Continuing our exploration of the shallower, most Northern end of Phang Nga Bay, we made for another cave on the east side of Khao Khian that we had heard about where there were the remains of wall paintings purporting to be from Neolithic times.
Compared to some of the rock art we have seen in Australia – for example randomly, just walking through Kuringai National Park in the northern suburbs of Sydney – the paintings didn’t seem that spectacular.
The curious thing about them was that they were on the ceiling of an overhanging rock at the water’s edge which at first glance seemed a strange place to paint. But of course, when the paintings were done, the caves would have been a long way from the water and would have had floors that must have worn away over many thousands of years.
Capt’n Birdseye was not convinced the paintings were Neolithic. However, our Google research suggests that there is definitely evidence of caves being inhabited in Phang Nga Bay in the Holocene period (9,700 BCE) so I guess it is possible that is when the art dates from.
Near to the cave was a large “stilt” village where all the buildings were built over the water.
Unfortunately the place has become a tourist attraction and is completely filled with stall after stall selling the same cheap clothes and gifts and on the water front, huge seafood restaurants that cater for boatfuls of foreign visitors who arrive on long tails and speedboats.
We didn’t like it at all and after walking round the rabbit warren of shops and eateries were very happy to get back in our dinghy again.
We reflected on the charm of a number of similar villages on stilts in Indonesia and Malaysia, but instead of stalls and restaurants there were people’s homes and a school, a football pitch and a local mosque and people simply living their daily lives. We fervently hope that with the increase in tourism these villages won’t end up sharing a similar fate to Koh Panyee.
Our departure was somewhat delayed as when we tried to pull up the anchor it soon became obvious that we were caught up on a large drift net. It had probably been cast some distance away but with the tidal currents being so strong had ended up drifting too far and catching a bigger fish than intended!
It took quite a long time to disentangle ourselves and we felt dreadful that we had to cut through and destroy someone’s fishing net but we were absolutely stuck and there was nothing else to be done.