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My Travel Story: The Year ends (Phuket)
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    The Year ends (Phuket)

    Phuket

    Phuket, sometimes refered to as the pearl of the Andaman. This is where i spent my final 2 weeks in Thailand. Not wanting to stay in the tourist backbone of Patong beach area, i decided to base myself in old Phuket town. It's here where i found a super cheap room above a Chinese restaurant and equally cheap motorbike hire. Phuket is a big island (Thailand's largest infact), though at only 21km/13miles from east to west and 48km/30miles north to south, with the aid of your own vehicle, you essentially have the whole island at your fingertips. And the whole island i saw.

    Phuket is very well located, in that it can take advantage of major attractions in both Phang Nga and Krabi. It's just as quick and easy (though not always as cheap) to see James bond island in Phang Nga or Phi Phi islands in Krabi from Phuket as it is from their respective provinces. Add to this the plethora of activities and attractions Phuket has to offer, such as bungie jumping, Go karting, ATV, a shooting range together with non-adventure and natural attractions like wats/temples, national parks, waterfalls, islands and more beaches than you could care to see, it's not hard to understand why Phuket is the tourist hot spot of Thailand.

    I'll begin with Patong, which is a small city full of bars, clubs, shopping malls, fast food chains, tuk-tuk drivers and massage parlors. It's here where most of the tourists stay, and why not? It's got everything you could want if you're on holiday and wether you like the masses or not, it can't be denied that Patong beach is beautiful. I've only seen beaches like this on the islands of Krabi and Trang. The water is emerald green and crystal clear. However, you're not alone, wether it be on the sand or in the water. Patong also comes into it's own at night time. The whole city lights up with venues of every variation from seedy, to clubs to small places with live bands (Margarita was a great little bar with some excellent bands playing through the night, usually of the rock genre). I've said it a few times over the past year, and i`ll say it again now, i`m really impressed with the live bands i`ve seen in Thailand. Wether they`re singing in thai or english, they`re always great. For me at least, Patong was a nice place to visit, wether it be the beach by day or the bars at night. However, it's not the kind of place i could stay in for a long time and it was nice to have the freedom to come away from that area if i wanted to. As a tourist, it's perfect. As a traveler, it's great, but only in small doses. South from Patong, you have the town of Karon which is also home to a stunning stretch of beach, and while it too has a strong tourist presence and nightlife, it's a little more laid back than that in Patong. Farther south again, you can even go one more quieter with Kata beach and town. Something for everyone.

    Away from the tourist hangouts, Phuket is like any other part of Thailand and i treated it as such. Phuket town has a few shopping malls, cinema, great night and day markets and although a little larger than most, it's a true thai town at heart. It's from here i hit the motorbike day trips and traversed the island and province as a whole. There are so many view points in Phuket, you can pretty much get stunning ariel views of everything and everywhere. Aside from your designated viewpoints, because Phuket is extremely hilly, especially on the beach roads on the west coast, it's easy to get great birds eye views of beaches and towns simply by stopping on the side of the road between areas. Rang hill (Khao Rang) was a small hill in the north/west perimeter of Phuket town and offered spectacular views of old Phuket town and the surrounding coast and area. It's also home to a small park and residents in the form of monkeys. Khao Kaad was another view point on a peninsula on the south/east of Phuket. Located at the top of the hill is a watch tower reached via steps. From here you have panoramic views of bays, beaches, islands, towns and and more. You can even see the smaller, afore mentioned Khao Rang from here. There is also a small nature boardwalk nearby with trees and flora labeled with their latin names. Khao sam Hat viewpoint (viewpoint of 3 beaches) is another great lookout. Here you get the most beautiful views of Kata noi, Kata and Karon beaches. On the subject of beaches, Phuket, been an island, is surrounded by them. There are just too many beaches, bays and capes to name. Some are stunning, dare i say, even more so than Patong, and there`s not a sole on them. Hat Sai Kaew is one such beach. It`s located on the north/west corner of Phuket and has coarser sand than most (good if you need a foot scrub and long walk). The water is crystal clear and gets deep quickly making it great for snorkeling. You'll also have this beach to yourself aside from a few locals, so no worries about a jetski twotting you on the head or the annoying eccho from them when your head`s under the waves. Another beach worth a mention is Nai Harn beach. This is located on the south/west of Phuket between Kata beach and Promthep Cape. A little crowded, but is a stunning beach with big waves. Nearby is a small park and a wat/temple that are well worth a wonder around. Just south of Nai Harn beach is Promthep cape. It's not only a stunning scenic area, but also THE place to be to watch beautiful sunsets. During the day this place isn't too busy, but at sunset, as the evening draws in, it's packed. It's home to a small lighthouse too which you can enter and look around and can even climb the steps to a watch platform on top to admire the views.

