I felt like Roger Moore, aka James Bond, 007, from ‘Man with the Golden Gun’ (1974.) But there were no Scaramongas (Bond’s nemesis) in sight when we arrived. We had saved this trip for Carly’s arrival. The day was perfect: sunny, clear, and 29 degrees for our trip to James Bond Island.
We thought the tour packages were cheap on our last visit to Thailand, but now, with low season upon us, they are even cheaper. Don’t believe the prices on the glossy brochures. We received the best deal from Anni, at S. Armani Tailor International, a friendly Bangladeshi guy who also has a travel desk, at 144 Thaweewong Rd (along the beach) in Patong – Phone 087-4624904. He was happy to do the tours for half price, so we recommend you go straight to him and save the hassle of bartering. He will often drive to your hotel to do business with you.
The James Bond Island package was fantastic! Perfect weather always adds to your experience but all three of us thought you couldn’t hope for a much better day of group touring: great experiences, competent guides and lots of variety.
Our first stop was at Suwankuha Temple or Monkey Cave. This is another famous site that has been visited by many kings and queens over the years. Heaps of monkeys of all sizes were scurrying all over the place. The little baby ones were soooo cute, almost alien-like. The cave was great too. The ubiquitous Buddha images, stalactites and stalagmites and lots of bats.
Then we were heading for the Phang Nga Bay National Park by giant long-tail boat. Once we escaped the mangroves onto open water, the sea was calm and a stunning blue.
We called into Koh Pan Yee, a famous floating village inhabited by about 200 Muslim families. They have done such an amazing job developing the village that it seemed more permanent than floating. We had a nice lunch and then had free time to explore the village. Lots of souvenir stalls were dotted through the complex. School was in session and we were able to wander through freely, gawk through the windows and take as many photos and videos as we liked. Not a permission slip or any red tape in sight. The school also had its own floating soccer pitch, but with no protective netting around it we wondered about stray balls at play time.
A couple of women also carried around beautiful gibbons, perhaps a bit out of place, but very popular with the tourists. They charged for photo opportunities and probably had a higher profit margin than the postcards, T-shirts, mini Buddhas and assorted crap. It won’t be long and they will have an elephant.
Next stop was James Bond Island, aka Ta Phu, which looked stunning. Very similar to Halong Bay in Vietnam with the massive cliffs rising from the sea with a stunning blend of watery blues and forest greens. Had a refreshing swim as well.
Our final stop was Tam Talu Island which would have to rate as one of the most beautiful places we have been. Two at a time we boarded kayaks with our own personal paddlers. They took us around (and through!!!) the cliffs to take in some unbelievable views. At some points the clearance was only centimetres above the kayak, so we had to lie down to pass through. We would then arrive inside a lagoon, surrounded by vertical rock faces.
At high tide you can’t get in or out so the timing has to be just right.Then it was back on the long-tail for the return trip. Into our mini-van and back to our hotels in Patong.If you are going to do one tour during your stay in Thailand, do this one. On a calm, sunny day it would be extremely hard to beat!