| ||Washed by the Andaman Sea, the coast of southwest Thailand has a succession of bays lined with many islands, including the very touristy Phuket. Phang-Nga Bay’s special formations were created through the thawing of ice 18.000 years ago. Rising waters then submerged arid calcareous mountains, leaving only their peaks visible to the eye. The bay was turned into a marine park in 1981. One of its popular attractions is the “stilts” village of Koh Panyi, which was built two centuries ago by Muslim sea men coming from Malaysia. The inhabitants make a living via traditional fishing and tourism. Up to 3.000 people disembark there every day at lunchtime. When evening comes, restaurants and gift shops close and the village returns to a slower pace. Preserved by its configuration, Phang-nga Bay suffered much less from the tsunami of December 26, 2004 than nearby sites. In 2011, Thailand welcomed 19.1 million foreign visitors– twice as many as 10 years ago.
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