Local Life at Rawai Beach
Last month, on the final day of my parents holidays, we took a little drive to the south end of Phuket island, carefully watching the weather as the low season delivered up a day of sunshine and showers. We got to Rawai beach in bright sunshine, had not really planned to stop there, but there were dark clouds to the west, so we figured why not take a little walk around Rawai. The beach here is not a swimming beach, it's very rocky and shallow. Rawai is good for food - most of the beach road is lined with small restaurants - and from Rawai you can get a speedboat or longtail boat to nearby islands such as Koh Bon, Coral Island, Racha Yai island. We did a trip last year from Rawai to explore the small island of Koh Kaew Yai which lies off the tip of Cape Phromthep and is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists - there is a big Buddha statue on the island and a giant "Buddha footprint". Legend says that Buddha stepped onto the island before coming to the mainland of Phuket, where he first visited Rawai. The name of the village is derived from "Rao Wai" meaning (something like) "we pray".
At the east end of Rawai beach is the jetty, and on the east side of the jetty is the fishing village. There are stalls selling seafood and quite a few stalls selling shells to tourists, also some small restaurants. The seawall has broken here. The photo below shows local kids playing in the rubble along the beach.
Further along the beach, things look rather more idyllic, we walked along the beach passing all the longtail boats. You can't have a trip to Phuket without some photos of longtail boats! This end of the beach looks OK for swimming actually, though there's nothing here for tourists, no hotels or bars. This end of the beach is for the locals and the fishermen.
Further up the beach in front of the village, a big tree acts as a natural temple, adorned with coloured cloth, Buddha images and it seems that the Rawai people like to make offerings of red Fanta! Another shrine next to the jetty also had a couple of bottles next to the incense and flowers.
This is not really a rich area of Phuket. Fishing is still important, though for sure some people make a little money from tourists. The fishermen and local people in the area are largely "sea gypsies" who are not the best looked after by the Thai government. The fishermen make their own fish traps and head out on longtail boats, dive down to the traps using home made scuba gear. We found some guys making a new lo-tech fish trap...
When visiting a more local area, I try to quietly blend in, wander about as unobtrusively as possible (not so simple, since I am 6 foot 3!) and get an idea of local life. In the fishing village here in Rawai, there's just a lot of sitting around to be done.. the fishing has all been done by early morning. The kids were all off school (it was school holidays) so they had to find ways to amuse themselves. I'd like to wander around this area some more when I get a new camera, but did get a few nice pictures of the local folks...
(above) this guy was carrying some fresh ice to put on the fish
Not just fish for sale! Phuket people boast of having the best pineapples in Thailand. Sweeter and juicier and not as sour as other pineapples. You can buy little bags of fruit from fruit stalls all over Phuket, indeed all over Thailand, normally you pay 10 - 20 Baht per bag.
Kids were all over the village, the kids above are getting some snacks from a mobile snack stall built onto the side of a moped. The girl below has found a quiet spot for a drink behind the market surrounded by ice boxes.
Rawai doesn't seem to have changed that much since I first went there more than 10 years ago. OK, for sure there is more development inland, and the main road in from Chalong is now 4 lanes with a lot more happening along the road, but the beach, the boats, the fishermen, the little restaurants ... it's still quiet and a good stopping off place for a walk or lunch or dinner. Mum and Dad got a bag of pineapple (below) and with the clouds clearing we headed off to Ya Nui beach, just a 5 minute drive from Rawai.
Rawai Beach Links
• Hotels Near Rawai Beach
• Nikita's Bar at Rawai Beach
• Rimlay Restaurant
Near Rawai Beach
• Phromthep Cape
• Koh Kaew Yai island
• Ya Nui Beach
• Phuket Seashell Museum