Phuket Aquarium - Great for the kids

May 2007... You know, I've lost count of how many times we have been to Phuket Aquarium with the kids. We first went years ago before our daughter was a year old, and we've been back again and again. It's cheap to get in, I love looking at fish, we like the Cape Panwa area, it's airconditioned, so is good for hot days OR rainy days and it never seems too crowded.

The aquarium was already on this blog back in 2006 but now they have a new section - an outdoor "nature trail" with a path along the shore for a couple of hundred metres, a turtle breeding centre and a "marine endangered species unit" which we still need to check out (Saturday was too hot and my son was in need of rest).

Indoors are countless species, mostly in small display tanks, though there is the "tunnel" - not a huge tunnel, but you do have water all around and fish overhead. The big tank has a couple of larger species like leopard shark, eagle ray and some pelagics like trevallies dashing around. You can spend an hour indoors, though if you have kids they will charge around rather like the trevallies from tank to tank - "ooh! look at this one", "wow, look at that", and as dad the diver (me) tries to explain the hunting habits of the lionfish, they find Nemo or an electric eel or a "what's that daddy?"...

The lionfish hunts by herding it's prey using it's feather like fins...

Cowfish - not bad for an aquarium photo, eh?

At the exit is a souvenir shop that should please all tourists. Nothing in there that really takes my fancy. But it is airconditioned, so worth browsing a few minutes on a hot day! A small shop sells drinks and snacks, but there is no restaurant. Next to the shop, steps lead down to the nature trail and you walk past the water filters and pumps for the tanks along the rather nice shoreline.

Beach at Phuket Aquarium

The shoreline near the aquarium

Along the shore are some interesting signs explaining about plants and birds and giving environmental advice...

 

A little way along is a little marine research boat which is now beached. The kids enjoyed "taking the wheel", and we sat there in the shade for a few minutes looking at the view and pretending to be sailors. Just after the boat are some open water pools where we found baby turtles. The marine biological center has a turtle breeding program. The baby turtles were obviously used to seeing people and rushed across to see us - sorry, we don't have any food...

Baby turtles at Phuket marine biological centre

And a little farther you find a pool containing adult turtles of several different species - the photo below shows 2 hawksbill turtles. At the shallow end is an artificial beach no more than about 15 meters square - we could see the marks on the sand made by turtle flippers.

Hawksbill turtles

The path does not end at the turtles. You can also see the endangered species unit, but we'll have to see that next time, as it was a hot day and we dashed back to the shop for drinks. We'll be back again sometime soon!

Updated - for more information and photos, look at this newer, updated post:

Phuket Aquarium updated 2012

Also around Cape Panwa:

Khao Kad Viewpoint
Cape Panwa Hotel
Panwa Beach Resort
The Beach Bar

Phuket Aquarium - Location Map


View Phuket Aquarium in a larger map

Whole lot a shakin goin on...



Just as we sat intertwined on the sofa, deep in our thoughts and conversation, that unmistakable and unforgettable queasiness came over us as we looked at each-other and knew instantly that it was happening again in less than a year. The last time we felt this giddy lightheadedness was last year in Hawaii and we were kind of high at the time. It was much stronger then and because it was out first time, we weren’t instantly sure what was happening or what to do. It didn’t take long to get the idea, though. Don’t get me wrong we had read about it and seen it on National Geographic but had never really, been there, done that.

Maybe I had better start again. As my wife and I sat on the sofa the earth began to move...again. Only this time we were 60 km outside of Chiang Rai, not in Hawaii. It might not have been as strong as Hawaii but that could be due to our ground level location here and being on the 11th floor in Hawaii. The feeling was similar, however. You get instant motion-sickness. Where you're sitting turns into a waterbed, as you slosh around on what you thought was solid ground. Anything freestanding or hanging or balanced on a surface starts to sway or swing or fall.

My wife went straight for the TV to make sure it stayed where it belonged. It seemed to last a very long time and there seemed to be three or four attempts to start up again. In Hawaii we spent the rest of the day with no power, water or telephone. All we could do was sit in the dark and look out at all the other people on their balconies in Waikiki trying figure out what was going on and what to do. This time something happened to the local water supply and the whole village was without water until nearly noon today.

