Phuket Seashell Museum
I had a free day last weekend, with some vague plans to try some new places. After lunch at a restaurant on Monkey Hill in Phuket town, and a little walk in town visiting a Hindu temple and a Sikh temple, I drove down towards Ra Wai beach on a hot sunny afternoon. On the main road from Chalong to Rawai, not far from the beach, on the right side is a place that I have probably driven past 500 times... the Phuket Seashell Museum. I'd really not given much thought to visiting before, because it's a "tourist attraction" and I'm not a tourist! I had a feeling it might be a complete waste of effort, but on a free day, and the entry fee is only 200 Baht... I thought "what the hell" and went to have a look.
You may see on the sign .. it's a museum and shop. I did not look at the shop, but I am sure people can find something worth buying! I just paid my 200 Baht and headed downstairs into the air conditioned underground display room. It was not a busy afternoon, just one minibus load of tourists (from Singapore, I think) in there. So I started wandering around. There are arrows painted on the floor to guide you on a path around all the displays. Not sure anyone follows the arrows. I only noticed them after about 10 minutes!
It's not a huge place. If you had minimal interest in shells and the natural world you might wander around in 10 minutes. But hey, guess what? This is a museum, and I found all the displays to be well labeled with lots of information. You can actually learn something here! The museum opened way back in 1997, showcasing the collection of Somnuek Patamakanthin and his son Somwang . As a diver, I certainly have an interest in the wonderful world of nature. The variety of shells on display here is quite wonderful. Well done to these guys for getting this together. I can just imagine them starting out on the beach in Rawai picking up shells, finding new ones ... the museum is now looked after by Somnuek's brother Somchai.
The collection has grown well beyond local Phuket shells. There are rare black cowry shells from New Caledonia, shells from Europe and more. Fossils too, I guess that Khun Somchai has spent some serious money to get some of these items here!
So there we go again! I think I'll take the kids to the Phuket seashell museum sometime soon, they enjoy walking along the beach picking up shells. My daughter especially. She's always picking up pretty shells.
I'd like her to find a 140 carat golden pearl! One of the "star" attractions at the Phuket seashell museum is a quite large, I suppose you could call it golden, not orangey/yellow? Pearl. It is apparently worth lots of money like tens of thousands of whatever. I did not see any specific security around it. But if you are the kind of person who appreciates pearls and jewels, then this big golden pearl might be something you'd gladly stare at for hours...
As far as I know, the Phuket seashell museum is open every day from dawn til dusk or something. I mean, you can't visit at 6am or 9pm, but during the day it's open and I think I will be back soon with the kids. Some of the "tourist attractions" in Phuket are worth a visit, even for cynics! I've been here since 1999, and the Phuket seashell museum has been open all that time... only took 12 years to visit!
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