James Bond at your service

Trip Start Dec 05, 2007
1
17
Trip End Jan 02, 2008


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Where I stayed

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Okay, so I'm in Phuket. Got a backpacker place, clean and basic at Karon Beach. The Divers Inn is at the end of a back street so nice and quiet. A short walk to the beach along a busy main road full of shops and peddlers. This is a family place so lots of Western kids and families around but the beach not too crowded with lovely fine white sand and the water is a beautiful colour and just right temp. 

On the second day I got bored with lying on the beach with no surf to frollic in and decided to walk  around the rocks thinking the next beach was just round the corner.  Anyway this expedition turned out to be a marathon effort coz round every point there was another and the rocks became bigger and bigger until I was scaling some of them like in my rock climbing days. Well I passed the point of no return, just kept going, round into the full sun so then nearly passed out with sunstroke till I found an inlet with a welcome rock pool. Had to lie flat on my back though and splash myself like a wallowing walrus as it was so shallow. The trouble with the sea was that I couldn't get in it as the rocks had too steep a dropoff.  Every drop of my 500ml water bottle was precious by this stage. Checked out the interior but the vegetation proved vicious, with lots of cactus type plants in the jungle (and I was only in my swimmers ) so retreated bloodied back to the endless bolders. Finally 2 hours later I spotted a ruined house on the top of a cliff  and scrambled up to it. Hooray, there was a path which lead through coconut plantations to civilisation. When I was on top I could see the next beach just around the next point. I had been so close but so far !

The next day I took a day trip to Phang Nga Bay about 1 1/2 hours drive north from Karon Beach. I went in a mini van and we stopped at places across the island to pick up people, so I got an idea of how big Phuket is and what an awfully crowded place Patong looked. Finally with about 10 people on the bus we headed off the island across a bridge to the mainland and headed northeast. We drove for about an hour through rural scenery and pretty looking hills to a village where we stopped and got into a longtailed boat which whizzed us along a mangrove lined river.  Suddenly we came out into open water and there before us was the most stunning scenery of towering peaks and islands in all manner of blue/grey hues depending on their distance from us. This is Phang Nga Bay and the extreme shaped rock formations towering out of the sea are called karst islands.

We reached a floating house/platform near an island and transfered into rubber canoes. Two to a boat plus we had our own paddler, I shared the kayak with a Canadian girl who was backpacking round Asia. Nice but a bit neurotic, she was telling me about all the food she wouldn't eat in case she got sick.We headed towards a huge cavern in the rock and went into it, stalictites hanging down and very dark and eerie but refreshingly cool. In the middle of it was a boat selling coconut milk, coca cola and the like. No place is free of merchants out to make a buck ! Out the other side  piddling around the inlets and mangrove swamps, seeing salomander in the mud flats and huge rock walls towereing above us. It was good fun and I wish we could have carried on exploring for longer. But being on a day trip we had a schedule to follow.

All too soon we had to return and off we shot again in our long tail to the island of Khao Phing Kan. We were given 30 minutes to spend there. The first thing I saw was this formation of rock like two huge slabs resting together at the top, as though they were just balanced. This is called Cathedral Rock and I wandered into it spending ages clambering around caverns and passageways totally oblivious to the fact that the real reason we had got off here was to see the famous rock that featured in a James Bond movie " The Man With The Golden Gun".  I suddenly realised why all the people were going to the other side of this small island, quickly hopped down from my breezy cave and so came to gaze at the strange looking rock called Ko Tapu or the Nail. 

After that we zoomed off to another island. The long tail boat is very fast and very noisy, we were out in open water and a stiff breeze was blowing spray onto us. In the distance you could see more steep island karsts rising up from the water. Oh to have days and your own boat to explore this fascinating place. At the base of a huge upthrust of rock is a Muslim fishing village, built out over the water on stilts, called Pannyi village. The people have realised a nice little earner from the tourists who stop here for lunch. Needless to say the lunch was great, we were treated to all manner of dishes brought to our table, fish, squid, calamari, chicken, rice, fruit.... yum oh! After filling our bellies I wanderd back to the waterfront to watch the children playing with the fish in the fish farms, rather than wander around the very crowded tourist trap at the back of the restaurant where they were selling souvenirs.

Finally we got back to dry land and were taken to the monkey temple which was bounding with the little beasts, obviously lording it over the people. Inside the huge cave was a golden statue of Buddah reclining, and monkeys trying to get food from the tourists. Some people had sticks to fend them off coz they looked like they would bite your ankles if you weren't forthcoming with nuts or a banana. Only those foolish enough to buy the monkey food were at risk !

Well that was a whirlwind day packed with overload for the sight and senses. The next day I took it easy and just lazed around on the beach and swam and wandered around the town. Got a fantastic massage and ate some yummy Thai food. Sat on the beach and watched the sun dip down into the Andeman Sea, ah bliss ! Ready for my onward travel to Vietnam.
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