Mother, Mother can’t you see ...

Mother, Mother can’t you see,
The stranger before you is really me?
Your second son,
The distant one.
I have traveled so far to see your face,
Please don’t deny your loving embrace.
Have read all about it and understand your condition,
Still can’t help looking for some sign of recognition.
If I could peer into your troubled mind,
I can’t help but wonder what I would find?
Is my dear Mother hiding somewhere,
Or is there nothing behind that stare?
I’ve heard it called the long goodbye,
For me it’s just a terrible way to die.
Pain and pills, depression and despair,
After living a good life it just isn’t fair.
I know you don’t mean to hurt those around you,
But the pain we all feel would surely astound you.
Father is doing the best that he can,
But he’s not a saint, he is merely a man.
My visits are often extended from six weeks to six months,
While the rest of the family is hard pressed to manage six days, even once.
Ideas and suggestions of what I should do,
All things I’ve thought of and nothing new.
My dear Father is an archetypal old fashion male,
Getting him to do anything is a very hard sale.
I’m under pressure to get more done,
But he is the Father and I the second son.
Mistakes we have made opportunities missed,
All written down would make a very long list.
Perhaps life’s entrance is meant to hurt,
A poignant reminder we are all headed for dirt.
We think of our bodies as strong when they’re frail,
No matter how one lives in the end our systems fail.
Writing today has led me to weep,
Reminded what we sow is what we will reap.
Let passion and love fill your life everyday,
Be bold and live well don’t let fear get in the way.

The Surin Resort Phuket

The Surin Hotel is just the right place for a bit of quiet seclusion. Not a cheap hotel, but the last minute prices can be much better. But, it has to be said, you get your money's worth. The Surin has it's own private beach in between Surin and Bang Tao beaches. The scenery is beautiful along the coast here and you're off the main tourist beaches. Having said that, The Surin is not too far from anywhere. About 20 minutes to the airport, about 25 to Patong if you want a bit of nightlife.

The Surin provides one-bedroom and two-bedroom thatched cottages with private verandahs and sun decks. It's a very nice looking place. A New York Times review that I saw says "From the exotic lobby (with columns and lily pond) to sleek and handsome private bungalows, it is one of the most handsome properties on the island. It's quality with a big price tag, but this romantic getaway has it down to the details."

Actually, compared to it's nearest neighbour (Amanpuri Resort) The Surin is quite reasonably priced! You can just about walk down to Surin beach from the hotel, where you can find more dining options, or eat at one of the 3 restaurants at the resort - they also apparently do beach BBQ's on Pansea Beach. Looks like paradise to me!

The Surin - Booking & Reviews

The Surin Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
The Surin Reviews at Agoda.com


The Surin - Photos

Hillside bungalow at The Surin

Room Interior Pool at The Surin

Sunset Bar on Pansea Beach at the Surin Beachside Restaurant at The Surin

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

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

Phuket Food Festival

The Phuket Food Festival 2008 started on 19th March and runs until the 28th. It's an annual event organised by the Phuket Food Vendors Club and Phuket City Municipality. I managed to convince my family that it would be worthwhile having a look on Saturday evening, and I think we might go back again one evening this week for some cheap tasty food! The event is being held at Sapan Hin, in the south of Phuket City. Many local events are held there during the year. Sapan Hin is by the sea, has lots of open spaces, and also features sports facilities (we've been to see my wife's dad playing Takraw there!).

 



We arrived at the food festival in the late afternoon so I could snap some photos of the food stalls before dark. There's around 50 or 60 stalls selling everything from Phad Thai to BBQ Fresh Water Prawns, fried fish, Sai Ua (spicy northern sausages), Satay sticks and much more. We even found a stall selling coffee from Chumphon (my wife's home town).

This festival is well worth a look. The food is good and cheap, a great chance to sample many different dishes and get a bit of local life. I did see a handful of foreign faces on Saturday, but this is very much a local Phuket event, organised and run by locals for locals. It'll be on my calendar for next year for sure.

