Created on Monday, 27 June 2011 02:36
Written by Steve Phua
To most scuba diving enthusiasts, the first place that usually comes to mind when talking about diving in Thailand would be Phuket. However, thanks or no thanks to the popularity of Phuket, I decided to head to its less known neighbour, Koh Lanta, and discovered a haven just as mesmerising and tranquil. In fact, if anyone were to look for a place to relax, away from work and stress, Koh Lanta would be top in my recommended list!
Geographically, Koh Lanta is situated in the southern part of Thailand, 70 kilometers south of Krabi Town. The city area lags behind in urban development, a blessing for its natural scenic can be kept at its best and surrounding marine lives are not less so affected by human pollution. And despite a run-down appearance, the people are friendly and local Koh Lanta food deserves a thumbs up!
From Krabi airport, it takes about three to four hours of combined land and boat ride to the resort at Koh Lanta. But as much as the five days four nights trip comprise of long travelling hours, the scenic surrounding and beautiful sea creatures makes it all worthwhile and helped me forget all those butt-aching hours.
After much research, I decided on the service of dive operator, Dive & Relax. As its name goes, it was quite a relaxing dive trip – compared to going with the many previous trips I had with Singapore dive operators, when most of the time divers are rushed to keep on schedule.
With Dive & Relax, they do their best to ensure that we have maximum diving time by helping us complete our chores like to change out our empty tanks. Thanks to the great service, we had ample time to rest and interact among ourselves, sharing what we saw underwater once we return from the dive.
For this trip, I did a total of six dives, with an average of two dives each day, at a total of six different sites, namely Koh Haa, Koh Haa Yai, Koh Bida Hai, Koh Bida Nok, Hin Muang, and Hin Daeng.
I was amazed and captivated by the beautiful corals, huge natural rock formations, and countless specials of fishes unseen in the tropical waters of Malaysia and Singapore where I normally dive at.
The word ‘camouflage’ is so commonly used by people on land, so much so that it travelled down to the underwater world. As ugly as it looks, the stone fish is one of the most poisonous species underwater. Overlooking it as a common rock instead of a dangerous bomb quietly residing on the seabed may just be your downfall – or mine as I nearly committed this grave mistake during my dive!
Personally, I find the Lion Fish similar to a fighting fish. When agitated, the majestic fish will flare up its tentacles, looking like a lion, and hence its namesake. This species of fishes has been increasing in population lately, in part due to the human activity of fishing for groupers for its meat – the hunted are actually predators of lion fish.
And as I was happily looking at macro marine lives along the coral reefs, all of a sudden, I heard the "clink, clink" sound of my dive master's metal rod striking his tank. This indicates a sight to behold.
Sure enough, an impressive-looking Manta Ray with giant swopping wings flew overhead us. Unlike the common stingray, a Manta Ray can grow to an average length of 7 meters, and its species resides in tropical waters. They are perfectly harmless to divers and just for fun, you may wish to try tickle the tummy of the gentle giants.
Once on shore, we went in search of food for a recharge. And throughout my whole trip in Koh Lanta, I think this is one of the best dinners I had. Conveniently located by the street of my resort, a restaurant serves up a combination of Western and Asian food. This 'Braised duck with cod fish potato’ very much satisfied my growling tummy.
As I chewed while enjoying the breakfast views at the restaurant before departing back to Krabi airport, I am reminded of the friendliness of the people in this small island, the wonderful marine life in this unspoiled diving haven, and not forgetting the tranquility of the place. This is definitely the place to go for peace and tranquility.