Phuket Merlin Beach Resort

The Phuket Merlin Beach Resort is almost in Patong Beach, but not quite. The location is off a side road to the South end of Patong, past the Baan Yin Dee Boutique Resort and heading towards Paradise Beach. It's easy enough to find, but not too many people head this way. This is an area we like and I have already recommended the Tri Trang Beach Resort on this blog.

I just decided today to blog the Merlin Beach Resort, as a customer came in to book diving and was raving about the place. It IS a big resort, with more than 400 rooms and does get large travel agent bookings, yet due to it's secluded location does not feel like part of the main tourist scene. The resort has several restaurants, tennis courts, 3 pools, a spa, a gym, a beauty salon - all that you'd expect from a quality resort.

But the attraction for me (as usual) is the location - Merlin Beach Resort is on it's own beach - which they say is called Tri Trang Beach, although that is also the name of the beach where you find nearby Tri Trang beach resort. The Merlin Beach faces south, the Tri Trang Beach resort faces North. The 2 hotels are not on the same beach... But hey, it's a private beach, located near Patong (near enough to get there in 10 minutes, but far enough to be very quiet) - great location.

Phuket Merlin Beach Resort - Booking and Reviews

Merlin Beach Resort Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Merlin Beach Resort Reviews

More Patong Beach Hotels

Merlin Beach Resort - Photos

 

 


Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Driving In Thailand



Early on I used public transport of every kind. I was very young and it gave me a better view of how “city” Thais lived. They didn’t have motorcycle taxis back then, but you could still hang on the outside of a bus, if you were in need of an adrenaline rush. When the bus was full all you needed was enough space for a foot on the bottom step and a hand hold on the railing. At each stop you could put one foot on the ground but not two as that would put you in danger of losing your spot. Over the years several people got scraped off the sides of busses and the authorities decided it didn’t look good.

Eventually I got a car and mastered the Bangkok demolition derby. After years of driving I moved to a more central location so I could live without a car again. Living near the Skytrain made it easy to get around. I was quite happy living without a vehicle for the last several years but all that changed when we started our house project. In Bangkok it is actually easier without a car but up here it is very difficult to exist without transportation. Driving in Thailand is not for the faint of heart, no matter where you live. Driving upcountry is, however, much different from Bangkok.

The country roads are often in need of repair so you must watch out for potholes. You also share the road with motorcycles, bicycles, various farm equipment and animals, dogs, children and old people. People build right next to the road, so often use the road directly in front of their houses, as an extension of their living area. Village dogs will glare at you incredulously as you attempt to drive through their space and are slow to move out of the way.

Local drivers seem to have learned their driving skills by watching Hollywood chase scenes on TV. It is not uncommon to approach a corner to find the guy coming from the other direction has preempted your lane in his attempt to maintain a proper racing line through the apex of the turn. Passing, it appears, is best done on blind turns or hills with double yellow lines. The rule seems to be that the passer has the right of way and all others must pull off to the side of the road to let him continue in any lane he chooses.

Keeping all this in mind, we decided to take the new truck on a shopping trip to Chiang Mai. It took us a little more than three and a half hours and a great deal of agility to get there. We were looking for light fixtures for the house and by the time we were finished the back seat was full, from floor to ceiling, and the back of the truck was overflowing. I had never driven a full truck before and found it a little unnerving, not being able to see out the rearview mirror.

The heaviest item was the 55 meters of underground cable required for our 3 phase electrical system. The last item to be squeezed in was the TV that we received as a free bonus for spending so much money that day. One reason for the expense was that we ordered a couple of beds for future delivery. We have no place for them right now. They were the same kind we sleep on in Bangkok and were unavailable in Chiang Rai. My wife’s relatives seem to be able to sleep anywhere and under any conditions. The same can’t be said of us, however. Alas we are spoiled and need our comfort.