Big prawns Chinese sausage

Juice galore

Sweets! Rice with coconut roasted while wrapped in banana leaf

Need to wash down that food, never worry! There are several beer stalls selling draft Singha or Leo Beer, as well as stalls selling ice coffee, fresh juices and there was a Chinese tea stall also. I think you could come and eat here every night of the week!

Cup of tea? Omellette with mussels

Special varieties of rice Sai Ua - spicy Chiang Mai sausage

And good old satay

The festival runs from late afternoon until about 11pm. After dark, the entertainment starts. There are bands playing, local schools doing song and dance acts. A big stage has been set up. There were some young girls doing dancing and singing which our 6 year old daughter wanted to watch and she thought was very beautiful. Some guys were warming up with guitars too, ready to rock the night away.

Stage soundcheck

Dancing girls

Young singer

Another young singer with dancers

Hungry? Maybe see you there this week!

Phuket Climate Overview

Note: A lot of people are visiting this page.. it is meant to be a quick overview of Phuket's climate and weather patterns... for the latest Phuket weather updates, please head to my Phuket Weather Blog. Stay here on Jamie's Phuket Blog (online since 2006) for information on hotels, things to do, festivals, restaurants and more!

Most tourists and travelers coming to Phuket want to know what the weather will be like during their stay. Holiday planning revolves around the seasons, so most tourists come during the "high season" and come with an expectation of hot sunny days. Any sign of rain is treated with shock. "But we came here for the sun!" - please remember that this is a tropical environment. Look at all the green hills....

So, it was in 2006, just after starting this blog, that I started the Phuket Weather Blog, where I try to report every few days on the weather, add lots of photos, a bit of news, a bit of this and that... if you're coming to Phuket, the Phuket Weather Blog is well worth bookmarking! The photos on this page are taken from the weather blog entries over the last few years.

Sunrise over Kathu Phuket - June 2006

Phuket Climate and Weather Patterns

We don't have 4 seasons here. There's no spring, no autumn (or "fall" as some odd people call it), no freezing winters and the length of the day varies only by an hour throughout the year. The weather is pretty stable most of the time; we don't have hurricanes or cyclones. Since I came here in 1999 there's not been so much as a tropical storm - we don't get violent weather here. We get some sun, some rain, some wind, and the weather follows 2 general seasons.

Karon Beach, June 2007

So, what are the seasons in Phuket? Well, in layman's terms we can call them the "dry season" and "rainy season", but that's rather simplifying things. The proper names for our seasons are as follows:

• Northeast Monsoon season (approx. November - April)
• Southwest Monsoon season (approx. May - October)

It's the Southwest monsoon that brings the "wet" season. The word Monsoon relates to winds (derived from the Arabic word mausim meaning 'seasons', referring to seasonal winds experienced by sailors in the Arabian Sea so says Wikipedia), so during the Southwest monsoon season, the wind blows from the ... South West, yes. That means the winds are blowing across the Indian ocean bringing moisture and making for some big waves from time to time. It's the waves rather than the rain that make this the low season for diving, as we can't guarantee reaching the best dive sites such as the Similan Islands, which are 100km from Phuket. The waves can be quite big at the beaches too. Be careful, people drown every year. Big waves? Don't swim.

Buffalo near my house, October 2007

But, the rainy season often gets blown out of all proportion. People hear the word MONSOON and get scared, imagining 24 hour rain and floods. This is complete rubbish. Yes, there can be some heavy rain, yes there can be minor flooding, but as I said - Phuket does not often get really bad weather. Most of the wet season is actually sunny. Many days are as hot and calm as the best high season days. In fact, the low season is a great time to visit Phuket (unless you are unlucky). Read more here : Wet Season in Phuket.

Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face!

The Southwest monsoon starts sometime in May, normally around mid-May. Can start in early May, can be later in May, but it's pretty predictable. The winds change and things get wetter. Often starts with a bang, but then settles down. July and August can be very nice months. September is normally quite wet, and then sometime in October (often after a final flourish of wetness) the winds change again.