We have a Western style bathroom, so no extra water for a Thai style bath. There was one of those large earthen jars out back, however, so later last night we got naughty and went out in the yard, striped down, and gave each-other a bath. I “felt” like a teenager again, skinny dipping in our backyard pool. And I swear that my svelte little wife “looked” like a teenager standing there naked in the dark.

The water was cold as ice but this time of year that was quite refreshing. Actually, right after the earthquake we headed for the house site to check on the workers and make sure everything was OK. They had been pouring the crossbeams and quickly climbed down when the iron rods, still sticking out of the pillars, started to sway back and forth.


Under normal circumstances, other recent events could have rated separate entries of their own. Like the snake that decided to slither through the kitchen while my wife was doing the dishes. We don’t know enough about snakes to take a chance so we did the unthinkable. I wouldn’t think of hurting the one that likes to swim in our pond and poach the occasional minnow. But trying to takeover my wife’s kitchen was a big mistake.

There was the rocket launching that went on about five kilometers down the road. I’m sure they were too drunk to feel the earthquake. From the safety of the rice fields I saw what must have been the winner of the day. It left a tremendously long and brilliantly white trail across the deep blue sky and in the end disappeared into the top of a massive thunderhead miles away. I would never go to the actual event but it was an interesting distraction, from what I was doing at the time, from a safe distance and without all the noise.

There was the experience of taking the puppy for his first visit to the vet. There was the planting of the grass on the slopes and the subsequent daily watering until it started raining everyday and relieved me of that duty. Happily the grass seemed to take root before the first big rain and didn’t get washed away. So far so good, as it seems to be doing its job.

The pond filled to the brim overnight and the fish started jumping onto the grass. The wife’s mother wasn’t really happy with the thought that somebody else might steal some fish, so easily, so got to work and put this ugly little blue net around the pond. We will have to do something about that next year but right now there are more important tasks at hand.

All in all, it has been an eventful few days since my last entry and I don’t seem to be missing Bangkok at all.

Rawai Beach

Update 2013 - There is a new page on the blog about Rawai Beach. The post here was from 2007.

Rawai beach is found on the south side of Phuket, between Chalong Bay and Phromthep Cape. It's not a swimming beach really, and there are only a few accommodation options close by (such as the Evason Resort, just to the east of Rawai). What you can find there in profusion are small beachside restaurants with foot-high tables on the beach, mostly no more than shacks selling grilled fish, crab, chicken. You sit on a mat on the floor and eat simple food by the sea. There used to be just a few of these places a few years back, now half the beach is covered in them. When we stopped on Sunday it was very busy too..mostly local people. In fact I don't think I saw a foreign face. There are some other restaurants around which have discovered chairs and tables and the foreigners do tend to eat at these. But for a local taste - sit on the floor! Also you find a fair number of small bars and good dining by the beach such as the long-popular Nikitas Bar, a British owned bar/restaurant which has been there since before time began!

Hotels in the Rawai beach area

Eating on the beach at Rawai

Rawai Beach

Aside from the restaurants you can find multitudes of boats at Rawai - you can rent boats here to Koh Lone, Koh Bon, Koh He (Coral Island), Racha Yai and more. We do intend to check out Koh Bon one day, and I think the boats here will take people round to Koh Kaew too - a small island off Phromthep Cape with a golden Buddha on the beach. (update 2013 - yes, we did this trip a few years ago : Boat from Rawai beach to Koh Kaew Yai / Buddha Island)

Longtail boats at Rawai Beach

At the far east end of the beach you find a little fishing community with a daily market selling fresh fish and prawns. There are also some "touristy" stalls selling shells and other such souvenirs of the sea. The market is small but gives an idea of the old way of life. Phuket still has many fishing communities around the coast despite the tourism that has taken over many of the western beaches. We bought some fish and I took a few photos. (update 2013 - there are now a bunch of restaurants there by the fish market, so you can buy fresh fish and then take it to a restaurant where they will cook it for you).

Rawai Beach Seafood Market

Rawai Beach Seafood Market

Rawai Beach Seafood Market

Rawai Beach Seafood Market

The Southwest corner of Phuket is great for small beaches, views, seafood and a bit of peace and quiet. You can visit Rawai, eat at Kan Eang 2 Seafood in Chalong, get the view at Phromthep Cape, stop at Ya Nui beach, get the sunset at the Kata Viewpoint. If you get the idea - it's a nice area of Phuket!