The plan had been to spend a couple of nights in Chiang Mai and enjoy each others company but by the middle of the second day there was no more space in the truck and we were afraid to park it anyplace overnight. We did manage to stop by and visit a friend for a couple of hours before driving home the second evening but ended up not doing any sightseeing or relaxing. Next time we will have to remember to do things differently.

We have tried to go on some sightseeing drives closer to home but have found that some of those great signs for waterfalls and cultural sights are nothing but a dead end. Things either didn’t workout or haven’t been completed yet. We did win on one drive, however. From our village one can see a road going almost straight up our nearby mountain range. My wife has looked at those mountains all her life and never been to the top before.

The road is extremely steep but as we reached the ridge line at the top, a mere 20 kilometers from home, it felt like entering another world. The views were spectacular in both directions, back down into our valley and across the next valley toward another mountain range famous as the home of Phu Chi Fa. The hill tribe village located at the top didn’t feel very Thai at all. My wife observed that it felt very much like some of our overseas travels, like a foreign country.

In-spite of everything I much prefer driving upcountry to driving in Bangkok. It takes 50 minutes or so to get to town up here but it can take you that long to travel a couple of blocks in Bangkok. There are trees, mountains and rivers everywhere and it is so green this time of year. The views are great and the pace of life is much more to my liking. In a few more months our living environment will improve too, as the house edges nearer to completion.




THANKS and Floods...



It was really nice to hear from some of you. So first of all I want to say THANKS. I seem to get a different level of response depending on where the blog is published and I find the whys for that interesting to contemplate.

Sometimes I think I should change the concept to “How it feels to build a house in a Northern Thai Village.” Most guys seem to be into numbers and specs. That is just how their minds work. They want to know how “big” your dump-truck is, how many cubic meters of this, how many square meters of that, the gauge of the window glass or re-bar, the cost specs, and where to buy what. Some of you have accepted that this is not an instruction manual that I am presenting here. It is more of a window into life in general, away from the bars and nightlife of Thailand, and specifically into my life which is unique in itself.

No two people will ever have the exact same life experience here in Thailand, though you can gain insights by looking at others lives. There are just too many variables at work to follow in somebody else's footsteps. For me an important factor was coming here at such a young age. The opportunities afforded to someone in their twenties are different from those available to someone who discovers Thailand in their fifties or sixties, for example. That is just common sense, but something people often overlook.

Who you are, as a person, will elicit very different responses from the local population as well as where you end up living. Regional differences can be great but even different areas of the same town or city can vary in their livability and the way you will be treated by those around you. Again this is all common sense stuff, that is sometimes overlooked, when in the blush of newness and infatuation, with a new place and culture.

I suppose I should say something about the house at this point. Night before last it started raining around 7 or 8 p.m.. No, that is too tame. The heavens opened in a torrential downpour to the accompaniment of a dramatic light-show. The din of thunder resonated along the mountain range for what seemed like minutes at a time. After the initial thunder storm there was a bit of calm before a more persistent rain settled in for an all night session. If you have ever spent a night in a village house you will understand why we got little sleep that night. You can hear every drop of rain on the roof. The sound is then amplified as the water cascades off the roof to the ground outside your window. This is in addition to the normal sounds of dogs, chickens, frogs and insects, some of which can be quite deafening. Of course we won’t have that problem with the new house but that is still a few months off.

In the morning the whole village awoke to an amazing sight. Where there had been lush green rice-fields there was now nothing but water. We seemed to be living in a lake. I got to try out my new knee-high rubber boots on the trek over to the house site. My wife’s boots were not as high as mine and filled with water on the way over. We visited with many neighbors standing out in the flooded sois of the village. In typical village form many of them were already out with their nets trying to catch fish. Sure they were worried about the survival of their rice crop, but no use passing up a good opportunity to go fishing in your own back yard.

The highway stayed above flood level and our little road and house are higher than the highway, so we were OK. Might want to add a little more height to our road and put a better surface on it at some later date. A truck delivering ceiling material had to drive around to one of the other sois to gain access to our road, but that worked just fine.

