I arrived in Phang Nga bay, one of the most spectacular sceneries in Thailand, in a long tail boat as the sun was setting.
Although i was welcomed by a gentle drizzle, the sunset colors were warm and inviting, highlighting the phallic rock Koh Panyee village hangs on to.
The village is almost completely built on stilts …
… and small scale fishing seems to be one of the main activities.
After spending the night at the only accommodation in the village catering to foreign tourists, I set off at dawn. In the early morning light, the village is still very sleepy.
Apparently being the only tourist – and the only foreigner – on the island, I charter a long tail boat all for myself, eager to discover this universe.
Ahead, the islets dotting the bay are slowly emerging from the morning mist.
Fishing is still very traditional and small scale.
Some of the islands are lined with beautiful mangroves …
… and narrow passageways invite exploration.
The village’s mosque is by far its most beautiful – and striking – building.
Beyond fishing, the village lives off the daytime tourists who invade it for a quick lunch break and a stroll down its central “avenue”.
In the morning, the villagers prepare for the onslaught… which doesn’t always come.
Tourists are kindly reminded of the local rules, inspired by the Muslim practices of the villagers.
Overall, the houses are simple…
… and very open …
… like the few stores.
As outdoor space is extremely scarce, distractions are limited.
The new football/soccer “field” located in front of the school is very popular. To find out how thanks to a committed bunch of local kids football/soccer became the village’s unlikely top sport, and how they became Young Champions of Southern Thailand 5 years in a row, you can watch this inspiring 5 minute documentary.
Another soccer pitch, remake of the original floating wooden one, is quite spectacular and actually famous around the world. It became one of the village’s top tourist attractions.
Totally impractical to play, it is mostly used as a dock where longtail boats unload passengers 😂
Even the fishing equipment “store” is a testimony of the island’s passion for football…
The evening is another magical time, as the sun sets …
… and the villagers return home …
… and get to settle …
… for a well-deserved dinner.
If the Koh Panyee village is well known, Khao Ping Kan, with its spectacular “needle” rock, is probably the most famous sight in Phang Nga bay.
It is probably better known as James Bond island, as it was used as a key backdrop for the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun
Tourists now flock the place to recreate the famous shot…
… or alternate versions.
A day and a half went so quickly… It’s already time to go and say goodbye to this amazing bay.
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More to come, stay tuned!