A new collection of photos from past travels and local shots.
So this is our last day on the island of Phuket. Where have two weeks gone, and so fast? An amazing trip, amazing people, strange sights and sounds and smells, Crazy but organised chaotic driving and a full-on sensory overload. Tomorrow we will be heading to the airport and on our way back to beautiful Wellington. Before we leave though I have two little stories to share.
I have just returned from a trip to fill our rental car with petrol. Along the way, I was stopped by a Thai Army and Police checkpoint. I must admit I was a little nervous however as I pulled up the soldier saw my Avis sticker on the front of the windscreen, smiled and waved his finger. This is so not what I had read before coming here however I was very pleased indeed. I drove on rather happily.
Arriving at the petrol station, the young man who served me, put in my petrol, asked me where I came from. I said New Zealand and was about to start explaining the islands off the coast of Australia when his eyes lit up and said ‘oh you have the ice mountains!’ I smiled and said yes, yes we do at which point he said ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Well, I must admit it makes a change not to have the All Blacks shoved in my face once again, so I proudly said ‘yes, Lord of the Rings’ he was so excited it was cool moment indeed.
On another level, this trip has been rather poignant for me. Every day we have traveled we have had no choice but to drive past local rubber plantations. Tall, straight trees planted in rows, giving dark covered shade, with small gathering bowls hanging off the side of each tree. Every day as I looked into those plantations I could not help but think of my Father. At the age of 18, he fought in the Malayan Emergency, a little-known police action to stop the communist Chinese coming down and taking over Malaya. It was in a rubber plantation; I guess very similar to the ones I have seen that he was ambushed and shot in the leg from ricochet shrapnel that killed the young soldier walking in front of him.
As I looked into those plantations, I could not help but think what that would have been like, miles from home, in the heat of the jungle. Sadly, in some areas of the planet, we have come no further but looking through the local plantations I can see the traffic and the everyday life of Thailand. A fantastic place, warm, friendly and full of the hustle and bustle. It has been great meeting you, and I hope we meet again someday.
You can’t travel without doing some shopping and you can’t come to Phuket without visiting two key places, The Outlet Mall and if you are into cooking, The Sandangrom Kitchen outlet centre.
Sandra spotted this on our way to the old town of Phuket and so we decided to pay a visit later in the week. This place is amazing, like a high street store on steroids, it has everything for the kitchen, and the prices have to be seen to be believed. Before we go into that though a little bit about the ‘Outlet Centre’ on the 402 heading south. What a place and what a bargain centre. All the large brands are there and the prices are more than 50% lower than high street if not even more.
If you are planning a visit to Phuket this place must go on your list. Ok so I walked away with new Converse limited edition sneakers, new shirts and a new Thule Backpack ( my old one started to give in the stitching on the way to PH on the plane, that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it 🙂 Sandra grabbed shoes and stuff for the Grandchildren, this place was so good we went back twice in a week. We spent enough to get a very special deal on another suitcase to bring it all home in 🙂 but in saying we spent enough, all up it was very very little indeed. Phuket really is a cheap place to shop.
The next stop kitchen land. This place is amazing, there is not a lot I can say really other than the vastness is quite mind blowing. We could not help ourselves really and we went a little wild however when you can buy prep bowls for $1 NZ that would be $5 back home you can’t really be blamed, and so the list goes on.
Heading back north again I just had to snap the following photos. The scooters and traffic are full on however there are lots of mopeds with sidecars. These have everything in them from people to animals, vast amounts of shopping and in this case entire cooking facilities. Truly a mobile kitchen. Thailand ingenuity!
Sitting in the evening sun at a local restaurant, I discovered Sarah Menescal. Just great background music for a night of relaxation and romance.
Nai Yang Beach is a special place about 5 minutes drive from where we are staying. You arrive down a thin road to a beachfront that is deep and long with national forest to the right and the small township to the left. I say Nai Yang is a special place not because of its gorgeous beach that is 27 miles long, or its fabulous people full of smiles and cheer, or the views and the sun. It is special because still standing in the middle of the main street is a building totally destroyed by the Tsunami in 2014.
Phuket is rebuilding and in places like Patong Beach, one of the worst-hit areas, there is little evidence any longer of the destruction played out on that fateful day. In Nai Yang however, tucked back from the beach is a resort that is yet to be taken down some 12 years later and as you look up you can certainly get an understanding of the severe power of the waves on that day.
