Jamie's Phuket : Best of 2012
Another year! 2013 is upon us, the world did not end, the future is bright. I hope everyone has had a good 2012, had some good times. The year for me in Phuket - busy! I admit to struggling to find time for blogging especially later in the year. Please remember this Phuket blog is a hobby, as I am working as manager of Sunrise Divers, and also have a wife and kids, so can't be on the computer every free moment! Sometimes I get a does of blog fever and make sure we get out and do new things. Sometimes I have a day off and we stay home, do the garden and maybe head out for dinner to a favourite restaurant. Must make sure we try some new places to eat in 2013 for the blog, and for our taste buds! Actually, looking back, 2012 was a good blogging year. We did get out and explore, especially in Phang Nga (north of Phuket) and we also had a couple of holidays out of Phuket visiting Hua Hin, Chumphon and Suan Phung. Might be a struggle to fit the "best of" onto one page, but here goes!
Though I knew all the interesting temples in Phuket, but found one that I had never visited, at Wat Khao Rang in Phuket Town, featuring a big golden Buddha statue....
(above) Big Buddha statue at Khao Rang Temple
Also blogged about the new mini golf place at Bang Tao Beach, which we visited with the kids on Christmas Day 2011 (and have meant to go again since, but had no time).
(above) Mini Golf near Bang Tao Beach
A month writing on the blog about recent fairs and festivals, with Chinese New Year being on 23rd January, I stopped a couple of times to get new photos at the annual Chalong Temple Fair which is always held around Chinese New Year.
(above) Chalong Temple Fair
And then I wrote about the Phuket Old Town Festival which had been held from 28 - 30 January.
(above) Fire dancer during the old town festival
Exploring in Phang Nga province, which is north of Phuket, just over the bridge. Phang Nga is mostly very rural. We found a great restaurant called Tha Sai Seafood, also visited a very interesting temple called Wat Thamtapan and a beautiful little forest park with waterfalls - Sa Nang Manora Forest Park.
(above) View from Tha Sai Seafood and a waterfall at Sa Nang Manora
And later in March, with the kids on school holidays and visiting inlaws, I did some exploring on my own including the Phuket Seashell Museum and (on a walk in Phuket Town) I was invited into a Sikh Gurdwara for a look around.
(above) Phuket Seashell Musem and the ceiling of the Sikh Gurdwara in Phuket Town
April / May 2012
We had a holiday out of Phuket for a couple of weeks including visiting my wife's family in Chumphon. Meanwhile in Phuket, thanks to the Bumrungwong family for letting me snap photos at the Old Herb Shop in Phuket Town
(above) At the old herb shop in Phuket Town
And (inspired by the earlier visit to Khao Rang temple) I wrote about the "Big Buddhas" of Phuket. There's more than one!
(above) Big Buddha at Sri Sunthorn temple
Old Phuket Town is getting better year by year as people who live and work there put some effort into the area. There are now several roads without the usual ugly electric wires overhead, and I am always happy for a little walk in old town.
(above) Dibuk Road in old Phuket Town
I meant to write about the Indy Market before, as we go quite often. It's in Phuket Town on Thursday and Friday evenings. Also on the blog in June, a bar/restaurant that has become a favourite - Route 68, on Thalang Road in the old town.
(above) Indy Market and Route 68
And we very much enjoyed watching Phuket FC one evening when our son was chosen as one of the team mascots to go out on the pitch with the players. And Phuket won the game 8-1 :)
(above) At a Phuket FC game
A busy month for blogging! Our explorations into Phang Nga continued with a visit to the very impressive temple at Wat Bang Riang. I also got round to blogging about Khao Sok National Park, which we'd actually visited back in May - one of our favourite places.
(above) At Wat Bang Riang, Phang Nga
(above) On the lake at Khao Sok
Found a groovy new bar with great views south of Kata beach - Sabai Corner, great place for a sunset beer or a few, and I hear that the owner now has a few bungalows open too.
(above) Sabai Corner Bar
And I "reblogged" a couple of things. The blog has been going since 2006, so some of the older posts are out of date and photos tend to be better now. Sometimes I update a few old blog posts every week, sometimes write completely new blog posts such as the posts in July about the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project and Wat Kathu temple.
(above) Wat Kathu Temple
One of may favourite days of the year - a trip over to Koh Yao Noi island, east of Phuket. It's small, quiet, has great views .. next time we plan to stay a night.
(above) Exploring Koh Yao Noi island
And then some street culture! The 4th annual Kathu village street festival was held in August. Kathu is the area of Phuket where I live. The 3 day festival featured lots of food and street performances and a big street parade on the first evening.
(above) At the Kathu Festival
And some street food! I finally blogged about the well known Abduls Roti Shop in old Phuket Town. Roti with curry for breakfast. Yum!
(above) Abdul's Roti with curry
There are some well known festivals in Phuket and some smaller festivals. The 'Por Tor' (Hungry Ghost) festival is one that I never investigated until last year. Well, in 2012 I saw a lot more. We all went to the Por Tor Kong shrine in Phuket Town that is the center of events to say prayers and donate a red turtle cake for the ghosts.
(above) Por Tor Festival
More food! My wife introduced me to a tasty dish called Khao Yam, a kind of salad made with rice and herbs, popular in south Thailand and a new restaurant opened not far from our house doing Khao Yam and also some good dim sum.
(above) Khao Yam
In late September / early October we were on holiday for a couple of weeks, I might write something about the Hua Hin trip sometime! Also during the holiday we had an overnight trip to Racha Yai (Raya) Island about 20km south of Phuket - a place I have dived many times, but this was the first time I'd set foot on the island in all these years.
(above) Fun for all the family at Racha Yai
And then one of my favourite festivals - the Phuket vegetarian festival was from 14th - 24th October. A photo fest! I visited several shrines in the early morning to watch face piercing rituals, and also some day time and evening street processions. It's a bizarre and fascinating time of year.
(above) Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2012
November / December 2012
What are the best hotels in Phuket? Well, over the year I have added a bunch of pages which show "Top 10" lists based on TripAdvisor rankings. Started with a simple Top 10 Phuket Hotels list back in February, but in the last 2 months there have been several useful hotel posts :
• Top 10 Family Hotels
• Top 10 Luxury Hotels
• Top 10 Value Hotels
Hope those are useful! We've been a bit lazy recently, not many days out - certainly no holidays, as it's high season. Kids often have music lessons or Taekwondo at the weekend, so we might not always do much. I did "reblog" the Bang Pae Waterfall in November. We combined a visit there with lunch at Bang Rong, a regular favourite restaurant.
(above) Bang Pae Waterfall
And we tried a new restaurant just recently - a floating seafood restaurant called Bang Mud, on the east coast of Phuket. Got to try more restaurants next year! Especially if I finally bite the bullet and buy an iPhone, which will mainly be used to take photos of my lunch.
Even if things aren't blogged, please do follow me on Twitter for Phuket updates. And latest photos are on my Flickr account.
Here's a fun photo to end 2012. Yesterday we went for a little drive, took a walk across Sarasin bridge that joins Phuket to the mainland, and then had a drink and cake at the 360 Degree Cafe which is just a few km into Phang Nga. Here's our boy on a big swing at the cafe ...
Let's see what 2013 brings. Happy New Year from Phuket!