi (pronounced Pee Pee….hah) is the most beautiful place you can imagine, but much too overdeveloped. While I was there I met a pair of lovely Canadian couples while hiking up to the highest point on the island. I ended up spending most of the day with them and they graciously bought dinner for me when we got back to Lanta (and I met up with them the next night for dinner too).
I spent a week on Lanta, overall it was amazing. A lot different from Phayam but much more beautiful and I can't say it was terrible to have power and internet and good food and many delicious restaurants.
I took a minibus to the Krabi airport that involved not one but two car-ferry rides. From there I was off to Chiang Mai in the far north of Thailand.