You may wonder why someone who knows they don’t like the beach or the sea would go to Phuket in the first place. Well the simple reason is that there is an island off the coast an hour and half away from Phuket airport which is known as ‘James Bond Island’ (due to its appearance in the 1974 film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’), and as a massive Bond fan I had to get there eventually.
Upon arriving in Phuket airport a friend took me to Kata Beach in the south of the island. It is one the quieter beaches, with bars looking out onto the sea. Perfect for a sand-despising visitor like me; I didn’t need to lie under the sun AND I could drink to my heart’s content. It was a pleasurable afternoon and evening; drinking Thai beer while listening to the waves washing up the shore and watching the sun set on the horizon. Bliss.
The second day was the day we went to the so-called James Bond Island. It is a hefty bus ride away from Kata beach. We drove all the way north, picking up other tourists who were joining the same tour and crossed a bridge back to the mainland in Phang Nga Bay national park. From there we were led onto a long tail boat and set off down the river toward the open sea. At least that was what was supposed to happen. But as so often happens in life, there was a hitch. Our boat’s propeller broke after five minutes, and we drifted toward the edge of the river. Fortunately, this being Thailand, the driver of the next passing boat was more than happy to offer a spare propeller he happened to have. At least someone was prepared! In no time at all we were on the move again.
We then spent the day canoeing around some smaller islands and taking the long tail boat to a few notable destinations. The star attraction of course is James Bond Island, actually called Khao Phing Kan. After taking dozens of photos here we went to a village built entirely on stilts. The village seems to float on the sea water and is an impressive sight to behold. After a late lunch there we headed back to the mainland for the final excursion, a shrine built into a cave which was also home to many monkeys. In all, a fantastic day trip. My disdain for the sea and the coast was subsiding.
The final day saw me go from hating beach holidays to eagerly looking forward to the next. I had never snorkeled before, but that was about to change. We took another boat twenty minutes from Rawai beach in Phuket to the appropriately named ‘Coral Island’. Minutes after arriving on the pristine sandy beach I was swimming in crystal clear, warm water, witnessing a whole new world. There were fish of every colour, starfish, sea urchins and much more. I have always loved exploring the world, on dry land of course, and now I wanted to see more of the world under the sea. I had fallen in love with snorkeling, and in turn, had started to love the beach.
Of course everything comes with a price. Being unfamiliar with beach holidays (I hadn’t been on one for fourteen years!) I forgot to use sun cream. So I suffered for my enjoyment. Luckily, the sunburn didn’t hurt until I was back in Bangkok. It certainly hasn’t stopped me wanting to get back to the beach as quickly as possible.