Phang Nga, 14 - 16 December
14.12.2008 - 16.12.2008 29 °C
Arrived in Phang Nga town - a sleepy village tucked in between the vast craggy karst mountain ranges that make up this area. After a few hits 'n misses we finally settle on a place to stay - Therwisik hotel, dirt cheap (150 Baht) and looks like a semi-converted prison. But its clean, which for this price, is really the only thing you hope for. Wandering around town we stumble upon the Heaven & Hell caves - a mean fiery looking fiberglass dragon guarding its entrance. Intrepidly we enter the realm of the dragon and approach a massive deep humid cavern stacked with Buddha shrines in every nook & cranny - Heaven? Eerie! The Hell part comes quickly thereafter - a still play of giant plaster ghouls caught in the act of torturing people in all kind of intricate ways. Some of it so perversely graphic it would definitely not make PGR rating anywhere =). Curiously, a local monk goes around and collects money from the tortured ones who also, as it happen, double up as donation boxes - intriguing.
Next morning we meet up with our driver for the low budget longtail trip we arranged earlier - to the mangrove maze forests and limestone formations that this part of the bay is well known for - it's a popular outing around here. Meandering thru many mangrove alleyways and several hongs (limestone passageways that eroded away by the waves) we set course for the bay's most celebrated island - Kao Tapoo (James Bond Island), with in its bay a peculiar rocky outcrop that is vaguely reminiscent of an icecream cone, aptly named Khao Taper (needle rock). James Bond purists will recognize this spot as Scaramanga's hideout from the 'Man with Golden Gun' movie. Not surprisingly, the place is teeming with day trippers making it the last place on earth any villain would choose to hide his affairs =).
On our way back we stop in at Koh Panyee, a local authentic Muslim fishing village on stilts that floats around a limestone outcrop. Reeling with souvenir shops selling all kinds of paraphernalia that nobody really wants its hard to imagine what makes this place authentic, though we did almost end up with a nappie-crapping baby gibbon on our trails…