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Phang Nga Bay: James Bond Island

Strangely shaped limestone isles ascend from the clear, green water of a forest-fringed bay in Thailand

Shimmering heat daze blankets the tree-lined shores of Phang Nga Bay in southern Thailand, where the clear waters of the Andaman Sea shimmer green under the powerful tropical sun. About 40 limestone rocks and isles of fantastic shape are sprinkled in the vast bay, some projecting 900ft (275m) from the water. Most of the islands have caverns and grottoes; some are pierced with natural tunnels and underpasses.

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Pekinese Rock, anointed for its shape, defends the mouth of the bay, and in Tham Lot caverns, huge stalactites dangle like swords above visiting sightseers in longtail boats. Khao Kein, or a.k.a painted mountain, has not only stalactites but also wall paintings of fish and animals, drawn in black and ochre by primitive artists from the archaic period.

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Nail Island or Ko Tapu, ascends from the sea like a giant nail, the most expansive at the top. Close by is Khoa Ping Khan or 'two islands leaning back to back, its vertical, tree-draped flanks and craggy cliffs riven in two, perhaps, by an earthquake that occurred aeons ago. Now the uninhabited isle is a prominent tourist draw and has earned a second name - James Bond Island. It was the backdrop for the villain's den in the 1974 James Bond film 'The Man with the golden gun.

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