Jamie's Phuket Review of 2017
So, how was 2017 for you? A bit odd? Too many changes in the world? I know this is a Phuket Blog, but a review of 2017 has to mention a few world events. Like last year I feel a bit helpless, blogging about our nice trip to Krabi or finding an interesting temple that we'd not seen before. The country I live in, Thailand, had an odd year. King Bhumibol passed away back in October 2016 and most of 2017 was officially a period of mourning. Some big events and festivals were cancelled or toned down, such as the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, which is normally crazy, but this year all the big processions - with accompanying face piercing and firecrackers - were cancelled. The King's funeral and cremation was held at the end of October 2017. In addition we're still in political limbo here, with the army in control (and I would say doing a decent job, others might say being a bit autocratic), and elsewhere in the world we have to deal with the Trump-child as US President and my home country, having voted dumbly to exit the EU, now seems dangerously close to being up shit creek without a paddle. And a lot more bad news, too much. Mass shootings, wars, starving in Yemen, Rohingya in Myanmar, the continuing presence of Islamic extremism, oh dear I should stop now.
Also odd because the high season was not great for the dive shop (Sunrise Divers), I think mainly due to a shift in tourist demographic - more Chinese tour groups and Russian package tourists coming here, there's less room for the independent tourists who like to dive! If you dive, please do contact me at Sunrise Divers! Also odd because our kids, who turned 16 and 12 last year, changed to a new school with different holiday dates. And I took another trip to England to visit my poor old Dad in the dementia home. And for the Phuket Blog, a bit of a slow down, I'm too busy in high season, and also with the kids being older, we can't always drag them out for family days exploring Phuket and the surrounding area!
So this is a little review of what was blogged here on Jamie's Phuket Blog in 2017. The blog is not my life. We do many things that are not blogged. We had trips this year to Chumphon, Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi, Bangkok ... Yes, I have been thinking of a new "Jamie's Thailand" blog! In the low season from about late April to October I had way more time to take trips and blog. We visited Krabi 2 times on short 2 night trips from Phuket. We found new viewpoints, new restaurants, and with our travels in other parts of Thailand, I remain sure that Phuket is the place for me!
January - just like right now in 2018, not much free time - early January is a very very busy time for diving. I did my usual update of hotels - see Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2018. And later in January we managed a trip to explore Thai Muang Beach, a little north of Phuket Island. A lovely beach with no hotels, just a few small restaurants and a marine research center. A place to come back to with a picnic in 2018 :)
(above) Thai Muang Beach
Sometimes, if we have no free time for longer trips or new blog posts, I update old posts. We visited Koh Sirey Temple (just east of Phuket Town) in February. They have added a replica of a famous golden rock, the original of which is found at Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Myanmar ...
The first few months of the year were just too busy for blogging, and I was very happy to reach April and start to take some holidays. We had a very relaxing trip away from Phuket to Chumphon, Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi and Suan Pheung, but (unless I start a Jamie's Thailand) these areas won't be blogged. But in late April we made a 2 night trip to Krabi. So close to Phuket, about 2 1/2 hours drive from our house to Krabi Town, but we've never bothered to explore Krabi before! And we really enjoyed the trip including the Emerald Pool and the Tiger Cave Temple. We immediately started planning another Krabi trip!
(above) Food stalls by the river in Krabi Town
(above) Tiger Cave Temple after climbing 1,237 steps!
Our low season officially starts in May and for the next 5 months I had a lot more time .. but less money! Which is more valuable? My heart says time is more valuable, but we've got school fees to pay, and we moved our kids to a more expensive school this year! But I really did enjoy the low season this year. Actually quite busy with the dive shop as we launched a new web design which needed plenty of time, but in low season I took weekends off so we could take some little trips or at least have a "home day" and a "going out day".
Over the years I have blogged a lot about temples, and last year did a page about mosques in Phuket. This year the urge hit me to look for churches in Phuket. I knew of a couple, but found many more!
(above) Church in Phuket Town
We found some new viewpoints in the summer. And the weather this low season was often very nice .. up above Naiharn beach, reached by dirt road and a short hike, we found "Pa Hin Dum" which means Black Rock Cliff. I'd heard about it a few years ago, but back then the landowner didn't want to let people know, but now there are signs up. And the view looking south across Phromthep Cape and the islands is great ..
(above) View from Black Rock Viewpoint
And then on one of our "explore Phang Nga" days we went looking for a viewpoint that I'd seen on Instagram near the amazing Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. We found it - Kuan Ta Eiam - maybe not quite as amazing as it's near neighbour, but we had the place to ourselves, and I liked that. Meanwhile, at Samet Nangshe, there's a small boutique resort with a restaurant and overnight camping option and I have a plan for next low season!
(above) At Kuan Ta Eiam Viewpoint overlooking Phang Nga Bay
In July we were in Krabi again for another 2 night stay which we enjoyed just as much as April and I think we'll be doing more Krabi next low season! We visited the Emerald Pool again, but learned from last time and went early so we had the place almost to ourselves.
(above) Emerald Pool, Krabi
And this time we visited Railay Beach and Phra Nang Cave Beach. Very nice. Very.
(above) Railay Beach, Krabi
In September I had a 2 week trip to England to see my dad in the care home and visit family. Not long after coming back to Phuket, my cousin and her family visited from Australia. Unfortunately for them it was just about the wettest week of the low season! But it didn't stop us ... we had a day out in Phang Nga Bay including James Bond Island and Panyee Village and had to shelter in a cave while a storm blew through!
(above) My boy at James Bond Island
(above) Floating football pitch at Panyee Village
In October we weren't doing too much. Kids had started a new school, King Bhumibol's cremation was on the 26th, so October was a quiet month all over the country really. I skipped the vegetarian festival this year as it was more or less muted in respect for the King. My friend Amy wrote a very nice blog post for me about the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. There are not many "guest posts"on this blog, as I do try to keep it personal, but with limited blogging time available I'm open to more!
(above) At The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
In December we had one of our "exploring" days in Phang Nga province to the north of Phuket. I had heard about a temple, did some Googling, figured out the location (probably) so we took a drive around some quiet roads and found Tham Paya Nakarat Cave Temple, and it was worth the visit for sure.
(above) Tham Paya Nakarat Cave Temple. I still enjoy these days when we drive around amazing scenery and find something new. We should do more, but the kids are getting older and have their own things to do, and when I am busy with the dive shop I get lazy on my days off! I have been doing more exercise this year, trying to fit in a walk / jog around Bang Wad Reservoir a few times per week ...
(above) Bang Wad Dam and Reservoir in Kathu, Phuket
But my wife has been taking fitness very seriously. And in December she did the Phukethon 10km run. If you'd told her she could do that 2 years ago she'd have laughed. Now I have to try and get fitter and do a run with her in 2018!
(above) My wife after the Phukethon 10km run. Can I get fit enough to do a 10km in 2018?
I'm writing this at the end of one of the busiest weeks I can remember in the dive shop. I was glad to have a few days off over Christmas and New Year and have some family time. We still love to visit The Beach Bar at Cape Panwa - we went for dinner on December 25th and again for New Year's Eve!
(above) Christmas Day sunset in Phuket
(above) The Monk family, January 1st 2018
2018 ... I'm getting a good feeling. Started so busy at work, kids have settled into the new school, my wife and I are getting older but fitter, we're planning a big UK trip for the family later in the year, it's going to be a good year. Bring it on! Any questions about Phuket, please do ask on the Facebook Page. And please do follow me on Twitter and Instagram! And find lots more photos on Flickr.
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