With his bright pink shirt, our tour guide to the James Bond Island Tour can be spotted from a mile. No one else among the crew speaks English, but him. He speaks with such speed and fluidity as if English was his native language but with a Thai accent and phonetic system. For example he pronounces it sacuba instead of scuba because there is no word in Thai that begins with the “s” sound followed by another consonant. I wonder if the other passengers are even listening or paying attention. Some seem to be listening intently but whether they are trying to comprehend his words or understand his explanation, I can’t tell.
“We’re going to the James Bond Ireland art di An D’Man See…” He pronounces “d” just like Sebastian in the Little Mermaid.
I listen bemusedly as he narrates our itinerary like a second nature. His mid-tone pitch comes from his throat and his left hand is compassing in the air with such flair as if dancing to the sound of his voice. His accent sounds musical like Joplin’s The Entertainer.
I watch with glee as his Adam’s apple moves up and down with the resonance of his vocal cords. His face is always smiling even if he doesn’t mean to.
His deep-tanned skin suggests that he must have been doing this job for at least a year.
When the guide finishes his calculated speech, the speedboat has approached the open sea.
The James Bond Island Tour Experience
The James Bond Island Tour is comprised of sight-seeing at Panga Island and James Bond Island, canoeing around the Panak Island of caves and Hong Island, lunch at Panyee Island, swimming at Lawa Island before heading back to the pier.
Although this is not my first island hopping experience, the limestone cliffs rising from the azure waters against the clear blue sky and patches of fluffy clouds always take my breath away. The salty wind blowing against my cheeks and the smell of iodine oozing from the sea give me a pleasurable sensation of that familiar connection of my house by the sea. It is so much like my home, Palawan.
I can’t help but wonder if this is a dejá vu, a throwback or a reality.
It feels odd being the only Asian among the western tourists on the boat. I look local but I’m as much a stranger as the other foreigners. I lived and worked in Thailand for six and a half years but have never done this island tour. James Bond Island is a byword for every and would-be traveler to Thailand. It makes me feel a loser everytime I hear someone talks about it. Well, not anymore.