James Bond Island: we expected worse.
Phang Nga Travel Blog› entry 64 of 251 › view all entries
May 14th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
I was really expecting the worse from this trip. It has to be bad â€¦ everyone on the island is selling trips to it. And I just hate these types of organized tours. Chris (TB: reikunboy) even posted a recommendation that we cancel the trip! So, really, we went into it with our eyes open. We were expecting the worst.
The minibus picked up us at 7:30. From there we stopped at five other places to pick up passengers, which took about 1-1/2 hours. (See, thereâ€™s one reason to hate group tours right there!) The passenger list was very promising, though.
We finally arrived at the boat. I am sure this vessel had had many years of useful service, but those years were long over! It was old and decrepit (and did not match the photo on the brochure, by the way). For seating, there were some small plastic chairs set up on the top deck, which was covered. We were lucky to get the chairs, as there were not enough for all until later, when the crew retrieved more from storage.
We headed out, the engine complaining and kicking out black smoke the whole way. It was only 9:30, but one guy (from South Africa) already had a beer. Over the course of the day, he finished one after another.
It was pouring rain, which prompted the crew to lower the tarps along the side of the deck. These things are usually see-through, but not these. We were surrounded by natural beauty, but were riding it the equivalent of a box car. The engine fumes were trying to kill me, and the smokers were finishing the job. It was the most miserable boat ride.
The crew did their best to make things bearable. They took drink orders, they passed out fruit and cookies, they told little jokes. I appreciated their efforts, and I think the others did too.
We passed by our first stop, because it was raining too hard to go off the boat.
On the beach in front of the famous rock, there were crowds of people in various weird poses. It is quite the thing to get a picture of yourself â€śhuggingâ€ť the rock, â€śleaningâ€ť on it, or even wearing it as a hat. (A number of those creative photos can be found on this web site!) The amazing thing was the numbers of people -- despite the rain, one almost had to push through crowds to get on the walking path that allowed us to see the rock at different angles.
The rain started really coming down, and rain ponchos were selling like hotcakes back at the souvenir stands. As I was juggling my camera, my bag, my towel, and trying to get my newly acquired poncho over all this, a lady kept waving bracelets in my face, â€śgood price!â€ť I got away with just the rain poncho purchase though.
From there, we went to Hong Island, and were taken off the boat in small plastic kayaks. (The guy from South Africa brought a fresh beer with him on the kayak, of course.) Since the boat was tippy and it was raining I left my camera behind â€¦ and really regretted it! We paddled through some barnacle-encrusted tunnels to a lagoon surrounded by amazing spans of cliff and rock.
Unfortunately the island and its inlets were overcrowded with other tour groups making the same trip. But there were a couple areas, when we went around a corner, when it was quiet and I could imagine we had the place to ourselves. It was then I decided the bad boat ride, rain, and the crowds were worth it to be in this amazing place on earth. (Steve disagrees. He said the whole thing was unforgivably sullied but the lines of kayaks going through the tunnels, and the groups of big boats floating all around. Steve agrees that the place is amazing, but would have rather not seen it at all, then to see it under these conditions.)
Back at the boat, the crew had set out lunch.
The next stop was Lawa Island (at least I think thatâ€™s what it was.
Our next stop was the â€śswimming and relaxationâ€ť portion of the trip. We parked near Naka Island, where many other boats were already crowding the area near the shore. The rain had stopped, so Steve and I sat in front of the boat with the guys from Israel. We were handed coconuts to drink from and the one guy said it was just like being on Survivor, which was pretty funny.
We stayed there quite a while, watching the crazy people on the other boats do flips into the water. The guy from South Africa, who at this point had guzzled more Singha than I could count, didnâ€™t seem drunk at all. Amazing.
Then it was time to head home. I stayed in front as long as possible, but the splashes soon sent me to the back deck area, to breath the engine exhaust again.
Itâ€™s difficult to say if I would recommend this trip or not. Phang Nga National Marine Park is truly gorgeous, and really shouldnâ€™t be missed.
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