    Other attractions i saw were Queen Sirikit's 72nd anniversary Chalerm Park which was built in 2005 to honor the Queens 72nd birthday and to add more green to the town. At the entrance to the park a golden sea dragon statue was added in 2006 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the King's accession to the thrown.
    Phuket Aquarium (100B) while neither better nor worse than other aquariums i've seen around Thailand (Pratchuap Khiri Khan, Chanthaburi and Rayong) it comes into it's own with a science and nature trail. This is a boardwalk with 6 points of interest along the way.
    1) The beginning of the nature trail along the shore line at cape Panwa.
    2) The Hatchery where they keep and breed animals from the ocean before releasing them back into the wild.
    3) Chakratong Tongyai, which is a marine research vessel used by the aquarium.
    4) The sea turtle pool where you can observe both baby sea turtles in their nursery and adult turtles recovering from injuries.
    5) The reference collection which has displays of marine specimens.
    6) The marine endangered species museum which has information on endangered whales, dolphins and other rare marine life and even has a few skeletons about the place.

    Phuket gateway is a modern architectural work of art and as the name suggests, is a "gateway" or introduction to Phuket. It features 29 stone pillars set within a garden landscape. The pillars have information plaques on them with material on some of the main attractions in Phuket and it's history.
    Heroines monument (or Thao Thep Kasattri - Thao Sri Soontorn monument) is in the centre of Phuket province. It's a monument set on a roundabout and acts as a cross road of sorts, which bear south, west and north, with a small and scenic back road bearing east. The monument was erected to honor the bravery of 2 Thalang women who's actions lead to the retreat of a Burmese attack a few hundred years ago.
    Saphan Hin (Stone bridge) is a nice area to visit. Upon entering this area you're greeted with a monument built for Captain Edward Thomas Miles, an Australian who brought in the first ship for digging tin in 1909. In the past, Phuket was a huge tin mining hamlet. There is also a small park and a nature boardwalk through mangroves in this area and is a perfect place to relax. It's also here where one of the main Loi Krathong festivals were been held. Loi Krathong took place on the 21st November this year. However, like our easter, there is no set date, instead, it goes by the lunar calendar and is celebrated on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional thai lunar calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls in November. "Loi" means "to float" and a "krathong" is traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk. A krathong will be decorated with banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. Money is sometimes included as an offering to the river spirits. The people then goto the beach and release the Krathongs into the ocean. Also floating lanterns are set off into the sky. There was a stage with performances, fire works, fairs, food stalls and markets. All this followed the proceedings which involved hundreds of people walking from Phuket town to Saphan Hin in traditional thai garb and with huge floats on top of decorated pick-up trucks. Bands and performers were also marching. All been followed by a mass of spectators (including myself). The whole evening had a great atmosphere and was a wonderful thing to experience.
    Phuket doesn't have an abundance of waterfalls. There are 3 main ones. Ton Sai, Bang Pae and Kathu waterfall. Ton Sai and Bang Pae are essentially the same waterfall in that they both share the same source, though cascade down different sides of the Khao Pra Taew mountain range. Kathu was the only one i visited. Reasons been, the 3 waterfalls are very similar in size and looks, plus there's also a 200B entry fee for Ton Sai and Bang Pae as they're set within a national park. Where as Kathu is free. It has many tiers, one of which has a pool perfect for swimming. There are also nature trails dotted around the area and was well worth the visit.
    The Big White Buddha, set atop a huge mountain, can be seen from afar. Although the Buddha itself is completed, the whole area is still under construction and is set to be complete in the next year or two. The views from here are breath taking and it's also a great landmark. When biking all over Phuket, you soon learn how to gage where you are by looking at what direction the Buddha is facing if you can see it in the distance.
    Wat Chalong temple is not far from the Big White Buddha. This is a lovely temple and is architecturally different from most, so worth a visit, even, if like me, you've seen hundreds of wats/temples. The rooms inside are grand and full of statues and ornaments while the gardens and views are equally as stunning.
    Sirey island is a small island just off the south/east coast of Phuket. The two are joined via a bridge. The main attractions here are Laem (Cape) Tuk Kae, Phukets largest sea gypsy (Chao Leh) village and Wat Sirey Temple which is set atop a large hill that not only houses a very large reclining Buddha, but also offers panoramic views of the entire island of Sirey.

