The Man With The Golden C88k
There I was as a young boy watching tele as usual. James Bond was one of my many heroes. He fought the baddies and won. When a new Bond movie came out, it was like the earth stood still and nothing else mattered. The coolest kids saw it first at the movies, the rest of us had to wait until it was a blockbuster movie premier on television. Usually on a Sunday night and about a year or more after its release. It was the era before the internet, streaming and PirateBay.
I’ll always vividly remember how amazed and mesmerized I was when that white Lotus Esprit transformed into an underwater vehicle. Woooooooooooowwww! Boy, it was the talk of the schoolyard for ages, and we all dreamed we could own and drive one.
The most memorable and influential Bond movie to me is “The Man With the Golden Gun”. Many scenes were filmed in Thailand. The first time I saw it, it took me into another world. The exotic locations, the fight scenes, the villains and the enigmatic “Nick-Nack”. The car chase is a good look at old Bangkok. The long-boat chase scene is a good look at the khlongs. Gosh, I was so transfixed. The world depended on the “Solex Agitator”, whatever that was. What did I know, my legs still didn’t reach the floor when I sat on a chair. And that island. Woooooowwwww. Was that real? Woooooowww the car that flew. And Britt Ekland OMG!!! I’m still in love all these years later. Still the most perfect face I have ever seen. That perfect Nordic beauty. I just loved and was so transfixed by the whole movie. I never knew such exotic places and people existed like that on Earth. Did women like that really exist?
Fast forward a few years. I was on a plane to Thailand. Very, very reluctantly.
Landing at Phuket Airport, my apprehension and feeling of regret were multiplied ten-fold.
“What the hell am I doing here?”
“I’m going to waste a lot of money, and probably catch some incurable disease, just by breathing the air.”
“Oh, well, too late now. Just go along with it,” I thought. Then I imagined my epitaph.
“Here lies Transformed, born 19**, died in Thailand. Poor guy caught Thailanditis and died.”
Then I imagined my funeral … a few miserable people … a miserable, drizzly day…. everyone wearing black sobbing. People whispering, “Should have realised what was going to happen.“
“Tsk tsk tsk he took a risk and paid the price tsk tsk tsk.”
“Didn’t he know Thailanditis is deadly?”
“Why on Earth did he go there for?“
I checked into the hotel and felt very relieved that I had arrived, safe and in one piece. The hotel was modern nice and comfortable.
Next day I explored my surroundings. Soon as I put foot on to street pavement, boom!!! Overwhelmed senses. Heat, traffic, smog, rubbish, people, noise, smells. All sent my head spinning. I had to settle for a few seconds to acclimate. Then I saw the ladies. I was instantly taken back to my childhood, watching TMWTGG.
“Yes, exotic ladies like in the movie do exist. Wooooowww!!” My eyes opened a little wider, my apprehension and regret dwindled. I turned the corner and saw the entrance to Bangla Road, unaware at the time how it transforms after 6 PM. The beach was Ok. I went for a swim, the water was pleasantly warm. My stomach started to protest for food.
“Feed me, feed me”, it growled. I found an agreeable place to eat. The food I instantly loved. So different. So tasty. So delicious! Smoothies for 50 cents! My feelings of apprehension and regret were now totally gone, being replaced by excitement and anticipation. I had an afternoon nap, then prepared for the evening.
The night-life was crazy, insane. Bangla Road was doing its thing. Temptation central. I hit Tiger Bar, and surveyed the beauties. I was transfixed.
“They really are that beautiful, just like in the movie.” I stood and watched. Lovely lady after lovely passed by me. Some smiled, others said hello. They just seemed so friendly and welcoming.
Then one of them approached me. I had not a clue what to do. I was no James Bond. I was nervous and sweaty like Newman in Basic Instinct. Fortunately, I had been given very good advice before I left Australia and had read a very good book about mongering in Thailand. The main premise of the information was that bargirls are experts at making you feel like James Bond. Regardless of how you really look and behave. It worked, and in no time my Thai beauty was making me feel like 007. The Man With The Golden C88k 🙂
Then, as the days went by I learnt about the soapies, I learnt about massages, manicures, and pedicures. I learnt how to be pampered and I loved it. I felt like JB in the dojo being looked after by those two beauties. I also learnt how to haggle. I absolutely fell in love with the place. I felt so free and happy. The best part was that the exotic girls that had mesmerised me all those years ago, were real. And mindblowingly to me at the time, they were AVAILABLE! Oh my gosh, a place I had so avoided, now became a place I never wanted to leave. I was living my childhood fantasy.
My next goal was to do some sightseeing. I trawled Beach Road to find a good tour and haggle for a good price. Mission accomplished, next day, minibus was waiting at 7:30 AM at the hotel doors.
The boat launched. We motored towards Phang Na, those enigmatic islands getting closer and closer. My childhood was coming alive. It was real, the movie was real. We transferred to a long-boat, and instantly I felt I was in the canal scene. I remembered that boy yelling, at Roger Moore, “20,000 baht! 20,000 baht!“ as he was pushed into the water still holding the carved elephant.
We sped along, those towering limestone islands getting closer still. We turned a corner and there it was. James Bond Island, Koh Tapu in Thai (meaning Nail Island) Woooowwww!!! It was REAL!!! Never in my wildest dreams as I boy did I think that I would actually see it in real life. It seemed so remote, so exotic, so different at the time. Impossible to get to. Only James Bond could get to Scaramanger’s hide out. But there I was, there it was. I stood like a statue in wonder. I was abruptly jolted out of my stupor by an impatient shove. People were excitedly and haphazardly getting off the long-boat. I was brought back to earth.
In the movie the island was deserted except for Scaramanger, Nick Nack and Andrea. At that present moment for me though, long boats jostled for position, crowds took photos and bought souvenirs. Hustle and bustle. What an enigmatic place.
“Where was the house”, I thought. Just a cliff face was all I saw. That wasn’t real. I was waiting for the antenna to come out of the island on cue, as a show for the tourists. Nothing happened. “That wasn’t real either” I thought. I was waiting for Nick Nack to offer me some champagne. He didn‘t appear. Scaramanger didn‘t show up either. Drats. I wanted to have a duel with him.
Of course, I knew they weren’t real, just movie sets and fictional characters, but the boy in me wanted to believe. I was still so thrilled to see it all. We then went on to visit the floating village and canoed around the islands. We finished the day with a swim, just perfect. I jumped from the top of the boat into the warm water 🙂 Fun!!!
Arriving back at my hotel, I couldn’t believe what I had just experienced and seen that day. The movie had come to life for me. I had been in my childhood fantasy. I felt so satisfied and content. I had lived and experienced some of what one of my boyhood heroes had. Yes I know now as an adult it was just a story, but the movie location is real. The sights and atmosphere of Thailand are still relatively and arguably the same. Going to Thailand made the movie real for me. How can I ever forget. Never.
Thanks for reading.
Ps. Thanks to CMK. One of my daily happy thoughts is :
“Above her Crack was the Union Jack”.
I think James Bond would approve!
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