Early start today, had to up before 6am to catch our tour to Phang Nga Bay. Collected by our transport after breakfast we headed north east. After travelling for about 40 minutes we arrived at this little village with a huge jetty. Introduced to the team and a brief description of our itinerary we set off down the jetty to board the speed boat. There was a group of 20 people, all Aussies and one family of three from France. We headed out into the bay at full throttle for about 20 mins arriving at the first stop. Having been given touches we hoped off the boat and waded through a cave, with water knee deep in spots, then it opened into huge cavern of tall rocky walls and mangroves. You could see mud skippers hopping through the mud and very peaceful. Back onto the boat for a short trip to the canoes. We carefully climbed into canoes two at a time and proceeded to be paddled around and through caves for about 40 minutes. Many other canoes about, but it was great fun and nice sights. Back on the boat we were served fresh fruit and donuts for morning tea and helped ourselves to an endless choice of cold drinks. We cruised passed "James Bond" island made famous by the the 1974 Bond movie "The Man With The Golden Gun" for a photo opportunity. After this we headed to the floating Muslim fishing village - Koh Pannyi. An amazing place that is home to more than 300 families making a population of thousands. Their main income is tourists with over 2000 visitors a day! The pathways were lined with trinkets, market food and clothing. There is a great story about the soccer team winning the nations titles after practicing on a floating pitch. They were building a massive mosque, and life seemed much the same as anywhere else with cats as pets, chickens running around and kids attending school. We were treated to a Thai style lunch in the floating open air restaurant. After lunch we headed off on the boat for some snorkelling and swimming.
On the way we passed a man high up in a cave on the side of the cliff. He lives there in solitude for 6 months collecting the Chinese delicacy "birds nests". The little male bird called a swiflet makes these nests 3 times a year, each taking 35 days to build. Due to the difficult of harvesting they sell for the cost of up to $10 000/kg.
We also passed a beach cave of Thai Sea Gypsies. They weren't home on this day as they are nomadic often spending a week or more at sea gathering food then come back to the cave to rest. They are skilled seaman and are able to dive for extended lengths of time and the children are said to see better under water than on land
For our swim we were taken into a beautiful lagoon with a passage just big enough for the boat to pass through, and apart from a couple of local boats we were the only ones there it was magical. It was then a full throttle 40 minute ride back to base and the bus ride back to the hotel.