    I did see other places (King Ramna IX public park, sarasin bridge, Lion cape etc) but if i list them all, i'll be typing forever. So i'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking. The only attraction i really wanted to see, but didn't, was Phuket Fantasea. This is a huge complex comprising of a village, a 4000 seat restaurant, a 3000 seat stage and offers Thai cultural shows mixed with modern lights and special effects. From traditional dancing to elephant shows and everything inbetween. It's 1500B (£30) for a ticket, and while i've no doubt a show of this grandure is worth it, i just didn't have those funds towards the end. Next time!

    I really enjoyed Phuket. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic year. As can be expected, the tourist areas are expensive (compared to the rest of Thailand - it's still cheaper than back home) and have their downsides. Though away from the tourist traps, there's a big island to explore with more than enough to offer every taste and budget. As i said earlier, you just have to look behind the tourist front, and you'll see Phuket is the same as any other place in Thailand.

  2. #2
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    Re: The Year ends (Phuket)


    Phuket old town


    Queen Sirikit's 72nd anniversary Chalerm Park


    Queen Sirikit's 72nd anniversary Chalerm Park


    Patong


    Patong beach/city


    Patong Beach


    Patong beach

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    Re: The Year ends (Phuket)


    Loi Krathong


    Loi Krathong


    Loi Krathong


    Loi Krathong


    Khao Rang


    Khao Rang


    Khao Rang

  4. #4
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    Re: The Year ends (Phuket)


    King Ramna IX park


    King Ramna IX park


    Saphan Hin


    Saphan Hin


    Saphan Hin


    Saphan Hin


    Saphan Hin

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    Re: The Year ends (Phuket)


    Heroines monument


    Phuket Gateway


    Phuket Gateway


    Views from Sarasin bridge


    Yacht Haven


    Sirey Island


    Chao Leh (sea gypsy) village

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    Re: The Year ends (Phuket)


    Wat Sirey


    Wat Sirey views


    Wat Sirey views


    Wat Sirey views


    Aquarium


    Aquarium


    Aquarium

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    Re: The Year ends (Phuket)


    Aquarium


    Aquarium


    Khao Kaad


    Khao Kaad


    Khao kaad


    Big white Buddha


    Big white Buddha


    Big white Buddha views

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    Re: The Year ends (Phuket)


    Wat Chalong


    Wat Chalong


    Wat Chalong


    Wat Chalong


    Wat Chalong


    Wat Chalong


    Wat Chalong

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    Re: The Year ends (Phuket)


    Kathu Waterfall


    Kathu waterfall


    Promthep cape


    Promthep cape


    Promthep cape


    Promthep cape


    Promthep cape

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    Re: The Year ends (Phuket)


    Nai Harn beach


    Nai Harn park/temple


    Nai Harn park


    Khao sam hat viewpoint (Kata noi, Kata and Karon beaches)


    Karon beach


    Karon beach


    Karon town

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