When you ride you scooter on the main road and you are deep in thoughts, it is easy to miss Lanta Old Town – the old administrative centre and port, which could be easily defined as one of the tiny architectural and cultural gems of Southeast Asia.
There is nothing greatly ‘significant’ in the old town, there are no ‘must see’ sights and no breathtaking buildings, but the atmosphere here is sensual and calm, the houses built on stilts come all the way to the sea, old buildings made from solid wood and accommodate traditional restaurants and home stays, while the tiny Buddhist temple speaks about old days when, one century ago, the town depended solely on trade routes with China.
Few minutes walk from the pier; tiny art centre called Loy Lay Gallery is basically a long wooden house connecting the street from one side while ending at the platform on wooden stilts at the other. Painter’s tools are set up on the wooden floor. Children are merrily playing, oblivious of time, seemingly having no worries. The view from the terrace is stunning: calm surface of the sea, traditional fishing boats resting on the shore, impenetrable mangroves in the distance.
The gallery exhibits both traditional art (interestingly shaped and colored fish and other local themes) as well as avant-garde stuff that consists of unorthodox arrangements of various objects like worn rubber slippers.
I asked the artist - Sorapat Sirsingh – why did he decide to come and settle here, in Koh Lanta?
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