Happy 2019 to everyone! Or, if you are using the old Thai calendar, Happy 2562! Every year on Jamie's Phuket Blog, I have a look back at the previous year. The year of 2018 was mostly good, including a very nice long holiday to England in the summer with my wife and kids. The first time we've had a chance to do this. I had been waiting until both kids were old enough to really appreciate the trip. And then, just as we planned to travel in 2014, my Mum got sick, passed away, and Dad began to suffer from severe dementia that came on very quickly since they had both visited Thailand in 2013. From 2014 to 2017 I made 5 trips to England myself for family reasons. Not holidays, just seeing Mum pass away and seeing Dad and getting him in the right place. Since 2015 he's been in a care home in my home town. I was happy that we could all visit him this summer. I had a feeling we'd not see him again.
Dad passed away on December 17th 2018, so the end of the year was not really happy. I was not feeling at all festive, was very busy in the dive shop and things were a bit of a blur for a couple of weeks. Dad (and Mum) made many trips over the years to Phuket. We did lots of exploring and they enjoyed sometimes just driving around on their own finding back roads and small beaches. Well, I think Mum enjoyed it more than Dad, as he was not really a fan of the hot weather or all the "funny food"! The photo below was taken at the beach in Khao Lak in 2013. I am hoping Mum and Dad are together somewhere like this now, only a bit cooler and with some proper English food available.
The last night of 2018 I did at least feel a bit happier. Happy to have my family with me. Looking forward to 2019.
(above) The Monk family, photo taken on Christmas Day 2018
(above) We did New Years at The Beach Bar, Cape Panwa. Food, drinks, fireworks, family.
And now, back to January 2018. Start of a new year, now an old year. During 2018 I did slow down on the blogging. We have not had a huge amount of cash to spare, so have had less trips, have been eating out less, and that trip to England was a wallet destroyer! And I'm getting older and lazier. Must try better! I am pretty active on Twitter - please do follow me @jamiemonk. And I do post on Instagram quite often too - you can find me there @phuketblog.
2018's blog posts began with my usual list of the Top 10 Phuket Hotels (updated every year). If you want to book hotels and want to help this blog, please start by clicking on any of the Agoda links on this blog, so I can make a few Baht, thanks for the help!
I started the year trying to do a lot more exercise and did manage to drop about 8kg in weight though ended up later in the year with a bruised heel and no money to buy better running shoes! I (and my wife) often run, jog, walk at Bang Wad Reservoir in Phuket which is only a short drive from our house. We are lucky to have it there.
(above) Bang Wad Reservoir
And in February my wife, my son and I all signed up for the Phuket Night Run - a run around old Phuket Town starting 10:30pm. A fun event and very busy with thousands of people taking part. If my heel is better this year I will upgrade to a 10km run.
(above) Phuket Night Run finishers!
Life these days is very normal - it's mostly work and school for much of the year, but we do try and have some days out. We had a very nice day in February heading to Khao Lak, plus Ton Prai waterfall and lunch next to Wat Khao Waterfall. Nothing really planned, we sometimes just "go for a drive"!
(above) My wife and boy at Ton Prai Waterfall
In March I hiked to the Big Buddha from Karon beach again - an older blog post from some years ago needed updating. It's not a super hard hike, but certainly a bit sweaty!
(above) A steep section of the hike up to the Big Buddha
During the first half of the year I did blog about a few restaurants and cafes. There are so many restaurants and cafes in Phuket and we should try new places more often, but I think my wife and I are settling into middle age and we like things that we like! Also, I don't often blog a restaurant on the first try - it has to be a place I have been to a few times. And, in case you are wondering, I don't do paid reviews or take any freebies. A new Italian place opened not far from our house - La Casina Rossa was a place we tried a few times in 2018, very good Italian food, with an owner from Napoli. I also blogged a nice Phuket Town cafe called Bookhemian, good for a drink on a hot day. And I wrote about the Klang Dong restaurant at the previously mentioned Wat Khao Waterfall. 3 very different places. Klang Dong is good for local food.
(above) Pizza at La Casina Rossa
(above) Local style dried shrimp salad at Klang Dong
And something I need to do again .. I took the kids plane spotting at Mai Khao Beach - you can stand on the beach right at the end of the runway so the planes fly right overhead!
(above) On the beach next to Phuket Airport.
