Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ko Panyee/Panyi

Visited by BeachBlogger - early December 2010

Approaching Ko Panyee, the "floating" Muslim fishing village in Phang Nga Bay. I did a daytrip with Mr Kean Tour from the Phang Nga town bus station compound - was dropped at the islands around 1430. This shot is worth expanding by clicking.

My first tour of the bay in the 90s involved a slap-up buffet meal at one of the big restaurants on Ko Panyee. I later learned it is possible to stay overnight on the island and have wanted to do this since. I got a chance in early December 2010.


The village does not really float, but is built on piers and is attached to a towering karst stack islet. This far northern section is close to the islet as is the next 200m but the village extends a good 400m away from it to the south.

The structure above is my guest house for the night - Panyee Bungalows. Big restaurant for daytrippers at the front - kitchens, bathrooms and guest rooms at back. This is a pretty new section of the village - is not in the Google overhead image above (it's adjacent the boat top-right of image).
I paid an extra 250 baht to stay on the island which got me a fan room plus dinner and breakfast. The room was a spotless 4x3m box with two firm single matresses on the floor, a clothes stand but no chairs or other furniture, quiet fan, towel supplied. Guests use the big spotless bathroom area of the restaurant.

The restaurant area is huge, could probably seat 500 people. By late afternoon it was virtually deserted but I have seen how busy these places are in the middle of the day when the daytrip boats come in. Poor light and rain drizzle outside has robbed the shot of colour, but posts/rails/table wood is shiny polished stuff, quite attractive.
If you expand this shot you can better see the fish pens floating outside - your meal is going to be pretty fresh here and at the other restaurants. In background is the public pier behind which is another half dozen or more similar restaurants. Panyee is called a Muslim fishing village but I think the restaurant industry is maybe more important.


After exploring the vilage I sat with a good book at one of the restaurant tables, looking up frequently to check the comings and goings of craft on the water outside. Around 1800 a woman brought to the table a big tray with 3 huge dishes. One contained a spicy vegetable soup which turned out to also have a heap of seafood. There was a big flat omelette on another dish. The third was a huge plate of rice. I heaped the seafood, vegetables and omelette onto the rice with an occasional spoonful of soup to rev it up and had me one of the best meals of this particular Thailand visit. This was totally unexpected. I thought my 250 got me just the room. I was preparing to go to one of the elcheapo locals' restaurants I'd spotted on my island walk (I'd checked my joint's seafood menu - looked great but a bit expensive for me) when my meal arrived.
Breakfast was about 6 bits of toast, a fried egg and two cups of coffee. Simple but adequate.

These local guys were fanging around the island in their dragon boat - seemed to be training for some upcoming event. Were into the interval training routine - go like hell for a minute, rest a minute, go like hell for a minute, rest a .......

While I was eating dinner, 3 German yachties cruised in and tied up to our pier. They went off and wandered the village and later had a really lengthy seafood meal in our restaurant. Dudes were still boozing along around 2330. They stayed the night on their boat at the pier.

There was quite a lot of late afternoon boat traffic. Afternoon half-day bay trips are popular, there are some sunset tours and of course quite a lot of local fishing people and others making their way back to the island or to Phang Nga town and other places on the mainland.

The main island walkway runs the full 600m from north to south. Most of it looks like the above - dozens of shops selling stuff to the daytrippers plus the occasional restaurant as at front-left for the locals.

Despite few visitors after mid afternoon the tourist-stuff places remained open to at least 1730. Once closed it was apparent that many were in fact the vestibules of houses behind. At night locals sat around on the stoop jawing or eating in the small restaurants. Kids ran around, sound of TV sets from open doors. Real village atmosphere.

This is the quadrangle of the island school. Island must have several thousand people, fair number of kids.

I got up next morning to catch sun-rise but unfortunately the cloud and drizzle were still around.

I got a surprise when finishing breakfast around 0830. The waitress told me my boat back to Phang Nga town left in 2 minutes! Whoa - I was thinking I'd spend the day on the island and be picked up by Mr. Kean's boat when it called in that afternoon (you can see I didn't exactly research this visit). On reflection I can see why this would not always work well, whereas there would always be a local boat heading back to town in the morning - maybe earlier than usual this particular morning.
I was a bit disappointed I did not get to see/take shots of the busy lunch-time period or from the viewpoint the guys on my previous day's boat told me was up a short path to the island generator on the karst stack (they had 45 minutes to explore the island. I didn't go to the viewpoint the previous day because of the drizzle).
Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to Ko Panyee, one of the best uses of 250 baht I've had in recent trips.

GETTING THERE
As said, I did an extension on Mr Kean's full daytrip from his agency in the Phang Nga town bus station compound, but you can do this from half day trips too. Sayan Tour in the same compound can also orgainise these. I think most trip desks and agencies from Phuket to Krabi could also arrange a stay, not to mention hotels and guest houses in Phang Nga town. No doubt you could also arrange your own transport out to the island and stay independently.

LinkThe page on Mr Keans daytrip can be found HERE.

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3 comments:

  1. Woww!!! nice trip. If you can’t decide for your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!

    And if you are looking for hotel in phuket for your holiday. Surin Beach Hotel will be the best choice for you too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love Phang Nga, I love white beaches and crystal clear waters.
    I would like to suggest Phuket Yacht.

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  3. so you arrived on the island at 4pm?

    ReplyDelete