Sang Ga-U Village
People know Sang
Ga-U Village mostly because it’s where one finds the Sea Gypsies.
There are currently almost a hundred families in this village.
The Sea Gypsies are mostly ‘entrepreneurs’—they own their own
fishing boats and they work daily—if the weather permits—they
leave to the middle of the sea in the morning and get back in
the afternoon with a bunch of seafood. Although friendly, they
are reserved and shy people. Although they are Thai citizens,
mainstream Thai tourists will have difficulty in understanding
them since the Chao Lay have their own language. They still practice
their traditional customs and ceremonies. And in March of every
year, the Lanta festival celebrates such rituals unique to the
Chao Lay people.
Lanta’s lighthouse locates itself in the premises of Mu Ko Lanta
National Park, which is at the end of the west coast. To come
to the national park is quite an adventure. First, you need to
drive a four wheel drive vehicle only (or a motorbike if you are
a really great biker). The road is bumpy and dangerous. A normal
city-car will have a hard time climbing up and down the three-kilometer
mountainous dirt passage. Inside the national park stands the
Lighthouse—it takes quite a climb to get to the actual Lighthouse
just a few meters away from the ground, but with a good pair of
trainers you are all set. The view up there is sensational. From
the high cliffs you will see turquoise water from a birds-eye
view, the neighboring Koh Ngai, Koh Rok Nok and Koh Rok Nai. Once
up, you’ll get a better panoramic view of the park. Here you will
realize that Koh Lanta offers the best of both worlds with exotic
beaches and tropical forest.
viewpoint is actually misleading as it is not a viewpoint per
se, but it’s a restaurant which is called “Viewpoint.” Located
on the hill, in between the mountain from the west coast to the
east, Viewpoint Restaurant (Tel: 01-787-8697) offers a stunning
view of Koh Lanta Yai’s east coast. It is also a decent restaurant
to drop by for lunch or dinner but if you just want to see the
view, drop by for a drink. The picturesque landscape from up here
is breathtaking. On the backdrop is the mainland and islands such
as Koh Nui, Koh Talenbeng, Koh Kham, Koh Bu Bu, Ko Po and Koh
Ngai. Viewpoint is like a prequel to your island-watch, as once
you arrive at the Lanta Old Town Village, those islands will become
closer to reach.
The Thai government
has established a brand called OTOP (One Tambol, One Product)
to help generate income to the villagers. Therefore, each locality
in Thailand now specializes in something. The various products
include batik textiles, wooden furniture, local coffee, herbs,
crab cakes, shrimp crackers and handicrafts made from toey panan
(pandanus tectorium soland), a local plant. In the fresh food
department, there is hoi chak teen, a winged shell which looks
similar to walking legs, referred as “feet” or ‘teen’ (informal
Thai). Of a smaller variety, this kind of shell is found in Krabi
and nearby provinces. Hoi chak teen is eaten with a Thai seafood
sauce which is an essential dip made with fish sauce, garlic,
chilies, lime juice and sugar.
never a moment when you’ll encounter any cash shortage since Koh
Lanta is conveniently dotted with ATM machines all over the island.
For more serious banking activities, Siam Commercial Bank (Tel:
075-620-621-3) and Siam City Bank (Tel: 075-611-320), located
in Saladan Village, operates Monday to Friday from 8:30am-3:30pm.
There is also a Western Union, just in case you need money from
is no immigration office in Koh Lanta. For visa extensions, visitors
must contact the offices in Krabi. Krabi Immigration Office (Tel:
075-611-097) is located on Utarakit Road in Krabi Town.