Also found time in May to walk around old town finding yet more street art - more keeps appearing! Read more @ Phuket Town Street Art.
Phuket these days has a lot more modern infrastructure and amenities compared to when I arrived in 1999. We have a huge cinema at the Central Festival mall, and that's only 10 minutes from our house :) Went a couple of times to watch movies in 2018 - sorry to say my taste is not so arty. Went to see Solo (Star Wars movie) and of course Avengers Infinity War. And then I wrote a blog post about Going to the Cinema in Phuket.
(above) Cinema at the Central mall in Phuket
And another enjoyable evening in June was a comedy show at the Marriott Merlin Beach resort featuring a couple of 'Celtic Comedy Legends'. They were pretty good, I hope more of these events happen, although I read that the guy who was arranging it passed away later in the year. Bill Bailey has been on back in April but I could not make that one. Shame.
We were in England for almost a month from mid-June to mid-July. England is not Phuket, so I won't post photos here. Great holiday. Weather was amazing. Well, OK .. 1 photo :
(above) Not Phuket. This is Swaledale, in the Yorkshire Dales. My favourite part of England.
Back to Phuket! I wrote a little blog post about Phuket Airport. A useful information blog post. Should maybe do more of these.
(above) Flying in to Phuket Airport from the east over Phang Nga Bay
Our neighbours opened a cafe this year so we have visited quite a few times - Khun Aey bakes all the cakes herself, I can recommend the lemon meringue tart - have a look at Bukit Cuppa.
Always some new places to explore. A new museum has opened in old Phuket Town - the Peranakannitat Museum found in the old Chartered Bank building, it was still under development when I visited .. was meant to open a couple of years ago, still a work in progress, but entry is free and if you are taking some time to explore old town, do have a look!
(above) The Peranakannitat Museum in old Phuket Town
With Phuket being big, and with me having limited free time, there are places that I have been to, but not visited for many years. I took a half day to re-visit Ao Sane Beach, just round the corner from Naiharn Beach in the very south of Phuket. It had not really changed in 10+ years! Still small, quiet, one restaurant, a few cheap bungalows for rent. Give me more free time and I'll spend more time relaxing here!
(above) Ao Sane Beach
And I found a new temple to visit! In the early days of the blog, I was trying to blog every temple in Phuket. Still missing a few. Doi Thepnimit temple opened earlier in the year in the hills above Patong beach. Great view from here.
In 2017 we'd made 2 trips to Krabi, each for 2 nights and we'd hoped to find tine for another Krabi trip in 2018. We just about managed to squeeze in a 3 night trip in October, before high season kicked off. Another very nice trip. Krabi is quieter than Phuket. I like it for a few days. On this trip - see Krabi Holiday 2018 - we stayed in a nice cheap hotel in Krabi Town again and went to the Emerald Pool, took a trip up the river to Khao Khanab Nam cave, visited Huay Toh Waterfall, ate a lot and just generally had a relaxing time!
(above) Exploring in Krabi - Emerald Pool and Khao Khanab Nam cave
In November we floated our krathong for the Loy Krathong festival and I think the highlight of the month was my dear wife, having worked very hard on getting fit in the last couple of years, completing a half marathon! Proud husband!
The end of the year - back to the work and school routine and wishing we had more money! Had a nice day out at the end of November revisiting Samet Nangshe Viewpoint in Phang Nga and testing our non-4WD car to it's limits on a hill up to Kuan Ta Eiam Viewpoint! Another one of our "take a drive and see what happens" days. Good days.
(above) At Samet Nangshe Viewpoint
After Dad passed away, I was thinking I'd need to fly to the UK for Christmas, but it's worked out that his funeral will be January 11th. The Christmas period for me was just about work, having 1 nice day with the family on the 25th and lots of communication with family in the Uk about my Dad, about the funeral and being very thankful that I have a large family some of whom are very kind and able to arrange things locally, while I feel a bit useless being so far away! I was glad of a distraction on December 29th - a Phuket Instagram Meet Up in Phuket Town, a walk around, meet new people, have a few drinks, take some photos, an enjoyable afternoon.
So we reach the end of 2018 - a sad end. I am flying to England in a couple of days for about 2 weeks. End of an era for the Monk family. I end my 2018 review with another photo of Dad in Thailand.
2019. Welcome. Let's see what happens. The world is changing. Best wishes from Phuket.
Previous Yearly Blog Reviews : 2017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010