We had escaped the crushing chill of northern Europe and were lapping up the simple beach life, far away from it all at Bamboo Bay on the southern tip of Ko Lanta.
Despite the tropical bliss after a week we felt the need for a little cosmopolitan action and had hitched a ride up to Ban Saladan where you can buy a newspaper, drink an ice-tea and check out the traffic propelling the tanned, the burnt and the lily-white from ferry to resort and back again.
Technically Ban Saladan is still just a village where the ferry docks ( Ko Lanta Old Town to the south-east being the administrative centre) but in reality it’s Ko Lanta’s tourist gold-rush town.
There is a building frenzy going on as it expands southwards along the beach road in order to cope with the thousands of tourists who come to enjoy the island’s golden west coast beaches.
It has the look of a town that’s been built in a hurry, signage bursts out over the busy main road in a haphazard, cartoon way (ATM! Dive shop!, Travel Agent! Pharmacy! Internet Café!)
But because Thailand is not a country of hustlers you can still sit and chat with the locals about the old days when 7-11 was the amount of hours they spent scraping a living.
While it sometimes seemed that the whole place was devoted to dealing with the Farang, we found a small piece that was intent on entertaining the locals.
In a field off the main road Ban Saladan’s Chinese New Year Festival was in full swing.