We left Naka Island at Ao Phang Nga National Park after swimming for what seemed to us only a couple of minutes. We didn’t even have time to explore the entire length of the beach. I just took a couple of hasty shots with my big camera (after playing with my new underwater cam) before everyone boarded back on the speedboat. I felt I needed more time to chill and just lay on the beach and stare at the open waters, but as with all guided tours, everyone is rushed because of a time schedule. Yeah, like “herding cows”. You heard me. Another reason why I try to avoid tour groups as much as possible.
Next stop, James Bond Island.
The scenery around Phang Nga Bay continues to amaze me. It looks so magical and mysterious! (After doing my research, I am now officially confused as to which one is the real James Bond island. Some sources say it is Koh Phing Gan, others say it is Koh Tapu. Yet another mentioned it is both! Even the spelling of the islands differ. Our tour guide though pointed out at Koh Tapu as James Bond island. Whatever…)
Koh Tapu is actually a tall rock made out of limestone, bigger on the top and slim at the bottom. Koh Tapu in English is translated as Nail island, obviously because it is shaped like a nail. After the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” was filmed here in 1974, this part of Phang Bay then became famous with the tourist crowds. Koh Phing Gan is a much bigger island close to Koh Tapu. This is where the tourist boats dock. You can either take a speedboat, a long tail boat or a slow boat to get here. If money isn’t a problem, you can also hire a private long tail boat or speedboat if tour groups aren’t your thing. As soon as you step foot on the beach, you can see rows of souvenir shops. James Bond island (or Koh Tapu, as per our tour guide) is just a short walk behind the stalls. It can be quite a challenge taking a decent photo of the rock without people in it. But it can be done, with patience and the right positioning. There are caves you can explore and hiking trails up to the top of the island. It would have been fun and I’m sure the views would be gorgeous but then again, our tour guides were busy keeping track of all of us and doing time checks. We only managed to get up halfway and then turn back. There was even light foot traffic on the rocky trails due to the hordes of tourists going up or coming down. I think Koh Phing Gan should be aptly named James Bond island as the actual shooting of the film was on this island. Koh Tapu was only a part of the movie’s background. But then again, who am I to challenge this famous landmark?
Will the real James Bond island please stand up?