The Northeast monsoon season features winds blowing from the North East - blowing across land bringing slightly cooler air (but it's still hot) and much less rain. Since Phuket's beaches are on the west coast, the waters are calm at this time of year, great for beach lovers! The season starts sometime in October, but the weather is most stable from November onwards - early season can still be a bit wet sometimes, every year is slightly different. Don't blame me if it rains. The nights can be cooler from November - February. We are just about in the Northern hemisphere, so this is actually winter. In the early morning, you often get really clear skies and temperatures can plummet as low as 24°C!

Layan Beach, November 2007

Chalong Bay, December 2007

As you progress into March and April, things get hotter. These are the hottest months of the year, so the Songkran Festival on April 13th is a welcome relief. The period February - April is also (I think) the best time for scuba diving in Phuket. The winds have normally all but ceased by April, so days can be hot and windless, and anyone who says they don't like aircon is a liar!

Sunset from Cape Panwa over Chalong Bay, December 2007

The merry month of May arrives and the guessing game begins. When will the "Green Season" start again? The Green Season is a much nicer name than "Wet" season or "Low" season, don't you think? Phuket certainly looks much greener with a bit of rain and everyone starts praying for rain during the hottest months. Sometime in May the circle starts again. Another year passes. Another year over. A new one just begun.

Cape Panwa, May 2007

For regular weather reports, weather links, forecasts, webcams, radar, satellite, wind forecasts, photos and much more, please do visit my Phuket Weather Blog!

The Phuket Weather Blog
Karon Beach Webcam
Surin Beach Webcam
Patong Beach Webcam
Phuket Weather Radar
Phuket Rainfall Averages

My Muddled Mind ...

Sitting pond side, feeding the fish as the sun settled into the thick and mirky horizon, a tear came to my eye. My eyes burned from irritation, as the black sooty snow of mid March settled, ever so gently, on the surface of the pond. The fish seemed unperturbed as they had no difficulty discerning tasty tidbits from telltale toxins. Though the air quality is much better than last year, on nights like this I sleep better with the windows closed and the A/C on.

Many topics have been stewing in my head of late but before reaching a full boil some new cold idea gets dumped in the pot, and I am left waiting for things to heat up again. I considered relating the events of a recent day trip to Doi Mae Salong, with its extreme gradient and curves reminiscent of Lombard Street in San Francisco, only a bit longer at forty to fifty kilometers of it. I have done the trip and travel thing recently, however.










After the drive I was reminded how dated my adventure style is in this modern day and age and was tempted to opine on that subject at great length. I might have mentioned that while others source every detail of what, where, when and how, I prefer to hit the road with a minimum of information. Info is still necessary but it is more fun to get it on the fly. Just feels more spontaneous to ask a local where to go or what to see. Simply strike up a conversation and no telling what you might learn. Maybe that comes from my early years in Thailand. I was too young to know much and there was no internet with endless sources of excruciating detail. You just had to wing it and trust that you could handle whatever came up.

I have also been lamenting the need to lie or misrepresent myself, even or maybe especially, when talking with friends or family. Ask the wrong question, don’t fawn over the baby, say what you think or feel, express any idea that is not completely mainstream and suffer the consequences. Fortunately I am more concerned with what I think of others, than what they think of me. To keep any long term relationship going, however, seems to fall on me, to bite my tongue, and say the right things. In due time one is sometimes able to tackle difficult subjects but in the throws of emotion, angst, or hormonal rage, it is often unwise to do more than express empathy for what the other is feeling. 

Sometimes sympathy is misread as support for ones actions but such is human nature. My need to be direct and brutally honest could be seen as selfish so I often hold back. It might make me feel better to vent but would have little chance of improving the situation and could damage delicate egos, as I’m sure it has on occasion. I suppose that is how so much goes unspoken in this world. I wonder what life would be like if we were all equipped with “narration” or those little bubbles and asides common in comic strips. Would anyone be talking or interacting, for fear of being found out? Would we still find some way speaking around things instead of to them? Would we fight less or even more, if we had more information?