Boat Lagoon - Another side of Phuket

Quite aside from the "tourists", be they backpacking, flashpacking, on package tours, on a dive trip, here for the nightlife - whatever.. there is another side to Phuket that many don't know about. Phuket is home to several yacht marinas, there is a thriving boat building industry, there's the Kings Cup sailing event every year.. in short, there's lots of yachties around!

You'll find yachts in the high season moored in every bay from Bang Tao to Chalong, but these are open bays and offer little in the way of boat services or security. Boat Lagoon is found on the east coast, about 10km north of Phuket Town and is way more than just a marina or boat park. When you enter it's like a different world. You could be in a marina in France. Where has Thailand gone? Everything is neat and tidy, and if you like boats you're in dreamland. I love to look at them and dream of being a rich man! OK, not all boats are super expensive, but in Boat Lagoon you'll see some beautiful craft. Well worth stopping here for a quick look.

Boat Lagoon Phuket

We stop in sometimes to walk around, look at boats, maybe have a coffee and cake at "The Bakery" - they also do great sandwiches and salads. There is also a restaurant here called The Watermark which is a bit too posh for us. We also use the pool at the Boat Lagoon Resort sometimes. Very nice place to stay if you like boats and are not bothered about being close to a beach.

The Bakery at Boat Lagoon

Appartments and shops at Boat Lagoon

Boat Lagoon also has houses and apartments, a supermarket and plenty of shops for yachties (selling a multitude of gadgets and essential bits for your boat). There are also yacht rental and sales centers. The boats are everywhere, in and out of the water. Boats are serviced here and they have some huge boat cranes for lifting boats out of the water. Like I say, if you like boats, this has to be on your list of places to see in Phuket.

Yachts at Boat Lagoon

Lady Anna a long way from home

Phuket Boat Lagoon - Location Map


View Boat Lagoon Phuket in a larger map

Boat Lagoon and Yachting Links

Boat Lagoon Resort
Boat Lagoon Website
Phuket Kings Cup
Phuket Race Week
Phuket International Boat Show

Weather...Weather...Weather...



We have run into a bit of weather. It rained all night last night and most of yesterday and it has been threatening all day today. It means it is too wet to work right now. It might workout to the benefit of the landscaper who is coming out to plant turf on the slope by the pond. To keep erosion to a minimum this year we have decided to landscape all the sloping areas. If it doesn’t rain anymore today the ground will be just perfect for planting.

Yesterday, while inspecting the site work, the contractor showed up with his whole family so we spent a fare amount of time visiting and getting closer with the family, as well as discussing various aspects of the work. After they left my wife and I decided it had been a long time since we had made the 45 minute (one-way) walk to the dam. It was heavily overcast and we knew it would rain but we went ahead anyway.

She carried a big umbrella while I made do with my wide-brimmed hat and off we went as it began to sprinkle. Before we got to the dam it was poring down rain but it was beautifully quiet and peaceful and the clouds hung low to the mountains which was more reminiscent of our hikes in Hawaii. Believe me it was very romantic and we lost all sense of time on our little walk.

Recently we have been riding our bikes more because you can cover more ground and see more varied landscape. But there is nothing quite like going on long walks with my wife.  Whether on day-hikes in the many National Parks we have visited in the United States, on evening strolls around Diamond Head with a Waikiki sunset to top it off, or walking the fields and trails around the village, it is all good.

It is real quality time when we can talk about things undistracted by the normal goings on of life. We feel closer and more connected to each-other on our walks. It’s just us and nature. Yeah, I know, it sounds kind of sappy. But, what can I say? After 10 years, I’m still in love with my wife. I know there is probably a scientific explanation dealing with the right mix of exercise, endorphins, hormones and pheromones but I chose, in this case, to be the romantic and just call it “Love”.

I’m sure that is not what the locals called it, however, when they passed us walking in the rain. They had been caught out in the forest and fields and were rushing back on their bicycles, motorcycles and makeshift tractors. They were heading for shelter like any sane person would be doing. Being the friendly sorts that they are, they offered us rides even when they didn’t have room. I couldn’t be certain how much of their expression was surprise and how much was relief, that we preferred to get wet and walk the rest of the way home. I’m sure they will just chalk it up as another of my Farang eccentricities.

I almost forgot. We were chaperoned by our dogs, who if anything, had more fun than we did. Of course by the time we got home they were unrecognizable, being covered in mud and ash and who knows what, from their adventures off trail. For me it was just, one more perfect day...