The story changes once you hit the beach. Today it is a tranquil, beauty spot, not so crowded as some of the other beaches down the coast and certainly nowhere near as busy as Patong. Sandra and I walked the shoreline, our feet in the warm water. So hot it was like a bathtub lapping at the coast. The tourist boats and fishing boats floated on the glass surface while families swam. Their unique local design, high bows and long outboard motors, and colours galore.
Heading back as the sun rose and the heat climbed once again it was time for a customary foot massage. Fantastically relaxing to the point where I generally fall asleep and snore loudly, to the amusement of all around me. By the time our legs were suitably wobbly and well pampered, it was lunch time. Sitting in a beach front restaurant the menu was very similar to all the others. However, this time the Pad Thai came encased in an egg basket. The description in the menu meant it had to be tried and so I ordered and was not let down at all. It was delicious. As our lunch came to an end we could hear the pool calling us and a lazy afternoon ahead. We will certainly head back to Nai Yang before we leave this amazing island if only for the sleep-inducing massage and the bathwater beach.
Tuesday Afternoon in the Old Phuket Town. The rain came in waves, the heat came in bigger waves as I walked the historic streets looking for photo opportunities and capturing the everyday hustle and bustle (photos can be seen from my walkabout in the photo projects section of my blog). Peaking through doorways and up alleys, there was life and colour in every corner. It was mid-afternoon, and so the school children were beginning to appear on the streets. Smart in their white shirts and blue shorts and skirts, they had a brightness to them found only in young people. As they walked the streets they would stop at a roadside vendor to buy large ice-filled multi-coloured drinks, no doubt full of sugar but who cares, they certainly didn’t.
In my walking, I came across a restaurant. while looking through the window, my eyes were met with pseudo old world French furniture and walls adorned with the pictures of the late Thai King. This had to be the place to eat tonight. After meeting with Sandra again and being slightly drenched, we walked the street to where the location with the unknown name was situated and took our seats.
The menu was presented, looking much like a small graphic novel of 1 cm thick, and the wine list. Sandra knew what she wanted from the wine list, and so it only left this dossier of dishes. I ordered three starters which were beautiful and easy, but the main were so much harder. I think our frustrations were noticed by the waiter who was fantastic. He only walked over and said ‘for you Madame Crab Curry and you for you sir, the local pork stew’ Who were we to argue? We put our full trust in this man completely and wow he was so right, the crab curry was fantastic, delicious, tangy plentiful and a fabulous colour. The pork? Well, where do I start? The best pork I have eaten in a restaurant in a very long time, it fell away from the fork, was rich in sauce and flavor and was the perfect evening meal. The waiter later told me it was his favorite and was a local dish.
There was certainly no room left for anything else, so after a fantastic meal costing approx $30 NZD per head !!!! (food is so very cheap in Phuket) We wandered our way home through the rain soaked streets, and into the evening Phuket traffic, watching the locals buying their produce to take home for their evening meals, and dodging the crazy scooter riders on the wet roads. This island is a bustling, fantastic and amazing place full of smiles and mopeds, all with a touch of Evil Kinevil.
Yes, you read right, we were no cowards of the county, Reuben James !! Who knew that Kenny Rogers had a chicken chain in Asia? Well, he started a chain in the USA, and it failed. However, it took off in Asia and lo and behold down the road we found it. In amongst the Pad Thai and Green Curry there it was. A little bit of country in the heart of Phuket. Plain simple rotisserie chicken, coleslaw and potatoe salad and all the Kenny you could listen to 🙂
We simply had to try it just to say we had. With The Gambler blasting out the fare was simple but nice and a change from the norm. The manager was a lovely guy who had just come back from three months of training at the Kenny Rogers HQ in Malaysia. He was so proud of his new restaurant and was happy to chat. Telling us all about the various outlets in Indonesia, Dubai and beyond.
So in a surreal setting, we sat and ate Kenny chicken, miles from Nashville supping on my multicolored passion beverage. Sometimes bizarre just has to be done!
While on this trip we have discovered and are putting to good use a great breakfast egg tip. Here are the steps to a great fried egg and bread breakfast.
- Get your bread and use a small glass to cut out the centre (keep for later)
- Heat your frying pan up throw in some bacon (optional) if not use butter.
- Once bacon is cooked or butter is melted throw in your bread with the hole
- Simply crack your egg into the centre of the bread
- Once you think it’s cooked on side A flip over to side B and also put the circle of bread you cut out into the pan to fry off a little
- Once both sides are done serve up and you have bacon, bread, and egg all nicely together and a great runny yoke in the middle
Job Done, a great start to the day 🙂