James Bond Island

We decided that there were so many interesting things to see near to Ao Nang/Krabi that we’d better combine a few of them into an organized tour. This is pretty common in SE Asia- there are tour companies everywhere, happy to whisk you away to the local attractions and overcharge you a little, but they make it worth your while by taking all the worry and planning and transportation issues out of the equation for you.

Well, we loved the photos we’d seen of the “James Bond island” (so named because ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ was filmed there), and so we booked a tour that featured a visit to it. Its actual name?  Ko Tapu, or ‘Nail Island’.

It’s such an impossible-looking limestone karst, rising top-heavy up out of the green waters.

Well, we didn’t get to spend much time there (maybe 30 minutes- certainly not enough time for any of the Bond actors to show up) but the other destinations were pretty fun, too. We also saw a floating village, the Tone-Tai waterfall, and Wat Suwankuha – the monkey temple with Buddhas tucked away in a cave amongst the stalactites.

It was a very full day, and as always, we got to know some of the people on our tour with us, which is always fun and informative (you learn a lot when you meet people from other cities and countries).

And Kim made a very special friend of her own.  🙂

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Halong Bay Bungalows

The 3-day tour was supposed to include a night of sleeping on a “junk” (boat) in Halong Bay, but for whatever reason, they couldn’t do that, so I stayed in an island bungalow for two nights instead of just one.

And I “got to” put up and use mosquito nets for the first time!

The word “Bungalow” sounds ordinary and boring, but these were thatched wooden huts right on the sandy beach- in the middle of nowhere.

You can only reach it by boat.

The arrival was dramatic, as we chugged up in our wooden dragon boat to this long dock which speared out into the bay.

As we walked down the bouncing, creaking, floating footbridge, we approached the edge of the bungalows, where people were emerging from their cabin rooms, looking out into the sunset. It felt like we were entering into this little forgotten land of beach paradise that only a few people in the world knew about.

There’s nothing else there but these 10-15 rustic-looking bungalows, a communal area with a few long tables (where we all gathered for a delicious seafood barbecue dinner), and the long dock that dead-ends out in the still green bay.

And that’s it. You’re surrounded by rock formations, so there’s nothing else there and nowhere else to go except by boat.

And the view from the beach looked like the one form the movie The Beach, even though I know that’s technically in Thailand. I may see it later in June.  🙂

We arrived after a long day of cruising through these amazing waters with green-covered rocks towering all around us.

On our way there was a colorfully-lit dripping wet cave that we tramped through, and a floating village (a la Waterworld) that we chugged past en route to the bungalows in the middle of nowhere.  🙂

 

This was also one of those parts of my trip where I got to meet a lot of lovely people.

A big thank-you shout-out to the Brighton girls who got me chocolate when I was marooned on this island paradise for 2 days and bereft of dessert- Grace, Nicky, Sharon, and Amanda. You guys are great.  And thanks also to the lovely Irish Kerr family and Rochy for being such great company, and for the book.

And to Ron and Jeanne for sharing the dinner feast (and the good lunch recommendation) when we finally made it back to Hanoi after our 9+ hour journey of bus, boat, boat, bus, boat, boat, bus. (I think. I kind of lost track.)

It was quite an adventure.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay is amazing. The karst limestone formations rising straight up from the water look like something out of a fairy tale. Actually, Halong Bay means “descending dragon”, and it did appear to be a place where dragons would live. Of course, this inspired a short conversation about Game of Thrones with my new Irish friends as we traveled through this unnatural beauty on our boat.  The name comes from the pattern of the island formations, appearing to be like an undulating dragon’s body, but it’s such a mythic-looking place that you could picture exotic creatures winging their way around these other-worldly sights.

One of the tour workers pointed out interestingly-shaped formations by their names. There was a cat up on one cliff, a dog nearby, and a woman on another. They explained that these rock sculptures would continue to narrow at the bottom as the salt water eats away at them from below until… one day… they would fall down and disappear.

 

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