This travel is close to its end, but we still have
one great day in front: today. Since tomorrow we’ll be in the return
We take our buffet breakfast and wait with a Dutch couple to
be picked up. At 8 AM o’clock the van arrives, the guide introduces to
the four of us. We’re the last ones and the seats at the bottom are the
ones free for us. It is a 2 hours’ drive and our guide makes her best
on entertaining us by telling things about Thailand and then,
specifically of the area we’re in. When she is talking about the
nationalities of the people of the group, which is composed by around
15 persons, Spain is recalled as the recent football world champion.
Some minutes after 10 AM we’re in Phang Nga
National Park, in a quay with a lot of a new kind of boats which seems
to be the bus of the longtails. The broad river in front of us is the
main part of the landscape and the tropical vegetation around seem to
come to the riverside and over the water. At far, we can see the rock
formations emerging from the water, which is what is typical of this
Our boat is going to that part and the engine
noise makes difficult hearing clearly guide’s explanations. The
landscape is so beautiful, we can see the mangrove close at out left
and check how the vegetation is coming out from the water while at our
right rocks are making impossible shapes, as the one called “Elephant
rock” below. I’d chosen a different animal, though.
The river is opening for which could already be
the bay itself and a huge rock is appearing in the middle. Our guide is
talking about it and the floating village built by Muslim Malaysian
immigrants under its protection, its name is Koh Panyee. We’re
fascinated by this village as we’re passing by, although we know we’re
going to come back to it as we actually are going to lunch in there
We’re going through the water with rocks emerging
vertically here and there from it. As we’re approaching to one of these
islands we can figure out it is a big attraction due to the amount of
boats in its quay. Our first stop is also the highlight of this tour:
what is called as James Bond’s island but is actually Koh Tapu.
We know the most famous picture of the whole
coast is here, but we still cannot see it. We’ve got land in a tiny
quay in a side of a small beach and we can see in front of us the tall
rock walls which feet are covered by the souvenir market. No way of
getting lost here: there is only one path in the middle which is
constantly crowded. We pass by a spectacular and perfect cut of rock,
as if it was not natural, and at the end of this short walk there is a
beach full of tourists getting their photo of the image we’ve come to
see. We join to them with our cameras but, when I can see some of them
swimming close to that rock, which seems to stand magically, I take my
clothes off and go to the water.
This beach boundary is also full with the souvenir
but we spend the rest of our time for this visit by following a small
path, starting with some stairs at the left of the beach, and rounds
this island until the beach with the quay. We can get new great views
Once back in our boat, we’re leaving this place to an area
looking wilder, until we can see a floating platform from which
colorful canoes are leaving and coming.
For the ones haven’t chosen the canoeing option it is offered one last
time. Which are still not interested can spend the time in the bar,
inside this platform. We are taken to the side where the canoes are
delivering and picking tourists and are recommended to put all our
valuable things inside a plastic bag which pretends to be water proof.
We leave our shoes there and get into one of these kayaks. The boy
driving our canoe – and by driving I’m meaning paddling - help us to
allocating my wife and me. This way, just a few minutes after arriving
to this place we’re in our canoe, long enough as per the three of us
could be laid, something we didn’t know we should do here to reach the
treasures inside these mountains over the water. This is the best of
the tour and the best way to understand it is showing it, specifically
in this video:
When we’re leaving the biggest cave we can see a
selling cocoas. The boy in our canoe is constantly asking us if we’re
happy and we always agree on it. Close to the end he asks us if we want
to swim and I answer yes. It seems he has some off tour minutes ready:
we’re taken to a hidden area of the mangrove and he let me smoke asking
for a cigarette in exchange. We can swim for a bit in so magnificent
environment (the one in the second picture below) and in a spectacular
When it’s time to finish and the cigarettes are close to
end I offer the boy the bottle I use as ashtray but he prefers throw it
to the river. This is the only sad point in this trip. When we’re
reaching the platform this boy asks us for his tip and for not being
seen giving him the money. I give 20 Baht to him and he says he wants
more. I explain we don’t have more as we haven’t brought more as
everything was paid for this tour. I really think the behavior with the
cigarette shouldn’t be encouraged.
Once all together again in the big long tail we’re in our way
back to the main quay, where the van is waiting for us, but still there
is one last stop: the floating village of Koh Panyee.
