Friday, 13 July 2007

4th July – Ao Phang Nga marine park

For our last big trip here in Thailand we decided on visiting the Ao Phang Nga marine park which is known for it’s unusual and very beautiful karst island formations. One of which was made famous by the Bond film, The Man with the Golden gun, and is now known as James Bond Island. They are composed of over 40 islands with sheer cliffs with the largest Mangrove forest in Thailand. The area from which we could get the boat trip was about an hour’s drive from our house so we set off early and managed to find a big long tail boat to take us for 1500 baht (£20). The trip would take 2-3 hours so we figured that was a really good deal, especially as we had the whole boat to ourselves.
We soon realised as we headed out into the bay that this was going to be a very special trip. The scenery was breathtaking and like nothing we had ever seen before. After motoring right through one of the caves we stopped at the famous island, which was definitely so unusual no wonder they used it in the movie.
On the way back we stopped at Ko Panyi, a small island built entirely on stilts and nestled against the huge limestone cliffs. It is a Muslim fishing village and along with the alcohol ban no dogs or pigs are allowed on the island either. The food was fantastic though, if a little pricey. There were quite a few tacky tourist stalls but once we got beyond these and walked towards the mosque and the school it was nice to see evidence of ordinary life.
All too soon the trip was over and we were heading back towards the boat. We all agreed though that it had been one of the highlights of Thailand and definitely one of the most beautiful sceneries we had ever seen.

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