Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Phang Nga Bay

Picture of Phang Nga Bay (Thailand): James Bond island, or Ko Tapu, in Phang Nga Bay National Park
We boarded a boat on a river near Phang Nga, and although we had the limestone islands of the bay already in our mind, the boatman first took us through the backwaters of the bay. Small rivers with mangroves on both sides and an abundance of green was only to get us ready for the bay and its islands. Already here, as in Phang Nga town, we could see tall limestone rocks sticking out of the landscape. Suddenly, the landscape widened, the horizon disappeared in the distance, and we had entered Phang Nga bay itself.

Picture of Phang Nga Bay (Thailand): Hill reflected in the backwaters of Phang Nga National Bay
With the constant drone of the longtail boat engine in our ears, we rapidly passed Ko Panyi and the panorama became truly amazing. High limestone rocks, covered with a green layer of trees and shrubbery, defined the horizon of Phang Nga National Bay all around us. Since the sea was quiet, the peaks of the islands were reflected in the water. We stayed fixed on the landscape unfolding before our eyes, when eventually the boatman guided us to the beach of an island where we explored a cave. After that, we sailed through Tam Lod Grotto and ended up having lunch at a beach with a gorgeous view over the bay.

Picture of Phang Nga Bay (Thailand): Islands peeking out of the sea at Phang Nga National Bay
The boatman disappeared, leaving us stranded on the island in the middle of Phang Nga National Bay, and when he finally returned, he took us directly to Ko Khao Ping Gan. Here, we disembarked and just around the corner, a strangely familiar sight came on our eyes as tiny Ko Tapu became visibile, sticking out of the little bay. This weird rock rose to fame because it starred in James Bond The Man With The Golden Gun. Actually, its more common name now is James Bond island. Unfortunately, this means that it has now turned into a major tourist trap with little stalls selling all kinds of souvenirs on the beach opposite the rock. Filter this out, and you can still appreciate the amazing beauty of the islands.

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