These and countless other thoughts have been present in my mind, unable to find their way to the page. And yet, here I find myself at the end of this page, with no clear intent or focus. Just the ramblings of a muddled mind, unable to focus on any one thing long enough to craft it into a story for all to read.

The Slate Resort - Nai Yang Beach

The Slate (formerly called the Indigo Pearl Hotel) is something a bit special, which is what I look for when recommending hotels on Jamie's Phuket. I met the marketing manager in 2008 at a party and she was explaining to me how the decor and design is so special, with architecture inspired by Phuket's past, in particular the tin mining industry, which makes for some interesting decorations! The Slate only opened in 2007, taking over the site of the old Pearl Village resort and creating something quite special. It's well established as one of the top hotels in Phuket.

I have mentioned before, that location is one of my main reasons for recommending hotels. If The Slate was in the middle of Patong Beach, I would not think so highly of it. But The Slate is found on Nai Yang Beach near the airport (but you can't hear the planes) in the north of Phuket, seemingly a million miles from the more crowded tourist beaches further south.

The resort was designed by the Bangkok based architect Bill Bensley, whose philosophy on design is "the more odd, the better". He also says “We pride ourselves on our attention to every detail, from the architecture and gardens down to the napkin rings and signage". This reflects what the marketing manager told me - attention to detail is VERY important in a top class resort and I hate to say it, but... is often rather lacking in Thailand.

The Slate - Booking & Reviews

The Slate Resort Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Indigo Pearl Hotel reviews


Indigo Pearl Resort - Photos

Pavillion room Main pool

Suite Tin Mine Restaurant

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

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

The Tree of Legend ...


The wife and her mother, the maid and her son, the masseuse, and some neighbors were distributed between the cab and bed of the truck. I maneuvered my cargo of villagers into the country lane, leading to the small village temple, where my wife’s mother and family hail from. Was this it? Was this the monster of legend, drawing villagers from far and wide? Truth be told it was about what I expected. As usual the stories were far more glorious than the faded image of reality. My wife and I were the only ones who seemed disappointed, however. After all the rest of our group had never seen a majestic fallen sequoia, the mass of which, dwarfed this bit of river jetsam that everyone was fussing over.



The story went that a dredger, taking sand from the river bottom, happened upon this monster from antiquity. A giant tree of unknown origin but surely possessing magical powers and omnipotent spirits. There were several failed attempts to dislodge it from its resting spot, deep in the heart of the river. With each attempt the legend grew. When man finally prevailed it was determined that the only safe place to house this monstrosity, and the spirits lurking within, was the nearby temple grounds.

Whether a clever marketing plan or a simple stroke of good fortune, the temple is now reaping the benefits of its new found fame. While we were there, construction of a display area was well underway. Views were already obstructed and it was difficult to get a good angle for a photograph. Undeterred, I did my best, but was soon looking for more interesting shots around the temple grounds. I stumbled upon a hive of bees, in the eves of the main temple.

My eye was drawn, quite by coincidence, to that area of the temple facade. For it was that same area, of our own village temple structure, that we bought in lieu of the traditional housewarming party. Though some might consider “bought” to be an inappropriate word to use in reference to “nonmaterialistic” Buddhism, it is no less the case that parts of the temple are sold off for a price. In hard times, it seems even religions, can be innovative in their efforts to raise badly needed capital.

I find I have mixed feelings about having our names and the price tag etched on a placard above the main entrance to the temple structure. My wife is happy, however. The house was not damaged by drunken revelers at the otherwise mandatory bacchanal. I do my best to suppress a wry smile, as it could all be seen as quite ironic. My name adorning the entrance to a religious hall of worship. That alone, has to be worth the price. My dear father remarked that it was quite a tribute. I guess we all see things, the way we want to, and from our own peculiar perspective.

