If the name isn’t enough of a giveaway James Bond Island was one of the key movie locations for the 007 movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. And of course, what happens when a place appears in a blockbuster movie? It becomes a tourist destination!
I’ve been staying in Phuket for a month and I decided it was about time I see James Bond Island, or Phang Nga Bay, for myself.
Usually I always book tours through local tour agents, and I walk along the street getting quotes from different people until I find the cheapest price. That way I don’t get ripped off and I feel like I received a good deal. However in Phuket I couldn’t find anything as cheap as the price I found online with Phuket Tours Direct (1,100 Baht), and I could pay for it the night before via Paypal. So I booked my James Bond Island tour with them.
All went well and I received a confirmation voucher for the tour, instructing me to wait in the reception of my hotel at 09:30am.
09:30am came, and it went, and there was no sign of the driver coming to pick me up. The voucher said to wait 15 minutes before calling the hotline, so I waited until 09:45 before I made a call. As it turns out, they had been unable to find my hotel after showing up at several different resorts, and no-one answered the reception telephone number I provided.
There are a couple of resorts in Rawai with similar names, so I made sure on the booking form that I told them it was “next to Chocolate Restaurant” on Rawai Beach. But sadly this didn’t seem to help and they had decided to give up.
Thankfully they apologised and arranged to pick me up the following day, and the lady on reception at my accommodation spoke to them in Thai to make sure they found the right place next time.
James Bond Island Tour
On the morning of the James Bond Island tour, the weather was cloudy with some patches of sunshine here and there. The driver showed up this time, and I was driven to Patong where we picked up some more tourists and transferred to a minibus.
Our guide explained what would happen over the course of the day, and made us laugh with a couple of jokes about The Man With the Golden Gun.
“After the movie we change the name to get the big money!”
I drifted off into a light sleep for a while as it was about a 2-hour drive to the jetty, but I soon awoke to the sound of heavy rain. When it rains in Thailand it’s not just a drizzle…the rain drops are the size of golf balls! I thought we would turn back as the skies looked really ominous, but the driver kept on going.
When we finally arrived at the jetty, the rain was torrential. It was a monsoon.
To my surprise they didn’t turn round and take us back. We piled off the bus into a little shop where we could buy oversized plastic ponchos for 50 Baht, and it was so crowded I felt like I was in a January Sale. I bought two…just in case.
As we walked outside the back of the store we had to wade through a pool of water, and you can see how bad it was in these photos:
I thought perhaps the longtail boat would provide us some shelter from the rain, but alas this was not the case. You see, when it rains in Southeast Asia, it’s so heavy there is no escaping it. The rain doesn’t just fall downwards, it falls sideways and comes at you from all directions.
Despite the gloomy skies the bay looked majestic and impressive, but I could barely look up because the rain drops kept beating me in the face! Its funny though how rain drops don’t really show up in photographs, don’t you think?
Our first stop was the world-famous James Bond Island. The beach was crowded with tourists even on a rainy day, but I imagine it would be so much busier if the sun was out.
We stopped here for 30 minutes so I braved taking my DSLR out for this one photo, but instantly had to put it back to avoid water damage. It was cool, but if you take the movie out of the equation, it didn’t really WOW me. Maybe I have just travelled too much? I sometimes feel like it takes more and more to impress me these days.
Next stop was sea canoeing, and by this point I was completely soaked through, even with the poncho. I’ve been canoeing in Halong Bay and other places, so I decided it wasn’t really worth doing it in this kind of weather, especially as the rain was making my contacts go fuzzy. Instead I had a glass of juice and chatted with some of the other party-poopers like myself who had opted out.
By this point I was pretty hungry, so I was glad that the next stop was the lunch stop at Koh Pannyi- the floating Muslim Village. The lunch spread was very good with seafood soup, vegetable stir fry, chicken legs, crispy prawns and chicken with cashew nuts. I was ravenous so I didn’t even have time to take a photo!
I think most people were feeling cold, soaked and a little fed up, so the tour leader made the call to take us back to shore. On the way back we made one last stop at Wat Suwankuha aka ‘the Monkey Temple’ to see the large reclining Buddha and feed the monkeys. I have seen lots of monkeys across Southeast Asia, but for some people this seemed to be the highlight of the day.
All in all, this would have been a decent tour if it hadn’t been raining and you can’t predict the weather when it’s rainy season. However out of the whole month, I had actually only seen it rain once or twice (and only for an hour or so) so I was extremely disappointed that it had to rain on the ONE day I decided to book a tour. The following photo is how I’ll forever remember this day:
But that’s life. Been there, done that, never again.
Of course, I couldn’t let those pictures be my only photos of James Bond Island, so I ran them through Camera + and Instagram