It's my own fault, really.
When we found out it was the wrong time of year to visit the Phi Phi Islands, I assumed a trip around Phang Nga Bay would be just as good. I was wrong.
The Phi Phi Islands, as more than one reader and a couple of friends described them to me, are surrounded by crystal clear blue waters with visibility up to 70 feet during the summer. Don't get me wrong, the limestone islands situated throughout Phang Nga Bay are also incredibly interesting, and have been featured in many films.
In fact, one of the islands brought so much tourism to Phang Nga Bay that locals renamed it "James Bond Island," after its appearance in the James Bond movie, "The Man With The Golden Gun."
It sounded great--tooling around the bay in a speed boat, then exploring hidden lagoons with your own personal sea kayak, before relaxing on an exclusive beach.
What the brochure didn't mention was the grueling pace set by the guides, and the endless explanations in Russian for the party of 20 or so Russian tourists. Best of all, all of them were crammed into the bathroom-sized boat prow wearing bathing suits and Speedos that would have gotten them arrested on most American beaches.
They were friendly enough, of course, but it's hard to imagine them being otherwise when my wife and I were about as familiar to them as toilet seats by the end of the trip.
The kayaking was great, though. Especially when our guide insisted on contorting us into pretzels in order to get "candid" pictures of us enjoying "secret" lagoons with a hundred other sardined tourists.
As you can see from the photos, the islands were in fact beautiful, and the beach we mercifully found at the end was indeed relaxing.
All-in-all, however, I really enjoyed Phuket, but was happy to leave and make our way to Bangkok, from which I am sending this update.
In fact, right now, I am overlooking the Chao Praya river from our room in the the Mandarin Oriental.