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Songkran in Kantiang

“Most people see the world as it is and ask why? We see the world as it isn’t as and ask – Why Not?”

That’s the local wisdom in this cracking little corner of Ko Lanta, Kantiang Bay.

You’ll find Bob Marley drifting on the breeze, makeshift lanterns dancing overhead and a happy-go-lucky way of life that couldn’t fail to capture your heart.

 Sitting cross-legged on the floor of  a bamboo beach shack nestled in the curve of Kantiang’s white sand bay – Why Not Bar, we eagerly awaited the Songkran celebrations – the Thai New Years festival.

The Hush: Kantiang is a great spot to stay, from here hire mopeds and head further to Lanta’s southernmost tip where you’ll find the twin bays and beautiful lighthouse of the National Marine Park.

 All driftwood, rustling palm fronds and laid-back reggae beats, Why Not is your quintessential barefoot bar. Hand painted peace signs and portraits of John Lennon dot the walls while a faded photo board tells tales of memories made and many a night well spent.

We sat awkwardly against an eclectic assortment of furniture that looked as though it had been borrowed from the living rooms of various relatives. The bar was full to bursting, so much so I was soon encroaching on the stranger’s lap next to me –  unapologetically so – as there’s not a care in the world to be had round here. Barmen pick their way through the crowd, trays laden with cool, crisp Changs, gleaming hair falling down to their waists. A local band punch out stellar covers of Nirvana and Oasis, persuading those who’ve already had one Chang too many into some questionable Karaoke. Before long, we were on our feet, clapping along to a guy from Philly’s punchy rendition of American Pie- the waves of the Andaman the perfect backing track.

The Hush: The food at Why Not is great, but if you fancy a walk Same Same But Different at the southern end of the beach does fresh battered prawns as big as your hand, washed down with syrupy-sweet cocktails.

A man with a wide smile in a weathered Jimmy Hendrix shirt passes around a platter of ‘special chocolate cake’ with a grin. He soon reappears, smearing white paint across our faces before we have half a chance to stop him. Seeing our surprise, he explains its part of the ritual of this Buddhist festival – a sign to ward off evil (and hopefully our hangovers).

With a bang, the sweeping crescent of Kantiang bursts into colour behind us – violets and shocking pink sparkles illuminating the waters in a dazzling fireworks display – courtesy of the Pimalai Resort just down the beach. Not to be outdone by their flashy neighbours, Why Not treat us to a sizzlingly good fire show, sparks flying out across the waters and worryingly close to the wooden stilts we’re stood on. We dance the night away to 90s Americana, have one mojito too many and make new friends whose names we’ll forget come morning. Before the clock strikes midnight, plastic wallets are passed amongst us for our phones, the only warning of what’s soon to come. Suddenly, the music stops and a crowd of ever-smiling Ko Lantans descend on the bar, hurling buckets of water over us. Retaliation takes the form of any receptacle we can get our hands on, and before long its a full on water war, and I’m under attack by a merciless ten-year-old with a water gun and spiderman mask.  By the time we leave, the sunrise is beginning to tickle the horizon a shimmering pink. Soaked through, water logged and bleary-eyed, our ribs are sore from laughing as we sing our way home along the beach.

“Let’s go back tomorrow night?” he asks,

“Why Not!” I reply.

 The Hurt: We stayed at Phra Nang Lanta –  a lovely little hotel within stumbling distance of Why Not Bar and right on the beach, with seriously seductive views from our balcony. Only let down by the breakfast, which I’d recommend giving a miss!

Phra Nang Lanta Hotel: View from our balcony

The How: We got to Ko Lanta on the ferry and this was part 2 of our stay in the southern end of the island. But at just over 30kms long, you can rent a moped from pretty much anywhere and drive top to bottom in no time – so you’re still within easy reach of the rest of the island.

The Hush: We gave the food at Pimalai a try – it’s a win for the romantic ambiance, all twinkling fairy lights and ocean lapping in the background, but is sadly stingy when it comes to the portions (we’re talking borrower-sized – we may or may not have had to sneak a second dinner).

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