As an after thought, it seemed unfair that the masseuse received but a one word mention. After all, she did spend the whole day with us, including our little outing. My wife was first with a couple of hours. I had to wait until after lunch and the tree trip. Where some would say she is large or big boned, I might be less discrete. Strong hands, to her credit, and she did a good job on legs and arms but her back, neck and shoulder technique needs some work. She apparently turned down our maids first offer to come to the farang’s house to massage the husband and wife. Putting it that way I guess it does sound a bit ominous. By the end of the day I believe we had another convert wanting to join our little family. And, the story continues ...

Phuket Weekend Market (Night Market)

Markets are where you can sample real life, local life - it's all laid bare for everyone to see. I've always been a big fan of markets and despite all the modern shopping malls and supermarkets that have sprung up around Phuket (Tesco Lotus, Big C, Central, Jungceylon and more) the local markets are as lively as ever. You'll find fresh produce markets in all areas of Phuket, some daily, some only on selected days. One of the biggest is in Kathu in between Patong and Phuket Town - see Kathu Local Market. And the Phuket Town Main Market is well worth a look.

Fruit Stall

Weekend Market Phuket

The Phuket weekend market (aka Phuket night market) is located just outside Phuket City off Chao Fa West road, near Naka Temple. Due to the proximity of the temple, it's also locally called Naka Market. There's a Location Map at the end of this page. It's open Saturday and Sunday starting late afternoon, up to around 10pm. The weekend market is not really for buying fresh food, but there are stalls selling fruit and there are loads snack stalls for buying deserts, corn, drinks, spicy snacks, noodles and of course fried insects! I've been in Thailand since 1999. Never eaten a fried insect and have no plans to eat a fried insect. Ever.

Fried Grasshoppers

Phuket Weekend Market

Weekend Market Phuket

It's one of those "you can get anything here" markets - you'll find entire stalls selling nothing but remote controls or comic books or fluffy toys. There are also some random secondhand stalls where you're never quite sure what you'll find. Many stalls are selling clothes, new and secondhand. We visit the weekend market every couple of months if we happen to be passing. There are CD and DVD stalls (all originals of course!), handicrafts and antiques too. It's become quite popular with tourists now, but don't expect to find something on the scale of Jatujak market in Bangkok.

Weekend Market Phuket

Need a cap?

You don't see many beggars in Phuket. So it's quite noticeable at the weekend market. Each time we go I see several poor souls with disabilities and I suppose no family to support them. Having traveled in some very poor countries in my life, I admit to having a hard heart, but here it stands out more. On our last visit I did give this guy some money...

Poor beggar at the market

The weekend night market starts up in the afternoon and carries on into the late evening. Many people go in the evening and it does get quite busy. Hard to park a car sometimes. We go there every now and then. My wife can always find some clothes to buy! If you go in the evening, you could more or less eat your dinner at the market by buying and sampling different snacks like the yummy (and slightly spicy) fish cakes below.

Fish Cakes

Weekend Market Phuket

Steamed Corn

This blog likes to show a bit of local life and the weekend market is a good place to start if you want to see the real Phuket (although quite a lot of other tourists also go!). Remember, it's on Saturday and Sunday only. Try some snacks and food from the many foodstalls, grab a cold beer from the bar that can be found somewhere in the middle of the market... actually there are a few places selling drinks. Easy to get to from Phuket Town. If you come from Patong it takes about 25 minutes. I think a tuk tuk will charge about 400 Baht. Or of course you can rent a moped for about 200 - 250 Baht per day. Best to go late afternoon / early evening when the temperature cools down a bit. Gets busier after dark and can be really quite crowded. Enjoy!

Interesting Markets in Phuket

Phuket Town Main Market (Daily)
Thalang Road Walking Street (Sunday)
Indy Market (Wednesday/Thursday/Friday evenings)
Karon Temple Market (Tuesday and Saturday)
More Weekend Market Photos


Phuket Weekend Night Market - Location Map


View Phuket Weekend Market in a larger map