Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Pockets of Phuket - Part 1 (Phuket Old Town)

I made a short trip to the island of Phuket last weekend.

It was kind of an unplanned trip this year - I had booked an Air Asia ticket to KL 10 months ago and thought that may be this time I can use KL as a jumping off point to somewhere. Instead of staying in the city and most likely end up shopping. 

Arrived Saturday morning after a deliberate overnight stay at LCCT, where I slept rather 'well' for a grand total of 75 minutes! That's another story.

Pat picked me up at the airport despite my protestations (so early-lah) and gave me a short tour of Phuket Town, and had a quick breakfast before I needed to go for my cooking class at Pat's (yupp, another Pat).

It was a small class that day, only me and a young Aussie couple.

We prepared and cooked 5 dishes, I graduated :), and after that Pat picked me up again after lunch, and we started looking for my accommodation for the day. Nice places however I kept my options open for a good rate plus location.

I got to see the famous On On Hotel, where Leonardo DiCaprio had stayed. Dark dreary, cold, cheap rates. I don't get it.

Thalang Guest House was better, it had more character, I would've stayed there (cheap! 300 baht) if not for security concerns and the room was way too big for one person and it was way at the back of the building. It was nice and airy though. Old Town Guest House further down the road was better but it was bloody quiet and the showers and toilets were on another floor.

I asked Pat to drop me in a central location so I can find my own way. Finally - suffering from the intense afternoon heat by this time - I ended up in Thavorn Hotel, the oldest hotel in Phuket. The hotel lobby looked like was a bloody museum, even the lighting was dim! All the old stuff and old grainy pictures of its golden years, apparently the place for celebs and dignitaries to stay and hang out in Phuket. The room was nothing great; old, clean and basic.

I then took a shower and a short nap since it was very very hot. Woke up later and armed with the city map, I trudged around town to familiarise myself with the location. Not that difficult.

Evening came, and I decided to take the motorbike taxi to Robinson's area. Wheeeee! I loved it! The wind in my hair! Definitely one of my highlights of my trip. I asked if there was a helmet, 'no no no helmet'. Ha ha. I decided to throw caution to the wind and had no regrets.

Had pad thai and satay (mmmm yummylicious) for dinner at OngSum (?)Road where they have a stretch of food stalls. I also tried this wafer like snack for 5 baht (!) and also fresh mango with sticky rice. Full and happy, I walked around for another hour and then later had a wonderful massage at Kim's. Very nice and professional. I like very much! I hailed another motorbike taxi to return to my hotel, loved it and the driver took a different route this time.

Back at the hotel I did some writing and planned for the next day's walkabout, and slept at don't-know-what-time, late surely. Woke up early and armed with a map, set off on the Phuket Town Treasures walk. Covered most of the landmarks I suppose, and along the way observed the lifestyle and daily chores of the locals. 

I like Soi Rommanee with its pretty, old houses - would've tried one of the outlets there if it had not been too early.

The day's menu - poh piah thad, chicken green curry, tom yum goong, som tam, kooi bood shee.

Graduate Chef! We enjoyed our fruits of labour for lunch.

Yummy Thai food.

South Wind Bookstore on Phang Nga Road- 2nd hand books at okay prices, not as cheap as I expected. Got my two used Bryson here for 300 baht. 

Shrine of the Serene Light - tucked away in an almost 'secret' alley on Phang Nga Road.

Stylish. I like !


At Thavorn Hotel lobby.

There's something about these broken gates to the grand mansion Phra Phitak Chyn Pracha on Krabi Road, under repair/restoration.

I like this feature wall.

Loved this little bookshop-artshop, called Bookhemian Arthouse, on Talang Road.

Dibuk Restaurant, French-Thai cuisine, on Dibuk Road.

The bright-and-pastel coloured Sino-Colonial houses on Soi Romannee.

After my massage at Kim's, on Tilok Usit 1 Road, near Robinson's.

On On Hotel on Phang Nga Road, where DiCaprio stayed for The Beach.

One of the many old houses.

My bus to Patong, on Ranong Road. Only 25 baht.

Old trunks in Thavorn lobby, just one of the numerous artefacts.

Siam Indigo - bar and boutique; lovely building, glowing in soft warm colours by night.

The Suriyadate Fountain, which I used as my main landmark.

Had breakfast late at a Chinese shop near the fountain and located the bus stop for buses headed to Patong. Checked out soon after and trudged to the bus stop just after noon, and soon we were headed towards the ridge that separates the old town and the beaches.

About an hour later, I jumped off at JunkCeylon, and set off to find room for my stay in notorious Patong. 

Patong story in Part 2.

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