Now we are nearing the end of October, and autumn is well and truly here, I find it hard to imagine the sunny days I spent reading on sandy beaches in Thailand last March. But I have been meaning to share my experience of the Catfish Bookshop and Restaurant on Koh Lanta, so here goes…
I had read about this bookshop and restaurant on TripAdvisor and it certainly seemed like the bookshop on the island to visit. It took me a couple of attempts to find due to it being incorrectly placed on Google Maps (make sure you check the proper address!)
From my guest house, right at the bottom of Long Beach, it took a good couple of hours to walk to Catfish. I made the most of the day by stopping off for a cooling drink and sunbathe along the way. With a quick look at the map, I had worked out that I could walk along soft and sandy beaches for most of the journey – a well-deserved break for my feet which were quite battered from walking in flip flops on dusty roads. I walked the same route back and had a most spectacular sunset view.
By the time I arrived at Catfish I was in need of a proper meal. I was in the mood for something filling and was pleased to see baked potato with tuna salad on the menu. I know, not very Thai, but every backpacker craves food from home at some point! Although not on the same level as the baked potatoes I’m used to, I was very satisfied with my meal, which I finished off with a delicious mango juice.
What really made my day though were the cats! They lazily roamed around the restaurant, brushing against legs and curling up on benches. I befriended one particularly beautiful white cat who sat with me throughout most of my meal.
After a relaxing meal and a restorative read of my book (Paper Towns by John Green), I moved on to the bookshop, determined to find a book, as my guest house was running low on choices. I had the whole shop to myself, so spent plenty of time exploring.
The bookshop is in a large room with high ceilings and is filled with eye catching art work and colourful bags, cards and souvenirs.
Of course it was the books that really caught my eye. There was a decent range of genres and a few languages to choose from, including Norwegian, French, Swedish, German, Italian and a lot of English.
Although at first glance there seemed to be a lot of variety, I did find it hard to choose a book. This could be because a lot of the books were quite old and not particularly interesting, especially for the price. Or maybe it was just difficult to get my head around the strange organisation. Can anyone tell me what The Chronicles of Narnia is doing in the “Women Fiction” section?
Finally I decided on The Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier, because you can never really go wrong with her. And I didn’t even dare to haggle, seeing as booksellers don’t seem to approve of that on Koh Lanta.
Overall I had an enjoyable experience at Catfish Bookshop, but it didn’t live up to the hype of TripAdvisor. At first sight it seems like a paradise of books but it was actually quite hard to find anything I desperately wanted to read and I wasn’t impressed with the prices.
If you are at the right end of Koh Lanta, near Saladan Pier, I would definitely recommend a quick visit to the Catfish Bookshop and Restaurant (try the mango juice!) even if it’s just for a browse.
Address: Moo 1, Sala Dan, Ko Lanta District, Krabi 81150, Thailand (Looking at Google Maps now the address does seem to have been corrected but maybe check with your guest house just in case).