James Bond Island

Trip Start Apr 04, 2011
Trip End Apr 08, 2011

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 3 : Hotel –> Phang Nga Pier –>James Bond Island –> Mangrove/Cave –> Malay Village –> Monkey Cave –> Tone Tai Waterfalls -> Hotel -> Ao Nang

After our sea excursion yesterday, we planned to go sight-seeing trip - to Ao Phang-nga National Park. We traveled by air-conditioned van from our hotel in Krabi province to Phang-nga province which was easily about 150km apart. The road-trip alone took almost 1.5 hours. It's was an interesting journey because we managed to see the countryside.

Note: You can visit Ao Phang-nga from Phuket as well.

Ao Phang-nga National Park
To explore the marine park,we traveled by longtail boat along the Phang-nga Bay, arranged by the tour operators. When we arrived at Tha Dan Pier, the boat was already waiting for us. We quickly snap some photos before we got on the boat. Initially the boat ride was surrounded by mangrove forests. As we got nearer to the shoreline, the bay was littered with hundreds of limestone cliffs rising over the sea. Along the way we passed by the Muslim fishing village Koh Panyi en route to 'James Bond' island. We returned to the fishing village for lunch later.

'James Bond' island
This location has 2 small islands located side by side:
1) Koh Tapu (Nail Island) has a limestone that was shaped as a nail, standing solitary in the sea. The island was made famous by James Bond movie starring Roger Moore - Man with Golden Gun which was filmed there in 1974. It was a sight to behold. There were a few view points around that island with breathtaking view of the limestone with different angle. To do that, we climbed up a small hill around that area. There were at least 3 different view points, at least to my count.
2) Koh Ping Gan (Leaning Mountain Island) - a high cliff that appeared to have been cut into two, the halves then were supported by leaning against each other. It was a sight of rare and exquisite beauty.

Fishing Village
We returned to the fishing village that we are passed by earlier to stop for our lunch. Being at fishing village, it was only natural that we had seafood with rice. The food were all well prepared before our arrival and all we had to do was sit on the table and the food is served. The food was deliciously good. This village had houses built on stilts over the sea with a huge limestone in the backdrop. It was made up of centuries-old Muslim community, complete with a mosque and a school. After our lunch, we explored the village and careful it was very easy to get lost as it was like a maze of restaurants and souvenir stalls.

Cave and Mangrove forest
After lunch, we went for our next attraction which has 2 options - by longtail boat or canoe (there will be paddler sitting behind you. all you need is to relax and enjoy the scenery. no self paddling. for this option, you have to pay extra). Canoe allows you to go through the nooks and crannies of the caves and mangroves whilst the former will take the bigger route and you see
different part of the mangroves. We chose the longtail boat option because we did the kayak the last time and regretted that decision.

Note: I would recommend to go for the canoe option, because you get to see more of the limestone cave and mangrove up-close. Let's just say you won't miss anything with the longtail boat option

Anyway, we still got to see the beautiful mangrove forest after passing through Tham Lod (Lod Cave), a limestone cave with a giant hollow where boats pass through. The passage was roughly about 100metres and we got to see the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites that were formed inside the cave. The boat will then go round the cave and back to the canoe platform ship to wait for the rest who went for canoeing trip. At least we got some time to walk around the platform boat and snapped some 'postcard' pictures.

Sleeping Budhha
After the mangrove trip, we saw the magnificent view of the Ao Phang-nga Bay for the last time, before heading back to Tha Dan pier again for the road trip to visit Suwankhuha Temple (aka Monkey Cave). The main attraction here is the sleeping Buddha, but there were many other Buddhas as well. The cave was extremely slippery. There was only the dark and light cave. At the light cave, there was a statue of a monk whilst at the dark cave, there were flight of stairs to the top. We walked half way to the top but then stopped because we felt it was very dangerous.

Our last stop was the Tone Tai Waterfalls. Was looking for a dip but unfortunately the water was muddy due to the recent flood and landslides. So disappointingly we just took some pictures and left the place.

Back at Ao Nang
We freshen ourselves up and we planned to look for massage parlor after body aching all over . Before we went searching, we wanted to see the pool in our hotel. I knew it was located at the roof top (based on the photos I saw at agoda.com). It was a nice view from the top as we could see the area around us. We took some pictures and off we go to hunt for massage center. Asked the locals, and they said to go to the beachfront. So we walked to the beachfront, and to our surprise, we didn't know that was where all the resorts were located. It was quite a nice stroll as we took some more pictures of the area. Towards the end of the walk, there were hosts of beach massage huts. Easily 30 of them lining up alongside each other. We looked around, it was cheap, but decided not to go because it did not look hygienic, and looked kind of dirty. We knew there were other massage centers around, in fact, there was one just right in front of our hotel, we planned to ask later because we were already hungry. We managed to snap a few beautiful sunset pictures at Ao Nang beach and then we walked across to a Thai fusion restaurant (highly recommended by locals) Aning Restaurant. The restaurant had a nice ambiance, candlelit, and had a one-man band performing live music. It was a nice place to chill out. The food was freaking delicious and their soft shell is my favorite! According to the waiter who served us, this restaurant was opened by Dutch husband and his Thai wife. The food is a little pricey than others, but it was money worth spending. After dinner, we went to our favorite stall to get our daily banana pancake fix! (see the previous day entry). After snacking, we went to the same agent to book our trip to Koh Phi Phi tomorrow. Whilst continuing our hunt for massage, we learned what 'elephant' size meant in one of the shops selling souvenirs. We asked around, but none came to our attention. So our last hope was to check out the massage opposite our hotel. It was called Massage Center. We saw what we like, and immediately me and my wife went for it. It was really good Thai massage and it really loosen our tired muscles. I told my wife we should return the next day.

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