3 Feb 2012

Duel on the beach - James Bond Island, Thailand

Probably the most famous Bond location in the world is the island of Ko Tapu, or nail island in Thailand, today known as "James Bond island".
Because of the fame, it is also one of the most commercially ruined locations you can visit. But nonetheless, when in Thailand it is well worth a visit. The island is situated in a beautiful part of Thailand, namely Phang Nga bay. It was here that Scaramanga's secret lair was located in The man with the golden gun and the famous duel between Scaramanga and Bond took place on the beach here in 1974.    
                "Watch that mushroom shaped rock!"
Since 1981 the island is part of the Ao Phang Nga National Park and since 1998 it is forbidden for tourist boats to approach Ko Tapu, which aims to stop erosion of the limestone rocks that might eventually result in a collapse. Despite that, the beach is not protected and therefore ruined by both the locals and the tourists.
Scaramanga has built a luxurious hideout inside the mountain and has a view over the "mushroom shaped rock". When Bond arrives, he lands on the water and stops his sea plane on the beach. Nick Nack greets him  with a bottle of Dom Perignon 1964, which Scaramanga then opens by shooting off the cork.

                                    "-Six bullets to your one?
                                      -I only need one..."
                                                     -Bond to Scaramanga-

From the beach Bond and Scaramanga reach the entrance to the lair. Of course it is a fake as you can see from the left picture. Another example of excellent production and set design. Obviously all the interior scenes were shot in studio. The cast have left their autographs on some metal plates that can be found on the rock wall.

The original beach is covered with stalls and vendors selling sea shells with the 007 logo and other trinkets, so sadly the original untouched setting is gone forever. But the beach where Scaramanga and Miss Anders are served drinks by Nick Nack, seen in the pre-title sequence, are not the same as the one used in the duel scene. Instead you can find that beach on the other side of the big rock to the right. Fortunately this beach is not as well known and therefore free from both tourists and vendors.
Scaramanga's private beach to the right
The easiest way to get to James Bond island is probably taking a daylong sightseeing trip where the visit is included together with lunch, elephant trek, speedboat trip and various visits etc. You can almost certainly find at least one tour including James Bond island at every travel agent in Phuket. But the best way to get there would be charter a boat by yourself and leave early in the morning to avoid the tourists and the people selling kitsch. That is probably the only way you can truly enjoy this classic location in peace.

Phang Nga Bay was also used in the final scenes of Tomorrow never dies, 23 years later. The famous "James Bond Island" is not visible however but the surrounding rocks and beautiful scenery is very recognizable indeed. In Tomorrow the location is supposed to be in the south China sea, namely Ha Long bay.

1 comment:

  1. James Bond Island boast of one of the most beautiful and homely landscape in the region. Touring the James Bond Island by speedboat is one of the most fulfilling adventures you need to experience in a lifetime. James Bond Island