At the heart of Phuket's Old Town is Thalang Road, the commercial centre of Phuket's past. Here, you will find various fascinating shophouses selling such exotic wares as Chinese herbal medicine and handicrafts. One aspect to note about this architecture (so often called 'Sino-Portugese' but in reality 'Sino-colonial') is that the shophouses and residences in this area are many more times longer than they are wide, with residences featuring heavily accented latticework entries.
The cooking and bathing area is at the back of these buildings, open to cooling breezes and each residence has an air shaft that goes up through the centre, ensuring ventilation. Of course these shafts let in rain which is collected in a sort of in-house pond often containing exotic fish. Many old town roads and streets have covered arcades ('noh-kaa-kee') or archways that join shops together and provide cover for passers by.
It's wacky but fun and very professionally done. Trapeze artists, elephants on stage and pyrotechnics combine in a Las Vegas-style show. You'll see nothing else like it anywhere on the planet. Combining Thai traditional myths with humour, fantasy and a loose plotline that keeps getting more and more amusing, FantaSea's extravaganza is a highly entertaining and riveting show
James Bond Island
Ko Tapu (James Bond Island) is a limestone rock about 20 metres (66 ft) tall with the diameter increasing from about 4 metres (13 ft) near the water level to about 8 metres (26 ft) at the top. It lies about 40 metres (130 ft) to the west from the northern part of Khao Phing Kan.
A local legend explains the formation of Ko Tapu island as follows. Once upon a time, there lived a fisherman who used to bring home much fish every time he went to the sea. However, one day he could not catch any fish despite tedious attempts and only picked up a nail with his net. He kept throwing the nail back to the sea and catching it again. Furious, he took his sword and cut the nail in halves, using all his power. Upon impact, one half of the nail jumped up and speared into the sea forming Ko Tapu. It first found its way onto the international map through its starring role in the James Bond movie 'The Man With the Golden Gun'. And this is where most tours seem to take all of the tourists - all at the same time. The entire area surrounding this island with its signature rocky pinnacle is indeed spectacular, but most of the tours bus visitors up the main highway for an hour on the same well-worn itinerary.
Limestone is calcium carbonate, which is generally white. Over millions of years, the skeletons from a constant rain of marine organisms, plus the chemical precipitation of yet more calcium carbonate build thick layers of sediment. Eventually, the heat and pressure of their own weight turn these strata, hundreds of metres thick, to stone.
A variety of geological forces have then fractured the limestone beds and pushed up the 40 steep-sided islands that provide the exotic scenery for which this shallow bay is noted. Mineral oxides from various sources paint the vari-coloured streaks that characterise the cliffs of Phang Nga Bay.