We checked on the tilers (husband and wife team) who are living in the house as they do their tile work. They had not gotten wet at all. They quite like living in our house. Especially during the full moon, when they say it is absolutely beautiful at night, surrounded by the fields and mountains in the distance. Noticed that our pond had become part of a much bigger lake and there was little sign of where the boarders might be. If we actually want to raise fish then we will have to do something more about defining the boundaries of the pond.

Afterwards we sloshed around the village visiting people who had it much worse than us. One family is visiting for a few weeks from Hong Kong and their house and their neighbor’s had about a foot or more of water inside their houses. As my wife sat with several other women, in plastic chairs on their flooded front stoop, I waded off to take pictures of what is usually a road. On this occasion one side had turned into a waterfall as the water rushed across the road and cascaded down the other side. I hope they didn’t take offense to my jesting about them living next to a waterfall and how lucky they were. People around here seem to handle this stuff pretty well, considering they don’t have a lot to begin with.

Today things are pretty much back to normal. A little cleaning up was necessary, but then again not too much time was spent on that, as you can expect of bumper crop of mushrooms, off in the jungle, after a good rain...

TripAdvisor Phuket

As an aside from my normal tales of "where we went last weekend" I just want to make a quick post to highlight a very useful website for planning a trip to Phuket - probably most people already know about TripAdvisor.com, but on this page you can find links to the most useful and relevant pages on the site relating to Phuket.

On TripAdvisor you can find hotel and holiday reviews by real travelers (well, there's plenty of talk about fake reviews too), not paid reviewers, so reviews are not always 100% positive! It does help to have a balanced view before making a booking. This web site is not a travel brochure where the sun always shines and every detail is perfect, though there is of course advertising on the site to keep it profitable. There is also a useful forum where you can ask questions (and give answers). You can find maps, vacation package deals and flight information too.

So, here are some links direct to the pages that relate to Phuket...

TripAdvisor.com Phuket

Phuket Overview
Phuket Forums (I'm on there sometimes!)
Flights to Phuket
Phuket Deals
Phuket Attractions
Phuket Discount Hotels

A trip to Phuket Zoo

Update - this blog post is from 2007. There's a new post about Phuket zoo here:

Phuket Zoo - Should You Visit? (2013)


We have of course been to the zoo before, and I have blogged it before, but when you have kids you need to think of something exciting to do! With previous weekends either raining or taken up with birthday parties, we promised the little 'uns that we'd go on Saturday (if it was sunny). The sun duly shone, and so we could go to see the tiger, the elephants, the crocodiles and many other great and wondrous beasts...

Twocan Toucan

Kids are friends, not food

Phuket Zoo is a great attraction for local residents since the entry fee for residents is only 80 Baht for adults and 50 Baht for kids. So we are happy to come again! Note that if you are a tourist the fees are considerably higher.

Phuket Zoo Map

Scary bird!

It was a hot day on Saturday, and the zoo always seems hot since it's full of trees and rather humid with little in the way of cooling breezes. Thus you are bound to part with a little more money to buy a drink or ice cream :)

Now, I am not a zoo fan in general. Some of the animals seem happy enough - the elephants look happy when playing basketball, the deer and birds look jolly, but some animals such as the leopard, which paces back and forth in a bare cage, I do feel sorry for.

Not a happy leopard at all

The kids of course are excited to see the animals. We made a bee line for the tiger, who was rather dopey. A tourist kid sat with the tiger while his dad took photos. The tiger keeper (a one armed man) poked the tiger with a stick, making him growl and bare his teeth. Would I let my kid sit next to a pissed off tiger? Er.. no.

Yawn..what do you want? Can I get chips with this?

The growling rather scared my 2 year old, so we went to find crocodiles instead (yeh, not at all scary). Then we stopped at the elephant show for a while. The viewing stand was packed full (and this is low season!), so we stood just outside for a while and watched elephant races and elephants standing on two legs and elephants playing basketball.

