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James Bond Island, where: boats have been banned to buy time

James Bond Island To Topple: Ban on Tour Boats

Monday, August 25, 2008
THE ANDAMAN region's most famous tourist attraction, James Bond Island, is now officially in danger of toppling into the sea.

Speedboats, ferries, longtails and yachts have been barred from sailing close to the much-photographed limestone stack that towers above the waters of Phang Nga Bay.

The outcrop, known locally as Koh Tapu, (the nail) is the symbol of the province, a huge drawcard for the region's tourism industry, and one of South-East Asia's most beautiful natural monuments.

On Sunday, the Governor of Phang Nga, Wichai Praisa-Ngob, ordered increased security around James Bond Island.

On August 19, a smaller stack, also known as a karst, toppled into the sea.

Khun Wichai talked to experts who told him that the most famous karst of all, located in the Ao Phang Nga National Park, now has limited time left before it too tumbles into the water.

A spokeswoman for the parks department said: ''We have to try to save Koh Tapu for as long as possible. Many boats have motored by and moored too close to the island over the years.

''From now on, they will be kept away. The governor wants us to check every day to make sure boats keep their distance.''

James Bond Island is about 20 metres in height and sits about 150 metres from the shore.

The steady erosion that gives the karst an unbalanced leaning tower look has been taking place for thousands of years.

Made famous in the 1974 James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun, the karst features as the prime attraction on thousands of brochures for sightseeing tours around Phang Nga Bay.

Just what the province of Phang Nga would do without the karst, which became a regional icon with the creation of the park in 1981, is uncertain.

Governor Wichai, appointed to the province's top post last year, has been campaigning to win more tourists to stay overnight in Phang Nga rather than simply making day trips from the more popular island province of Phuket.

A ban has been in place for two years on boats travelling between James Bond Island and a neighboring rocky outcrop to prevent backwash from hastening the destruction of the Andaman region's most notable natural monument.

Boatloads of tourists are also taken to Koh Ping-gan, a straight-edged cave on a beach nearby, and Koh Panyee, a Muslim seafaring fishing village built on stilts, about seven kilometres to the south.

Wilkipedia, the online encyclopedia, says that the creation of the karsts began some 10,000 years ago, when it was possible to walk from Phuket to Krabi, on the opposite shore of Phang Nga Bay.

The bay's rugged beauty also is featured in the later James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies.

Whether global warming is hastening the destruction of these kinds of natural monuments is uncertain. But in the case of Koh Tapu, unwanted backwash certainly does not help.

The Twelve Apostles, a series of prominent limestone stacks off the southern coast of the Australian state of Victoria, now number only eight.

A nearby limestone monument, London Bridge, collapsed some years ago, stranding a tourist at sea but safe on the remaining nail-like formation.

Essential Reading:

Stilt Villagers Tame The Beast of Panyee
A gem among Andaman destinations, cameras loved this fabled water village on stilts. But up close and personal, Panyee was on the nose. Could a humble fishing community overcome the perils of pollution?

Stilt Villagers Tame The Beast of Panyee

Observation Tower To Give Phuket Competition
In an exclusive interview, the Governor of Phang Nga reveals his plans for a tall observation tower and a new administration centre to make his province more competitive with Phuket.

Observation Tower To Give Phuket Competition

Comments

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I have been saying this for years along with John Gray: there should be a no go zone for boats around the area, and to only approach from the pier side. This no go zone should be fenced off asap

Posted by michael dawson on August 27, 2008 14:04


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