15 May The James Bond Rock in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Secret Agent 007 James Bond and his relation to the island Khao Phing Kan
In fact Khao Phing Kan is the real name of the island, which is located almost 800 km far from Bangkok, in the south of Thailand, in wonderful Phang Nga Bay. Although nowadays almost no one calls it by its real name.It became famous as James Bond Island and that is how it is attracting thousands of tourists from all over the world, every year, again and again. Thereby the James Bond Rock itself is considered as one of the most famous scene in that region of Thailand for taking pictures.
James Bond and The Man with the Golden Gun
The movie that made the island as famous as it is today was released in December of 1974 in German cinemas. Within just 18 month more than 3 million visitors had been watching the film and therefore it was awarded with the ‘golden screen’ (Goldene Leinwand) in Germany.
Directed by Guy Hamilton secret agent 007 combats again against the evil in the world. It is Roger Moore performing for the second time as James Bond. Thereby his wild chase leads him from London to Jamaica and all the way to Thailand.
The movie is about the professional killer Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), who had stolen the so-called “Solex”, a highly developed gadget that makes it possible to convert solar energy into electric power. James Bond is in charge to find him and thereby he risks to be hunted himself by the villain. As a sign of being in danger he receives a golden bullet with an engraving – “007”. But the secret agent is not frightened at all and continues his chase. His colleague Mary Goodnight supports him on his way, as well as Andrea Anders, Scaramanga’s beloved, whose assistance is unintentional, but still helpful.
In Bangkok Bond faces his enemy and his vertically challenged companion Nick Nack. Further struggles and chases lead him finally into assumed Chinese area, to the secret island of Scaramanga with the enormous energy system. There it comes to a final duel between the rivals.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUscvHqHkmg – film clip
Phang Nga Bay in the movie
Some risky manoeuvres with a white waterplane through the gigantic limestone rocks of the Bay take Bond finally to a landing on a small sandy beach. By that time the unscrupulous Scaramanga and his little assistant Nick Nack are already awaiting his arrival. The villain enjoys showing 007 around in his secret hideout in between the cliffs of the Bay. And of course he is as well demonstrating the solar panels of the Solex generator, to be seen on the offshore rock in the water. In the end the professional killer Scaramanga, the man with the golden gun and his archrival James Bond compete against each other in a final duel. It might be one of the most exciting scenes in this movie, remembered best by most of its audience. Here the offshore James Bond Rock can be seen again in its entire glory.
What makes Phang Nga Bay so special
Phang Nga Bay is special for its bizarre and cliffy karst landscape and is an indispensable highlight on every journey to southern Thailand. Gigantic limestone rocks majestically rising from an emerald-green sea. During the last 100 million years they have been formed by tectonic plate movement, wind and ocean current. It is an impressive and unique landscape abundantly covered with mangrove jungle vegetation, hidden caves, lagoons and massive cone karsts.
Koh Phing Kan, the James Bond Island, was originally one enormous rock that broke in two pieces. Nowadays the smaller part seems to be leaning relaxed on the bigger one. Therefore its name: Koh Phing Kan is equivalent to inclining rock. The highest point reaches 300 meters and is thereby perforated with caves and grottos. Since 1981 the island is under protection of the Ao Phang Nga Marine National Park.
And even the James Bond Rock itself offers impressive scenery, due to his offshore position in front of the island. It is 22 meters high and has a diameter of about 4 meters, but still relatively small compared to other rock formations at Phang Nga Bay. Instead, it knows to impress with its extraordinary shape. As the rock is broad on the top and pointed towards the bottom, it looks like a gigantic nail being banged into sea ground. Natives used to call it Ko Tapu, nail rock, before the 007-movie attracted tourists worldwide.
Today the James Bond Rock is one of the indispensable main attractions of tours to Phang Nga Bay and maybe the most famous scene for taking pictures.
A bit of truth is hiding in every movie
James Bond Island is far from Chinese waters. Furthermore, the small island in Thai Phang Nga Bay offers no space for a secret hideout. Just as little there is room for a spacious control center between the cliffs. And there is no solar panel on the top of James Bond Rock. Even the search for souvenirs, which are somehow related to the famous secret agent, is surprisingly useless.
However, what reality really shows to advantage is the amazing landscape consisting of wonderfully green mangrove jungles, impressive karst formations, caves and grottos, calm waters and bright sand. And beyond that, there is that nervous prickling, a slightly excitement, to be finally following the tracks of the popular secret agent. To step into his shoes – just once. To take some photos, in front of the rock, where 007 was once fighting his dangerous rival Scaramanga.
The easiest way to the island is not by plane …
Luckily there is no need of a risky and breath-taking manoeuvre (like shown in the movie) by plane directly through limestone karsts and rocks to get the pleasure of being surrounded by wonderful landscape. Much more relaxed is a travel by one of the beautiful-decorated longtail boats, gently floating on the water along impressive stone formations and mangrove forests. Can you imagine any better option?
Good to know …
* Original plans said that the scenes on Scaramanga’s island should be filmed in Vietnamese Halong Bay, but due to missing approvals the decision was made to simply shift to Phang Nga Bay in Thailand, which is similarly impressive.
** The most famous movie scene is the car chase in the streets of Bangkok, including a 360° turn from one platform to another. This stunt was real, only the sound seems to be a bit odd.
*** Even as not a big admirer of James Bond an excursion to the unique landscape of Phang Nga Bay with its impressive scenery of limestone rocks and dense mangrove forests is always fascinating and worth a visit.