Date: 20th November 2012
We were picked up from
our hotel by our tour van in the morning. Then the van went around picking up other guests and made our way uphill.
We drove past many of Phuket’s smaller beaches
These are Phuket’s other popular beaches
We got stuck in traffic on the road leading to the airport; but the journey still took near two hours!
Once we finally got to the docks in Phang Nga, we were given life jackets
Our tour group was in a fairly big boat
It was already past noon by the time our tour began.
We were going out in to Phang Nga bay
There are large stretches of mangroves in Phang Nga bay
Other tour boats left alongside ours
We were going to check out a few lagoons first
We stopped by this floating restaurant
We were then split in to pairs and put in a canoe with a ‘paddler/guide’
This was ours. I sat in between him and Ramesh.
Time to duck
We would go inside these hills to find lagoons
I don’t remember if this was Panak Island, but this was the lagoon inside.
We just took a round and went back out again. Our guide/paddler spoke mostly in Thai and broken English. And when I say spoke, I mean mumbled.
Time to duck, again
We went under this massive tunnel to get to the next two caves
In case you felt like having an ice cream while canoeing, that service is available in Phang Nga bay as well
The canoe ride was smooth and quite relaxing
Then came the part of the tour when the guide would point to formations on the karst limestone rocks and say that it resembles some animal or figure. I didn’t get most of it.
This was another lagoon we entered
This was the entry to a mangrove
Inside *another* sea cave
I don’t think you are allowed to go deep inside the mangroves. Phang Nga bay is protected reserve.
Going back out again
The open sea
Going back under
Taken by Ramesh
On the way back, Ramesh and I took turns to paddle the canoe
I had paddled before in Philippines and felt it was so easy. But today was different. Maybe it was the weight of all three of us in the canoe, but we barely moved no matter how hard I paddled! 😛
Once back on the floating restaurant, we were served cold drinks before getting back on our respective tour boats. Here’s a video I took while on the canoe:
We left for our next destination
There were rain storms far away
Next up, James Bond island! Real name: Khao Phing Kan. This was where the final showdown in The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed. James Bond put this island on the tourist map.
Our boats dropped off tourists here
The image most commonly associated with James Bond island is not even on the island
To see the iconic rock of James Bond island, you have to climb these steps
And there it is, Ko Tapu
We asked a fellow tourist to take our photo. He should have asked me to move a bit to the right.
And that’s it. We went down to the beach.
You have a few shops here selling souvenirs and drinks
You can swim around it, but you are not allowed near the rock — let along try to climb it (I blurred the background for effect)
The island also had this rock which looks as though the hill tumbled sideways and is leaning on a similar rock
Cats doing what they do best, no matter where they are
We had 45 minutes on the island
We regrouped and got on our boat
It was time now for lunch
I was finally going to visit Koh Panyee ‘floating’ village
I had seen the village from high up in the air when I flew from Phuket to Bangkok in 2009
I made sure that a visit this ‘floating village was part of the tour
It’s amazing such a village exists in the middle of the bay and only surrounded by limestone rocks and water
Usually the lunches on these tours suck, but I quite liked this menu. Tempura prawns, chicken, hot soup and fruits.
After lunch, I decided to explore the village
Most of the shops catered to tourists, selling souvenirs and items you can find on the mainland as well
Besides that, not much in terms of commercial activity (as you would expect)
Houses are on stilts
It’s funny to think, “where do these people go… for anything?”
Surely they make a visit to Phang Nga town to stock or get supplies shipped to the village
As per Wikipedia, more than 1500 people live on Koh Panyi, most of whom are of Malay-Indonesian descent
Many of whom are still fishermen
Pretty much everyone is a Muslim
This was still a nice place to walk around
Was that the mother cat I saw above at James Bond island? 🙂
Wait, how is electricity generated on this island?
It must get awfully boring here for some
But the main reason I wanted to explore the village was because of an ad
I wanted to see this floating football pitch made famous by one of my favourite ad campaigns
A couple of years ago, one of Thailand’s biggest banks – TMB, released a short film based on the inspirational story of Koh Panyi’s football club. It was beautiful, funny and out-right inspirational. Just watch it, you’ll see what I mean.
So many cats. I guess enough fish around to feed them, ha ha!
I rushed back to the boat as Ramesh called to tell me it was about to leave.
We were supposed to go to another island for some beach bumming and swimming, but our guide told us the weather was bad there
Once back on land, our tour van took us to Wat Suwan Kuha
It’s a cave temple
It’s got a lying Buddha as well
There are multiple caves under this limestone hill
That’s not a real monk
I went cave exploring
Clearly people follow instructions -_-
This was a section of the cave that went up high
I love this photo. You can’t make out if I’m looking up or looking down 🙂
I climbed slowly but eventually made it to the top of the cave
This is a panorama of the large stretch of stalactites inside the cave
I carefully climbed back down
It was time to leave
It was an hour-long ride back to our hotel
It was a long, slow-moving trail of traffic on the hill before Patong. Alss, I learned there’s an Indian restaurant called Poppadam in Patong 🙂
It was a good tour in the end, even though many hours were wasted in traffic and we didn’t get to go to one spot. I still felt I got my ฿850 (Rs. 1650/$27/€20 ) worth of sight-seeing.
In the evening, Ramesh and I had some Guinness along with some of the fattest onion rings we had ever seen! This was at an Irish pub on Walking Street; they had a decent live band playing.
Next posts in this series:
Thailand 2012: Phuket beach hopping and bike ride to Promthep Cape
Thailand 2012: Flying to Chiang Mai; views from Doi Suthep
Thailand 2012: Golden Triangle tour – White Temple, Mekong River, Mae Sai, and entering Laos
Loy Krathong 2012: Yeepeng Lanna in Chiang Mai – A second chance to do it right
Previous posts in this series:
Thailand 2012: Terminal 21 mall; Bangkok to Phuket by bus
Thailand 2012: Far end of Jomtien Beach; back to Bangkok
Thailand 2012: The Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya
Thailand 2012: Landing in Pattaya