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Anchored in Faith
f the many limestone cliffs jutting out of Phang-nga Bay in southern Thailand, Ko Panyee is unique.

Rather than towering over calm waters, the narrow island stands guard over a bustling Muslim community built on pilings. Governed by the tides, Ko Panyee villagers make their living as fishermen, canoe operators and shop workers. Many are now buoyed by a tourism influx since the filming of a James Bond movie nearby in the 1970s.

A gold mosque dome rising above the village’s cramped houses signals the people’s prayerful core – a focus that organizes their daily life of food preparation, soccer and religion lessons.

Founded in faith and supported by the sea, Ko Panyee is not just the place tourists read about. It is home.

 

     
Slideshow Built on Stilts
Founded 200 years ago, Ko Panyee is a village constructed only a few feet above the waters of Phang-nga Bay.

Map Ko Panyee
Located in the northern part of Phang-nga Bay, Ko Panyee was protected by the mainland mangrove swamps and did not receive any damage from the 2004 Asian tsunami. The water levels rose but failed to enter villagers’ homes. They did suffer indirect results from the disaster including reduced fish in the bay and fewer tourists traveling to the region than before.


Fun Box Golden Film Location

Scenic shots of a villain’s hideout in "The Man With the Golden Gun,” released in December 1974, made the limestone cliffs of Thailand’s Phang-nga Bay famous. The movie’s success has led to more than three decades of tourist interest in the rocky landform aptly renamed “James Bond Island.”

In 2004, another film crew came to Thailand, choosing the nearby island of Ko Panyee for a scene in “Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason.”

In the sequel starring Renée Zellweger and Hugh Grant, the couple arrives at the village in a long-tail boat as Grant's character recites Thai poet Sunthorn Phu. They share lunch at a restaurant – really a set built by the production company that no longer exists. Yet, tourists still clamor off long-tail boats at Ko Panyee to grab lunch after a morning sea canoeing near James Bond Island.

Fast Facts Ko Panyee
  • Ko Panyee's population is approximately 2,600

  • Many of the island's almost 300 homes double as shops

  • The village features five main restaurants, two guesthouses, an elementary school, a mosque and a small, modern health center staffed by one doctor in the mornings and one nurse in the afternoons

  • Anyone can build on Ko Panyee by marrying into the community

  • With Ko Panyee's growing population, families now add second floors to accommodate more children and extended family members

  • Because Muslims prefer to avoid financial debt, homes or home improvement projects may sit unfinished until the owner saves enough cash to complete it.
Links
Family Relationships in Islam

Geological Formation of Limestone Karsts

 
     
     
 

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