In the final book of the Moon Stealer series I used a tall narrow island in the center of a lake as the entrance to Avalon. This was based on an incredible island called Khao Phing Kan in Thailand that looks like it should topple into the water at any time. It’s also known as James Bond Island.
The series of James Bond’s movies has been influential in creating awareness about places that were previously not well known. In 1974, The Man with the Golden Gun, was partially filmed in Thailand in an area now referred to as James Bond Island. Khao Phing Kan, meaning hills leaning against each other, is a small island located northeast of Phuket, and approximately 40m away is an islet known as Ko Ta Pu, meaning crab’s eye. These two places make up the now popular tourist destination, which is almost always referred to as James Bond Island by both locals and visitors.
Before the filming of the movie in 1974, the islands were little known and rarely visited. After they became the base of Bond’s enemy, Francisco Scaramanga, the area became a popular tourist destination. By 1981, it was the most famous part of Ao Phang Ng Marine National Park. In 1998, restrictions were placed on tourist boats approaching Ko Ta Pu, to preserve the limestone rocks near and on the islet. This was an essential step in preventing its possible collapse.
Ko Ta Pu is approximately 21m tall, and shaped like a nail, with a diameter starting at 4m at the base and moving up towards 8m at its top. Local legends explain the formation of the rock with the story of a fisherman who used to bring home many fish after a day at sea. One day, despite many attempts, he was unable to catch anything except a nail which kept reappearing in his net. After he threw it back many times, he furiously took out his sword and cut it in half. One half anchored in the sea and became the islet.
Science explains the development of the rock differently, however, stating that during the Permian period the area was a barrier reef. After it ruptured due to tectonic movements, the parts were dispersed nearby becoming a cluster of small islands. Over time the elements caused many to form unusual shapes, such as Ko Ta Pu, where the base of the islet shows much tide related erosion.
There are frequent showers of rain in the area and the climate is warm and stable. In The Man with the Golden Gun the island is referred to as the mushroom shaped rock, and is the home of two large solar panels which extend from the top of the rock and lock on to the sun. The island is home to many deciduous shrubs and evergreen trees, as well as other resilient plants which anchor themselves into the rock on the cliff. The bay also has many species of reptiles, fish and crustaceans, aquatic plants and over 100 different types of birds.