The man with the disappointing day trip

The next couple of days after New Year were a little bit surreal. It rained torrentially and solidly for a day and a night and drummed on the tin roof of our hostel as if someone was continually emptying gravel onto it. It became an appropriately semi-hypnotic soundtrack to our collective hangover. As the rain eased, so did our headaches and we were able to venture out in search of food, coffee and other such necessities. The footpaths that linked the various parts of Railay peninsula had become rivers and we now had to wade along these, knee-deep in places, to get to where we were going. Because of all the standing water there were now also whole new squadrons of mosquitoes eating me alive (my legs look like gourds) just to add to the misery. We headed to West Beach only to find half of it missing - the rains had washed away huge swathes of sand and, in places, huge ravines had been created where storm drains had failed and collapsed. I ordered a cup of coffee to try to deal with the confusion but that merely made things worse - especially when I asked for some milk to go with it and was presented with a baby bottle, complete with teat. Were they deliberately messing with my head?

We needed something to cheer us up and that arrived in the form of two old friends of mine from the world of weekly magazines. Adrian and Saffron, who had recently married and were staying in Ao Nang (the next beach up the coast), decided to take time out from their honeymoon to come and see us! We had a great afternoon on our weather-beaten corner of Thailand and they cheered us up no end. The sun even came out too! It was really good to see them and sad to wave goodbye as they rode off into the sunset on their tailboat, like seabound cowboys.

The next day, we decided we should take advantage of our geographical position and visit Ko Khao Phing Kan, a rocky outcrop in Phang Nga Bay, more commonly known as "James Bond Island". This is because it was the star of 1974 movie The Man With The Golden Gun starring Christopher Lee as a hitman with three nipples and a midget sidekick (they don't make them like that any more!). As movie locations go, it is probably one of the most iconic in cinematic history. As tourist destinations go, it is probably one of the most distressing places I have ever visited. The beach is now home to lots of market stalls selling the worst kind of tacky dross - weirdly, not one of them sells any James Bond memorabilia - and the whole place is swarming with boatloads of loathsome tourists (a bit like us, I guess) getting in the way of any photos you might want to take and generally being annoying (some obviously confused Italian lads insisted on screaming the theme from Mission Impossible for their entire visit). It was not a pleasant experience. As a Bond fan it was heartbreaking.

We left Railay at dawn the next day. As the tide was out we had to be taken to our boat by tractor and trailer. This is definitely a new one to add to the very long list of different modes of transport we've been on for this trip. We got a boat to Krabi, a plane from Krabi to Bangkok and then another plane to Singapore where we had a lovely drunken night courtesy of one of Claire's old rugby friends. We're on the home straight for this leg now and there are only a few more days before we have to fly back to the UK briefly before leg three of this marathon year-out. So what should we do for those last few days? I know, let's get a bus to Malaysia...


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