Elephant show at Phuket Zoo

Slam Dunk!

Huge crowds watch the elephant show

Painted by Eduard Monelephant

The zoo has lots of smaller animals too, such as monkeys, a huge variety of birds, snakes, a small but refreshingly cool airconditioned aquarium, plus deer, camels and (wow!) goats (which my kids enjoyed feeding with bananas). There is also a very nice orchid garden (I do like orchids).

Orchid

Orchid

Deer at Phuket Zoo

If you wanted to see all the shows at Phuket Zoo (elephant, monkey, crocodile) and all the animals you can easily spend a few hours there. We tend to dash around in an hour and head home. Since we are paying local rate we are not so worried about getting our money's worth.

Please can I get out?

Note (added 2012). This blog post was from 2007. I've not been to the zoo again for several years now, and unless it's had a big facelift and unless the animals are now much better looked after, can't really recommend it.

Phuket Zoo - Location Map


View Phuket Zoo in a larger map

The Struggle...

As of late I have been struggling with the whole idea of blogging. Not that there hasn’t been plenty to write about. My wife had her birthday, a couple of flood events, a friend visiting in Chiang Rai, some sightseeing, some great bike rides and resulting pictures, several rejections and changes in materials and colors, of deliveries for the house. Even got our license plates for the truck, which will mean a run on lottery tickets with all variations of the numbers there in.

Then what is my problem? So... if there is plenty to write about... maybe that is my problem. I guess I have been remembering the distain I once held for writing about life or reading about it instead of going out there and living life to the fullest. I’ve lost track of all the times people told me I should write a book about my experiences in Thailand. My reply was invariable that I was too busy living, moving forward, experiencing life, to look back at where I had been or what I had done. Selfishly I guess I felt it was my life and my experience, and I somehow owned it and didn’t want to share it with just anybody.

Now I find myself writing a blog and wondering why? I think we have established that I am not bored, with nothing else to do. I have wondered if it might be age related. Maybe I’m getting old and sensing that I am nearer the end of my life than the beginning. Could that lead me to want to remember and want to start recording things?

Perhaps I’m just trying out something new? Trying to keep up with the times and learn about this new blogging phenomenon. After all I have already learned how to use a computer, explored digital photography, created a website and now blogging seems to make sense, as the next thing to try.

Thought it might be, living off in the middle of nowhere, with no ex-pat companionship but that thought didn’t last long. Definitely not me!

Maybe I thought it would be a good way to share my life in a foreign land with my relatives and friends back home. But then again, would any of them be interested in reading it? If not them, then who? Would anybody want to read what I write? Anyone who had a life of their own should be out living it and not sitting around reading about mine.

Who does that leave? Maybe the dreamers who believe that one day they too will be living in a foreign land, speaking a foreign language and experiencing an exotic and romantic lifestyle. Most dreamers remain in the dream phase and only a few of them actually make it a reality. Don’t get me wrong, dreaming is not a bad thing. It can keep us going when things in the real world are not that great.

Maybe that leaves the new guy who just made the move and is wondering if he has made a mistake or not? Reality might not be living up to the dream expectations. Perhaps there is a fear that something was overlooked and that researching other’s experiences might give insight into what went wrong and how to get things back on track to fulfilling the dream.

In the end you watch the hit-counter role over and wonder if each number is a real person or just a search-engine crawling your site. Did the person actually read what you wrote or get bored and quickly click onto another page as people are wont to do on the internet? Why don’t they comment? Did they not like what you wrote? What was their response? What did they think or feel?

Then it struck me. Maybe the writing isn’t just, by me and about me, but also for me. Maybe like most things in life it is all about the process or the journey and not about the destination? Not about the final product and whether anyone reads it or not. But then why put it out there on the web in the first place?

Every possible answer begs another question. I seem to be full of questions today and short on answers. Who, what did they think, why? Maybe more importantly, who cares...does it even matter?