We reach this place by boat as it cannot be
reached with anything else and walk over this floor we know is not as
solid as it seems. This is the quay area with fishing stuff everywhere.
The long tables are ready right here, in a kind of huge terrace with
roof, and there are some groups of tourists already lunching here. We
take our place in a round table. As I’m eating my soup I can feel how some tears are coming down through
my cheeks. They’re coming from the spicy hot the soup is, I love it!
The main course is just enough to feed us, with its usual side of rice.
As people is finishing they’re leaving the table for exploring the
curious village. We just stop at the first shops and with all the
bargaining we only have time of taking a quick look to the narrow
streets forgetting they’re over such a fragile base.
It’s time to come back to the van in our return trip to the hotel, but
we still have two more visits in front, both outside the National park.
The first of these is the monkey temple, where our guide assures us the
monkeys here are not as wild as the ones we could meet around as
they’re pacific and used to the food from tourists. They can still
steal things, though.
Out of the van we can find big open area, as if it
was a sort of park, with some trees at right and a banana market at
left. In front, a simple blue gate is the entrance to the temple,
inside the mountain rock and, above it, this cliff is full of
rainforest. But we cannot see any monkey.
We go inside what it looks like a cavern with some
religious icons here and there and a big golden reclined Buddha. Some
noises make me look at ceiling. But it is so dark I cannot see a thing.
I then take a picture using the flash to get a confirmation of my
thoughts: the ceiling is full of bats.
The temple can be easily visited in five minutes and we come
back out when we’re told from one in our group there is a monkey. And
it is in one of the trees near the entrance and, as it is the only one
and is in a low branch, everybody wants a picture with it. It’s the
celebrity here! We started to think that was going to be all for the
monkey temple, but we were wrong.
A couple go to buy some bananas to offer to the
friendly monkey and this fact has just started some movements in the
jungle above the temple. We can see how some monkeys are slowly coming
down from it using the lianas, just in the spot of the picture at left.
Our sight is getting sharper for animals and is
then when we’re seeing more and more monkeys coming down and,
obviously, they reach our level. People buy more bananas and monkeys
come to take them from tourists’ hands. We join to them by 100 Baht for
a bag of small bananas, which is an expensive price for a market, but
here it is the main attraction.
Monkeys are getting their meal and we are after a
picture of us giving a banana to one of the monkeys, but it is harder
to do than explain as the animals approach carefully but, when they are
at distance they’re so quick taking the fruit and running away with it.
They’re almost as fast as our eyes and definitively faster than our
cameras. One of them steals the bag to Eva and another takes the most
part of my last banana leaving just a small piece of it in my hand.
My solution then: holding hard that piece and
don’t let it go until having my picture. The result: the photo at left,
with a small monkey fighting for its reward.
Happy with this experience we’re back to our van ready for
our last stop: some falls where we can get a swim in nature.
When we arrive we can check we’re alone here. This
place is basically jungle with a couple of wooden huts for the typical
services to visits: restroom, bar, gift shop, etc… Before seeing the
water we can see in display the falls with its picture, just as shown
in Erawan, although these are quite less spectacular. And as in Erawan,
we see the two first falls here and, as the people in our group keep
going up we go back to the first for a lonely swim. The water is the
colder I’ve been in Thailand. I’m saying good bye in the picture at
right because since tomorrow we start our return trip to home, with a
stop in Bangkok to finishing with our shopping.
So we’re thinking about it in the short ride to the hotel. As
we’re the first to be delivered we can say good bye to all our tour
partners and rest at room for a while. We’re going to dinner somewhere
in the beach. We remember now about the Muay Thai we refused yesterday,
knowing we had got time to be in.
Hotel’s tuk tuk drive us to restaurant Pakarang, in front of Nopparat
Thara Beach and recommended by our driver, who we already know from
yesterday. When we’re done, the restaurant staff will call him to be
taken back to the hotel. It seems expensive for Thailand standards and,
as we still have all the shopping for the next days, we order some
seafood brochettes appearing as the highlight offer in the menu and a
main course for each of us, but managing the bill for being under 800
We only have to rest for today, a long and wonderful day. The Phang Nga tour is with no doubt a must-do.