14.12.2009 - 14.12.2009
The highlight of todays trip was supposed to be a trip to James Bond Island, so called because it exploded at the end of the James Bond “The Man with the Golden Gun” film, instead we (and the others on the bus) were fascinated by trying to figure out if our tour guide was a guy or a girl? Did they say their name was Bill or Bell? Mal or Mel? The other reason we booked this tour was we were getting a bit more sea kayaking, but as it turns out, all we got to do was sit in a canoe while another dude paddled us around pointing out features of a pretty interesting island, Khao Ping Gar, including King Kongs nose, a crocodiles jaw and very large formations looking much like a males honourable member. The other thing he kept doing was ask for money, first to support his family and later because of his asthma. No paddling for us.
Another long boat ride across to James Bond island where we are greeted by a little market with about 50 stalls, all seemingly selling the same crap. Round the corner is James Bond Island. It’s a bit like one of our own 12 Apostles, only a little bigger with some scrubby shrubs growing on it and not on the Great Ocean Road. Of course you can’t stand here without taking a few bad James Bond pose photos.
Phang Nga Bay, where James Bond Island is, has so many islands poking out of the water in every direction, another we visited (for lunch) was Panyee with its ‘floating’ village. This place is a real labyrinth of restaurants and stalls where you could get you picture taken with a monkey dressed up as a baby (no thanks). It’s a very pokey little place built on stilts above the water, we had to ask for help to find our way out of the restaurants into the market area. It’s good as a guy walking around these local crafty markets because you just don’t get hassled.
On the way back to Ao Nang, there were two more places to stop. First, Suwankkuha Temple Cave, where we were told we could pay our respects to the large golden reclining Buddha and the monkeys. Well, there were a lot of monkeys, people posing with monkeys climbing on their heads (ooo yucky), and a large reclining Buddha, but there was also a pretty nice cave. It was big. Divided into the Light Cave (mostly open) and the Dark Cave (like the Bat cave, except without the secret entrance). The Dark Cave was quite deep and opened up into a great cavern with a very steep set of stairs chiselled into the back wall. The air inside was think and warm, it was sweaty work getting up to the top, but a nice view and worth the shaky knees on the way back down. Last stop was a little series of waterfalls and swimming holes to cool off. The water was clean and cold, the fish nibbled our legs and there was enough water coming over the waterfall to just about strip the bathers off anyone unsuspecting - hey Nee?